And Now For Something Completely Different – Music From the Ethiopian Orthodox

I am barely familiar with the Ethiopian Orthodox. They are in communion with the Oriental Orthodox Churches but have a very close relationship with the Eastern Orthodox. Among the most ancient of Orthodox Churches, they are also perhaps the most unique. Ethiopian and East African culture are seen clearly in this music, although this is not the music of the liturgy. It’s religious, but I’m not sure of its position to the…

What Role Do the Fathers Play in the Reading of Scripture?

It is easy from the outside to form an incorrect picture of the Orthodox interpretation of Scripture. There is actually quite a bit of variety among the Fathers when it comes to reading the Word of God. Even in the earliest centuries there were noted differences in the approach that obtained among those trained in Antioch and those trained in Alexandria, the two great centers of Christian exegesis. To a large extent,…

Beyond Nature

Doing a little less than light reading today, I came across the following quote: “For the Fathers, indeed, personhood is freedom in relation to nature: it eludes all conditioning.” The true person then is one that is free, not so much to do something, but from the limitations of nature. From Papanikolaou’s Being with God, pgs. 57-58)  Before unpacking those two short sentences, another thought occurred to me. How many Christians, even…

Culture and the Fullness of the Faith

I have posted several articles recently about the relationship of the Orthodox Church to American culture – most of which have been critical of one element or another of culture. I want to look at the whole question from a different angle today. First, it has to be observed and emphasized that, wherever Orthodox Christianity has existed in anything like its proper form, it has been productive of culture and will always…

Mission and Worship – America and the Orthodox

The following post is an expanded version of a comment I wrote in a recent thread. The question to which it responds is the Scriptural mandate of St. Paul (1 Cor. 9:19-23): For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law…

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…

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…

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…