The Frontier of Personhood

The word “frontier” has long been associated with certain aspects of American mythology. “Frontier Days” is short-hand for log cabins, flintlocks, and the rugged life. Occasionally it takes on aspects of the “Wild West.” In recent generations it has been moved off-planet, such that we hear Captain Kirk intone, “Space…….the final frontier.” It is also a word whose meaning has been forgotten, as our mythology has overtaken it. Originally (15th century), the…

God and the Mystery of the Self

St. Augustine, in his Confessions, offered this simple statement: “Noverim me, noverim te.” “If I knew myself, I should have known Thee.” There is probably no writing in the life of the early Church as “self-reflective” as Augustine’s. His Confessions have sometimes been called the first “modern” writing. They are certainly the first writing that can properly be described as “autobiographical.” He gives us the first truly “interior” view of an ancient…

Mediocrity, Envy, and Grace

The 1984 film, Amadeus, tells the story of the child genius, Mozart. IMdB describes it in this manner: The life, success and troubles of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as told by Antonio Salieri, the contemporaneous composer who was insanely jealous of Mozart’s talent and claimed to have murdered him… Mozart’s genius is so profound that it is little more than a toy in the hands of a very spoiled and immature boy/man. Salieri…

The Sacrifice of Worship

When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22), there was no questioning on Abraham’s part about what was intended. He understood precisely what was involved in such a thing. There was wood to be gathered, an altar of stones to be constructed, the victim to be bound, and then the slitting of its throat with the gushing forth of blood, all consummated in the burning fires of the now-completed…

Robed in the Glorious Garment of Salvation

“My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, for He has clothed me with the garment of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of gladness; as a bridegroom He has set a crown on me; and as a bride adorns herself with jewels, so my God has adorned me.” With these words from Isaiah, the priest begins the ritual of dressing prior to the Liturgy. With each item of his priestly…

Pentecost and the Liturgy of Hades

Pascha (Easter) comes with a great note of joy in the Christian world. Christ is risen from the dead and our hearts rejoice. That joy begins to wane as the days pass. Our lives settle back down to the mundane tasks at hand. After 40 days, the Church marks the Feast of the Ascension, often attended by only a handful of the faithful (Rome has more-or-less moved the Ascension to a Sunday…

Over Come Evil By Doing Good

Drawing on the Book of Proverbs, St. Paul offers a simple admonition to his readers: “…if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20) He then adds: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. It is a very simple statement. However, when anyone begins to suggest what…

When America Got Sick

It was in the years following the Civil War, America was hard on the path to “becoming great.” The industrial revolution had moved into full swing, railroads criss-crossed the country, immigration was gaining speed, and wealth was accumulating at a rate never seen before. We were slowly moving from our original agrarian economy towards life as an industrial nation. The middle-class was growing, education was increasing, and the life of management was…

What Happens When We Sing to God?

“God inhabits the praises of Israel.” (Psalm 22:3) The true nature of existence is best expressed as communion. Though we experience much of our life as unique individuals, the experience of all that is around us remains one of communion. In no way do we actually exist as an independent entity, somehow separate from our environment. We breathe the world; we eat the world; we drink the world; every cell of our…

To Live Within the Tradition

For a period of about three years in my late teens and early 20’s, I was deeply involved in a charismatic house church. It was a deeply committed group of people (some of us lived in a commune together). Our services could run for hours with very intensive Bible teaching. A feature of that time and the charismatic movement was a concern for the “latest word.” By that was meant new insights,…