His Life Is Mine

The following is an excerpt from Rosemary Edmond’s introduction to Archimandrite Sophrony’s His Life is Mine. In these paragraph’s she describes the great monk’s journey from Paris, where he had been an artist and a seminarian, to Mt. Athos, where he would take up his vocation as a monk. He speaks of despair and the knowledge of God. The lives of saints are not a rational argument, per se, for the Christian…

The Despair of Unbelief

I am gradually learning things that I have not known before – or only suspected. Posting occasionally as I have on the subject of atheism, and receiving occasional reponses from atheists, is an education in itself. There is atheism as I imagine it to be (I suppose what it would look like were I one) and there is atheism as it has historically expressed itself (in such writers as Nietsche or Sartre)…

A Song, A Saint, A Good Listen

I’m 53 years old – so I don’t hear a lot of contemporary music. One may not be connected with the other but it feels that way. Nonetheless I recently stumbled across the music of a contemporary band called, “Joyful Sorrow.” They’re easy to listen to, and the songs seem largely focused on the lives of the saints. I was particularly struck by one on St. Xenia of Petersburg. The lyrics are…

A Poem in the Light

About the Samaritan Woman  and her meeting with Jesus at the well, where she was drawing water. There is a moment I would like to hold up, A point of light that has pierced the eye of my heart. I know that I will have to be satisfied with walking around it, as it is not the kind of thing that can be pinned down. Here it is: That Jesus saw her,…

“Do You Know Jesus?”

I have written in numerous posts about various aspects of conversion to the Orthodox Christian faith. Oftentimes there is an unspoken agreement between myself as writer and those who read in which we assume that we understand each other – that when I say “conversion” we all know what I mean. On reflection there are several very distinct kinds of conversions – though each has a relationship to the other. There is…

A Letter from Butyrskaya Prison – Pascha, 1928

Serge Schmemann, son of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, in his wonderful little book, Echoes of a Native Land, records a letter written from one of his family members of an earlier generation, who spent several years in the prisons of the Soviets and died there. The letter, written on the night of Pascha in 1928 is to a family member, “Uncle Grishanchik” (This was Grigory Trubetskoi who had managed to emigrate to Paris).…

Nothing from Nothing Leaves Nothing

One of the intellectual problems encountered by atheism, though not one that is frequently mentioned, is its tendency to reductionism. If the universe is closed, then ultimately the story of things is much less complex than they might otherwise be and far more predictable. Indeed, the atheist account of reality is frequently boring. I am reminded of Carl Sagan’s now famous description of the stars: “Billions and billions” (no one else could do…

Life from within our Death

The following is taken from Archimandrite Sophrony’s His Life is Mine. It is a deep word of encouragement to us all that in Christ healing is truly possible.  It is usual for the Christian to be aware concurrently of the prsence of the never-fading celestial glory and of the brooding cloud of death hanging over the world. Though the feeling of death torments the soul, it cannot extinguish the fire of faith. The…

What Theology Looks Like

Some seventeen years ago (I cannot believe it has been that long) I became a “dropout” of sorts, withdrawing formally from the PhD program at Duke University and converting my studies into material for an M.A. in theology. The story is more convoluted and personal than I would care to share in this public forum. But I recall a conversation I had with Stanley Hauerwas, who was one of the Professors on…