“Are You Saved?”

My life in the South has been marked by the question, “Are you saved?” As a child, street preachers from the local fundamentalist protestant college would hold forth in front of the Dollar Store (which was also the bus stop), guaranteeing something of a captive audience. The question in that context had a simple meaning: a. you are born with the sin and guilt of Adam b. you are thus deserving of…

Hopko on the Apocalypse (with a slight nod to Narnia)

I drive around a good bit covering the area of my parish. One of my great joys is to listen to various tapes or CD’s by Orthodox speakers. Over the years, none have fed me more than Fr. Thomas Hopko. I offer a short quotation here from one of his most recent CD’s. I highly recommend it. I’ll offer an observation or two in a moment.  Speaking on the Apocalypse of St.…

Raising Christians

I enjoyed the wonderful responses I got to my recent article, How Hard Is It?, in which I looked at our need to teach the faith to the next generation. In offering further reflection, it seems to me that nothing can be more fearful, frustrating, or rewarding as teaching the faith to our children. It is probably the great test of our faith. Stanley Hauerwas, whom I was privileged to study under…

Fire and Light

Behold: I draw near to the Divine Communion. Burn me not as I partake, O Creator, For Thou art a Fire which burns the unworthy, Rather, cleanse me of all defilement. This short prayer, appointed for devotional use before receiving communion in the Orthodox Church, has always been one of my favorites. It draws out the great mystery of the Presence of Christ which is experienced both as threat and as consolation.…

Fullness and Reform

There is a certain givenness to life – at least a whole lot of it. I have gradually come to accept that thirty years, ok, forty years after my growth spurt, I will never be taller than 5’7″. I’ve even given up on adding the extra 1/2″ that I claimed for many years. You are what you are. There is something deeply anti-modern about such a confession. To agree that your gender…

Not the Fathers’ Christmas

Christmas [as a holiday] was long ago corrupted by our culture. Certain aspects of the story are too good to leave alone. The drama of Christ’s birth – the Virgin who has to explain the unexplainable – Wise Men looking for a King – a wicked old King looking for any challenge to his throne – no room in the Inn – and angels singing, “Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.” How…

The Praying Mind

Writing on the life of St. Silouan of Mt. Athos, the Elder Sophrony said: The Staretz’ [Elder] life was spent, above all, in prayer, and the praying mind does not think – does not reason – but lives. Its activity does not consist in the manipulation of abstract concepts but in participation in being. The truly praying mind has to do with categories different in quality from those of rational reflection. It…

Of Apostles and Prophets

I am spending this weekend in Nicholasville, Ky, with my Archbishop and several clergy friends. We are saying goodby to Fr. David Rucker who will soon take up a position at the Orthodox Christian Mission Center, and we say hello, to Fr. Justin Patterson, my former assistant priest, as the new priest in charge of St. Athanasius in Kentucky. In addition tomorrow, we will see the tonsuring of two men as Readers,…

In a Single Moment

In Holy Week, the Church remembers the “Wise Thief,” the robber on the cross who asks Christ to “remember me in your kingdom.” In what has to be one of my favorite hymns of the week the Church sings: The Wise Thief didst Thou make worthy of Paradise, in a single moment, O Lord. By the wood of thy Cross illumine me as well, and save me. The striking part of this…

My Right Brain

Many people may be familiar with the book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. It’s sort of popular around my house, almost as a shorthand for a complete understanding of how we see the world around us. The author, Betty Edwards, demonstrates through art exercises what science has known for quite some time – that the brain is differentiated for various tasks. The verbal part of our life, including reasoning,…