Some Thoughts on Our Mother (Sorry to be gone so long)

The_Woman_Clothed_With_the_SunSome years ago I found myself on a bright, late May day, walking around Trondheim with my friend Bill Tighe. We spent some time in the late-Gothic Cathedral, a magnificent edifice, which has fairly, though not wholly, withstood the depredations of modern nonsense that occurs in the Norwegian state church. In the sacristy chapel, the chapel of the cathedral Chapter, there were two sets of four windows on the back, east wall, set in columns in the wall, each window on top of the other, with each having a different picture etched into the glass: one was of the ark of the covenant, another of the burning bush, another of a gate in a city wall, another of Gideon’s fleece, and so forth. It took me a moment to realize that the windows in all likelihood had not been touched since the Reformation, for the chapel was dedicated to our Lady, the ever-virgin Mother of God. Continue reading

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Back in the Saddle Again

napoleon_davidI haven’t posted since I came back from Oxford. Aside from catching up with family and two other publishing projects, there were also physical matters to attend to at home. I was once a contractor (and the son of a contractor), so I do a lot of things myself at my house. For my main project this Fall I have been able to produce around 120 pages of text, tackling the chapters I thought the most difficult first, and leaving the others to get done over the course of this term, and into the summer. I also attended two conferences, one in San Juan, the other in Toronto. I attended both of them in the wonderful company of my dear friend Bill Tighe. Continue reading

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A serendipitous turn

richard-swinburne-1When I taught my Orthodoxy class two years ago, I kept a blog (I have blogs for all my classes as a means of keeping track of the extra work my students now must do to justify my school taking money from Il Stato – – “If students are paying for 3 credits, we want to know that they have the equivalent of 42 seat hours plus another 80+ work hours, or you ain’t educatin!!” Somebody came across the blog, which I don’t advertise as I have it just for my class, and registered that they liked it. The entry they clicked was one in which I answered three questions a student posed on the thought of St. Maximus the Confessor. Now, this became all the more pertinent since, as I told someone on FB just today, the last three Sundays have found me standing very near or right next to, Pr. Richard Swinburne, one of the great Christian apologists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He has done a lot of work on free will, and as these replies touch on that, here they are. And so, what I sent to my students, though somewhat amended: Continue reading

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More from Oxford

Despite the fact that I spend most of my time here in libraries, my life still has some excitement in it. For one, of course, is the Vesper and Vigil service at Holy Trinity Church, and then the Divine Liturgy on Sunday. The parish priest, Fr. Ian, when he says the Liturgy, sounds for all the world like Metropolitan Kallistos (who has been absent, having slipped some discs in his back). He is not Met Kallistos as a homilist (I think I have only ever heard one other Orthodox priest/bishop who approached Met. Kallistos), but he is very good all the same. Last week he spoke on the diabolic and symbolic world views (the only alternatives, he pointed out, following the Fathers in this). Continue reading

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Some more from Oxford, and viris et moris Castellioni

All Souls College

All Souls College

Today was not quite as productive as I had hoped. The washing machine with my laundry that I started at 9 PM last night did not finish till almost 10 this morning (“Oh yeah, those dry cycles can go on for hour!”), a nice 12 hour cycle. And of course I now have to iron all my shirts (I only had one pair of pants in that load). I finally got to the library at 11, but then had lunch with my hosts, which lasted 3 hours. Since it was then 3:30, and I had not gotten much sleep last night, I decided to come back to my apartment, only to find that something was amiss with the load of wash from this morning, and thus my clothes are hanging on the air dryer.  I think I now have it figured out, after having taken the front of the machine off and having pulled the water filter, it seems to work. We shall see. I got some reading done, and thought I would type this up (as none of my Skyping partners are available at the moment). Continue reading

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The Weekend in Oxford

100_0188Yesterday and today were exhausting. I feel like I have lost several pounds, and my feet are revolting against the rest of my body. Part of that is while I am staying in a very good spot, 6 Thames St., and thus about 10 minutes to the Carafax tower, it is another 15+ minutes to Canterbury Rd where the Orthodox church is (Annunciation and Holy Trinity). I walked there last night in 25 minutes (along with a pit stop under a large maple while it rained) for Vespers and Vigil. I had forgotten what a wonderful service this is. Like many services that are “high Russian” (lots of Slavonic, but also a good bit of Greek and some French), the faithful wandered in an out. Continue reading

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A long but satisfying day

It’s about 8 PM here, which means it’s 3 PM in Allentown. I have been running out of steam since this morning, when my flight got into Heathrow at 9 AM (we left Newark about 9:30 PM, and it was just under a six hour flight). I have been up since about 7 yesterday morning, EDT. As flights go, it was OK. I have had far worse flights to Europe, and really only remember two that I think of as better, and both of them, like this one, was on Virgin Atlantic. Seats are larger and far more comfortable, and the food is pretty good. The upgraded me to “more leg room,” but in the end, I don’t know that it was such a big deal. I got some reading done, Eric Voeglin’s Science, Politics, and Gnosticism. Reading on planes should be for pleasure or self improvement (Voeglin fills both those needs). Continue reading

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