Godless Morality

Is it possible to be moral without believing in God? I would venture to say that moral is pretty much all there is without God. To be moral requires that we have some understanding of the rules governing our behavior and a willingness to live by those rules. I have pondered many times why someone has rules if they don’t believe in God (though a culture without rules would be decidedly against…

Passionately Drunk

The Philokalia, that wonderful collection of writings by the fathers on prayer of the heart, has as its full title, The Philokalia of the Neptic Saints gathered from our Holy Theophoric Fathers, through which, by means of the philosophy of ascetic practice and contemplation, the intellect is purified, illumined, and made perfect. Little wonder it is known popularly as the Philokalia. That word, Philokalia, means “the love of beautiful things.” It is not…

The Greatest Generation

A recent conversation within the comments gives the occasion for this post. The heart of the question – which is more difficult – marriage or monasticism? My own thoughts are that everything is extremely difficult. In our modern world, even the most fundamental structures of society have been eroded. In American culture we have re-imagined the family – with the result that today a majority of children grow up in a non-traditional…

The Luck of the Draw

I have heard Fr. Thomas Hopko quote his father-in-law, Fr. Alexander Schmemann, many times as saying: “Spirituality consists in how you deal with what you’ve been dealt.” The image, of course, is of playing cards. Fr. Alexander’s point is that the circumstances of our lives are beyond our control – our spiritual lives consist in how we respond to what is beyond our control. It is home-spun wisdom. There is another image that…

The Long Journey Home

It’s not getting to the land of the dead that’s the problem. It’s getting back. – Capt. Hector Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean at World’s End It is possible to speak in great detail about the origins and problems of the “false-self” (ego). Once the characteristics of the ego, it’s narrative, defenses, aggression, and unrelenting dominance of the mind are identified, it is not only easy to see, it is difficult not…