Orthodox Social Thought and the Biblical Apocrypha

“I could not venture to reject [Revelation]…. For if I do not understand I suspect that a deeper sense lies beneath the words. I do not measure and judge them by my own reason, but leaving the more to faith I regard them as too high for me to grasp. And I do not reject what I cannot comprehend, but rather wonder because I do not understand it.” St. Dionysius of Alexandria My friend Nick hosts a podcast about UFOs. In his first episode he jokingly riffs on a John Steinbeck quote: Steinbeck once wrote something…

Attention Must Be Paid

“The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what he saw in a plain way.” –John Ruskin As nearly a year has passed since my last blog post, a year during which both my parents died (among other personal catastrophes), I am not going to attempt a continuity with that post I cannot feel. From where I am now, I cannot muster any confidence in my ability to write a “Part 2” that reasonably maintains the logic and tone of the first installment. Instead, I will attempt…

Guidance for our Times, and Always: Twenty Beautiful Life-Giving Patterns of Reality Concerning Sex and Marriage

In light of the widespread misunderstandings and confusion about human sexuality and marriage in our own day, and the vast amount of suffering that this is bringing to so many people, especially young people, I would like to humbly offer this list of simple, clear patterns of the way Reality has been set up by our Lord for the optimal well-being of all.  I hope and pray that this list will be helpful for those who are wondering how to personally navigate among all the various views about sexuality that are vying for our attention today.  …

Orthodox Social Thought and the Apostles

“I am convinced and believe that even after the resurrection [Christ] was in the flesh. Indeed, when he came to Peter and his friends, he said to them, “Take hold of me, touch me and see that I am not a bodiless ghost.” And they at once touched him and were convinced, clutching his body and his very breath. For this reason they despised death itself, and proved its victors.” St. Ignatius of Antioch Growing up, my mother tried to enforce age-appropriate entertainment consumption for me. However, she did make exceptions, one such being legal dramas…

Compassionate Denial: A Paradigm of Abuse?

Inga Leonova, in her article of the same name for Public Orthodoxy, describes what she calls “the paradigm of compassionate denial.” She offers this quote as an example of the traditionalist position in the social media culture war: “My heart breaks for people in the Church who struggle with same-sex attraction, and we should counsel them and offer them support with love in their ascetic endeavor to carry the cross of chastity.” It soon becomes apparent, when reading this article, that Ms. Leonova does not believe this position to be compassionate at all. Unfortunately, while critiquing…

Orthodox Social Thought and the Gospel, Part 3

[T]he scope of our art is to provide the soul with wings, to rescue it from the world and give it to God, and to watch over that which is in His image, if it abides, to take it by the hand, if it is in danger, or restore it, if ruined, to make Christ to dwell in the heart by the Spirit: and, in short, to deify, and bestow heavenly bliss upon, one who belongs to the heavenly host. This is the wish of our schoolmaster the law, of the prophets who intervened between Christ…

Twenty-Eight Patterns of Living to Strive for to Enhance the Glory of your Marriage

Dr. David Ford and Dr. Mary Ford, professors of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary,  have written the following for the edification of the faithful. These patterns are patterns emanating from the Kingdom of God – to enter into them is to enter into the mystery of God. At the end there are a collection of quotes from Fr. Alexander Elchaninov about the mystery of marriage. We share these patterns and sayings for the building up of marriage, a sacrament which sustains and blossoms into many blessings for the life of the world. Do everything with love…

Nepsis and Digital Minimalism

During Lent, Fr Daniel Greeson inaugurated a series on this blog exploring the challenges of technology. So far, he has written a short piece that touches on the concept of technological skepticism and a more expansive essay on the New Media Epidemic. For my contribution to the ongoing discussion of the deleterious impact of constant digital media engagement, I will attempt to ground the framework of “digital minimalism” in the Orthodox ascetical practice of nepsis (νῆψις)—that is, sobriety and watchfulness, sometimes called “the guarding of our hearts.” The concept of nepsis was introduced to readers at…

Orthodox Social Thought and the Gospel, Part 2

It may come to pass that the good Samaritan of the Gospel may find someone going down from Jerusalem to Jericho … falling back from the martyr’s conflict to the pleasures of this life and the comforts of the world … [and] may, I say, not pass by him but tend and heal him. St. Ambrose of Milan   In Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis’s retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche, one scene vividly captures a recurring phenomenon in the Gospels. As Lewis tells it, Orual, the story’s narrator and half-sister of…

The Duty of a Christian Scholar

This past semester I had the happy duty of reading through a Reformation treatise on the Eucharist, penned by the sixteenth-century Lutheran pastor, Joachim Westphal. I chose this for my student, a Lutheran who took to it right away, as it was one of hundreds upon hundreds (doubtless thousands) of late Renaissance and Reformation texts still awaiting translation into English. To date, her translation runs 50 pages and 18,000 words. I’m rather pleased with her. She’s the only student in my 25+ years at the university level I have ever given an A+ to, as I…