November 15, 2013

My church, St. Ignatius Orthodox Church, has completed the first part of a lengthy iconography program. Here’s a wonderful time-elapsed presentation of the work behind the altar. In time, it will look something like this church. It took Fr. Theodore Jurewicz six years to properly adorn St. Stephen Orthodox Church in Lackawanna, New York. The results of such efforts, as one monk commented, are “not like Rembrandt. It’s other worldly.” The icons are “supposed to transport you to another dimension,… Read more

November 4, 2013

This is the coolest thing I’ve seen all day. The backstory goes like this: I was talking with Ken Mansfield, author of The White Book and Stumbling on Open Ground. He mentioned Chris Hillman, one of the founding members of the Byrds, and said he was a Christian. I’ve been a fan of the Byrds since I was a kid and knew Roger McGuinn was a believer, but I didn’t know about Hillman. Ken told me to check out an… Read more

November 3, 2013

Ernest Cline’s New York Times bestselling sci-fi adventure Ready Player One imagines a future in which the majority of people live in a virtual world called the OASIS. As fortunes in the real world dip, the immersive simulations of the OASIS become the all-consuming preoccupation for anyone who can manage to log in. Everything happens in the OASIS: business, entertainment, love, even religion. The first-person narrator describes one “super-religious” side character who “spent most of her time in the OASIS,… Read more

November 3, 2013

This morning I cracked open Basil the Great’s slender book, On the Holy Spirit. Writing during a period in which the nature of the trinity was hotly contested, Basil started by describing the state of the debate. Addressing his treatise to one Amphilochius, he says, I admire your proposing questions not for the sake of testing, as many now do, but to discover the truth itself. For now a great many people listen to and question us to find fault…. Read more

November 1, 2013

I’ve been thinking recently on an important topic for bibliophiles: Should you write in your books? The answer varies for every person, but as for me and my tomes: Yes. Scribble away, especially with nonfiction. Here are five reasons I believe defacing an author’s work is warranted. 1. Back up for your own faulty memory The first reason is memory. Theologian and controversialist Rousas Rushdoony reportedly read a new book every day. And not just read — which, if true,… Read more

August 16, 2013

When Augustine’s mother Monica moved to Milan, she was concerned about fasting. The practice was universal in the church from the beginning, but it differed in places. In Monica’s hometown the church abstained on Saturdays, but not the church in Milan. What should she do? Augustine, then a catechumen, had no idea; so he put the question to his bishop, Ambrose. “[W]hatever church you come to, conform to its custom,” said Ambrose. Even as a bishop he said that he… Read more

August 13, 2013

I’m reading Samuel Tadros’ new book Motherland Lost, a history of the church in Egypt.  He starts at the beginning when the evangelist Mark showed up in Alexandria and tells a wonderful story about Mark’s first convert. After he wandered all day in the majestic city, the apostle’s sandal strap broke. Mark found a shoemaker who could repair it. His name was Anianus. While he was working, Anianus gouged his hand. “God is one!” he swore. Mark was moved with… Read more

August 7, 2013

When my wife and I were in Uganda in 2011 we attended liturgy at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Kampala one Sunday. Following the service, the priest Fr. Anastasios sidled up to a woman named Anastasia and joked that the two were siblings. Laughter ensued. The jest worked because they shared the same name but were obviously unrelated. Anastasia is white; Fr. Anastasios is black. I recently read a report about growing diversity in the church and came across a sentiment… Read more

August 1, 2013

The scriptures speak of God as a king. Christians in the ancient East and medieval West had no trouble with this image. But it is hard for us moderns, who have little or no working experience with monarchy, to imagine God as king. Instead, we tend to think of God as a congressman. What does a congressman do? Primarily, he represents us. He secures special benefits for the citizens of his district. We write him when we are irritated by… Read more

July 29, 2013

In thinking today about Christian division, I recalled this thought from James Fenimore Cooper’s book, The American Democrat: In America the taint of sectarianism lies broad upon the land. Not content with acknowledging the supremacy of the Deity . . . the pride and vanity of human reason enter into and pollute our worship, and the houses that should be of God and for God, alone, where he is to be honored with submissive faith, are too often merely schools… Read more

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