Small Things, Great Hopes

On the surface it was not a world-shaking event. A friend of the parish loaned me a DVD last week. The DVD was a Russian DVD – with English subtitles. Again, not a world-shaking event. Thus, let me take a few minutes to explain why I felt the earth move. The movie in question is The Island, or Ostrov, to call it by its Russian name. It has won a number of…

Putting Things Back Together

One of the most striking features of the day of Pentecost, in the Scriptural account, is the emphasis on diversity. The mission to the Gentiles is a major theme in Luke’s writings (which includes Acts) and thus Pentecost has great importance for him. The disciples gathered in an upper room as they had so many times before in the preceding weeks. But now the promise they had been given was fulfilled – the…

Keeping the End of Things in its Place – and a Little Bob Dylan

I started to entitle this, “Keeping Eschatology in its Place,” but then I remembered that I should eschew obfuscation. 🙂 But the doctrine of the Last Things, generally referred to as “Eschatology,” is deeply important for our lives as Christians – primarily because our faith is an eschatological faith. There it is in the Creed, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead…” Like the incarnation, crucifixion,…

All the Fullness of Christ

When you read this you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that is, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made…

Truth and the Icon

Icons are very peculiar things as art goes. Those who do not understand them often find their “flat,” and almost “stylized” presentation of human beings and events rather stitled or off-putting. The non-Orthodox, I believe, realize that there’s more to an icon than meets the eye, but are not sure where to begin or how to frame the question. Not all Orthodox know the correct answers. We have many visitors to St.…

The Problem of Goodness

From my first class in Philosophy 101 in college, the so-called “Problem of Evil” has been tossed up as the “clincher” in arguments against the existence of God. How can a good God allow innocent people to suffer? The most devastating case ever made on the subject was in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. Ivan Karamazov, in the chapter entitled “Rebellion,” which is the chapter preceding the famous “Grand Inquisitor,” makes the details of…

The Despair of Unbelief

I am gradually learning things that I have not known before – or only suspected. Posting occasionally as I have on the subject of atheism, and receiving occasional reponses from atheists, is an education in itself. There is atheism as I imagine it to be (I suppose what it would look like were I one) and there is atheism as it has historically expressed itself (in such writers as Nietsche or Sartre)…

“Do You Know Jesus?”

I have written in numerous posts about various aspects of conversion to the Orthodox Christian faith. Oftentimes there is an unspoken agreement between myself as writer and those who read in which we assume that we understand each other – that when I say “conversion” we all know what I mean. On reflection there are several very distinct kinds of conversions – though each has a relationship to the other. There is…

A Letter from Butyrskaya Prison – Pascha, 1928

Serge Schmemann, son of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, in his wonderful little book, Echoes of a Native Land, records a letter written from one of his family members of an earlier generation, who spent several years in the prisons of the Soviets and died there. The letter, written on the night of Pascha in 1928 is to a family member, “Uncle Grishanchik” (This was Grigory Trubetskoi who had managed to emigrate to Paris).…