Listening In

Recently I had two lovely conversations. The first was with Octavio and Claire, who work at Regent College, Vancouver.  Regent College is a Christian liberal arts college, where for many years I have given a talk as a guest lecturer each fall on the subject of Orthodoxy.  They arrange for interviews with guests on a number of topics, and they invited me to come and be interviewed by them about the history…

The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

Anyone wandering about near a freezing cold pond one night near the city of Sebaste in the year 320 would have seen an astounding sight: forty Roman soldiers, all members of the so-called “Thundering Legion”, were standing together naked in the icy waters throughout the night as they slowly froze to death. They were guarded by other Roman soldiers on the shore, who made sure that the condemned men remained in the…

Moses and the Ten Words

Recently I read an interesting critique of American Christianity. It pointed out that in an earlier day the schoolrooms for our children used to feature the Ten Commandments written on the wall, rather than (for example) the Beatitudes. The author thought this rather odd for a Christian nation, and evidence that something was wrong. I grant you that the preference for the Ten Commandments over the Beatitudes does invite comment. One begins…

The Good Place

I have just finished watching the series finale of a wonderful television show called The Good Place, starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. It features the fellowship and adventures of a few people who die and end up in hell, but who are told that they are in heaven, the Good Place—all the better to torture them in hell. Eventually they do indeed find their way to the Good Place (i.e. to…

Who Is the Monster?

It is not unusual these days to find that unbelievers like Richard Dawkins are very angry. In his The God Delusion he denounces the God of the Old Testament as “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction”, and among the many insults he heaps upon the Most High (I counted over twenty in a single sentence) are assertions that He is “bloodthirsty” and “sadomasochistic” [sic: one assumes he meant to say,…

Windsor Castle: a Change in Perspective

In 1992, a spotlight was left too close to a curtain in Windsor Castle in England, and the heat from that spotlight caused the curtain to catch fire. Before the fire was extinguished, much of the eleventh century castle built originally by William the Conqueror was in ruins, including St. George’s Hall and the royal Private Chapel. Repairs, predictably, were quite expensive: it cost about $61 million dollars to restore (though none…