Mystical Theology

A question was posted recently about “mystical theology.” I offer a few thoughts (written in my hotel room) that might be of some use. My first exposure to Orthodox thought was reading Vladimir Lossky’s Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church when I was a college student. A friend gave me the book and urged me to read it. Lossky’s work read like one of the fathers from the pen of a modern…

A Nature That Is Less Than Obvious

In modern usage, the word “nature” generally refers to growing things – “the great outdoors.” Having been born in the ’50’s, I have been the veteran of several “back to nature” campaigns. There is a sense, at least as old as the Enlightenment, that if we could only get ourselves “back to nature,” things would be alright. Some of the present day environmental movement has this sense about things. Green is good.…

The Existence of God and the “God Who Does Not Exist”

There is a current “pop-sensation” in the writings of a number of “atheists” whose pronouncements are always sure to garner media attention. Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and others are current “go-to” sources for the media’s search for usable quotes from atheists. In many ways, the current popularity of such figures is fueled by “pop” Christianity. One mirrors the other. In matters of serious Christian thought – neither is of particular concern – neither…

The Secret Place

Of all the places and spaces to which we should attend – this article names the most important. I suspect that our failure to recognize holy space in the physical surroundings of our lives contributes to our inability to find the holy place within our own heart. I am not sure which must come first – but I think we must know both. Without a proper regard for the ‘secret place of…

The Shape of Heaven

This post from 2007 continues thoughts on Holy Space and its place in our lives. I am feeling my way forward with this post – that is to say – I have some thoughts that are probably still in formation – so bear with me. That human beings have a particular relationship with icons is, to me, part of the dogma of the Church. It is not an expressed dogma – the…

The Heavenly Spaces

“The Church is the earthly heaven; in these heavenly spaces, God lives and walks about.” In these words of Patriarch Germanus, we get a glimpse of the dizzying heights of the church building’s significance. The Byzantines treated space as God’s dwelling place. Their architectural problem was to create harmony between the natural scale of the human and the transcendent scale of the infinite. Recent attempts to find forms adapted to the modern…

The Light of Beauty

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 made manifest among us (if rightly perceived). The heart that is full…

Is This All There Is?

A comment deleted earlier today contained a short rant on the topic: “There is no such thing as sin.” I have no idea what the writer thought the word “sin” meant – and if I knew I might even agree. I certainly do not think of sin as a legal category. But when I think carefully about the statement, “There is no such thing as sin,” I begin to wonder how someone…

The Opacity of Sin

“And this is the condemnation: that the light has come into the world and men preferred darkness to the light for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). There is an opacity to sin: we do not see through it. Sin sheds light on nothing beyond itself. It refers only to itself and because of this it is darkness. It is the nature of light to give beyond itself and what it illumines…

The Allegory of All Things

Andrew Louth, writing in his book, Discerning the Mystery, says: If we look back to the Fathers, and the tradition, for inspiration as to the nature of theology, there is one thing we meet which must be paused over and discussed in some detail: and that is their use of allegory in interpreting the Scriptures. We can see already that for them it was not a superfluous, stylistic habit, something we can…