In the Maw of the Bridal Chamber

The idleness brought on during our present isolation can lead to unexpected things. I was browsing through videos on social media recently and saw a short documentary on what happens to human bodies in the process of decomposition. I was surprised by what I heard both in its gruesome details and in its rapid onset. The power of the grave is far worse than I had imagined. My interest in such a…

Let’s Get Out of This Place

The Saturday before Palm Sunday is known as Lazarus Saturday among the Orthodox, and they celebrate Christ raising him from the dead just prior to His entrance into Jerusalem (gospel of John). It is a feast that offers something of a preview of Christ’s resurrection, and a foretaste of the General Resurrection at the End of the Age. Some years back I sat in a cave that is purported to be the grave of…

A Different Pascha – 1928

This year, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Churches will be unable to gather in the usual manner for Pascha. This has happened before in a variety of places and circumstances. In the 1920’s, the Bolshevik’s were unleashing their persecutions. This wonderful account, from Butyrka Prison on Pascha of 1928, is a sober reminder that our “light momentary affliction” is a small thing. It also serves to remind us that the joy of Pascha…

Magic, Superstition, and the One-Storey Universe

Over the years, in thinking about the here-and-now presence of the Kingdom of God, I have pondered about what it actually looks like. Its nemesis, the modern version of secularity, is easy to picture (we unconsciously do it all the time). That picture is of an utterly material world, governed by material laws, with possible (and rare) interventions by God. Mostly, the things that belong to God dwell in the rarified atmosphere…

The Community We All Need

I am publiishing this from the archives of the blog. During a time when many are practice “social distancing” in the face of the Covid19 virus, we do well to think about the nature of what we have lost (temporarily). Individualism feels easy until loneliness begins to set in. I pray this will find you well and be of use.   I once read that the Russian instinct, when under pressure, was…

Healing the Tragic Soul of the Modern West

Fr. Georges Florovsky did far more than forge a path back to the fathers for the Orthodox Church: he also mapped a route for the return of Western Christianity to its own Orthodox roots. Discussing the modern encounter of Orthodoxy with the churches of the West, he wrote: A historiosophical exegesis of the western religious tragedy must become the new “polemical theology.” But this tragedy must be re-endured and relived, precisely as…

“That Which is Lacking” – Is Jesus Enough?

The average Christian, reading his Bible in happy devotion, stumbles across this passage: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church… (Col 1:24) The passage is particularly disturbing for a certain strain of Protestant thought that emphasizes Christ’s sufficiency for all things. Christ has accomplished all things…

A Christian Ending to Our Life

Most moderate-sized American cities are dominated by two structures: bank buildings and hospitals. The former are often large and new because it’s where we like to put our money. The latter are large because we’re afraid to die and don’t want to be sick. Both are particularly modern structures. You could travel to ancient Pompei, were it to be completely reconstructed. You would find neither bank nor hospital. Of the two, hospitals…

A Parable of A Kingdom

There was a wicked kingdom in which there lived a large number of slaves. The kingdom fought wars, built cities and was extremely successful in growing its economy. Its achievements were the envy of all the other kingdoms. The slaves did well, too. They were not given low jobs or manual labor. Instead, they were “helping” slaves. Their task was to help the people of the Kingdom get by. If life in the…

The Holy Name of Jesus

  In 1913, a small Russian fleet landed a contingent of soldiers who forcibly removed a group of Russian monks from Mount Athos. This action came at the end of a stormy controversy surrounding the name of God. The monks were known as the Imyaslavsy (“Name worshippers”) and were following ideas that had been promulgated in a text published in 1907. That work, On the Caucasus Mountains, written by the staretz, Schemamonk Hilarion,…