84. The Elevation of the Cross, Part 2 – Hard Power vs. Soft Power

Pontius Pilate didn’t understand. “So you are a king, then?”, said Governor Pontius Pilate. Pilate understood none of this. He knew the Jews were expecting a new king of some sort. This could be dangerous. The Jews * had got rid of fake Messiahs before, but somehow they hadn’t stopped this one. Now here he was in Jerusalem, and a crowd had gathered wanting Pilate to take care of it. If this…

83. The Elevation of the Holy Cross, Part 1 – “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.”

“On earth”? During the first centuries of Christian history, there was little visible evidence that this – Christ’s final declaration before his Ascension – was being fulfilled on earth. Jewish persecution had scattered Christians in all directions. Then in the year 70 Jerusalem was leveled by the Romans. The remaining Christians apparently fled, taking heed of the Lord’s warning about the destruction of Jerusalem. Matthew 24:15ff During the next 2 centuries Christians remained…

82. Three Saints who made me love them: David the Tree-dwller, Martin the Merciful, the Venerable Bede

When God first made himself known to me it was like a swift kick where I needed it. Later when out of the blue the Lord Jesus showed me he loved me, it was sweet and gentle, and ever since I have loved him back with all my heart. Someday maybe I’ll tell you those stories. Maybe not. The point is that God works with us in different ways. Likewise with his saints.…

81. 2010 Trip, Part 2 – Saint Nektarios, Crete, Health Care

Hmmm… I notice that peoples’ “hits” on the Blog are down since we’ve started traveling again. Hey, folks, it’s not healthy to do “religion” all the time, much as I love it. Orthodoxy is experiential. There are other ways of learning about God. Travel, for example. When we’re in different places (if it’s only grandma’s and grandpa’s house) we see familiar things, including our faith, in a different light. Here’s the theological principle…

79. “Weeping Icons? Get Serious…”

That would have been my reaction when I was a Protestant long ago, even when I was an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian. We didn’t disbelieve in miracles. We knew there were miracles in New Testament times and afterwards. Roman Catholics claimed to have them. But this just wasn’t part of our experience.  Not us. Not here. Not now.  And then I saw one. I think it was in the spring of 1987 that an…

78. The Falling Asleep of the Theotokos

      This feast is observed by Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and some traditional Protestants. Most Protestants ignore Mary’s death because they say it’s not in the Bible. This  is true. They also ignore Mary after her death because they say that is not in the Bible. This is false! We’ll come to that later. Mary’s Death We Orthodox title this day the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos – or her Dormition (from the…

77. Orthodoxy and Other Faiths: Extra-Protestant Groups – Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses – and finally: How to Live in a non-Orthodox Society

No, this week’s introductory image is not missing. (I think those who receive the Blog by e-mail don’t see it? I’ll add it again here to the left, just in case.) I chose it to symbolize Christian Science. Read on. But first, speaking of introductory images: If anyone saw the image at the beginning of last week’s Blog Post and wondered if I am now selling underwear online, I would like to apologize. This…

76. Orthodoxy and Other Faiths: Some Extra-Protestant Groups, Part 1 – Unitarians, Mormons

By Extra-Protestant I mean groups that most Protestants don’t claim, but because they sprang out of Protestantism I think they belong in this series. If there are mistakes in what follows (and in some cases I sincerely hope there are) will somebody please correct them in the Comments below. I am not intending to make light of the teachings of these folks, but I think I should comment on the more un-Orthodox…

75. Orthodoxy and Other Faiths: Modern Protestantism, Part 3 – Why is the Mainline down? Why are Evangelicals up? Pentecostals. Charismatics.

We’ve been tracking the decline of the Mainline Protestants and the rise of the Evangelicals.  According to Pew Research in 2014 above, maybe the change in American religion has been even more radical. Look who’s growing fastest now, and rapidly. I can’t begin to describe how different the American religious scene feels today compared to 50 or 60 years ago. Then it seemed as if everybody went to church. Christianity was all over…