The Creation and the Christian

This week I am in Pittsburgh for the All American Council of the Orthodox Church in America. We have many difficult things to deal with and I ask your prayers. I will try to work with the blog as I have time. Today I offer some thoughts of Met. Kallistos Ware, who led the pilgrimage I recently made to the Holy Land. His thoughts are on creation and our Christian relationship to…

The Meaning of Meaning

Yesterday I posted on the “meaning of Scripture.” I want to go a further step today and write on the “meaning of meaning.” For it is all too possible to understand “meaning” as less than it should be. In a culture in which the dominant form of Scriptural interpretation is based on some form or structure of “reason,” meaning quickly becomes nothing more than “intellectual understanding.” This itself is a distortion of…

The Meaning of Scripture

What is the meaning of Scripture? Where do we look for it and how is it found? It is interesting to listen to the disarray of voices on this subject. My early training, in college and later in a liberal protestant seminary, was to look, first, to “authorial intent” (to use a constitutional interpretive phrase), and to the “Sitz im Leben” (the “life situation” or “context”) and through a host of various…

When Creation Speaks

An interesting theme within the holy Scriptures is the “voice of Creation.” The famous Old Testament Canticle, Song of the Three Young Men, in English traditionally known as the Benedicite, omnia opera Domini, and which in Orthodoxy forms the basis of the Seventh and Eighth odes of the Canon, very famously calls on creation to offer praise to God: O let the earth bless the Lord; O ye mountains and hills, bless…

Reading Rightly

The course of your reading should be parallel to the aim of your way of life…. Most books that contain instructions in doctrine are not useful for purification. The reading of many diverse books brings distraction of mind down on you. Know, then, that not every book that teaches about religion is useful for the purification of the consciousness and the concentration of the thoughts. St. Isaac of Syria quoted in The…

Assimilating the Gospel

A pilgrimage is reduced to tourism if it does not become a part of the pilgrim himself. I have been home for a little over 24 hours – most of it in the stupor of “jet-lag.” I have sat down to write several times, only to find that I was too tired to say much. This week may carry some aspect of that until my body is back on Eastern Daylight Time.…

Risky Business – Revisited

I offer this reprint from last year – my pilgrimage time in Jerusalem is not leaving much time for writing. It is obvious in this city of Holy Places that how we keep such places – including those within the heart is deeply important. This reprint seemed to fit those thoughts. May God bless. Amoun found Abba Poemen and told him, “When I visit a neighbor or he visits me, he hesitate…

How Simple Should Christianity Be?

There is a tendency in our modern world to make things as simple as possible. We hide the complexities behind a keyboard (I don’t know how my computer works – or not very well) or we treat things that seem complex as unnecessary obfuscations. This same drive to simplify was very much alive in the 16th century as Christianity underwent reform in many places of the world. Thomas Cranmer, the English Reformer,…

Truth and Existence: Conclusions to be Drawn

Reflecting on the previous posting on Truth and Existence, there are a number of conclusions that can be drawn for our lives and our communion with God: 1. God is generous. He does not begrudge existence to anything that exists. Even the devil is not begrudged his existence. 2. This generosity of God is not an indication of laissez faire, but of love. God has given us existence as a gift, not…

Facing the Consequences

Some thoughts on a comment by Archbishop DMITRI of Dallas: Commenting on the stories of the Transfiguration in Matthew, Mark and Luke, Archbishop DMITRI of Dallas observed that each of the stories contains the phrase “coming down” in reference to the disciples’ descent from the mount of glory into the world of daily ministry. In each gospel, he noted, they come down to controversy and difficulties. In drawing a conclusion he stated:…