An Artist’s Eye and the Kingdom of God

Eyes they have but do not see. I have a daughter who is an artist. Her art is a gift that eludes me. The wonder is not so much in the skill of her hands but in her eyes. For having watched this phenomenon grow up and mature, I am certain of one thing: she sees the world in a way I do not. It is not so much that she sees beauty…

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…

The Smashers Are Back – Lord Have Mercy

The Smashers are back. The news is carrying photos of the wanton destruction being wrought in the Middle East by ISIS. Churches, Mosques, and human beings are being subjected to a new round of destruction at the hands of one of the most iconoclastic groups to have risen in the past century. One of their leaders has even vowed to destroy the Kaaba in Mecca if they succeed in conquering Saudi Arabia.…

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…

A Particular Scandal

A character in a Peanuts cartoon once declared, “I love mankind! It’s people I can’t stand!” The statement accurately describes our problems with the particular. It is easy to love almost anything in general – it is the particular that brings problems. Nowhere could this be more true than with God. Speaking about God in the abstract is extremely common – after all – He is “everywhere present, filling all things.” He is…

The Bridegroom and Judgment

Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching; and again, unworthy is the servant whom He shall find heedless.  Beware, therefore, O my soul, do not be weighed down with sleep, lest you be given up to death and lest you be shut out of the Kingdom.  But rouse yourself crying: Holy, holy, holy, art Thou, O our God.  Through the Theotokos, have mercy on us. +…

Facing Up to God

I have been asked to write further on the “theology of the face.” It is surprisingly neglected in many parts of the Christian world – and though it is not often discussed within Orthodoxy – it is nevertheless deeply at the heart of Orthodox devotion. Nothing in the Old Testament more clearly reveals the personhood of God than the references to His face. Man is described as created “in the image and…

Get Out of Your Mind!

I am not certain at what point modern Christians began to believe that “spiritual” and “mental” were the same thing. I know that it is a commonplace to interpret John 4:24 (“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth”) to mean that outward actions and locations are of no value – only those things that take place in the mind are truly spiritual. The older English…

Reading the Real Bible and Notes on the Real Hell

This post began as a comment – a response to serious questions about the nature of hell (Is Hell Real?) and recent treatments of Scriptural literalism. I offer this edited version as a new post for the sake of those who don’t follow comments closely… Dear Reader, I want to state immediately that you should be at peace about the state of Orthodoxy. My earlier post (Is Hell Real?) is not meant…