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…

Akathist Hymn: Glory to God for All Things

I have seen several translations of this hymn. This one comes from the site of St. John the Baptist Cathedral (ROCOR) in Washington, D.C. I have edited it only typographically. It was composed by Metropolitan Tryphon (Prince Boris Petrovich Turkestanov) +1934  – but frequently attributed to Father Gregory Petrov, who died in a Soviet prison camp. It continues to grow in its popularity within the Orthodox Church. In my parish’s usage, we…

Where Have You Seen Beauty?

Within the bounds of propriety I will pose the following question: Where have you encountered Beauty and how did it relate to God? I’m just interested in hearing some stories. Be reasonable about length. But bear witness to what you have seen. I’ve written about “music from another room,” my first encounter with Rachmaninov’s Vespers. I could add to that my first encounter with a couple of famous icons. In each case,…