We Are Not Here to Help

My writings are sometimes treated as though I’m offering some new insight. That only tells me that the reader has only just begun to read. I pray God never to be original in my thoughts, for I long for nothing other than the Tradition. At best, I simply bring the Tradition back into the conversation again and again. I offer here a short passage from Fr. Alexander Schmemann’s For the Life of…

Unecumenism and the Sins of All

The concept of the One Church shifted during the Reformation. I offer a case in point as well as a reflection on how it changes our current understanding. The old Anglican Book of Common Prayer offers one of the early examples of a subtle shift in Christian thinking and speech. In the Thanksgiving after Communion we read: Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee for that thou dost feed us, in…

Consequences of the One Church – Unecumenism

In thinking through a theological question, I often engage in thought experiments. The Fathers might call it a form of theoria, but I won’t presume that word for myself. But what I do is to make a concerted effort to let go of unexamined assumptions. I look at a different set of assumptions and ask, “What if that were true?” The result many times yields a dead end. But knowledge of dead ends can…

A One-Storey Neighborhood

In 2010 I published Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe. The articles examined the modern, secular tendency to see God (and religion) as belonging to a sphere somehow removed from daily life. God is there if you want Him, but absent if you don’t. It is a habit of thought that conveniently ignores one of the possible dividing lines in our so-called multi-cultural nation. If religion is a private matter, then,…

A Practicing Christian

My father was an auto mechanic. He learned the trade by working on cars (airplanes before that in the war). He liked his work and would come home in the evenings with stories of things he had diagnosed and fixed. I thought he was amazing. Stanley Hauerwas tells similar stories about his own father who was a brick mason. A brick mason learns his trade by working with another mason until he…

The Sins of a Nation

Can a nation ever sin? If so, how can it be forgiven? The stories and prophetic writings of the Old Testament are replete with examples of national sin. There are certainly stories of God dealing with individuals, but, on the whole, His attention seems to be directed to Israel and other nations as a whole. The promises and pledges are made to a collective people and the chastisement falls on the whole…

A Cosmic Salvation

The conversation about Church often turns on history and doctrine. Each ecclesiological claim is shored up or torn down. In the middle of the fray, it is very easy to lose sight of what is being discussed. Church is reduced to its most institutional form. I want to suggest a larger view. My first thought is to understand the true nature of the Church. I have seen bumper stickers that proclaim, “Orthodox Christianity,…

Marriage as a Lifetime of Suffering

When couples come to ministers to talk about their marriage ceremonies, ministers think it’s interesting to ask if they love one another. What a stupid question! How would they know? A Christian marriage isn’t about whether you’re in love. Christian marriage is giving you the practice of fidelity over a lifetime in which you can look back upon the marriage and call it love. It is a hard discipline over many years.…

Good Friday and the Irony of Believing

Irony is probably too much to ask of youth. If I can remember myself in my college years, the most I could muster was sarcasm. Irony required more insight. There is a deep need for the appreciation of irony to sustain a Christian life. Our world is filled with contradiction. Hypocrisy is ever present even within our own heart. The failures of Church and those who are most closely associated with it…

Our Conciliar Salvation

I consider it both a strange mystery and a settled matter of the faith that God prefers not to do things alone. Repeatedly, He acts in a manner that involves the actions of others when, it would seem, He could have acted alone. Why would God reveal His Word to the world through the agency of men? Why would He bother to use writing? Why not simply communicate directly with people? Why…