Reading the Tradition with Morgoth

“He had gone often alone into the void places seeking the Imperishable Flame; for desire grew hot within him to bring into Being things of his own, and it seemed to him that Ilúvatar took no thought for the Void, and he was impatient of its emptiness. Yet he found not the Fire, for it is with Ilúvatar. But being alone he had begun to conceive thoughts of his own unlike those of his brethren (Tolkien, Ainulindale, 16).” Continue reading

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The Faustian denouement of liberal learning

100_0205Since college I have loved books. In the decades since my first time in a theological bookstore as an undergraduate freshman I have bought, obtained, and procured thousands of volumes, many new, by most used. My library at the moment is over 6,000 volumes, and I know I’ve traded, sold, or given away hundreds, and probably thousands of books. Some I saw as of little use for my endeavors, items that had a short interest or proved of little value, and some I saw as things to sell in order to obtain other books. As I began moving away from studying Puritanism I saw no need to hold on to a great many volumes, e.g., the 18th-century Reformed divine John Gill’s The Cause of God and Truth. Granted, it is probably the most explicit effort of a Protestant scholastic to defend the doctrines of Dordt (the five canons of theology, what is generally referred to as TULIP) as all being not only consonant with Patristic thought, but indeed the very substance of what the Fathers taught and believed. Continue reading

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Mundane Christianity; or, Old Blogs Never Die . . . They Just Get Resurrected at Pascha

So after much neglect these past twelve months, I’ve decided to get back to the blog. I am certainly open to anyone offering suggestions on what they’d like me to address, but to start I’ll just give you what’s been happening with me, and what has pulled me away. First, the Center for Orthodox Thought and Culture has consumed a good bit of my time, and will continue to do so. I hope it is the thing I am remembered for once I hang my officiusm up, or fall over dead, but I don’t see the former happening for at least twenty years, the other is in God’s hands. There’s much to discuss there, and in particular the launch of our journal, The Basilian, for which we are now accepting submissions (so please contact me if you have something you’d like to see considered on any aspect of Orthodox Thought and Culture). Continue reading

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Christ, the Cosmos, and Icons

adam_reation_iconic1My M.A. adviser, Pr. Aristeides Papadakis, is a Byzantinist of the fist order. He published two books, both still available via St. Vladimir’s Seminary press, along with a number of articles. He lived in Georgetown, and thus could walk to Dumbarton Oaks where he went most days to read and research. After he published his Byzantium and the Rise of the Papacy, and then shepherded it through its subsequent French edition, he took up the great topic of Byzantine Monasticism, but set it aside, after some years’ work, for another project, pressed on him by others. I saw him last Fall, the guest of John Neumann University and Fr. John Perich for an exhibition, and he was the evening’s speaker, giving a lecture on the Schism. As always, he was masterful. Continue reading

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St. Benedict to help us begin Lent

saint-benedict-of-nursiaWith Forgiveness Vespers tonight begins Great Lent. A time of reflection, abstemiousness, discipline both physical and spiritual, Lent calls us anew to examine our lives in the light of the demands of the Gospel. The Lenten season bids us, in a way that also the prayers before Holy Communion do, to think about life in the light of death, that is, in the light of impending judgment, of the imminent confrontation with God. Truly we meet God in the Chalice as surely as we shall meet Him at death, or at the world’s last night. Lenten struggle culminates on Great and Holy Saturday when, at the place of the Alleluia we sing “Arise Oh God and judge the earth,” when the paraments are changed from black to white, and the resurrection is announced. Here, death is swallowed by life, and our life is now hidden with Christ. (NB: I know Lent ends formally at the Vespers for Lazarus Saturday.) Continue reading

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A Violent Revelation: two brutes get it!

cosmic liturgy imageThe Epistle

For see your vocation, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble: But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that he may confound the strong. And the base things of the world, and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen, and things that are not, that he might bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his sight. But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and justice, and sanctification, and redemption: That, as it is written: He that glories, let him glory in the Lord. And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not in loftiness of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of Christ. For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in shewing of the Spirit and power; That your faith might not stand on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. Continue reading

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Life and Death with St. Mary of Egypt

MaryEgyptTShirtFlyerSometimes 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

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