The Truth of Mary

It is a commonplace among Christians to say that “truth is a person.” Of course, this is rightly drawn from Christ’s statement, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). However, most Christians fail to comprehend what it is that they have just said. That truth is a person is more than a convenient debating point. It says something about the nature of truth and how it is rightly…

God and the Box

It is a commonplace that you “cannot put God in a box.” It is an affirmation of the transcendence of God and of the limits of human understanding. It is also a common rhetorical ploy to shut down a theological discussion. But, let’s think a little more about the box. I am deeply averse to statements that begin: “God cannot.” They are often little more than bad theological reasoning. For example, “God…

Why the Orthodox Honor Mary

The most difficult part of my Orthodox experience to discuss with the non-Orthodox is the place and role of the Mother of God in the Church and in my life. It is, on the one hand, deeply theological and even essential to a right understanding of the Orthodox faith, while, on the other hand, being intensely personal beyond the bounds of conversation. I am convinced, as well, that the Orthodox approach to…

Male and Female Created He Them – Part One

Please note that I have made some changes in this article, in listening to comments and observations. Despite all social discussion to the contrary, the most irreducible level of our human existence is binary – we exist as male or female. This intuition, stated in the story of creation, has a profound place within the Christian gospel. The story of our salvation is revealed to us in terms that are male and female. Far…

An Artist’s Eye and the Kingdom of God

Eyes they have but do not see. I have a daughter who is an artist. Her art is a gift that eludes me. The wonder is not so much in the skill of her hands but in her eyes. For having watched this phenomenon grow up and mature, I am certain of one thing: she sees the world in a way I do not. It is not so much that she sees beauty…

Superstition and the Material God

People gather at the end of Church for a “travel blessing.” A priest chants a prayer and sprinkles water over them with a brush. They cross themselves and have some sense that their travels will now be better. Many modern people watching this procedure would describe the process as “superstitious.” It appears to them that physical actions (sprinkling water) are expected to have some remote effect on later events (travel safety, etc.).…

Making Sense of a Jumbled World

Listening to the Nativity collection of readings for the Vespers of Christmas Eve (there were eight of them), my mind drifted to the “jumbled mess” that is the Old Testament. We speak of it as if it were a single thing, when, it is many things (over 40), and some of those things are jumbled concatenations of other jumbled things. I can only imagine what someone coming to the Old Testament for…

How Big Is Your Christmas?

We have entered the days when news pundits are asking, “Will Christmas be big this year?” When individuals ask one another, “Are you having a big Christmas this year?” It is understoood that economics are involved (as with the media). Our modern economies are greatly dependent on the massive buying that occurs between late November and late December. Christmas shopping is so good for the economy (as presently constituted) that if Christ were…

An Illegal Christmas

The great advantage to thinking about God in legal terms, is that nothing has to change. If what happens between us and God is entirely external, a matter of arranging things such as the avoidance of eternal punishment or the enjoyment of eternal reward, then the world can go on as it is. In the legal model that dominates contemporary Christian thought, the secular world of things becomes nothing more than an…

The Earth Stood Still

Orthodox Christians commemorate the death (Dormition) of the Virgin Mary during the month of August (New Calendar, the 15th, Old Calendar, the 28th). For those for whom such feasts are foreign, it is easy to misunderstand what the Orthodox are about – and to assume that this is simply a feast to Mary because we like that sort of thing. Flippant attitudes fail to perceive the depths of the mystery of our…