The Staretz Never Came

When I was inquiring into Orthodox Christianity, I (and the group I was a part of) became convinced early on that we needed a staretz, an elder of profound holiness and insight to guide us. At the time, it made perfect sense. In the milieu from which we came, sincere earnestness was the primary—if not the only—indicator we had to spiritual vitality. And since we were an intensely earnest bunch of enquirers,…

Dark Belief

If you don’t mind, I’d like to talk about what someone has called the dark belief. When God turns out not to be who we thought he was, particularly because the circumstances of our life are more painful than the God whom we had imagined would have allowed, cynicism and atheism (or agnosticism, her sister)seem appropriate coping mechanisms. Initially, there is a perverse joy in attributing to others the worst possible motives…

What is worth living for ? A response

You have really asked the fundamental question: What is worth living for? You are right that an external constraint to be good only proves to be a burden that eventually produces some form of mental illness either because of guilt because you ignore the “rules” or fundamentalistic self-righteousness and condemnation of others because you deceive yourself into thinking that you are keeping the “rules.” Why bother? Of course, libertinism only produces more…

Watch out for big words

A weary priest, after listening to a college student share in rapture all that he has learned from the latest Life of an elder on the Holy Mountain: “Prayer of the heart? Theosis? These are big words. Do me and yourself a favor. Don’t speak those words again until you have either (A) spent a least fifteen years in a monastery under obedience; or (B) you have raised at least five children…

For fear of the Jews

One of the phrases that repeatedly appears in the biblical and liturgical texts surrounding the death and resurrection of our Lord is “for fear of the Jews.” This is a very misleading, though accurate, translation of the text. It is accurate because, well, that is what the text says. It is misleading–and, I might add, has been used to justify terribly inhuman behavior to Jews throughout Christian history–because it gives the impression…

Focus North America Ministries

I’d like to draw my faithful few blog readers’ attention to an Orthodox Christian outreach ministry called “Focus North America.” It is a collection of Orthodox Christian social action ministries in North America. Their web site is www.focusnorthamerica.org Check them out!

George Eliot

Kh. Krista West, in her podcast, The Opinionated Tailor, mentioned once her love for the novels by George Eliot, particularly Adam Bede. Since Bonnie and I are rather addicted to 19th century novels, we are always looking for recommendations. We went out and bought most of her novels (btw, “George Eliot” is the pen name for Mary Ann Evans Cross). I started with Middlemarch and was mesmerized. Bonnie tried to begin with…

Prophetic Ministry

I have been thinking lately about the prophetic ministry. Particularly, I have been thinking about how this ministry is manifest in the Church. Coming from a Pentecostal background, I have a lot of experience in what the prophetic ministry is not. Prophetic ministry does not include utterances in King James English or ecstatic proclamations preceded by “Thus sayeth the Lord.” Nor is prophetic ministry about prediction. Based on the example of the…

Hiding From God

I got to go up to spend a night at the monastery this week, and while there, Br. Samuel shared the following with me. In the Septuagint version of Genesis Adam and Eve, after eating the forbidden fruit, hide “themselves within the tree in the middle of the garden from the presence of the Lord” (3:8). This tree in the middle of the garden is none other than the tree of the…

Realized Eschatology, Revelation and Repentance

I must confess that when it comes to eschatology I am most convinced by the “realized” approach. Realized eschatology interprets apocalyptic literature (Daniel, Revelation, etc.) not so much as predicting the future (although that is there too), but as revealing through symbols the way things are, the nature of reality. This approach to reading apocalyptic literature does not sell books. There is no immediate sense of urgency (usually playing on fear) that…