Generation Why

[NPR, “All Things Considered,” July 8, 1996] When my daughter came home from college she announced she wants to paint something else on her car. It's already covered with daisies. Now she wants to add cartoon depictions of the Beatles, Yellow-Submarine style, on the doors. The tape rack inside is filled with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors. “Everybody I like is dead,” she says. Her brother David is a couple of years younger. His golden hair flows over his shoulders, and he's attempting by sheer force of willpower to generate a moustache and goatee. Wire-rim glasses complete the look. The other day I found him bent over his guitar, picking out the chords to Bob Dylan's “Like a Rolling Stone.”

Bible Misquotes

[NPR, “All Things Considered,” October 6, 1997] I was thumbing through a high-brow magazine the other day and came across an interesting essay on the virtue of Hope. But before I'd finished the first page I caught them in an embarassing blooper. The author stated that hope is ranked alongside faith and love in the 23rd psalm. In case you didn't catch the faux pas, run through the 23rd psalm in your mind--you probably memorized it in kindergarten. Yes, “the Lord is my shepherd is there,” and the part about the valley of the shadow of death, but there's no mention of faith, hope, and love. For that, you have to flip to the other end of the Bible, to St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. In his famous meditation on love in chapter 13, he writes, “So faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” --Now, does it ring a bell?

Mosh Pit Manners

[Recorded for NPR “All Things Considered,” June 21, 1996; never aired] Thirty years ago, I was sitting in a stadium screaming at the Beatles and throwing jelly beans. We’d heard that was George’s favorite, so we were doing our best to pelt him. I screamed at Herman's Hermits, too, freaked out with Frank Zappa, and then it was the Stones. But it had been a long time since I'd been to a rock concert. Recently I piled my teenage kids and a couple of their friends into the station wagon and went to hear one of their favorite bands‑‑a band I've overheard enough to enjoy myself.

Everyday Faith

[NPR, “All Things Considered,” June 6, 1996] Michael's been gone about a month now, and we miss him. In a small church like ours, you need everybody. Now the choir's down to just one bass, and the other Sunday School teachers have to do double duty. At the same time we're happy for Michael, even proud. Our little church started just three years ago, and we're almost all converts--some from various denominations, some from no faith at all. Michael was one of the few who'd actually grown up Eastern Orthodox. When he announced he wanted to join Holy Cross Monastery in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain, we felt somehow honored.

The Thrill of Naughtiness

[Christianity Today, September 6, 1999] I didn't go to see “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me;” I went to see the historic theater where it happened to be playing. But when those psychedelic colors started spilling off the screen I couldn't resist. Austin Powers, the ersatz James Bond, is a weenie with a Herman's Hermits haircut

Tasteless Miracles

[NPR, “All Things Considered,” December 27, 1996] As I zipped open the cardboard envelope a sweet, heavy fragrance began to spill out. Rifling among the magazine and newspaper clippings I found it, a plastic bag containing a cotton ball. A drop of golden oil was soaked into the cotton. I gently opened the bag, and the scent of roses spilled into the room.

Kosovo

[NPR, ”All Things Considered, June 7, 1999] As a convert to Orthodox Christianity, I' ve been undecided about Kosovo. While most Orthodox take a pro-Serb position, I don't feel compelled to follow; when I converted I joined a faith, not an ethnic group. Throughout history members of my Church have done both good and evil, and Serbia's Orthodox identity does not alone prove their cause is just. On the other hand, I'm reflexively anti-war, and have been since my college days during Viet Nam. Perhaps war can be a justifiable last resort, but this situation doesn' t reach that standard.

Forgiveness Vespers

[NPR, “All Things Considered,” March 2, 1998] On the first night of Lent, as Vespers comes to an end, my husband turns from the altar. He asks everyone to form a circle around the interior of the church, and when we're in place, the person next to him--in this case, our son David--steps over to face his dad. My husband crosses himself, bows to David, then says, “Forgive me, my brother, for any way I have sinned against you. ” David says, “I forgive you,” and they embrace. Then it's David' s turn to bow to his dad and ask the same question, and receive the same forgiveness and embrace.

Holy Week

[NPR, “All Things Considered,” April 14, 1998] Holy Week is 501 pages long. My husband's Greek-English prayerbook begins with Palm Sunday evening, but the week actually starts the day before, Lazarus Saturday, when we commemorate the raising of Jesus's friend as a foreshadowing of Pascha. Some churches anticipate Lazarus Saturday with a service Friday evening. That's the Orthodox way: can we add a few more icing roses to the top of this cake?

Horse Trough Baptism

[NPR, “All Things Considered,” June 8, 1998] In this ranch house in an older suburb, the carpet in the dining room is vintage orange shag. But no dining table stands on it tonight; we moved out the table and moved in a giant Rubbermaid horse trough--the hundred-gallon size. The baptismal service is in full swing. As incense rises and the choir sings, my husband, the priest, floats blessed oil on top of the warm water. Then it' s time for Mitchell to step in. Some churches sprinkle for baptism, or pour water from a silver cup. But the Eastern Orthodox Church prefers full immersion, dunking the entire person underwater.