February 25, 2018

The icon that hangs at the doorway of my home is the Theotokos of Iveron. Those who love her call her the Panagia Portaitissa, the All-Holy who guards my door. The story is appropriate for the Sunday of Orthodoxy, which we have just celebrated. In the time of the iconoclasts, the Byzantine Empire destroyed many an icon, with the Emperor thinking that all holy images were idols. This icon of the Theotokos, if the tale can be believed, was thrown… Read more

February 24, 2018

My dad booked me on a flight to San Francisco so that I could see my grandmother. She’s getting up there in years, so we figure that I should spend a few moments with her. I always tell people that I am from San Francisco, but this is not exactly true. I am from Fremont, which is across the San Francisco Bay. It’s a suburb that is a combination of a number of small towns, including Niles where Charlie Chaplin… Read more

February 23, 2018

My Clean Week has been occupied by dirty politics. The preceding posts have been on neoconservatism, millennial politics and the Democratic Party, Kyivan Church geopolitics, and my education in church politics amidst the libidinal economy of the 1990s. It is only right that my next move is to discuss Billy Graham, for whom we sing ‘vichnaya pam’yat’ – ‘everlasting memory.’ I remember the first and only Billy Graham crusade that I ever went to. I was eleven, and I went… Read more

February 22, 2018

I am following the train of thought I’ve taken for these first few days of clean week: first on neoconservatism, then on ‘the kids are all Democrats,’ and then on the politics of the Kyivan Church. My spiritual father told me in my catechumenate, which I am reliving for the Great Fast, that ‘politics is very close to my soul.’ Therefore, I offer the following tentative thoughts on church politics for anyone who wants to psychoanalyze me further. I was… Read more

February 21, 2018

Early on in my catechumenate, my spiritual father told me about the Kyivan Church Study Group. Shortly before the Soviet Union dissolved, the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church had come out of the catacombs, much to the chagrin of the Moscow Patriarchate that had liquidated us about fifty years before at the Pseudo-Sobor of Lviv. The consternation was real because the Greek Catholics reclaimed a number of temples that the Orthodox had claimed before. No one had counted on there being millions… Read more

February 20, 2018

I read yet another hot take on how Trump is destroying Republicanism and how most young people these days are becoming more politically liberal. This one, published on The Week, was titled ‘The kids are all Democrats,’ by David Faris.  After criticizing neoconservative ideology yesterday, I must concede that that was a great headline. However, it is a bit of an overdetermined claim. First, I have a bunch of young socialist, communist, libertarian, and classically conservative friends too. I don’t… Read more

February 19, 2018

The most frequent words out of the mouth of Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington in the Shonda Rhimes television drama Scandal, is: what do you want? Run by a culture that feeds on raw desire, DC is a town that breaks things. The job of Pope and Associates – the ‘gladiators’ – is to fix things. The only problem, as the drama unfolds, is that Olivia and her colleagues also run on pure libidinal desire. Olivia always says that she ‘trusts her gut.’ Not… Read more

February 18, 2018

Byung-chul Han despises social media. Part of it is that this form of self-publication is a perversion of writing. In Psychopolitics, Han first cites Latin theologian Tertullian on the concept of the publicatio sui, as quoted in Foucault’s Technologies of the Self: ‘Writing was also important in the culture of taking care of oneself. One of the main features of taking care involved taking notes on oneself in order to be reread, writing treatises and letters to friends to help them, and keeping notebooks… Read more

February 17, 2018

The philosopher Avital Ronell says that we have been having a ‘war on stupid.’ Stupidity, she says, has become the enemy in contemporary Western life. We want to be smart. As far as I understand Slavoj Žižek, that orientation to the world – the desire to look intelligent, if only in appearance – is the fastest way to be crabbed by ideology. As I’ve written before with respect to Sam Rocha’s work on Žižek, this faux intelligence is the moron’s way: we… Read more

February 16, 2018

When I wrote my ‘conversion to liberation theology’ series last December, Sam Rocha wrote to commend me. He said that he understood a little better where I was coming from, and then he said something interesting: It’s about process. I seldom think of myself as having a process. I remember hearing Ta-Nehisi Coates talking about his process of writing and trying to get John Legend to talk about his process with regard to music, and then I bought We Were Eight Years… Read more

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