Trusting Tradition

[Touchstone, April 2000] My young nephew Thomas had been attending an Orthodox church with his dad for several months, and must have been impressed by an exclamation the priest makes at the turning point of the service. When the scripture readings and sermon are concluded, the priest says, “The doors! The doors! In wisdom, let us attend!”

Sex and Saints

[Christianity Today, April 3, 2000] What do you think about homosexuality? Why do you think it? Whatever your answer, you’re probably in there: “What Christians Think about Homosexuality: Six Representative Viewpoints.” In his book, Larry Holben presents six different ways that Christians look at the homosexual condition, and critiques each from the point of view of the others. It’s the perfect volume for people trying to understand what others believe.

Forgiveness Vespers

[Beliefnet, March 20, 2000] On Sunday night I am going to have to apologize to someone. I am going to have to apologize to about a hundred people, in fact--one at a time, face to face. I'm looking forward to it. For Orthodox Christians, Lent begins differently than it does for Protestants and Catholics. The observance of Ash Wednesday is dramatic and beautiful, but is not in the Eastern tradition. For us, Lent comes in gradually over a period of weeks, like a cello line subtly weaving itself into our lives.

Ned Flanders, My Hero

[Beliefnet, February 10, 2000]News is that that dreamboat, Ned Flanders, is going to be a-v-a-i-l-a-b-l-e. Why are hearts fluttering and knees weak? Take another look at our man Ned: he’s got more than his share of gal appeal. He’s decked out in an impeccable suit of virtues.  I’m on the level here. OK, get past the adenoidal voice. Get past the round goggle-glasses. Get past the annoying chirpiness. Wait, go back to the annoying chirpiness.

Found Object: Body

[Crosswalk, January 2000] Here we are. Over the doorstep and into a dazzling new millennium, fraught with magnificence and fear, and perhaps with consequence -- hard to tell at this point. At any rate, we feel pretty dazzled and quite self-important. We’re alive *now*! What an achievement! What did we win?

Deconstructing the AAR

As late fall slides to winter, across the country Christians are winding up another year of living the religious life. Late fall, and across the country members of the American Academy of Religion are winding up another year of studying the religious life. The distinction between living it and studying it may seem artificial; most Christians study scripture, as well as theology and devotional works. But the study based in faith is not like the study of religion per se. In the halls of academe, religion is just one more sociological phenomenon, to be appraised from a safe distance (after all, He may not be a tame lion). Not that all the members of the Academy are religious abstainers; there are mainliners, goddess-worshippers, Buddhists, and the odd evangelical or two. But the AAR meets in the ivory tower, not the church.