Today, I thought I would sum up some basic points from a paper I presented at the Wesleyan Theological Society Meeting a few years ago. What follows are a few thoughts on consumer culture and how liturgy might help you to live with it.
One of the things I love about the Eastern Orthodox Church is that we get consumption right. I am under no delusions that we are “perfect.” We have our problems, but I think our spiritual practice can help a person live more authentically in modern consumer culture. Continue reading “Eastern Orthodox Consumerism”
The following is a review of Gayle E. Woloschak’s article, “The Compatibility of the Principles of Biological Evolution with Eastern Orthodoxy,” published in St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, 55.2 (2011).
I added Gayle Woloschak’s article on evolution and Orthodoxy to my reading list for a couple of reasons. For one, it goes to my interest in the culture wars and the ideas that fund them. It also bears upon my role as a recovering-evangelical convert to the Orthodox Church and the way I evaluate the impact people like me have on Orthodoxy at large.
When Jesus faced the man who was about to crucify him, the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, he was asked, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world…My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). But that does not mean Jesus rules a “spiritual” kingdom. Christians often talk about the kingdom of God as if it is something “in the heart.” After all, Jesus did say, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). But that word “within” may be one of the most atrocious mistranslations in the history of modern Bible production. The eternal Word was born a Jew, and Jews did not think the kingdom of God was “spiritual.” In the original Greek, Jesus is saying something more like, “The kingdom of God is in your midsts.” Or, as most modern translations indicate in their footnotes, “The kingdom of God is among you.” The kingdom of God was among them, and continues to be among us, because Jesus is!
Warning, the following post contains an image that may trouble some readers. If it doesn’t, then there’s something wrong with you.
This video captures pretty much everything that is wrong with Christian politics today. The hammer of the blacksmith pounds out important issues, issues that are surely on the mind of the woman marching toward the voting both (in a very small polling station): jobs, taxes, and energy (gas prices?). But then, with about as much subtlety as a California forest fire, the blacksmith urges us to commit those concerns to the flames. For Catholics (the target audience of this video), and by extension all Christians, this election is about three things: gay marriage, abortion, and “freedom.” Continue reading “What’s Wrong with Christian Politics”
The Huffington Post e-mailed me yesterday to let me know my article on gay marriage had been published, and I immediately got a sinking feeling in my stomach. (It was the same feeling I got less than a year ago.) I hate writing about this subject. Really, I do. I get attacked from both sides. New atheists (who apparently have too much time on their hands) attack my beliefs, and my sisters and brothers in Christ attack the sincerity of my faith. Just this morning, someone called me stupid (atheist) and a liar (Christian).
Though there were many beautiful and theologically correct things that brought me to Orthodoxy, one challenge for me was that women are not allowed to be priests. I had come from a denomination that ordains women and allows women to hold many leadership positions in the church. The idea of an all-male priesthood and the fact that women were never allowed behind the altar chafed against my conscience. I also hated the thought of my daughter never being able to be an acolyte. The fact that the early church had deaconesses only added to my chagrin. Deaconesses administered the sacraments to women and girls since back then men couldn’t touch women.
My best friend from college, who is an ordained (female) minister in the Nazarene church, asked me over and over: “How can you be part of a church that doesn’t ordain women?”
I tried to explain to her that I’d found a church that engaged in right worship, was built on historical Church tradition, and offered a community of saints. Spirituality was a practice, not an emotional experience. If I do feel moved emotionally in an Orthodox liturgy, I am certain that it is the work of the Holy Spirit, not the effect of singing Just As I Am or Lord I Lift Your Name On High twenty times. “Maybe all that is more important than women being ordained,” I said.