To Be or Not To Be – A Moral Question?

As I continue this series on morality (or unmorality) the conversation continues to push me back to basics. There are deeply important reasons for unthinking the morality of the modern world and rethinking its place in our relationship with God. The most important reason is because it is incorrect to think of us as primarily moral beings. So what would constitute a moral being? A Moral Being A being understood primarily as…

The Sweet Smoke of Prayer

Let my prayer arise in Your sight as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.  Psalm 141 My parish has a fairly steady stream of visitors from outside the Orthodox experience. Among their first questions are ones concerning the use of incense. There is virtually no Orthodox service that does not include the burning of incense, with the priest or deacon making the circuit of the Church swinging…

Authority: Answers Without Questions

We imagine that life is made up of questions seeking answers. The opposite is also true: life is often made up of answers seeking questions. More troublesome than this are pseudo answers seeking questions, for the questions created by pseudo answers are inevitably pseudo questions. This, I suggest, goes far in describing the landscape of modern Christianity. For whatever the real question might be, what we see in modern Christianity cannot be…

The Bible and the Spirit of Democracy

My first introduction to ancient writings was in my Classical Greek classes my freshman year of college. Most of those were tortuous exercises filled with the rules of a foreign grammar. My friends laughed at how hard and long I labored in those studies. With time, however, the work began to yield pleasure as the language became a familiar friend. The same experience followed in my sophomore year as I added Latin…

The Grammar of the Faith

Recent studies have documented the fact that we begin to acquire language from our earliest moments. Even the babbling of infants plays a role. Sounds, words, facial expressions – all have a part in perhaps the most complex of all human activities. As we learn to speak, we not only learn words and sounds, but we simultaneously learn the unspoken rules that govern every language – the rules of grammar. I recall…

The Church and the Scriptures

My recent articles on the place of the Scriptures, their relationship with the Church, and the proper manner it which they are to be regarded have drawn more than a little comment (and some fire) including on other blogsites. In this article I want to take time to answer some specific points and to add some further observations. A Reform article, by Michael J. Kruger (Professor of NT at Reform Theological School in Charlotte),…

The Tradition of Being Human

Being human is a cultural event. No one is human by themselves and no one becomes human without the help of those around them. This is so obvious it should not need to be stated, but contemporary man often imagines himself to be his own creation. The exercise of individual freedom is exalted as the defining characteristic of our existence: “I am what I choose to be.” To suggest that most of…

Walking in a One-Storey Universe

Our modern culture celebrates the individual and his/her choices. We prize freedom above everything. But we long for something we cannot express. Human beings were created for communion and participation and we lose our way without it. The instinct for such a life has never disappeared from our culture, despite almost centuries of nurtured individualism. It gets expressed it bizarre ways. We have an almost mystical experience with certain sports and the…

The Modern Project

When I was doing a graduate degree in theology, it was not uncommon to hear discussion of the “project of modernity.” It was an academic catch-phrase to describe the social/philosophical/political/religious efforts to construct the modern world. The Enlightenment  (17th-18th centuries) brought new ways of thinking into the mainstream of Western culture (and now the world). It newly imagined the meaning and construction of the State; it pondered and reinvented Christianity; most importantly,…

The Sin of Democracy

“Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those…