97. The History of Everything from before the Beginning till after the End – Part One

If there is one thing I would change in our unchangeable Orthodox Church, it would be to add an Old Testament reading to Divine Liturgy. Its absence means that most Orthodox never hear Genesis, the story of the Beginning of Everything – and much other important material. If we don’t get the foundation right, the whole house will be unsteady. Make it two things: Nor do we hear the magnificent conclusion to…

96. Is Christmas a Fairy Tale? Part Two – The Evidence for Christ and the Christmas Stories

Now we come to the big question. Lest you hold your breath in dread anticipation, I’ll not keep you waiting. The conclusion (surprise!) will be No. Christmas is not a fairy tale. I know that, for the most part, I’m preaching to the choir here. And I know we in the choir usually believe not for intellectual reasons, but because we love Jesus and the Church. So you may think you don’t need…

95. Is Christmas a Fairy Tale? Part One – The Necessity for Facts, The Evidence for God

Four years ago, along I-94 west of downtown Milwaukee, these words were on a billboard sponsored by a local atheist group. I read that these appeared in other places too. Well, it’s a free country… …and if this challenges Christians to think it will be a good thing. I suspect more than a few of us are afraid to think about the Faith, and especially the Christmas stories, for fear they might…

94. Seven Deadly Sins #3: Greed

  I could almost, barely, slightly, kind of, well not really, tolerate Black Friday if I thought people were shoving and shouting, and this year occasionally shooting each other *, in order to find the finest Christmas gifts for their family and friends. However, somehow I suspect this is not what’s going on here. As you probably know, the shooter in the video above escaped. Police mistakenly killed a shopper instead. Long…

93. Seven Deadly Sins #2: Gluttony

OK, so it’s cruel, just cruel, to talk about gluttony on the day after Thanksgiving *, our annual eat-too-much-and-get-indigestion festival. I also ate too much yesterday and took Digels before I went to bed. Then this morning I had (shame on me) a piece of pie and many leftovers for breakfast. And I’m not sorry. It was part of a very happy family gathering, and I totally enjoyed it. But now, before I…

92. Scandals in the Church

Why are we talking about this distressing subject? Because often the secular press wants chiefly to make headlines out of it, and the religious press either wants to score points or finds it too hot to handle. Can we deal with this in a balanced, positive Christian way? You judge whether I’m successful. If you’re hoping we’ll dig up some new dirt here… think again. That is for the hierarchs (and sadly sometimes…

91. Saint Nektarios – his life, death and what happened after that

His Death On November 8 in 1920, Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker died. The miracles began immediately. Today he is the most revered Orthodox saint of the 20th century. Bishop Nektarios had been ill, so he was taken from the monastery on Aegina to a hospital in Athens. The intern at first could not believe that such a simply dressed man was really a bishop. He was diagnosed with incurable cystitis and placed…

90. Keeping up your Daily Prayer Life

Why is it so hard to pray? I had decided that each evening during Lent I would spend 15 minutes in church saying the Jesus Prayer. Instead there I stood outside the church door reorganizing the bulletin board which didn’t need it, or walking over to my office to straighten up my desk which didn’t need it – well, no more than usual. Or I’d check how the climbing vine in the narthex…

89. Demons

  Demons! Terrifying Destructive Evil Spirits! Now that we have your attention… let’s begin more gently and work up (down) to demons, the devil and the dark side. Hallowe’en Modern Hallowe’en has Christian origins. November 1 in Western Christianity is the feast of All Saints (“All Hallows” in old English), probably intended to counter a pagan day the dead, which took place at this time of year. Here in the mid-latitudes of the…

88. “How do we teach traditional Christianity so it is accessible to culture without selling out to culture?” – Part 2

As I said last week, this was the heavy topic assigned to me at an Anglican-Orthodox conference in 2009. If you haven’t read Part 1, please do or you won’t make much sense of Part 2. Last week I described (humbly, I hope) Orthodoxy’s multi-cultural unity in “traditional Christianity”. This week is trickier: How does the Orthodox Church remain faithful in all cultures? even in 1! When I first became Orthodox I…