You Are Not Your Sin – Part 2…the Chains that Bind

Imagine that you have been shackled with chains on your ankles. The chains are heavy, make a lot of noise, and make it impossible for you to run. You cannot successfully climb over anything or dance. The chains are heavy enough that you quickly become exhausted and are limited in the things you can do and for how long you can do them. Imagine that not only are you shackled, but so…

You Are Not Your Sin

  Shame is powerful. Having begun writing on the topic, it is important to say more. The Tradition, particularly in the texts that discuss the spiritual life, contains many references to shame. In recent times, it has become a topic within the field of psychology and in the community surrounding recovery from drugs and alcohol. Strangely, it has been largely neglected in spiritual writing, even among the Orthodox. I am not surprised…

Is the Universe Tragic?

Tragedy is among the older forms of story-telling. The ancient Greeks can be said to have perfected it, and theorized about it with great care. One need only read the plays of Aeschylus or Sophocles to come away with a deep appreciation of the very nature of tragedy. I will not offer anything like the sophisticated analysis of Aristotle. However, I will make a single observation that seems apt in thinking about…

Making It Up in America

As I noted in my previous article, stories are essential in the formation of character. We do not simply exist, we think about our existence and are driven to make sense of it. The sense we make takes the form of a story. For people in the contemporary world, this is simply problematic. Stanley Hauerwas states the essence of the problem: The project of modernity was to produce people who believe they…

The Cross as the Way of Life

Our lives make sense. This may not always seem to be true, but it is. For each of us, there are inner principles that guide our decisions and prioritize our actions. Life is not entirely random. Much of that inner sense of things is not conscious. The day becomes very busy, and we can’t stop and analyze each action and think about its meaning and purpose. Sometimes, you just have to drive the…

The Last Pascha – A Reverie

I had a reverie around the time of Pascha. My life has had many chapters. I have loved friends and lost friends. My memory is filled with much that is bittersweet – not my favorite flavor. But my reverie was a dream of Pascha – the Last Pascha. I wrote this in a Facebook post and have looked it up numerous times for balm for my tired soul. Today, I wanted more…

What the Devil Doesn’t Know

I have been reading (more like imbibing) the transcript of a talk by Fr. Jonathan Tobias. It will bear re-reading several times. I was deeply struck by these two paragraphs: What is utterly shocking here about these events is, as a kid I always wondered: Why did the devil let Jesus down there in the first place if he knew what was going to happen? Well, the first answer, according to St.…

The Long Defeat and the Cross

Having posted an article on marriage as a “lifetime of suffering,” I thought it worth reflecting on the larger picture of the Christian faith in this world. For marriage is a primary image used throughout the New Testament when speaking of our salvation. In Christian terms – that marriage and that salvation are shown forth in the Cross of Christ. This article, from over a year back, seemed worth re-presenting. Few ideas…

The Last Banquet

Since we’re thinking about heaven and hell… Once a week I teach a class at a local alcohol and drug treatment program. It is on the “spirituality of recovery.” Recently I shared Marmaladov’s speech from Crime and Punishment (at the end of this article). There were tears in the room. For many, the version of the gospel they have heard only condemns. Most of the men I meet want to get well, to get…

No More Debt

It is a situation that has become all too familiar: overwhelming debt that cannot be repaid. It is an image that the Scriptures know full well. But it is a situation that is easily seen from two sides – and only one of them belongs to God. The two sides are simple: the one who owes the debt and the one to whom the debt must be paid. And the Scriptures have a…