History, Post-Modernism, and Orthodoxy

A first glance – history would seem to be straightforward. As one wag put it, “It’s just one darned thing after another.” But history is, oddly, a rather modern thing. Histories have been written for a very long time. Pharaohs described their exploits and had them carved on stone steles. Herodotus recorded the Persian Wars. Plutarch described the lives of the Roman Emperors. Caesar gave an account of the Gallic Wars. The‚Ķ

What Is Man?

What¬†is¬†man,¬†that¬†thou¬†art¬†mindful¬†of¬†him?¬†and¬†the¬†son¬†of man,¬†that¬†thou¬†visitest¬†him? (Psalm 8:4). The question, “What is man?” written perhaps a thousand years before the coming of Christ, is the bedrock of true humanism, the only form of dignity that can sustain human life. Our modern world continually re-imagines our nature, but God alone sustains it. I can think of nothing more assuring than the speculation, “What is man?” in a heart of wonder. I can think of nothing more terrifying‚Ķ

The Invisible Christian

But¬†you,¬†when¬†you¬†pray,¬†go into¬†your¬†closet,¬†and¬†when¬†you¬†have¬†shut¬†your¬†door,¬†pray¬†to¬†your Father¬†who¬†is¬†in¬†the¬†secret¬†place;¬†and¬†your¬†Father¬†who¬†sees¬†in secret¬†will¬†reward¬†you¬†openly (Matt. 6:6). You¬†are¬†the¬†light¬†of¬†the¬†world.¬†A¬†city¬†that¬†is¬†set¬†on¬†a¬†hill cannot¬†be¬†hidden.¬†Nor¬†do¬†they¬†light¬†a¬†lamp¬†and¬†put¬†it¬†under¬†a basket,¬†but¬†on¬†a¬†lampstand,¬†and¬†it¬†gives¬†light¬†to¬†all¬†who¬†are¬†in¬†the house.¬†Let¬†your¬†light¬†so¬†shine¬†before¬†men,¬†that¬†they¬†may¬†see your¬†good¬†works¬†and¬†glorify¬†your¬†Father¬†in¬†heaven (Matt. 5:14-16). Blessed¬†is¬†he who¬†is¬†not¬†offended¬†because¬†of¬†Me. (Matt. 11:6) There is an invisible side of the Christian faith, known only to God and the believer. St. Matthew’s gospel refers to this as the secret place. It is not only intended to be secret, but exists only in secret. If we refuse to protect the¬†secret¬†then we will find its door closed to us as well.‚Ķ

The Disappointment of Religion

Reading the lives of the saints often raises our expectations. We read of someone transfigured with light, or of someone who is present in two places at once. We read beautiful descriptions of the inner life, of an awareness of our union with God or clarity with regard to the nature of all things. In comparison, our own religious experience will be sterile, a voice crying out in the wilderness met with…

To Bethink in Wonder

There are many cliches describing our cultural failure to be “present to the moment.” We do not “stop and smell the roses.” We do not “let go and let God.” There is a momentum to life that carries us along. Our jobs, our families, our habits – all conspire to make us oblivious to the landscape and lifescape hurrying past our awareness. It is not surprising that we are often described as‚Ķ

A Path Beyond Secularism

…It is truly ironic, in my opinion, that so many Christians are seeking some accommodation with secularism precisely at the moment when it is revealing itself to be an untenable spiritual position. More and more signs point toward one fact of paramount importance: the famous “modern man” is already looking for a path beyond secularism, is again thirsty and hungry for “something else.” Much too often this thirst and hunger are satisfied‚Ķ

The Christian Crisis

Any student of Church history should be well aware that there has been no century in which the Christian faith was safe, untroubled and not in crisis. To a certain extent, the Cross will always bring Christians into crisis. However, these are some thoughts on the present and some aspects of the crisis in which we live (at this moment in history). +++ One of the larger crises facing modern Christians is…

Smashing Icons

The first Sunday of Great Lent, on the Orthodox calendar, is set aside to remember the restoration of icons to the Churches during the reign of the holy Empress Theodora (9th century). It commemorates as well the gift of the entirety of the Orthodox faith. I offer these thoughts in honor of the day. The opening quote is from an earlier posting. We have to renounce iconoclasm. In so doing, we inherently set ourselves…

Do Something

My recent post, The God Who Is No God, spoke of Christianity as a set of practices. This is a crucial understanding – a requirement for a living faith. It requires that we ask the question of the rich young ruler, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Oddly, he did not ask, “What must I believe to inherit eternal life?” Nor does Christ give him an ideological answer. He is‚Ķ

The God Who Is No God

A God who remains generalized and reduced to ideology is no God at all. Only the daily encounter with the living God, with all the messiness it entails, can rise to the name Christian. Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe  _____________ Belief in a true and living God is a very difficult thing, fraught with consequence. Belief in the idea of God can be tokenism at its very worst. This distinction…