Islamic Spain: “In this pretty world, gallantry took its last bow”

I have just finished reading a volume that should be a required text for anyone enthusing about how enlightened and tolerant Spain was under Islamic rule in medieval times, The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise by Dario Fernandez-Morera. The enthusiasm for the glories of tolerant Islam is suffused throughout modern scholarship, to the point of embarrassment. It is difficult not to conclude, after one looks at the actual historical facts that the…

Authority, Distant and Local

Like many pastors in the Orthodox Church, I have been asked recently for my opinion about the events currently happening in Ukraine. I am quite willing to give my opinion when asked, since that is my job as a teacher and a presbyter. But I will not do so here, partly because I have not been asked. Rather I will (as the police say) “back away from the yellow tape”. Rather than…

“Make room for me up on that cloud”

Our secular society seems to believe that if an afterlife exists, it is a uniformly pleasant one, and that with the possible exception of mass murderers, Nazis, child-molesters and a few others who commit monstrous deeds, everyone goes to heaven after they die. The technical and theological term for this happy view of the afterlife is “universalism”, but it is doubtful that most people devote enough thought for it to qualify as…

A Review of Rowan Williams’ Christ the Heart of Creation

My familiarity with Rowan Williams was, like that of most people, confined to knowing that he was the archbishop of Canterbury. Having left the Anglican Communion in 1985 I did not keep abreast of the latest news in the Church of England, and had little personal interest in its fortunes, errors, and schisms. I was, and am, content to wish them well from a distance, and am grateful that their experience of…

Gender Confusion and the Extinction of True Manhood

Just as it is difficult to gain a true perspective of the size of a mountain when one is actually on the mountain, so it is difficult to understand how revolutionary a change is when in the midst of the revolution. And we are today in the midst of a great revolution, a dramatic shift in the way we understand human nature. That is, our culture in the West is changing the…

The Creation Stories in their Cultural Context

In my last blog piece, I suggested that the first thing one must do before reading a book is to recognize from which library shelf it came—that is, its literary genre. Or, put another way, one must ask oneself how the original readers of an ancient text would have understood it. In the case of Holy Scripture one must also continue to mine the text for meanings not originally grasped by the…