One priest making a difference

Fr. Paisius

"What the soul is in the body, this is what Christians are in the world," says the Epistle to Diognetus, an ancient Christian text. Nobody demonstrates the present-day truth of that more than Fr. Paisius Altschul of Troost Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri.Fr. Paisius, priest of St. Mary of Egypt Orthodox Church, is also the founder of Reconciliation Services, a ministry that offers desperately needed counseling, material aid, medicine, and job training to the city's poor and … [Read more...]

Why tolerance is a lousy virtue

Tolerance is a squirrelly virtue. At best it's a schoolyard thing that only works if everyone agrees to play along. At worst, it's a bludgeon to -- ironically now -- knock about people who disagree with you.We all benefit from tolerance when we get the first kind. Elbow room to live and act as you please is nice. When it comes to the practice of faith, it's even better -- particularly if its absence means that you must operate in some sort of rebellion.'Curing' fundamentalismBut the … [Read more...]

The Bible’s answer to corrupt government and false religion

The book of Daniel is a lot of things, but one is a sustained critique of corrupt government and false religion.Nebuchadnezzar, representing both, swings into view immediately. The Babylonian king has defeated Judah and taken not only its leading citizens into captivity, but also the sacred vessels from the Jerusalem temple. These he deposits in the temple of his god.The young Daniel is one of Hebrews taken captive, as are his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (or by their … [Read more...]

One thing your mind needs more than anything else

Strutting peacock

Scientist, philosopher, and atheist gadfly Daniel Dennett offers some helpful guidelines for those looking to better engage ideas.His seven tools, excerpted from his new book, Intuition Pumps And Other Tools for Thinking, should prove helpful to a large number of readers.The advice ranges from "Answer rhetorical questions" and "Employ Occam's Razor" to "Beware of deepities," that is, statements that sound profound but are merely ambiguous. Those of us interested in Dennett's least … [Read more...]

Egypt intensifies crackdown on Christians, dissidents

President Morsi

A Christian schoolteacher in Egypt has been detained by authorities for allegedly insulting Islam and Muhammad. Demyana Emad is twenty-three and teaches social studies at the Sheik Sultan Primary School in Luxor. She denies the charge and claims extremists urged students to falsely accuse her.The allegation is troubling. Last year another Christian teacher, Bishoy Kamel, was sentenced to six years in prison on similar charges, including insulting Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. Covering … [Read more...]

What all Christians can learn from one brave priest

Priest intervenes with between police and rioter

Amid ongoing economic and political unrest, Greek riot police have hit the streets to deal with violent anti-austerity protests. From those struggles comes a moving picture shared by Abbot Tryphon of All Merciful Savior Monastery on Vashon Island, Washington.An Orthodox priest scurries between the police and a protestor armed with a bottle. It could just be glass, but it looks like an unlit Molotov cocktail. I've seen similar shots of police moving across ground streaked with fire. … [Read more...]

What to do when the world sucks you in


Christians have adopted terms like pilgrim, sojourner, and resident alien to describe our identity in the world. We are in it, but not of it. Sometimes, however, the lure of the world is as overwhelming as its subtleties are undermining. We can easily find ourselves both in and of the world.How do we prevent that from happening? The Jews of the diaspora (the dispersion) found themselves in a similar situation, and they provide us a helpful and straightforward answer to our problem. … [Read more...]