The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

There is a death that leads to death and there is a death that leads to life. In them are hidden the meaning of all things. As we approach Pascha, I continue to marvel at St. John’s description of Christ in Revelation 13, as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” It is a Death before death. This is the Death by which death will be trampled down.  The warning…

The Disenchanted World

A very apt word for the world we live in is: disenchanted. It was first used by Max Weber and a number of others to describe a certain aspect of the modern world – the absence of the sacred. Where people of earlier eras and other cultures have experienced the world around them as charged with divine power (of various sorts), we simply experience the world as inert. There is nothing there.…

The Icon of Music

This Sunday, the First Sunday of Great Lent, marks the return of the holy icons to the Churches in 843 A.D.  It is celebrated as the “Sunday of Orthodoxy.” This article offers a reflection on a different form of the icon – of equal importance – and equally worth protection and care. Orthodox theology is a “seamless garment”: no part of Orthodox doctrine, worship, prayer or life stands in a category of…

What Happens When We Play (Pray)

In my previous article I compared children’s use of play to the place of ritual words and actions in the life of the Church. I absolutely did not mean to imply that one thing is like the other. I mean to say clearly that they are very much the same thing. And I say this both to change how we understand play as well as how we understand ritual words and action.…

Singing the Lord’s Song

In my first parish as an Anglican priest, I approached my first Midnight Mass with eager anticipation. I was trained “High Church,” with a very traditional liturgical emphasis – but I was serving in a “Low Church” parish. I was the first priest in their history to wear Eucharistic vestments as a normal practice. But it was common, even in Low Church areas, for the Midnight Mass to be “High.” Thus, I…

Around the Corner

Among the most appealing aspects of CS Lewis’ children’s fiction is at the point that I would describe as “turning the corner.” It is not that he creates a fantasy world, but that the fantasy world he creates somehow intersects with the world in which we live. It is the discovery that at this moment, quite unexpectedly, the back of an old wardrobe is a door into another world.  You turn the…

Face to Face – Beholding God

My mind wandered back to these thoughts as I pondered the growing phenomenon of “selfies.” Even the President cannot resist making them. Of course, the “selfie” is the passion-driven distortion of the theology of the face – existence as ego. For the mystery of the face is not to look at myself, but to look at the other. You are God’s “selfie.” Ponder it. Nothing about the human body is as intimate…

Depth Perception

One of the great blessings of the human brain can be found in its ability to take two things and make them one. We have two eyes, which means they necessarily see things differently. Look at the world with one eye open and switch to the other eye. Things appear to move. Viewing the world through one eye also makes things appear somewhat “flat.” The wonder of “stereo-scopic vision” (seeing through two…

Some Poems for Pentecost

St. Porphyrios said that to become a Christian one needed first to be a poet. This has nothing to do with arranging words, but everything to do with hearing words. Words, like everything else in our world, hide far more than they reveal. God has so arranged His world that its treasure is reserved for those who seek it. In words, the treasure belongs to those who listen. Among the many friends I…

The Erotic Language of Prayer

The very heart of true prayer is desire, love. In the language of the Fathers this desire is called eros. Modern usage has corrupted the meaning of “erotic” to only mean sexual desire – but it is a profound word, without substitute in the language of the Church. I offer a quote from Dr. Timothy Patitsas of Holy Cross in Brookline: By eros we mean the love that makes us forget ourselves…