Cutting Up Cadavers

You will perhaps not be surprised to hear that I have never stood before a naked corpse and cut into its flesh with a sharp knife. That is, I have never participated in the dissection of a cadaver as is done as part of one’s medical education or at an autopsy, but I know a number of people who have done so. A deacon at our little church took part in such…

“Ain’t No Miracle Bein’ Born”

Just recently I listened again to a bit of theology offered in a lovely old song by (the often under-rated) Jennifer Warnes, “It Goes Like It Goes”, written by David Shire and Norman Gimbel which featured in the 1979 film Norma Rae. The opening line told me that “Ain’t no miracle bein’ born—people doin’ it every day”. The idea was that the oft-trumpeted “miracle of birth” was not miraculous at all. It…

David Bentley Hart, Cultural Context, and Exegesis

David Bentley Hart has lately written a piece in the Church Life Journal with the somewhat unwieldy title of “The Spiritual Was More Substantial Than the Material for the Ancients”. Like everything Dr. Hart writes it is worth reading. His piece gets no further than five words when he names Bishop N.T. Wright as his main antagonist, though he admits that Wright “functions here only as emblematic of a larger historical tendency…

Headscarves, Modesty, and Scolding Modern Orthodox Women

In a thoughtful piece entitled, “Headscarves, Modesty, and Modern Orthodoxy” published in Public Orthodoxy, Katherine Kelaidis has some valuable things to say about women wearing headscarves in the modern West. In this piece she offers a much-needed and valuable historical insight that women like her grandmother wore a headscarf in Greece but upon coming to America discarded this practice in order to more easily assimilate into the culture of her newly-chosen home.…

St. Mary Magdalene

There is, alas, an immense amount of nonsense written about St. Mary Magdalene, some of it of quite venerable vintage. For example, one strand of western Christian tradition identifies her with the sinful woman whose story is told in Luke 7:36-50 and therefore asserts that in her pre-conversion days Mary Magdalene was a prostitute or (in the quaint vocabulary of our immediate ancestors) “a fallen woman”. Thus “Magdalene asylums” or “Magdalene laundries”…

Strangers in a Strange Land

St. Peter once offered his new Gentile converts some advice about the task of being in the world while not being of the world: “Beloved, I beseech you as aliens and strangers to avoid fleshly desires which wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11). Note this last bit: he urges them to avoid worldly desires because they are no longer of the world, but live in it as “aliens and strangers”.…