The God Who Is Beautiful

I suggested this as reading in a comment yesterday and decided to re-post it so that it would be more readily available. It belongs with the question of God and beauty that I started in yesterday’s post. Everything is beautiful in a person when he turns toward God, and everything is ugly when it is turned away from God. Fr. Pavel Florensky I come to the end of a day that has…

Prayers By the Lake – I

Saint Nicholai Velimirovich, of whom I have written before, is the author of the wonderful, Prayers By the Lake, which he composed on the shores of Lake Ochrid. They are a treasure of modern Orthodox verse. His first poem in the cycle reflects a sense of the creation as God’s own, rather than an inert arena for secular life. I offer this poem and a link to an online edition of His…

Is Hell Real?

On one of the roads leading into my small city a billboard has recently appeared. It is part of a larger campaign by a nationally known evangelist who is to have a revival in Knoxville. The sign is simple. In very large bright yellow letters (all caps), the sign says: HELL IS REAL. In small letters beneath it, in white, that can be read as your car nears the sign is the…

Scripture, Icons, and the World We Know

I ask for grace in writing this, lest I go beyond my ability. It seems to me well worth saying as discussions of the relationship between Scripture, dogma and science have surfaced. I offer this as food for thought as well as a ground of discussion. First, I will note an American Protestant tradition (somewhat thin these days but still present in plenty of places within our culture). What I have in…

The Scripture in Creation

One of the many endearing stories of St. Seraphim of Sarov was a small act of devotion he engaged in during his years as a hermit. The area around his hermitage was designated by him with Biblical place-names. Thus one place was Jerusalem, another Bethlehem, etc. Thus did the great saint transform the trees and rocks and every path by taking it up into the Biblical story. His every action outside his…

The Sacrament of the Present Moment

There is a wonderful translation of Jean-Pierre De Caussade’s  Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence, which bears the same title as this post. I am borrowing the phrase, not to comment on the volume (though I highly recommend it), but to bring into focus something of at least equal importance. It is the reality of our moment by moment encounter with God. We confess that God is everywhere present and fills all things, but we…

Forgiveness and Paradise – Dostoevsky

This small passage from Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, has always been among my favorites within literature. It is the story of the death of Markel, the brother of Zossima, who will later become a great monastic elder. The words of his brother Markel serve as something of a summary of the elder’s theology and among the most profound thoughts in literature. From the Life of the Elder Zossima …but the doctor arrived and…

Iconoclasm and Ignorance

My expectations for intelligent discussion on television is close to nil. An example, on the subject of icons and statues, can be found on Handmaid Leah’s site. If you want to see the subject handled badly on television take a look. I promise a posting on the doctrine of the holy icons in the near future. My thanks to Leah for her posting this small video. We need to speak in some…

Christianity and the One-Storey Universe – Where Do We Begin?

I read an interesting article today on a blog for those who are “de-converting” or in some sense trying to get over their religious past. For some of my readers it may come as a surprise that I find this interesting – but I find it deeply fascinating. I do not think that those who find themselves in that position are terribly different than myself or many others that I know. I…