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…

The wedge issue for Orthodoxy? Usury!?

“What must be implemented is not a ‘steadily expanding economy,’ but a zero-growth economy, a stable economy. Economic growth is not only unnecessary but ruinous…we must renounce, as a matter of urgency, the gigantic scale of modern technology in industry, agriculture, and urban development …” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Orthodoxy’s principled objection to Communism is widely known and understood and, given that Eastern Orthodoxy was the religious tradition that bore the brunt of the Marxist-Leninist assault upon religion and Christian culture, the fact that the vast majority of Orthodox thinkers have been profoundly distrustful of the political left…

Orthodoxy and Roman Catholic Social Thought

Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!” John 19:5 In a famed episode of The Twilight Zone in 1962, aliens known as Kanamits make first contact with earth, claiming that they come in peace. They offer advanced technology that eliminates famine, disease, and war. When they go, they leave behind a book, written in their undecipherable alien language. Naturally, the cryptographists get to work decoding it, led by scientist Michael Chambers. While some responded with skepticism toward the Kalamits’ mission, their technology works. A new era…

The Asceticism of Scrutiny: The Royal Road of Discernment pt. 2

We began this series by underlining the absolute necessity to develop the virtue of discernment in our spiritual lives. According to the St John Cassian and the Fathers he encountered in the deserts of Egypt, discernment is the “mother, the guardian, and the guide of all the virtues.” This may come as a surprise. Perhaps we would imagine another virtue to hold such a high office or maybe we just find ourselves at a loss in regard to the virtues and how they relate to each other. Whatever the case we find ourselves in a time…

Humility and Gratitude: sine quibus non of the studious mind

“We are not sure we are right until we have made the best case possible for those who are wrong.” Lord Acton We live in an age where people read little, but yet vehemently assert the verity of their own opinions. Debates during the Reformation were bruising affairs. Not only did they demand quick wits, a vast memory, and a comprehension of all the implications of various doctrines and the arguments attendant on them, but it took thick skin and a ready wit. The key thing, however, was never to underestimate your interlocutor. Sure, you could…

What is Christian Social Thought?

“Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40 In “Yorktown,” the climax to the first half of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, the victory that marks the end of the American Revolution ends with the refrain “the world turned upside down”—an apt description of the birth of the first modern, liberal, democratic republic that has survived to the present. A decade later, a very different liberal and democratic Revolution in France would upend the established political and social orders all…

Books are Technology, Too

In his famous poem, “Archaic Torso of Apollo,” Rainer Maria Rilke writes about the experience of looking at a great piece of art. His point is that great art looks at us, too; we find ourselves observed, questioned and judged. I argue that this is as true of literary art as of sculpture. What will we do after we close the book? The last line of Rilke’s poem tells us, “You must change your life.” The same Orthodox Christians who rightly express concern over the dangers of gaming or the number of hours being spent in…

The Real Red Pill: Orthodoxy and Conspiracy Theories

The origin of the American fixation with conspiracy theories is hard to trace through history.  Perhaps the very fact that our nation emerged from a revolution against its motherland has something to do with this proclivity.  Some historians point to the role of secret societies like the Freemasons in the plot leading up to American independence.  But it is probably true that our founding fathers spent more time meeting in pubs over pints than they did gathering under the cloak of darkness at a masonic lodge.  And although some American religious groups forbade membership in secret…