America and the Church – More Thoughts

Getreligion.org recently drew attention to a New York Times article on modern evangelicalism and the role that various forms of music are playing in their current configuration. The article contained this striking quote and observation from an interview with Tom Mercer, senior pastor of the evangelical church featured in the article: “When you start a church,” said Tom Mercer, 52, the senior pastor, “you don’t decide who you’re going to reach and…

The Fullness of the World to Come

I am fascinated by what the Holy Tradition does with the idea of “fullness” or “fulfillment.” The Church is described as the “fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:23). And it is not unusual for Orthodox Christians to express the meaning of Orthodoxy under the rubric of “fullness”: Orthodoxy is the “fullness of the Church.” The Scriptures do much with the concept – speaking of the “fullness of time,”…

Music from Georgia – Ethnos Fulfilled

The subject of Orthodoxy and ethnicity has come up in several recent posts. To limit Orthodoxy to a particular ethnic group is, of course, heretical. But as I have noted earlier, the fullness of Orthodox does not destroy the particularity of who we are – but fulfills it. A man does not become less himself but more truly himself than he could ever have been apart from Christ. Only in Christ are…

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…