The Meaning of Words – Part 2

I have taken this discussion of life in a “one-storey” universe to that of language, precisely because I think that much of our language (as we presently define it) presumes “two-storey” meanings. One of the places I will press language is our speaking of God’s Providence. In the “Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina,” we have a version of a prayer that can be found in similar form by other…

Worth Taking Time to Read

I confess I do not read near as much as I once did. Writing takes time – and is a way of slowly digesting a lot of years of reading – and, I hope, to some benefit. Today, however, I came across an article of Frederica Mathewes-Green, written last June, that was deeply moving. I was looking for material on Fr. Roman Braga, the Romanian priest who is a survivor of the…

What Do Words Mean in a One-Storey Universe?

It seems to me that much of our religious vocabulary, defined many times within the past 500 years, is enculturated to speak a two-storey world (see the previous post for an explanation of two-storey world). Words such as “faith,” “believe,” and their relatives belong somehow to a portion of the world that is not first-storey. They are keys to the second storey, and are therefore unconvincing to the ultimate modern one-storey folk,…

Death in a Two-Storey Universe

I have written before about the two-storey universe that is part of our cultural inheritance in the modern world. I have noted that the default position of our culture is secular protestantism. I have explained that I mean not that we do not believe in God, but that in our dominant cultural metaphor the God we believe in is removed from our everyday affairs. Often what we are left with is a…

More on the Mystery of Salvation

I am almost always caught off guard by the number of readers an article on very simple (from an Orthodox point of view) matter of our salvation seems to generate. I forget that the treasury of doctrine that we live in is not part of the daily treasure that others know. I find tremendous comfort, particularly in everything taught by the Orthodox Church regarding our salvation. It is probably my favorite topic.…

The Mystery of Salvation

There is a song I recall from my childhood – sung by John Hartford – in which the operative phrase is, “I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been there…” It runs the permutations on life’s possibilities. One thing leads to another. It is this connectedness that always seems to trump the power of choice that adds one of the greater mysteries to life. I know that I “chose” to marry my…

Akathist Hymn: Glory to God for All Things

I have seen several translations of this hymn. This one comes from the site of St. John the Baptist Cathedral (ROCOR) in Washington, D.C. I have edited it only typographically. It was composed by Metropolitan Tryphon (Prince Boris Petrovich Turkestanov) +1934  – but frequently attributed to Father Gregory Petrov, who died in a Soviet prison camp. It continues to grow in its popularity within the Orthodox Church. In my parish’s usage, we…

Finding the Problems at Home – Its All in Your Mind

If you like history (as I do) then there is always a temptation to look to history for answers. It is certainly the case that the present has much of its situation from the givens it inherited in its history. But we are none us completely explained by our forebears. I certainly have aspects inherited from my parents, but my personal world is still not the sole result of long historical forces…

Theology, the Slavophiles, and the Parish Church

Ivan Kireevsky was born on April 3, 1806, and became in the course of his lifetime one of the leading intellectual forces in the group who would later be called the Slavophiles. They were interested in a revival in Russian thought, particularly along lines they considered distinctly Russian – in comparison to Western thought. Many have noted their errors: sometimes they went too far in making distinctions with the West; sometimes they…

A Good Word on the Feast of the Transfiguration

The following excerpt is from Ocholophobist’s Website, as always well-written. It’s an excellent meditation for the feast. Fr. Hopko speaks of the fact that when one encounters holiness, if it is indeed holiness one is encountering, one will be filled with both fear and a desire to stay in the presence of that holy place, thing, or person at the same time. If one encounters something which causes all fear, or all…