July 8, 2013

I can be pretty judgmental. It’s one of my many failings. I read something about the topic a few weeks back that has stuck with me. It’s from Bruce Marshall’s novel, The Word, The Flesh, and Father Smith: Always remember that you can’t see into other people’s souls, but you can see into your own, and so as far as you know there is nobody alive more wicked and ungrateful to Almighty God than yourself. A helpful reminder. While we… Read more

July 7, 2013

I’ve not yet read Rod Dreher’s new book The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, and I feel stupid for it. Frederica Mathewes-Green reviewed Little Way for the July/August Books and Culture, and it sounds like a piercing story. Here’s my summary of Mathewes-Green’s summary. Dreher grew up in a down-home family where people were practical and rooted. Intellectual and interested in faraway things, Dreher felt alienated and apart, feelings that became real as he left home to pursue a career… Read more

July 5, 2013

Pop icon Prince recently gave an interview to V Magazine writer Vanessa Grigoriadis. When it looked at one point as if the exchange might end, Grigoriadis got in what she deemed her big question: “How do you, as a religious person, reconcile the religious impulse with what most of your songs are about, which is the sexual one?” That’s worth asking. Since Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness some time back, more than one person has wondered about the incongruity. Prince… Read more

July 4, 2013

It may sound like a stretch, but you can learn a lot about contemporary faith and politics from colonial needlework. American colonists struggled to make sense of the events leading up to the war with Britain. Escalating encroachments were resisted by the colonists, whose sometimes-violent actions provoked further crackdowns. The cycle intensified throughout the late 1760s and into the new decade, spawning boycotts, riots, and worse, including the Boston Massacre in March 1770. If historians today have a hard time… Read more

July 3, 2013

With the arrival of the Fourth of July, it’s worth pointing out the commitment to the cause of Independence possessed and expressed by people at all levels of society, not merely the upper rungs. Eloquent and toplofty patriots like Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Adams could plumb the philosophical depths of the quarrel between Britain and America and rationalize why the Americans were in the right. We all know this and have read their arguments and soliloquies. But what about the… Read more

July 1, 2013

In Lifted by Angels I mention the Cherubikon, or “Cherubic Hymn,” which is sung during the Orthodox liturgy as the priests and deacons process with the Eucharistic gifts. I found this version here particularly beautiful and thought I would share it: The frescoes in the video are from two 13th- and 14th-century Serbian monasteries. My friend Borko sent me the link. The hymn itself is very ancient and reflects realities captured in passages like Revelation 4 and Hebrews 12.22, the… Read more

June 30, 2013

After the church celebrates the life and ministry of Peter and Paul, we commemorate the rest of the apostles. In the vesperal hymns last night I was struck by the focus on their martyrdom: Here’s one: The Spirit-proclaiming disciples of the Savior, having become through faithfulness instruments of the Spirit, and being scattered to the ends of the earth, sowed in steadfastness of opinion the solemn warning, and from their divine husbandry blossomed forth unto grace the army of martyrs,… Read more

June 29, 2013

The news out of Syria worsens by the day. I tweeted a string of stories yesterday morning that tax the soul: priests murdered, one horrifically beheaded on video; a suicide bombing near Maryamiyya Cathedral; Syrian Christians reasonably asking why the U.S. is at war with them. Reading these stories can lead a person down a dark path of human emotions — hatred and despair being perhaps the most prominent. But today the church celebrates two men who might add a… Read more

June 27, 2013

In a 1997 interview with Books and Culture, William F. Buckley Jr. was asked what thinkers influenced him theologically. “I’m a theological novice,” he answered, “but I simply assume that the Christian prism tends to inform Christians, whatever they are reading.” All literature, in other words, has the potential to be Christian literature. A believer should be able to find something good, true, and beautiful thumbing through most any book — or at least be reminded of those things by… Read more

June 24, 2013

David Brooks flubbed the Bible, and his June 13 column for the New York Times now bears this correction: An earlier version of this column incorrectly identified the biblical texts in which three figures — Saul, David and Esther — appear. Their stories are told in other books of the Jewish Bible, but not in the Torah. The column also incorrectly described a passage from I Corinthians that ends with the statement, “God chose the weak things of the world… Read more

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