When Things Are Not As They Seem

It is said that when some of the natives of the South Seas first saw Captain Cook’s ships approaching, they saw them as clouds. There was no category in their world for “ships,” thus the Captain and his crew came in “clouds.” I’ve have always wondered about the connection between how we name things in the paucity of our experience and how much that naming actually shapes our ability to see. Princess…

The Fullness of the Faith

The word “fullness,” is a very Orthodox word, one that is used for theological expression fairly frequently. It is perhaps among my favorites, as any regular reader here can quickly attest. It is a New Testament word, usually applied to Christ or to a sense of the “fullness” of time. But there is a sense that it also carries within Orthodox usage that refers to the Gospel itself. In this usage, fullness…

Windows to Heaven Are Not One Way

I am participating in an icon workshop this week. Lectures, slides, and the slow process of learning how icons are painted, by painting one yourself under the guidance of an accomplished master. My experience is that you very quickly see that here you can only be pupil (at least at this stage of my life).  A small but interesting point worth sharing this evening, is in the process of writing or painting…

What Do You See Outside Your Window – Evil in a One-Storey Universe

A question was put several days back about what would be said about “evil in a one-storey universe?” Of course, as I’ve thought about the question, my simplest conclusion is to wonder how one would give an account of evil in a two-storey universe. For it seems that those who have imagined the universe as a two-storey affair have largely confined evil here and proposed that the second-floor has been swept clean.…

Icons – A Room with a View

Dreams are interesting things – our modern age either makes too little of them or too much of them – but mostly, we believe our dreams are about us and about the inside of our heads. Those who make too little of their dreams write them off to anxiety or other stresses of the day – wish fulfillment – or a variety of other mundane causes. Those who make too much of…

Face to Face with God

2 Cor. 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 1 Cor. 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. 2…

Music and Scenes from the “Desert”

One of the better known monasteries in Russian history is the Valaam monastery. Taken over by government authorities during the time of the Communists and used for other purposes, it has been returned today to the Church and is growing into a full-functioning, thriving monastery, one of the “deserts” where spiritual warfare on behalf of the world is unceasing. The music is a development of the “Valaam Chant” that has its own…

The Blessed Virgin Mary Compared to the Air We Breathe – Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) was a Jesuit priest (a convert from Anglicanism) and perhaps the greatest modern (?) poet of the English Language (ok, he’s my favorite). My second daughter, Khouria Kathryn, made me aware of this poem. Hopkins is wonderfully sacramental in his poetry – God permeates his words and the world his words come from. Thank you Kathryn. Wild air, world-mothering air, Nestling me everywhere, That each eyelash or hair Girdles;…

Speaking of Christianity – Part 4 of the Meaning of Words

Some years back, the Evangelical-convert-to-Rome, Thomas Howard, wrote a book, Splendor in the Ordinary. In it he argued for a sacramental world view and spoke of how that might effect the local home. I recall the book because it came out while I was in seminary and caused a minor stir. Some of us were interested in a more sacramental life – but we as yet had no idea either of the…