Fire in the Desert

The Sunday before the feast of Theophany is dedicated to the work of John the Baptist (or St. John the Forerunner, to give him his liturgical title). To appreciate him fully, we need to place him in his historical context, and realize that he came to Israel as a thunderstorm at the end of a long drought. Or, to vary the metaphor, as a fire in the desert, illumining the darkened hearts…

Christ as Hierophant

Every Sunday our little parish serves an abbreviated Matins service before the Divine Liturgy, and part of that service contains a hymn called an “Exaposteilarion” or “Song of Light”. In the Sunday Matins, it consists of a brief meditation upon the Gospel reading narrating one of Christ’s Resurrection appearances.   In one Song of Light we read the following: “At the sea of Tiberias, Thomas was fishing with the sons of Zebedee, Nathaniel,…

Islamophobia

With an admitted abundance of irony, I find myself phobic about the use of any word that ends in “phobic”, largely because the word is usually used to shut down sensible sustained debate, and functions as a kind of rhetorical club in the hands of ideological bullies. Take the popular word “homophobic” for example. The word is used as a label to denounce and silence anyone arguing that homosexual practice is sinful.…

Will the Real St. Nicholas Please Stand Up?

                   As you may or may not be surprised to learn, Santa Claus is an American. That is, he was born on American soil in 1823 and his poetic father was Mr. Clement Clarke Moore, who in that year published a poem (anonymously) entitled, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”. (He ‘fessed up to the authorship in 1837.) Until that time mention of St. Nicholas…

Destination Weddings

I am doomed, I think, never to become a trend-setter, because culturally I never seem to discover the latest trend until it has been around for a while and starts to become Yesterday’s News. Thus I have lately discovered the popularity of Destination Weddings. Googling “Destination Weddings” brings up 12,100,000 results in .20 seconds, the first one of which informs me that I should choose them for my Destination Wedding, because they…

Apocalyptic Spirituality

There are three Hebrew words which the first century church used often in their worship, and we have retained only two of them. These Hebrew/ Aramaic words were so important that they were carried bodily and untranslated into the worship of the non-Hebrew Gentile churches, where they functioned not as Hebrew words but as international Christian ones. All Christians today use two of them every time they worship. They are: “amen” and…