Moving the Boundary Marker

Part of the Law of Moses forbids moving the boundary marker. It reads, “In the inheritance which you will hold in the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess, you shall not move your neighbour’s boundary marker which men of old have set” (Deuteronomy 19:14). Moving the marker was a serious matter—so serious in fact that it was subject to a terrible curse in the corporate liturgy set out…

Niqab or Icon?

I spent a lot of the Divine Liturgy this last Sunday looking at a woman’s face. The woman was St. Elizabeth the New Martyr, and I was looking at her face because one of the faithful had brought her icon to church for me to bless, and after the customary blessing it remained on the altar for the duration of the Liturgy. As I stared into those luminous eyes, set into a…

How Ecumenical Are You?

My guess is that nothing can stop Orthodox conversation and divide a room quite so fast as someone loudly asking the question, “How ecumenical are you?” If ever I was asked the question, I think that I would feel compelled to answer the question with my own counter-question, “What do you mean by ‘ecumenical’?” Most people do not define their terms before asking questions, and this can make for some long answers…

Living in an Auto-correcting World

Of late my computer has been helping me out with my spelling rather a lot. In particular, whenever I try to write to someone about “prosphora”, it assumes I meant to type “phosphate” and autocorrects me as a type. If I am not careful, I end up asking my parishioners by email if the phosphate will be ready for the Liturgy next week, which they might well find confusing and evidence that…

The Reality of Demonic Possession

A great gulf separates those who read the Scriptures over the shoulders of the Fathers and those who read over the shoulders of modern secular academics. The former are open to the possibility that the ancient worldview might have something to teach us, while the latter dismiss it utterly as primitive, unsophisticated, and unscientific. These latter are well represented by the late Professor Rudolf Bultmann (the classic de-mythologizer of the New Testament)…

Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Franklin Graham (son of the famous evangelist Billy Graham) opined on NBC Nightly News that Muslims pray to a “different God” than do the Christians. Around the same time the Reverend Jerry Vines, former pastor of the large First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida and past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said that “Allah is not Jehovah”, and that it was wrong to equate…