The Age of Morality (Anthropology of Antichristianity, Part 7)

My most recent article in this series advanced a rather grim argument: that modern man, having rejected the Cross and having pathologized obedience, has thereby not merely renounced his own humanity, but has even begun to make war openly upon it. The traditional Christian understanding of what it means to be human — to be formed in the image and likeness of God — is now considered by our culture to be…

Where Might I Hide My Heart?

Today we celebrate the Synaxis of the Holy and God-bearing Elders of Optina Monastery. These fourteen saints, forming an unbroken chain spanning a century, were at the heart of the last spiritual flowering of Holy Russia before the coming of the Communist yoke. Thousands upon thousands of people of every walk of life came to Holy Elders from all corners of the Russian land. These visitors would wait days – sometimes even…

The Weeping of the Widow

We have just heard the story of the widow of Nain, who wept by the bier of her dead son before he was resurrected by our Lord Jesus Christ. Often when I preach on a Gospel passage, I begin by reminding us to look for ourselves in the story being recounted in Sacred Scripture. And I think that there are exceedingly few among us who cannot identify with the widow of Nain,…

The Rights of Man (Anthropology of Antichristianity, Part 4)

Individuals throughout human history have found themselves at odds with their societies. But only in modern times has the view taken hold that the authentic inner self is intrinsically valuable, and the outer society systematically wrong and unfair in its valuation of the former. It is not the inner self that has to be made to conform to society’s rules, but society itself that needs to change. -Francis Fukuyama In my most…

“Love, and Do What You Want”

In today’s Gospel passage, we hear the greatest definition of the Christian life ever given by anyone. One of Jewish lawyers asked our Lord: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And Jesus replied: "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” St. Augustine later summarized this answer even more starkly: “Love, and do what you want.”

Prophets, Priests, and Kings (Anthropology of Antichristianity, Part 1)

Introduction Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) has — quite correctly — stated that “the most important theological issue today is ‘what is man,’ how do we understand the human person. That is particularly important both in our own Orthodox theology and in our discussions with other Christians.” I would add that the question of anthropology is also the fundamental lens through which modernity as a whole must be viewed and understood. Indeed, this question is at…

On Allegations of Orthodox Fundamentalism (Part 2)

The Church and Modernity Earlier this week, I began examining an article from Public Orthodoxy entitled “Fundamentalism as ‘Orthodoxism.'” In this article, the author laments what is, in his opinion, “our long-standing captivity to a sad caricature of Orthodoxy.” In the first part of my analysis I discussed two of his four main allegations: that the Orthodox world has developed an idolatrous attitude towards the Holy Fathers, and that it has additionally come to an…

Against Modern Legalism

For all of its godlessness, this modern age hungers more than any other for love, compassion, and mercy. It hungers too for God (though often without realizing it), perhaps all the more strongly since no other age has banished Him more thoroughly from all its affairs. Yet so many modern people think of the God of the Bible as a vengeful, wrathful, angry deity, a god of hellfire and brimstone, a god…

The Pursuit of Happiness

The New York times recently published an article about how to tell if you are gay, bisexual, transgender, etc. It included the usual hash of self-contradictory talking points, beginning with the assertion that LGBTQ feelings are completely normal, and then proceeding directly to an all-out attack on the idea that there can be any such thing as “normal” in the realm of sex or gender at all. But buried underneath all the…

On Political Philosophy, Fairy Tales, and the Spiritual Life

It might, at first glance, seem strange that I spend so much time writing about political philosophy and propaganda on a site dedicated to Orthodoxy and the spiritual life. It might seem even stranger given the fact that I am a monk, and claim to have renounced the world. Why should I concern myself at all with political philosophy, much less write articles on the internet trying to convince others of my…