Thanksgiving Evening – 2007 – America and Christianity

My Thanksgiving over the past few years has mostly served as one of the few occasions for the gathering of extended family. Somethings are measured in these meetings – the passing of time – I am older; my parents are older – and now the children are increasingly the adults. I am beginning to assume my role as an elder (though not quite “elderly”). I’m sure many places across the world have…

A Little Child Enters the Temple

The story in the gospel of Christ’s visits to the Temple in his childhood – the first at 40 days of age (marked by the Feast of the Presentation and the occasion of prophecy by the Elder Simeon and Hannah the Prophetess) and at age 12 when He is lost and later found giving instruction to the teachers and scribes, is a reminder of the importance of children in the Temple of…

The Abolition of Man and Some Other Thoughts

I frequently find myself thinking about C.S. Lewis’ little masterpiece, The Abolition of Man, if only because it was correct when he wrote it and has been prophetic ever since. It’s odd, the copy I own is old, tattered, and rescued from a fire – much like his thesis. That thesis is almost too complex to put into this posting – at least in the time I’ve allowed myself to write today.…

Do We Need More Information?

On occasion I run across Christian writings that embrace the notion of “progressive revelation,” or in other circles, “development of doctrine.” I am aware that the two phrases have different meanings – but there is something of a common thread – a thread that links parts of our modern world. That simple thread is the thought that something new, something not yet known, will be the answer that we’ve not yet had.…

What’s At Stake in the Atonement

One of the more common topics both on this blog and on a number of other Orthodox sites are questions about the Atonement. In general the Atonement refers to how it is we understand that Christ reconciled us to God. When we say, “Christ died for our sins,” what does it mean? The questions of the Orthodox tend to center around the doctrine of the Substitutionary Atonement, which in conservative Evangelical circles…

Music and Scenes from the “Desert”

One of the better known monasteries in Russian history is the Valaam monastery. Taken over by government authorities during the time of the Communists and used for other purposes, it has been returned today to the Church and is growing into a full-functioning, thriving monastery, one of the “deserts” where spiritual warfare on behalf of the world is unceasing. The music is a development of the “Valaam Chant” that has its own…

Christ Crucified

Writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul makes one his most famous statements: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1Cor. 2:2). It is among the clearest definitions of the apostolic preaching to be found anywhere in the New Testament, or perhaps I should say, “everywhere in the New Testament.” For this is not a statement of the peculiar doctrine of St. Paul, but a plain…

What An Icon Says

According to the Seventh Ecumenical Council, “An icon does with color what the Scriptures do with words.” It is a very simple, straightforward explanation of icons – but it holds within it a world of theological understanding. This morning I had opportunity with a visitor of the Church to fall into conversation about the Scriptures. The discussion turned towards the relationship between the Old and New Testament. My point was to underscore…

The Spirit, the Modern World, Pentecostalism and Orthodoxy

Part of the larger Christian context in which Orthodoxy lives today includes not only Catholics (of various sorts), Protestants (of even more sorts), but Pentecostals as well (of which there are quite a few sorts). Indeed, having come splashing onto the modern religious scene around 1900, Pentecostals have been by far the fastest growing of all Christian groups, and have had huge influences everywhere, with only the possible exception of the Orthodox.…

Where the Heart Resides

One of the questions that surrounds the knowledge of God, as spoken of by the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Eastern Church, is that of where the heart resides. By this, I do not mean where the heart is located (in the chest or wherever), but where the heart itself lives. Though the heart is by no means disconnected from our rationality, it is also resident in many other places of…