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…

The Pitiable Ahab

The Hebrew Bible presents Ahab as a sinful man like no other: “But there was none like Ahab which sold himself to work wickedness.” The Septuagint, on the other hand, does not contain such extreme words about Ahab’s wickedness. Both the Hebrew and Septuagint versions of the story of Ahab contain his repentance/humbling after the prophet Elijah prophesies the grizzly outcome of Ahab and his wife Jezebel. However, in several places, the…

Gregory Palamas: Tearing the Roof Off

The Gospel reading for the second Sunday of Lent is the the story about the four fellows who want to bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus to be healed. When they get to where Jesus is, he is trapped in a house, surrounded by hundreds of people. There is no way they are going to get in to see Jesus. However, some people have just got to have direct contact and will…

Jim Forrest was with us this week. He is a man who makes you really want to be a Christian. I am not much of a pacifist. In fact, I have a default “John Wayne” attitude toward violence: It’s regrettable, but inevitable in a fallen world. (Jim gave me this “John Wayne” idea.) I’ve generally thought that there were worse things that could happen to someone than to kill or be killed…

Ever Virgin Mary

I’m often asked by Protestants if the phrase “ever virgin Mary” means that the Church teaches that Mary the Theotokos never had sex. If I am tired or grumpy, I just answer “yes” and prepare myself to respond to the predictable objections with off-the-shelf answers. And in most cases, this is all the inquirer wants. However, sometimes, I answer by saying “no.” Then I say that it means the Mary’s heart and…

Passions as disease

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the passions and how they afflict us like a disease. Even when you fight against the passions, I find that I am often tricked by them. Really the only hope I have found is to call out to God (using the Jesus Prayer) when I am strongly feeling a passion. However, if someone doesn’t strongly fight the passions, then they take over his life. Some…

America Coming to Orthodoxy

I got an e-mail today from a colleague in the world of Orthodox Christian publishing who commented that “America is not coming to Orthodoxy.” It was at once a statement of realism and apparent resignation. However, I do not think his observation is correct. If by “America coming to Orthodoxy” we mean a massive conversion on a popular level–revivalist fervor, tent meetings with icons, incense and golden chalices, along with the accompanying…

PASCHA Joy, or not

Holy Nativity is growing! We had 68 for PASCHA. It was glorious. Or was it? Why is it that two people can share what appears to be the exact same experience, but each come away with very different impressions of it? One comment I heard from a visitor was “You just keep repeating the same thing over and over again” [Christ is risen]. We certainly do! I can see how that could…

Guatemala

Glory be to God,I have just returned from a life changing trip to an orphanage in Guatemala city, Guatemala.This orphanage is run by four God-fearing Orthodox nuns. The founding nuns used to be Catholic monastics, but they became dissatisfied with thier church, and durring a tour of the Holy Land, discovered Orthodoxy, and converted, much to the Catholic church’s dismay.When they decided to start a convent in Guatemala, little did they know…