Seeing and Believing – A Noetic Life Part 2

“I see what you mean.” Language holds many secrets that we ignore. Some of the secrets are quite old. If we pay proper attention, we are able to discover things that we already know, but did not yet know that we knew. The phrase, “Now I see,” or other various uses of “seeing” as a form of “knowing,” is quite ancient in its insight. The Greek word for knowing is εἰδῶ, and…

Getting Your Mind Right

In the classic movie, Cool Hand Luke (1967), the lead character struggles in a Deep South prison chain-gang setting. Very cool towards authority, he is finally, at the Warden’s direction, beaten by the guards. There is a memorable bit of dialog: Luke (lying in a grave he’s been forced to dig): Oh God! Oh God! I pray to God you don’t hit me anymore. I’ll do anything you say, but I can’t…

God By The Numbers

Math is very strange stuff. A serious question within the community of science and math is whether math is an invention or a discovery. Is it something that we have just made up out of our head, or is it something we observed and discovered (because it is already there)? This might sound like a silly thing to wonder about, but it is indeed most serious. The ancients (Plato in particular) thought…

The Problem with Going to Heaven

“That man might become God…”  On its surface this statement simply sounds blasphemous. Interpreted in a wrong manner, it would  be worse than blasphemous. When read correctly, however, it is the very essence of salvation itself. “To go to heaven…” from my childhood this phrase has been used as the goal of a Christian life. But, interpreted in its most common manner, it is only a Christianized version of paganism. The distinction between…

Be Still and Know God

There is a point of stillness within us, though we rarely recognize it. We inhabit the world of our thoughts and feelings and rarely find them to be quiet. Almost nothing challenges the “normalcy” of this noisy world – almost everything we encounter is aimed towards it and markets itself with this reality in mind. Not so the gospel. Christ consistently and persistently speaks past the noise in a person’s head. He…

Comfort One Another

A Meditation on a Conversation My wife and I had opportunity for a morning’s conversation with Archimandrite Zacharias of St. John’s Monastery in Essex during our recent trip to England. The conversation ranged from the general to the private. One segment has been a constant meditation for me since that morning. It concerned comfort. Fr. Zacharias noted that God “wants to comfort us.” The Father: Blessed be the God and Father of…

The Struggle To Be Real

Very few modern Christians who read English are unfamiliar with the writings of CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. Lewis’ expositions of Christian thought as well as his popular fiction (The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, Out of the Silent Planet, etc.) have become modern classics. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings has become something of an industry unto itself and has spawned an entire genre of literature. Many…

Nostalgia for Paradise

Recent conversations have brought up the name of Dr. Alexander Kalomiros.  Author of the River of Fire and other well known Orthodox writings, his work was no stranger to controversy. But his work also came from a wonderful heart. Here is a short offering from the small book, Nostalgia for Paradise. When the ascetical life of a Christian and the privations that he imposes upon himself are beyond the measure of grace…

The Demons of our Time

In 1872, Dostoevsky published his novel, The Demons [Бесы]. It demonstrated in a microcosm, the insanity that lay within the revolutionary movements of 19th century Russia. That insanity broke upon the world in 1917 and has remained present with us, in one form or another, ever since. The madness that he describes takes place in a small town, away from the great capitals of Russia. It involves a relatively small cast of…

Facing Up to God

I have been asked to write further on the “theology of the face.” It is surprisingly neglected in many parts of the Christian world – and though it is not often discussed within Orthodoxy – it is nevertheless deeply at the heart of Orthodox devotion. Nothing in the Old Testament more clearly reveals the personhood of God than the references to His face. Man is described as created “in the image and…