Bethlehem Star

[Ancient Faith Radio; December 19, 2007] Recently I was interviewed by a TV show, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, which appears on PBS, for a story they were doing about the Bethlehem star. And the interviewer told me that she had talked to an astronomer and another person, a Christian, who had done a lot of research into the astronomical records that were kept by the Chinese and by the Egyptians. And there are various theories—you know, a lot of people have theories about what dramatic heavenly event it could have been that would have brought constellations together, or brought comets together or something to fill the role of that star.

From Arguing to Rejoicing

[Beliefnet, “Crunchy Cons”; July 27, 2007] On July 26, 2007, Rod Dreher posted on his blog on Beliefnet.com, “Crunchy Cons,” the piece in the current Again Magazine about our from Anglican to Orthodox. He asked people to write in telling what triggered them to leave a church or a belief, or what caused them to decide to stay despite difficulties. ******** Thanks, Rod, for posting this and launching a strong conversation. Daniel, thanks for this: «Why, after 16 years, does Matthews-Green still talk about her difference with the Episcopal church and use it as a way to covert people to her little corner of Orthodoxy? »

Barbara Nicolosi on Hollywood for Christians

[Ancient Faith Radio; June 15, 2007] Frederica: Here we are. I’m at a beautiful outdoor café, what was the name of this place? I’ve forgotten already. Tree, something, Italiano, I think. [Laughs] I’m looking around, I’m trying to see if there’s a sign. Anyway, I’m in Malibu Village in Malibu, California on an overcast day. It’s pleasantly cool; it’s just perfect here, as it so often is. June gloom, I’m told. I’m sitting here with my friend, Barbara Nicolosi, who is a screenwriter, who is a teacher of screenwriting and has a number of other talents and one of the things that frustrates her is Christians that think they’re going to write a screenplay and convert the world to Christianity with a script that is pretty unprofessional. But let me let you speak for yourself; just start in anywhere. Hit it, Barbara. They can’t see you moving your hands and making faces; you’ve actually got to – [laughs]

The Lost Gospel of Mary: Who Was She?

[excerpted from “The Lost Gospel of Mary,” Paraclete Press, 2007] The Beloved Virgin Mary Who was she? It is hard to see Mary clearly, beneath the conflicting identities she has borne over the centuries. To one era she is the flower of femininity, and to another the champion of feminism; in one age she is the paragon of obedience, and in another the advocate of liberation. Some enthusiasts have been tempted to pile her status so high that it rivals that of her Son. Others, aware that excessive adulation can be dangerous, do their best to ignore her entirely. Behind all that there is a woman nursing a baby. The child in her arms looks into her eyes. Years later he will look at her from the cross, through a haze of blood and sweat.

“Gifts of the Desert” Book Review

[Touchstone, June 2006] Gifts of the Desert: The Forgotten Path of Christian SpiritualityBy Kyriacos C. MarkidesDoubleday, 2005(370 pages, $23.95, hardback) Dr. Markides is a sociology professor at the University of Maine, and his research has led him to conclusions that are rare among social sciences academics. Markides has come to believe that we are surrounded by unseen spiritual realities, and that it is possible, through repentance and prayer, to encounter and be transformed by them.

DaVinci Code

[National Review Online, May 18, 2006] An ordinary man – a professor, say – gets caught in a deadly game of mystery and murder. He’s thrown together with a cool, attractive young woman who may be more than she seems. After many chases and escapes, the two wind up safe in each other’s arms. Alfred Hitchcock gave us goosebumps with that theme and variations. Ron Howard’s “The DaVinci Code” turns similar material into a big yawn. What happened?

Da Vinci Code: “Yeah, Whatever”

[TheDaVinciDialogue.com, May 6, 2006] Editors titled this: “Yeah, Whatever. This is All About You-Know-Who.” When the DaVinci Code hoopla is all said and done, it will still be Jesus that we’re talking about. It’s Jesus whose face on the cover sells a million magazines, whose name instills widespread awe. Even people despise Christians paradoxically admire their Lord. In discussions of religion nearly everything is up for grabs, yet on this one point there’s widespread agreement. Why do people instinctively admire Jesus?

Poor Excuse

[Touchstone, May 2006] What happens when Christians are attacked by the contemptuous secular world? Often we start talking about how much good Christians have done. I just encountered this response in a book aimed at non-believers, which builds to a chapter that presents a whole parade of do-gooders to vindicate the Christian faith. Everybody got their paragraph in the sun, from Mother Teresa to Basil the Great to the Liberation Theologians. It’s a difficult problem in apologetics, I admit, how to win a hearing for Christianity today.

The Cross of St. Dimas

[Beliefnet, April 19, 2006] The Gospels don’t tell us much about the two thieves crucified with Jesus. Tradition calls the “Good Thief” Dimas or Dismas, while the “Bad Thief” is named Gestas. Dimas’ legend reveals a little more. As a young man he was the leader of a robber band in Egypt, and encountered the Holy Family during their sojourn after Jesus’ birth. He discerned something special about the Jewish family, we’re told, and ordered his men to spare them. Thirty years later he saw that child once again, nailed to a cross beside him.

Why We Need Hell

[Beliefnet: March 23, 2006] Hell has never been a fashionable destination, but it in recent years it's met a fate that even the most passé hotspots don't endure; people suspect it doesn't exist. Or, if it does exist, it attracts no customers; “we are permitted to hope that hell is empty” is how this is sometimes phrased. Even the most conservative Christians have a hard time putting a positive spin on a wrathful God who flings evildoers into flaming torment.