A Culture of Remembrance

America is torn in a debate at present over the building of a Mosque at Ground Zero, the former location of the Twin Towers in New York, destroyed by an act of terrorism. At the same time, an Orthodox Church that was crushed by the falling towers has been ignored by New York authorities. It is a painful time, full of the anger and recriminations that seem to accompany all political discourse…

At the Edge

A reprint…since we were discussing the end of the world… One of the peculiar marks of life in the modern world is the sense one has of standing on the edge. We are always (it seems) either standing on the edge of disaster or on the edge of some great discovery. Of course, a lot of this is simply the way we market the world to ourselves. But it is an inherent…

We Have Seen

St. John, in the prologue of his gospel, says the following: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father (John 1:14). In his first Epistle he says the following: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and…

Babylon and the Trees of Pentecost

From the Feast of Pentecost The arrogance of building the tower in the days of old led to the confusion of tongues. Now the glory of the knowledge of God brings them wisdom. There God condemned the impious for their transgression. Here Christ has enlightened the fishermen by the Spirit. There disharmony was brought about for punishment.// Now harmony is renewed for the salvation of our souls. The first time I saw…

Heaven On Their Minds

Years ago, I recall hearing someone complain about zealous Christians, “They are so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly good.” The truth of the statement depends entirely on the understanding of heaven and earth. It is possible to pursue a version of “heaven” such that the spiritual life is undermined. It is also possible to pursue heaven in such a way that the world around us is transformed. It is…

Isaac of Syria on Humility

From Met. Hilarion Alfeyev”s The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian: To speak of humility (mukkaka or makkikuta) meant to Isaac to speak of God, for God in his vision is primarily the One who is ‘meek and lowly in heart’. God’s humility was revealed to the world in the Incarnation of the Word. In the Old Testament, God remained invisible to and unattainable by everyone approaching him. But when he clothed…

Engaging Creation-Praise Him and Highly Exalt Him Forever

Writing on beauty can seem an abstract approach to the created order – except that it draws our attention to see the world in a particular way. It is important, it seems to me, to at least see the world. So much of theology and what passes for religion can be mere intellectual exercise that religion and abstraction become synonymous. This is foreign to the true life of Orthodoxy and the true…

Personal Issues

The title of this post is quite misleading – for in proper theological language – there are no “personal issues.” Our culture is quite fond of issues – both the politico-entertainment industry – and many individuals. It is a word and a phenomenon that has been baptized by the culture such that “being concerned with the issues” makes someone sound as if things matter to them in a significant way. The Orthodox…

Take, Eat

The simple words of Christ to His disciples at the Last Supper were profound on many levels: the commandment was short and straight-forward; it reversed an ancient prohibition; it set the primary manner for human beings to receive grace and thus teaches us much about how it is we receive grace in a normative manner (and were always meant to). The Orthodox are somewhat fond of quoting this simple commandment, only if…

Riding on a Donkey

As far back as Genesis, in the prophecy of Jacob over his sons, we hear the association of the Messiah with a donkey: Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s children shall bow down before you.       Judah is a lion’s whelp;       From the prey, my son, you have gone up.       He bows down, he lies down…