Sometimes I think I have a lot to live for. There are lots of things in my life that outwardly seem to be going great. I will have a book out this year, plus several articles, and at least two more books in the pipeline. My wife and I hope to move, the Institute seems on track, and my department is doing well. I could go through a whole litany of things that seem great with friends and family. There are certainly things of tragic moment that I don’t want to minimize, and indeed there are some truly crushing matters that could easily overcome me at anytime. Such matters make my above happiness prove shallow. For indeed the only thing that can really give my life purpose and beatitude, in the end, is something to die for, something greater than my own wretched designs and desires that points to that which is greater than my own petty expectations. It’s not that I think my scholarship, my marriage, the Institute, inter alia, inconsequential ephemera. No, the question, in short is, am I a disciple? Continue reading
An acquaintance of mine who with his family converted to Orthodoxy almost two years ago emailed me earlier today. We touch base through email largely. I should say, he is the one kind enough to contact me. He jumped to Orthodoxy from Presbyterianism of a rather hotter sort, and thus had lots of questions. Sadly, I have only been able to answer a few of them. But today he wrote me about someone from his Presbyterian past with whom he stays in fairly close contact, who had asked him how the Orthodox would respond to the Calvinist objection to Lutheran Eucharistic teaching: that they have to ascribe to the human nature (body/blood) of Christ something (ubiquity/omniprescence) that is proper only to the divine nature (which he said goes against the Chalcedonian denial of the communication of properties between the divine and human natures of Christ). Below is an expansion of the response I gave him. Continue reading
Sunday a week ago a dear friend of my wife’s took her life. It was senseless not in the way that most people talk about, but from the perspective that no one saw it coming at all, even her closest friend, her cousin with whom she spoke frequently. There were all sorts of reactions, from confusion to anger. Some anger was of the blackest and darkest kind, consigning this poor lady to Hell for what she had done, a lady who had spent all her life helping and working with others: bringing food to the sick (she brought meals to our house when my wife went through a bout of thyroid cancer), and working with the teenage girls in her parish and at a local college. In short, no one can figure out why this happened. She despaired, and in that one moment she acted as though she had no hope. Continue reading
As some of you know, my life has been consumed with trying to get an Orthodox Institute started at my university (you can find out more here and here). Even though things are moving slower than what I had hoped, all such difficulties are negligible really, as most of the people at Eastern are gung-ho for this enterprise, even people I had thought would be resistive. Of course the greatest support has come from the Orthodox of the area, and from across the jurisdictions. I have een travelling, speaking, meeting, and praying for the past seven months about getting the Institute off the ground. This has kept my spirits afloat in an otherwise difficult time, but difficult only in the sense that I have almost no time for other things (sadly, this blog). But what else have I been doing? Continue reading
It is easy for us in our putative democratic society to disdain hierarchy, and thus part of the reaction by some against the idea of the saints, and our necessary use of them in and with our prayers. Saint is a word our language obtained from French – – but French from Latin (sanctus), for which it means holy, though it also refers as well to the saints. For us it has become the peculiar accolade for those the Church has said are surely now in the presence of God. The rest of the Christian world refers to them simply as the holy ones, or the sanctified, as their language warrants. What has this to do with Transfiguration and hierarchy? Continue reading
My summer has been completely consumed by something which I know will probably consume most of the rest of my life, namely The Institute for Orthodox Thought and Culture (about which you can find information here, and please take the survey here). I am hoping that things will settle down in a few months, and I can return to reading and writing on a regular basis, that at least is my hope. I have done a good bit of administration and committee work in my time, and generally though not always have found it to be a great hindrance to the life of the mind and the purpose of the academy. Yet someone has got to do it, and because I hate it, I generally think it may be better that I do it, for if someone takes up the mantle who loves it, he will just create more work for me than I already have. But despite all of this, I have still been reading and writing and thinking.
Tonight in the car with Kristen we fell into a conversation about Tolkien and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Continue reading
Some 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