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I am Not a Gun-Virgin (and Other Responses to my Critics)

Like everyone, I sometimes get into tit-for-tats online, but on those rare occasions in which I am being the better version of myself, I keep in mind that online discussions tend to generate more heat than light. The nastier the critics, the less likely they are to change their minds, and the more frustrated I am going to feel. So it is best to stay out of it.

But yesterday I received a “pingback” that led me to a couple of rather civil criticisms (here and here) of my latest piece in the Huffington Post. So I wanted to offer a brief response to a few points the authors make, which I have also seen reflected in other comments on my article. Perhaps this can be one of those rare internet moments when dialogue leads to mutual understanding. Continue reading “I am Not a Gun-Virgin (and Other Responses to my Critics)”

The Public Role of Church and Theology

This morning I came across six theses by Pantelis Kalaitzidis on the role the church should play in public life. They are in his book, Orthodoxy and Political Theology, which was recommended by my friend Brandon Gallaher. When the book arrived, I flipped it over and read the following question on the back cover, “Why has Eastern Orthodoxy not developed a full-throated political theological voice?” This is the same question that drove my dissertation and drives my book. (Once again, Brandon hits the nail on the head!) Continue reading “The Public Role of Church and Theology”

Polycarp’s Surprising Lesson in Christian Politics

 

Crucified Christ with the Virgin and St. John, by Naddo Ceccarelli
Crucified Christ with the Virgin and St. John, by Naddo Ceccarelli

Polycarp was a bishop from the town of Smyrna (in modern day Turkey) who was executed for being a Christian in 156 C.E. At his trial he was interrogated by the Roman proconsul. Members of his congregation, who were present, recounted the exchange:

And again [the proconsul said] to him: “I shall have you consumed with fire, if you despise the wild beasts, unless you change your mind.”

 

But Polycarp said: “The fire you threaten burns but an hour and is quenched after a little; for you do not know the fire of the coming judgment and everlasting punishment that is laid up for the impious. But why do you delay? come, do what you will.”

The story continues of how Polycarp was stripped and walked willingly onto the pyre. After he prayed, the fire was lit, but then a miracle happened:

Continue reading “Polycarp’s Surprising Lesson in Christian Politics”

Polycarp, Ignatius, and the NRA

The martyrs have been on my mind lately. The other morning I turned to the letter St. Ignatius wrote to the church in Rome, before he was executed. I read the following words,

I am corresponding with all the churches and bidding them all to realize that I am voluntarily dying for God – if, that is, you do not interfere. I plead with you, do not do me an unseasonable kindness. Let me be fodder for wild beasts–that is how I can get to God. I am God’s wheat and I am being ground by the teeth of wild beasts to make a pure loaf for Christ. I would rather that you fawn on the beasts so that they may be my tomb and no scrap of my body be left. Thus, when I have fallen asleep, I shall be a burden to no one. Then I shall be a real disciple of Jesus Christ when the world sees my body no more. Pray Christ for me that by these means I may become God’s sacrifice.

The early Christians understood martyrdom to be a privilege. Continue reading “Polycarp, Ignatius, and the NRA”

“Paul Evdokimov on Marriage” by Fr. Michael Plekon

The following is a brief summary and response to the final plenary paper delivered at the Sophia Institute Conference, December 7, at Union Theological Seminary.

Tjaarke Maas via Wikimedia Commons
Tjaarke Maas via Wikimedia Commons

I became familiar with the work of Fr. Michael Plekon early in my graduate work. I contributed to the (now defunct) Graduate Theological Society by following the latest articles in St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly. That is where I read Plekon’s on The ‘Sacrament of the Brother/Sister’: The Lives and thought of Mother Maria Skobtsova and Paul Evdokimov.” Fr. Plekon focuses on contemporary “hagiography” – what makes someone a saint in the modern world? His work introduced me to Mother Maria Skobtsova (now St. Maria of Paris) and deepened my understanding of Fr. Sergei Bulgakov. Fr. Plekon is deeply formed by the tradition, yet also understands that the tradition is living and active. Like the liturgy itself, it takes up the world and offers it as a gift to God. Continue reading ““Paul Evdokimov on Marriage” by Fr. Michael Plekon”

“Uncovering Desire: Exploration in Eros, Aggression, and the Question of Theosis in Marriage” by Pia Chaudri

The following is a brief summary and response to a short paper delivered at the Sophia Institute Conference, December 7, at Union Theological

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Escape to Egypt by He Qi

Pia Chaudri attempted to bring Christian anthropology together with modern psychology in a fascinating paper, which explored how romantic love (even erotic love) can become a means for theosis. Her paper was both interdisciplinary and conceptually “thick.” (It was also after lunch.) So I will admit to having a difficult time following parts of it; thus the following summary may not do justice to the depth of her argument, and it probably blends her presentation with my reaction to it a bit more than I would like.

One of the struggle a married couple faces is how to form a union with another without also losing oneself to the “relationship,” which can act like a third partner in the marriage.

Continue reading ““Uncovering Desire: Exploration in Eros, Aggression, and the Question of Theosis in Marriage” by Pia Chaudri”