A Secular Orthodoxy

Within Orthodox Christianity, the faith is generally “encultured.” It does not exist apart from the culture, but within – transforming, shaping and making the faith of Christ incarnate in the world. Christianity first expressed this model in the context of first-century Judaism. The disciples in Jerusalem met together on Solomon’s Porch. Small asides in St. Paul’s writings and in the book of Acts, show that despite dropping the requirement for circumcision, early…

Head First – Faith

I can recall the scene as though it were moments ago. I was eight-years old, standing on the end of a 10-foot-high diving board. My swim class was standing around, along with my teacher. It was the last day of the summer class and diving off the “high dive,” was the last event of the day. Everyone was watching. I had a long conversation with the teacher (she was coaxing me into…

Patiently Waiting

Christ said, “In patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:19). Orthodoxy presumes patience on our parts. The services take patience – they last a good length of time and without patience your mind will never stop wandering. Catechumenates can take a while. Learning many of the things of an Orthodox way of life cannot be rushed. Only time can make a difference. These are hard words in a culture where time is money…

Obstacles to Faith

My writing and thoughts often carry me to the “edges” – to the edge of unbelief and to the edge of the depths of belief. My instinct for these places is an instinct for the obstacles to faith. Why do some believe and others not? And what is the exact nature of belief and unbelief? There is a form of belief familiar to everyone. It is simply the manner in which we…

To Behold the Beauty of the Lord

By using the elements of this world, Art reveals to us a depth which is logically inexpressible. It is in fact impossible to “tell” poetry, to “decompose” a symphony, or to “tear apart” a painting. The beautiful is present in the harmony of all its elements and brings us face to face with a truth that cannot be demonstrated or proved, except by contemplating it. – Paul Evdokimov A while back, I suggested…

The God Cocktail

In ’03 there was a small Indy film, Dopamine. The story involves a young computer programmer who is part of a small tech start up in the Bay Area developing an artificially-lived computer character. The cartoon-like bird, can “hear,” “see,” and “interact,” with the user. The tech company manages to place its prototype in a children’s classroom. The programmer develops a relationship with one of the classroom teachers. The situation raises interesting…

Irony and Belief

Irony is probably too much to ask of youth. If I can remember myself in my college years, the most I could muster was sarcasm. Irony required more insight. There is a deep need for the appreciation of irony to sustain a Christian life. Our world is filled with contradiction. Hypocrisy is ever present even within our own heart. The failures of Church and those who are most closely associated with it…

What Would You Do?

“To the extent that man does not use his freedom, he is not himself. In order to emerge from that indeterminate state, he must utilize his freedom in order to know and be known as himself.” – Fr. Dimitru Staniloae A popular bumper-sticker-level spirituality swept the pop-culture scene several years back asking, “What would Jesus do?” It’s not the first time such a question (slogan) has been put forward as a model…

Dwelling in a Strange Land

By the rivers of Babylon we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in their midst. They that carried us away in captivity asked of us a song, And they that laid us waste, required of us mirth, saying: “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? Psalm 136/7 provides the text that…

Living a “Spiritual” Life

It has become a commonplace to hear someone say, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” Most people have a general understanding of what is meant. I usually assume that the person holds to a number of ideas that are considered “spiritual” in our culture, but that they are not particularly interested in “organized religion.” I understand this, because organized religion can often be the bane of spiritual existence. I am an Orthodox Christian –…