A Father’s Wisdom

It is interesting that in reading the life of St. Silouan of Mt. Athos the figure that stands out most in his life is that of his (unlearned) peasant father. His father was clearly a man of great faith. St. Silouan thought his father to be wiser than many so-called spiritual fathers. The following story is an interesting account of how a father dealt with anger in correcting his son. This excerpt…

Sin Is Not A Legal Problem – Athanasius and the Atonement

I often struggle when people speak of their “sins.” Indeed, it is not unusual to be asked, “Is ___ a sin?” The question always makes me feel like a lawyer. Imagine that, instead of a doctor, you have a lawyer whom you consult for your medical problems. You are having trouble breathing. You’re short of breath and occasionally you cough up blood. You go to your doctor (lawyer) and he examines you.…

Begotten of the Father

No revelation is more central to the Christian faith than God as Father. Some might immediately respond that the Trinity should be seen as the central revelation. But, in Orthodox understanding, the Trinity has its source (πηγή) in the Father.  We should understand this not only as a matter of Trinitarian thought, but as the proper grounding of the spiritual life as well. To be a Christian in the proper sense, to…

Through the Prayers of Our Holy Fathers

It is a phrase that is heard frequently in Orthodox services: “Through the prayers of our holy fathers, have mercy on us and save us!” The meaning of that phrase is enlarged and enlightened in the writings of the Elder Sophrony. The following excerpt is from his book, St. Silouan the Athonite. Prayer for the whole world, for all Adam, in many instances distracts the monk from putting himself at the service…

Truth, Lies and Icons

As verbal beings, we live in a world of icons. We experience the world in an iconic fashion. A major difficulty for us is that we have lost the vocabulary of iconic reality. We have substituted the language of photography. The dissonance between reality and our photographic assumptions has led us to doubt both. Man is an iconographer and needs to re-learn what that means. +++ Franz Kafka famously wrote: “The Lie…

The End of the Modern World

“Welcome to the 21st Century!” Pick your issue, and if its outcome conforms to a popular, desired norm you are likely to hear such a greeting. The greeting also implies that a less than desirable outcome is wrong because it doesn’t belong to our time. It might be characterized as “medieval,” “outmoded,” “out-of-date,” “primitive,” “Neanderthal,” “reactionary,” etc. None of which actually describe anything. Such labels are value judgments and rhetorical devices that…

Has Your Bible Become A Quran?

Those who engage in debates on a regular basis know that the argument itself can easily shape the points involved. This is another way of saying that some debates should be avoided entirely since merely getting involved in them can be the road to ruin. There are a number of Christian scholars (particularly among the Orthodox) who think that the classical debates between Christians and Muslims during the Middle Ages had just such…

Memory Eternal

“The greatest danger in the modern world is the attack on man as the image of God. That God became man in order to unite man to God is the only sure Divine underwriting of human worth. We have value because of the image we bear.” – Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas – 1924-2011 I was received into the Orthodox Church under the omophor of Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas in 1998. I am but…

Saintless Christianity

What would Christianity mean if there were no saints? To rephrase the question: What would be the meaning of the Christian gospel if there were no wonderworkers, no people who had been transfigured with the Divine Light, no clairvoyant prophets, no healers, no people who had raised the dead, no ascetics living alone in the deserts for years on end, no beacons of radical, all-forgiving love?  What would be the meaning of…