Face to Face

There are few joys of a blogosphere writer greater than to meet face-to-face with his readers. Such has been my experience at my time at the 16th All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America. To embrace someone who can say that my articles on the death of my parents helped them to endure the death of their own parents is beyond anything I can express in words – for the love…

In A Strange Land

It seems to me that life carries us into strange places on occasion – places where I have not been before. Such experiences can be quite distracting. In very strong instances such experiences can threaten to take over our lives and redefine everything around us. Living as a Christian in a strange land is difficult. Abraham leaves his own home, complete with its own struggles, and travels to a strange land. The…

Crossing the Bar

I served a Church in the course of ministry in which a large group of my members were educated (in a way few are today), thoughtful and of an age similar to that of my parents or a few years older. They belonged to that “greatest generation,” veterans the Second World War or deeply enmeshed in the economic and military structures that swept an entire culture into a new way of being.…

The Unnecessary God

Many years ago I knew a pastor who said he did not believe in angels. I was surprised by his statement and asked him why. His response was interesting: “I do not believe in angels because I cannot think of anything that they do that the Holy Spirit could not do instead.” I thought his reasoning was confused at the time and still do. Essentially, he did not believe in angels because…

Freedom and the Self

This Sunday on the Orthodox Calendar commemorates St. Gregory Palamas – perhaps the most significant theologian and teacher of the late Byzantine period. He particularly is important when considering the nature of the Christian experience of God. Orthodoxy believes that it is truly possible to know God though He remains unknowable. The mystery of this true knowledge constitutes the heart of St. Gregory’s work. I offer this small reflection on the topic…

Risking Everything

In the struggle to come to the wholeness of Personhood – to become the “true self” rather than to sink into the “false self” our very existence as spiritual beings is at stake. If you read across Orthodox books that center on the issue of Personhood – a common theme becomes visible. Our fall and our brokenness leave us vulnerable, even in our religious efforts, to the development of a “false self”…

You Never Pray Alone

Forgive me if this offers any offense. There is a conception of what it means to be human, rooted in Medieval thought and refined in the furnace of modernity. This conception views each person as a “free moral agent.” Each of us is a unique individual. Our choices are our own and set our path for good or ill. Moral decisions may be submitted to varying forms of ethical tests. The choices…

Reason’s God

In a comment to my recent post on the “problem of goodness,” I was challenged on the question of “proving God’s existence.” I understand the question but I do not think the question understands God. There is a definition of God that has floated around philosophical circles for centuries – a very reasonable definition – but not a definition that has anything to do with the Christian God. The modern rise of…

The Mystery of Love

It is common to both the writings of Dostoevsky [particularly in the Brothers Karamazov] and in the teachings of the Elder Sophrony and St. Silouan, that each man must see and understand himself to be responsible for the sins of all. This can be a statement that troubles some – as if doing this were a mere spiritual game – or a violation of others’ responsibility. It is, in fact, a profound understanding…

Just the Shell

An entertainment personality, fresh from various surgeries (augmentations, alterations, etc.), recently opined in an interview, “But in the end, this is just a shell.” It was a very revealing cultural moment. The body is “just a shell” but worthy of tens of thousands of dollars to alter its appearance. It has been observed that modern man lives his life as a hedonist and dies like a Platonist. The hedonist believes that life…