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…

Love and Freedom in a One-Storey Universe

I offer the first-ever guest article on the blog. My eldest daughter, Matushka Mary Holste, sent me this piece. I loved it and wanted to share with others. Enjoy. St. Augustine said, “Love and do what you will.” This statement describes a way of being that offers us both freedom and joy. We are to love and be transformed by love. We are not able to love fully without the strenuous work…

Depth Perception

One of the great blessings of the human brain can be found in its ability to take two things and make them one. We have two eyes, which means they necessarily see things differently. Look at the world with one eye open and switch to the other eye. Things appear to move. Viewing the world through one eye also makes things appear somewhat “flat.” The wonder of “stereo-scopic vision” (seeing through two…

The Beauty of Truth and the Existence of God

What is the criterion of the rightness of this life? Beauty.  – Fr. Pavel Florensky It is our habit of thought to think of Truth as, more or less, a correct description or a correct statement. As such, Beauty belongs to some other realm of thought. Beauty cannot be “correct” or “incorrect.” In Orthodox thought, Truth is understood as a matter of being (it is ontological). If something is true, then it…

Icons in a Literal World

The Scripture tells us that the “pure in heart shall see God.” I have always assumed that this describes a present event and not a promise about a distant life after death. We do not see God now, because our hearts are not pure. In the same manner, we do not see the reality of the world – because our hearts are darkened. I am increasingly convinced that the “literal” world that…

Keep the Peace

Preserve your inner peace at any cost. Do not trade your inner peace for anything in the world. Make peace with yourself, and heaven and earth will make peace with you. I recall an Anglican abbot once saying that during the Vietnam War his monastery had many visitors and inquirers. He noted many of the young were deeply angry about peace. The irony of his observation is the irony of our predicament.…

The Sacrament of the Heart

Scholars of the New Testament occasionally conjecture about what is termed the ipsissima verba of Christ, the “very words themselves.” It is a term for those sayings that are considered historically authentic beyond question. One saying which in my opinion belongs to such a category are the so-called “words of institution” (“this is my body…this is my blood”). They are certainly the words with the earliest attestation of any spoken by Christ.…