Orthodoxy and the Christ-Haunted Culture of the South

One of my favorite priests in the Diocese of the South is Fr. Paul Yerger who serves Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church in Clinton, Mississippi. His gentle demeanor and kind words are what I have always associated with the South, though it is rarely witnessed today. I had a chance to visit with him this week at the Diocesan Assembly in Miami. Three years ago he was our keynote speaker at our assembly…

The Intercession of the Saints

Doubtless one of the less understood aspects of the Orthodox faith, particularly by Protestants, is the importance of the intercession of the saints. Orthodox doctrine and teaching is quite clear that we do not treat saints as objects of worship, nor as worthy of worship. This would be blasphemous to us. Nevertheless, it is a huge part of the “ethos” of Orthodoxy, probably only understood from the inside and then only after…

The Boundary of Death

This was posted originally last Spring. I have posted again for re-reading and for its assurance that Christ is the only guarantee of our dignity. Having spent two-and-a-half years as a Hospice Chaplain, I had opportunity to be present to over 200 deaths (that does not include the many I have witnessed in my years in ordained ministry. As you sit with someone who is dying, there finally arises a boundary beyond…

Christ the Only Assurance of the Dignity of Man

  I am in Miami attending the annual Diocesan Assembly for the South. This first evening was primarily time with with our Archbishop DMITRI, and my brother clergy in the Diocese. I have known His Eminence since around 1994 and have, on occasion, spent a extended periods with him. I have heard him speak at least three to four times a year (and sometimes more). I add to that numerous private conversations.…

The Fire of Pentecost in Orthodoxy

No one, of course, can describe the fire that fell on the Apostles at Holy Pentecost. At most we are told that the Spirit appeared “like tongues of flame lighting upon the heads of the Apostles.” Not much a description. Other times in Scripture we are told of a Pillar of Fire and of the bush that burned but was not consumed. Again, this is very little information. To this day, there…

Fools for Christ – Remembering What Matters

I have been viewing the movie, Ostrov, which I reviewed here, simply because watching it feeds me where watching something else would not. I think I have been particularly fed by mediatating on the actions of the character of Fr. Anatoly, who is something of a “fool for Christ.” He is not the most learned (not learned at all particularly) but he knows what a man must know: God. In that, he…

To Know God

I have had some correspondence recently on the subject of knowing God. The knowledge of God, generally spoken of in a very experiential manner, is an absolute foundation in Orthodox theology. Nothing replaces it – no dogmatic formula – no Creed – not even Scripture – though Orthodoxy would see none of these things as separate from the knowledge of God. But the questions I have received are very apt. In a…

On Hope in God alone and on Confidence in Him

Although, as we have said, it is very important not to rely on our own efforts in this unseen warfare, at the same time, if we merely give up hope of ourselves and despair of ourselves without having found another support, we are certain to flee immediately from the battlefield or to be overcome and taken prisoner by our enemies. Therefore, together with complete renunciation of our selves, we should plant in…

What Is at Stake?

In the struggle to come to the wholeness of Personhood – to become the “true self” rather than to sink into the “false self” our very existence as spiritual beings is at stake. If you read across Orthodox books that center on the issue of Personhood – a common theme becomes visible. Our fall and our brokenness leave us vulnerable, even in our religious efforts, to the development of a “false self”…

The Struggle of the Person

I have begun to touch on issues of the “false self” and the “true self” for which we could find other language, a number of different metaphors. Theologically all this is grounded in the proper understanding of what it means to exist as a person. Of course, it means to exist in a completely unrepeatable, unique existence. There will never be another you. It also does not mean to exist in isolation…