Congress as ‘sacred ground’?

To listen to the New York Times and the Washington Post tell it, the events of 6 January were nothing less than an unforgivable act of sacrilege and blasphemy. ‘Inside the most sacred spaces of American democracy,’ went the New York Times report by Grynbaum, Koblin and Hsu, unfolded an abomination of desolation worthy of the breaking news format ‘reserved for foreign wars, natural disasters or terrorist attacks’. Now, I am someone who likes public order and stability as public goods. Order and stability are valuable no matter where they happen to be. So yes, I…

Escaping the West: A Call to Arms pt. 2

We are returning to an entry I posted a few weeks ago about Robert P. George’s article “The Pagan Public Square: Our Christian Duty to Fight Has Not Been Cancelled.” In conclusion there I stated that I wanted to “sketch out how Orthodoxy may fruitfully respond” to George’s article. Well, I believe I still need to focus on assessing Orthodoxy in North America…so my sketches will be postponed until I feel I have adequately drawn up some of the challenges facing the Orthodox Church as we engage with the North American public square.  Assessing George’s “Call…

Live Not By Lies…but which ones? [Book Review]

As the title of this review intimates, I liked Rod Dreher’s new book Live Not By Lies (2020), but I believe there are some blind spots in it.  Overall, I appreciated the second part of the book more than the first half.  And having read all of his books, I think I’m in a pretty good position to understand his oeuvre and general authorial strengths and weaknesses.   First, the positive. Dreher is a fantastic storyteller. He has a uniquely powerful ability to weave his own emotions into a narrative to punch it up to a new level. …

How Shall We Teach?

Dillon, one of my students from this fall semester, took an upper division course on the history of modernity in Europe.  It was a survey class from the beginning of the seventeenth century through World War I.  In the course of the semester, I found him to be a politically engaged young man, who supported Black Lives Matter and urged me to listen to songs from Catch 22’s album Permanent Revolution.  I was willing to oblige, and we had several interesting discussions by email and face to face.  He is an individual genuinely interested in ideas…

Christmas Season and the Pandemic of Loneliness pt 3

We all desire to be connected, respected, and loved. Aristotle was absolutely right, humans are political animals, we are made for connection, and for living together. It is the rare individual who can go off and do it on their own. Those who do this successfully from the point of view of the Church are those who are immersed in prayer with the God of love. St. Seraphim’s exodus and return to the world was one marked by love and compassion, echoing with the Paschal greeting, “Christ is risen!”  But there is something even more fundamental…

Christmas Season and the Pandemic of Loneliness pt 2

We continue from part 1… The Church as a Third Place? I often while reading older books or watching movies or shows about an older age pine for the spaces where people used to gather. My ideal space would be a nice wood panelled pub with absolutely no televisions or piped in music. How is this impossible to find here in the USA?! I remember when coffee shops used to actually be places of conviviality, now they exist as internet cafes, everyone with everyone else but staring at screens. I want a place where everybody knows…

Christmas Season and the Pandemic of Loneliness pt. 1

A quick google search will yield endless entries of various websites and blogs giving advice as to how to stop feeling lonely during the holiday season. Our uber-connected world is lonelier than ever. This constant strain is exacerbated by the holidays, a time when the religious and the irreligious focus upon the home and traditions flowing from the hearth and table. The year end rhythm of joyous raucous gatherings, gift giving, and tables laden with celebration are for many absent. Our screens flicker with images and sounds of joy and yet we sit in a dark…

Orthodoxy and Neo-Calvinist Social Thought

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Matthew 28:18 Who said it? “The man of faith acts, not as one endowed with free will, but as a beast that is led by the will of God.” Martin Luther? John Calvin? No, the answer is St. Peter of Damascus, from the Philokalia. He goes on to pray, “Do what Thou wilt to Thy creature; for I believe that, being good, Thou bestowest blessings on me, even if I do not recognize that they are for my…

Orthodoxy and a Call to Arms: Are we ready for the 21st century?

Robert P George, of Princeton University, in his recent essay, “The Pagan Public Square: Our Christian Duty to Fight Has Not Been Cancelled,” sounded a “call to arms” to faithful Christians to stand courageously against a rising and newly aggressive progressivism. This is not a call to physical arms, but a call to “boldly bear witness to truths that are unpopular among those controlling the levers of cultural, political and economic power.” It is a call to arms which we are beginning to hear from many corners more and more, not just from the depths of…