Surface Chauvinism

“You wash the outside of the cup and dish…” (Luke 11:39) In a helpful gardening article, “Simple Tips for Better Garden Soil” in Mother Earth News, Barbara Pleasant provides helpful suggestions to improve soil. Much of what she says depends on recent research into the micro-biotic life under the surface of the soil, a whole universe that has been only vaguely acknowledged and certainly not understood by farmers and gardeners until recently.…

What’s Wrong with Imitating Christ?

There is nothing wrong with imitating Christ, unless you try to do it. That is, in a general sense, Christians are “little Christs” and generally imitate Christ. Specifically, however, the conscious attempt to imitate Christ in the details of one’s life produces delusion. It is delusion to think one can imagine what Christ would do if, for example, he were driving a fork lift at Costco for a living. Imagination is not…

Faithful Heretics

What does an Orthodox Christian do when faced with the manifest godliness and piety of a heretic? Certainly the first thing you do is acknowledge that it is indeed godliness and piety. The picture on the left is a popular Mennonite image of a Mennonite refugee who, being chased across a frozen river, stops and returns to help one of his pursuers who has fallen through the ice. The pursuer is saved…

Hebrews 10:24

“And let us consider one another to stir up love and good works.” (NKJV) “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (NIV). For many years—most of my adult life really—I read the NIV translation of the Bible. This verse in Hebrews played an important role in how I understood relationships among Christians were supposed to work. That is, I thought we were supposed…

High School Camp Out Around Fr. Michael’s House

It’s Saturday morning, 8:00 am and the “campers” are just stirring. It probably helped to let the rooster out of the chicken house at about 7:30. Last night went well. The last group arrived at about 8:00 pm, so we had an extended dinner starting at 6:00 and finishing at 8:30. The kid jelled almost immediately, which was great because a few were “outsiders.” They stood around a fire and roasted marshmallows.…

Prayer and the Acqusition of Things

“Everything we desire pleases us only so long as we do not possess it; and when we get it, we soon get tired of it. Or only what we do not as yet have seems to us good and attractive; while all that we have, even though it is the very best, is either not enough for us or does not attract us” (St. Innocent of Alaska, Indication of the Way into…

Loving Myself Best of All

I have been having and argument with myself all morning about self love and the impulse to fix systems. I want to change systems because I love others and I do not want those with power to continue hurting and being hurt. I see a practice that oppresses others or that is destroying or may destroy what I love, and I want it to end. “I do,” I protest to myself, “love…

Loving Yourself Best of All

In Dostoevsky’s short story, “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man,” (and yes, it is actually short) a typically Dostoevskian manic is about to commit suicide late one night. But before he picks up the revolver to pull the trigger, he falls asleep in his armchair and has a dream. In his dream he is transported to an Eden-like world of love and understanding. Unfortunately, after a little while his presence in this…

The Living Temple of God

The Church often refers the Mary as the Living Temple of God because, like the temple of the Old Testament, her womb was the place where the Glory of the Lord dwelt. However, unlike the temple—made of inanimate stones and wood and covered in gold—Mary is the Living Temple of God. Although she has experienced death, she is still the Living Temple because, as Christ said, “all who live and believe in…

The Heart of the Matter

It says of Rehoboam that “he did evil because he did not direct his heart to seek the Lord.” So much of what we do or do not do, especially what may have eternal significance, depends on where our heart is directed. The Judgment of God, at least as it is recorded in Matthew 25, says nothing about our hearts, but only speaks of actions. And yet it is the direction of…