Reading in Communion

“Seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear…” (Matt. 13:13) This is Jesus’ description of those who encountered Him but did not understand. Just because we see something doesn’t mean we see it. Just because we hear something doesn’t mean we’ve heard it. This is particularly true of Holy Scripture. Just because we read it doesn’t mean we’ve read it. Why do we read the Scriptures? I assume that…

The Restless Christian

Fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te. Thou hast made us for thyself and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee. Augustine’s Confessions, 1.1 St. Augustine speaks of a restlessness within the human heart – an apparently timeless hunger of the soul. The story of his own life marks a wandering and a search. He did not think or reason his way…

Where Orthodoxy Stands

Many of the postmodern challenges to the modern perspective are questions about the character and nature of knowledge. A particular focus has been on the concept of objectivity. When we view something objectively, we think of ourselves as standing outside the thing being observed. We are able to “walk around” it and examine it from all sides. We remove our prejudice and assumptions and simply observe. The result of this process is…

Rational Sheep and the Word of God

Any parent who has raised a child has witnessed the miracle of human language. Even children with handicaps find ways to communicate except in the most extreme circumstance. The genius of language is not something we learn – it is instinctual for human beings. Those who study linguistics and neurobiology recognize that we have an instinct for grammar – not the polite rules of a high school English class – but the…

Beauty and the Face of God

Everything is beautiful in a person when he turns toward God, and everything is ugly when it is turned away from God. Fr. Pavel Florensky +++ In thinking about darkness and light – and their role in our apprehension of the truth – I cannot but think about Beauty, which is a primary place in which the light of God is made manifest among us (if rightly perceived). The heart that is…

Evangelism and the Ego

Do I have a responsibility to rescue the ego-driven narrative of your life? Does the gospel of Christ exist to confirm your opinions and strengthen your arguments against the threats of a world-gone-mad? How should we evangelize the neurotic? I use the term “neurotic” lightly, under the assumption that we can all be described by the term to a greater or lesser extent. The ego, as used here, refers to a false-self,…

The Death of the Moral Man

There is no man who lives and does not sin. – from the Burial Office +++ There are many reactions to the pain of our existence. I try to remember from hour to hour that I live among the “walking wounded.” As the Jewish philosopher Philo said, “Everyone you see is fighting a difficult battle.” One of the great pains for active believers is the struggle to be moral. This struggle becomes…

Within A Mandorla

There is a small class of events within the gospels that are treated in a special manner by iconographers. This special treatment reflects the language of Scripture as well. In the icons of the Transfiguration, Pascha and the Ascension, there is a particular artistic device used called a Mandorla. Sometimes circular, sometimes almost star-shaped, it serves as something of a “parenthesis” within an icon. What is being set in the parenthesis is…

Learning to Walk

I cannot remember learning to walk (I was nine-months old). I do, however, remember learning to ride a bicycle. I think the two experiences are fairly similar. I know that falling down is something both of them have in common. I also know that both of them require falling down as part of the learning process. Learning to walk as a Christian seems little different to me. The only way to learn…

To Believe and Not to Believe

I have written extensively about the “two-storey universe.” In short, this is a description of how many modern Christians see the world. There is the first floor – the natural world which operates according to naturalist, “secular” rules, and the second floor – the world of God, heaven, hell, angels, etc. The spiritual crisis of modern man is the inherent disconnect in these two worlds. It is a belief construct whose history goes back…