Being Formed in the Tradition

I watched a group of linguistic-psychologists (of varying sorts) in a panel discussion the other night (CSPAN). All of them are involved in advising political campaigns. What they know about the science of language and how people actually make decisions versus how we would like to think we make decisions was staggering. Among the most staggering of agreed pieces of data was that 98% of the process of so-called rational decisions are…

Reading the Nativity Story

I was right. I said in a sermon several days ago that my congregation should expect the usual presentations on various parts of the Christmas story, the thrust of the articles (and letters to the editor) being about how either they did not occur on a literal level or how they did occur. This goes on every year. Some scientist throws around the latest Christmas theory about the star, (comet, supernova, etc.),…

What Role Do the Fathers Play in the Reading of Scripture?

It is easy from the outside to form an incorrect picture of the Orthodox interpretation of Scripture. There is actually quite a bit of variety among the Fathers when it comes to reading the Word of God. Even in the earliest centuries there were noted differences in the approach that obtained among those trained in Antioch and those trained in Alexandria, the two great centers of Christian exegesis. To a large extent,…

How the Orthodox Read Scripture

The following quote is from the Christian history website maintained by Christianity Today (an evangelical source).  It describes the crucial teaching role of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, an early Bishop of the Church and later a martyr, and perhaps the most articulate spokesman of Orthodox theology in the 2nd century. The article discusses Irenaeus’ refutation of the Gnostic heretics, particularly their misuse of Scripture. It sheds light on how the Church rightly divides the…

Traditions and the Keeping of Family

It would be easy to speak of families keeping traditions – we all have them – some of them silly – some of them profound. Some are inherited from generations, others develop completely independent of what has gone before. What I know, as the father of four (most now grown), is at least two things: tradition is unavoidable in the presence of children who can remember how something was done the year…

Keeping It Real

I have mentioned in earlier posts the new work by Aristotle Papanikolaou Being with God. It is not an easy read but brings its rewards. Papanikolaou offers the first comprehensive study of the works of Met. John Zizioulas and Vladimir Lossky, two of the 20th century’s most important Orthodox theologians, and offers a very helpful analysis and comparison. I was struck by his initial summary of the common assumption of both Zizioulas…

Saturday – the Most Holy Mother of God and the Faithful Departed

On Saturdays, the Orthodox Church remembers the Most Holy Mother of God and the faithful departed. During Holy Week, the Church celebrates Christ’s descent to the dead and His trampling down death by death on Holy Saturday, just as a week before on Lazarus Saturday, it remembers Christ’s raising Lazarus from the tomb. Throughout the year, but especially during Great Lent, there are a number of Saturdays that are “Soul Saturdays,” or…

Thursdays – the Holy Apostles and Great Hierarchs

Thursdays in the Orthodox Church are devoted to the Holy Apostles and the Great Hierarchs, especially St. Nicholas of Myra, the Wonderworker. As someone noted earlier, Thursday is the “twelfth” day of the week (if Sunday is eight) thus the association of the 12 Apostles – though which came first – the designation or the reckoning is known only to the angels – but that was Monday… St. Paul states: the Church…

Mission and Worship – America and the Orthodox

The following post is an expanded version of a comment I wrote in a recent thread. The question to which it responds is the Scriptural mandate of St. Paul (1 Cor. 9:19-23): For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law…

Sunday Morning – Resurrection

God willing, I offer a set of short meditations this week – on the days of the week. In Orthodoxy each day has its own “dedication,” something which marks the day and its hymnody, etc. Some of those days are more obvious than others. Perhaps the most obvious day of all is Sunday – the Day of Resurrection. This is the day of the central gathering of the community for worship and…