Biblical Women: Rahab

Rahab has the distinction of being one of the few Biblical figures who was the object of an attempted moral make-over—or, more bluntly, of a well-intentioned white-wash. In Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 she is referred to as “Rahab the porne”—in quaint English, “Rahab the harlot”, in more common English “Rahab the prostitute”—and this has not sat well with some expositors. Accordingly they have sought to suggest that she was not so…

Be Thou My Battle Shield

One of my favourite hymns from my old Anglican days is Be Thou My Vision.  Based on a sixth century Irish poem attributed to St. Dallan Forgaill, it was translated by Mary Byrne in 1905, and versified by Eleanor Hull in 1912. I was trying to find a version of the hymn to download, but had trouble finding the entire version which I used to sing from the Anglican Hymnal. There were…

The Trouble with Hierarchy

It is fair to say that many people react negatively to the word “hierarchy”. The allergic reaction to the word has deep roots, going back to the Reformation and the secularism of the Enlightenment. Protestants of the sixteenth century tended to identify hierarchs with the distant and pompous prelates of the Roman Catholic church, and secular people of the Enlightenment tended to identify hierarchy with oppressive monarchs, grinding the face of We…

Father Never Knows Best: the Modern War on Fatherhood

Traditional theology about the importance and function of fathers can show up in all sorts of unexpected places. Take, for example, the John Denver song Thank God I’m a Country Boy, written by John Sommers. A few lines of this song read, “I fiddled with my daddy till the day he died;/ he took me by the hand, held me close to his side./ Said ‘Live a good life; play the fiddle…

The Emigration of Abraham

Significantly the story of the salvation of the world began in a pagan place far away from what would eventually become the Promised Land. That is, it began in Ur of the Chaldeans with the emigration of the family of Terah (Genesis 11:31). What prompted Terah to uproot his family from a prosperous city and to wander afar from all the security he had known we may never know. Was he part…

Why Do Deacons Speak at Liturgy?

Every once in a while I am asked why I say the prayers aloud when serving Divine Liturgy, and do not serve in the more “classic” manner of silently reciting the prayers (such as the Anaphora, or prayer of the consecration of Bread and Wine). Before answering the question, perhaps I might explain what I mean by “silent prayer” in the Liturgy, since when I use the phrase to non-Orthodox people unfamiliar…