Icons and Truth

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. From time to time, I have written about the iconic character of reality – the world about us has the character of an icon. I have also noted the iconic character of language and of Scripture. There is much to say about what is meant by such descriptions as well as what it means to see things in an “iconic” manner. I…

Salvation, Ontology, Existential, and Other Large Words

In recent posts I have contrasted morality with ontological, as well as existential, etc. I’ve had comments here and elsewhere in which people stumbled over the terms. The distinction offered is not a private matter. Orthodox theologians for better than a century have struggled to make these points as being utterly necessary to the life of the Orthodox faith. The following is a small article of mine that tries to do some…

The Double Mystery of Christ’s Cross

St. Gregory Palamas, in his Homily on the Precious and Life-Giving Cross (Homily 11), makes reference to what he calls the “double mystery” of the Cross. He cites St. Paul’s statement, “The world is crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). The first mystery is embodied in our denial of the world – the second mystery in our denial of ourselves. The great saint also sees the Cross as…

Why Morality is Not Christian

I recall my first classes in Moral Theology some 35 or so years ago. The subject is an essential part of Western thought (particularly in the Catholic and Anglican traditions). In many ways the topic was like a journey into Law School. We learned various methods and principles on whose basis moral questions – questions of right and wrong – could be discussed and decided. These classes were also the introduction of…

The Benefits of Ignorance

I have had conversations in recent comments sections on the role of reason in the Orthodox life. I readily acknowledge that no one lives without some use of reason – but I contend that most of what forms the content of our life in Christ is not reason. The faith does have to contend with attacks and challenges from many arenas – and yet its success will not be established by the…

Freedom and Slavery – A Word to Neurotic Christians

Be both a servant, and free: a servant in that you are subject to God, but free in that you are not enslaved to anything – either to empty praise or to any of the passions. Release your soul from the bonds of sin; abide in liberty, for Christ has liberated you; acquire the freedom of the New World during this temporal life of yours. Do not be enslaved to love of…

Existence, Choice and God

I recall a conversation with a Russian parishioner some years back. She had been baptized as an adult (by me) and I referred to her as a “convert” in the course of conversation. She bristled slightly at my comment and said, “I am not a convert. Converts are people who choose.” She went on to explain that although she had never been baptized, she was, nonetheless Orthodox, and would not have considered…

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

Getting Past Religion

My wife inherited a habit. It was her father’s not uncommon practice to sing his way through the day, especially the morning. A devout man, his songs were his favorite hymns. My wife’s habit is similar, only as an Orthodox Christian, her repertoir has grown to include the traditional hymns of Orthodoxy. It is not an entirely conscious practice (I think) – though her heart is clearly engaged in what she is doing.…

Where We Dare Not Go

My previous article spoke about the “moment” and the unique place it holds within our lives. It is strange, therefore, that the present moment is a place we seem to avoid – a place we dare not go. There are many ways to speculate about such an avoidance. In the experience of many, it is a place that seems almost impossible to read – which is strange indeed when we consider the…