Playing with God

There are things that children understand instinctively. And the things that children know and understand are worth consideration. They have much to teach us. Among the most natural things children do is play. Depending on how you define play, it is among the first activities in which we engage. It comes to dominate the lives of children and is the hallmark of their existence. Play is what children do. It is quite…

Are We Connected?

How connected are we? Do your actions, thoughts, feelings, have an effect on me even if I am unaware (or on the other side of the world)? Is my existence bound within the existence of other human beings, or are we simply sharing the same planet for a period of time? Connections between people, particularly of a spiritual nature, were declared to be mere superstitions in the march of modern rationalism. To…

Traveling the Old Roads

In C.S. Lewis’ book, That Hideous Strength, the character of Merlin (the ancient “wizard” of Romano-Celtic Britain) is awakened from a timeless slumber in an underground chamber. There is a group of evil men who are searching for him, thinking they can use his magic for their own schemes. As it turns out, Merlin is a Christian, albeit a very ancient one. He becomes an ally of the small band of faithful…

The Royal Priesthood in a Secular World

St. Peter describes us as a “royal priesthood.” “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…” (1 Peter 2:9) We live in a world metaphor and simile. That is to say, we might call someone a “king” or “priest,” but really only mean that they remind us…

Mystical Theology and the Orthodox Faith

A turning point in my life took place in an unremarkable manner. In my college years, my best friend approached me in the university library and thrust a book into my hand. “Steve, read this!” He said. The book was Vladimir Lossky’s Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. The year was 1976. I did as he asked. I understood very little of what I read, though it changed my life. Interestingly, I…

Beneath the Letter of the World

For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. (1 Cor. 9:9-10) In this odd little passage in St. Paul’s writings, we…

When Miracles Ceased

One of the stranger ideas that accompanied the Reformation, was the notion that miracles had ended at the time of the New Testament’s completion. Never stated as a doctrinal fact in the mainstream of Protestantism, it remained a quiet assumption, particularly when joined with an anti-Roman Catholicism in which the various visions, weeping statues, and saints lives were considered to be fabrications of a corrupt priesthood. Stories abounded during the Reformation about…

Rest for Your Soul

If…then… Among the most alluring ideas in our lives are the notions of cause and effect, performance and award. Nothing seems more soothing than the simple promise that doing one thing leads to the reward of the other. It is predictable, subject to control, clearly delineates the rules of reward and punishment and makes obvious who deserves what. Nothing could be neater. The limit to this idea comes when we encounter living,…

A Modern Lent

Few things are as difficult in the modern world as fasting. It is not simply the action of changing our eating habits that we find problematic – it’s the whole concept of fasting and what it truly entails. It comes from another world. We understand dieting – changing how we eat in order to improve how we look or how we feel. But changing how we eat in order to know God…

A Progressive Marriage

How is your marriage progressing? This simple question is a way of focusing our attention on right-thinking about progress and the Christian life. I posed the question to myself – I have been married now for 47 years. My first thought was, “What would ‘progress’ in a marriage mean?” Do I love my wife more, or any less? What would more love look like? The truth of marriage is that progress is…