Slaughtering the Innocents

On Friday, December 29, the Orthodox Church commemorated the slaying of the infants in Bethlehem by Herod, the puppet-king of Judah.

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. (Matt. 2:16)

This is the part of the story we don’t include in the Christmas stories we tell our children: The birth of Christ involved an act of mass murder. All hail the Prince of Peace. Continue reading “Slaughtering the Innocents”

Liberals Should Stop Mocking Martyrdom

Far be it from me not to point out when “my people” do or say something stupid or evil. But just as irritating are liberals who would rather make fun of conservative Christians than try to understand them. 

In the wake of the Texas mass shooting, RawStory posted an article with the subtle, and not-at-all mocking title, “Conservative writer: God was ‘answering prayers’ of Texas victims by letting them get shot.” Yes, “Step right up folks! And witness another ridiculous Christian saying something ridiculous!”

Of course, the original column was pretty ridiculous. It was naive and insensitive. Far be it from me not to point out when “my people” do or say something stupid or evil. But just as irritating are liberals who would rather make fun of conservative Christians than try to understand them.  Continue reading “Liberals Should Stop Mocking Martyrdom”

Orthodox White Nationalism at the Charlottesville Protests

I wanted to ask my friend if she happened to see any Orthodox clergy standing with her, but I think I already know the answer. 

Courtesy Jill Harms Photography

A friend of mine recently moved to Charlottesville. She was at the protests over the weekend, or I guess you would say she was a counter-protester. (I am hesitant to say “counter,” though, because it implies that the white nationalists had anything worth protesting.) A photo of her came across my timeline, posted by Jill Harms Photography. When Brandy (my friend) commented on this photo, she explained that they had just faced down a group of club-wielding white nationalists who were trying to access Emancipation Park, and they were steeling themselves for a second confrontation.

Continue reading “Orthodox White Nationalism at the Charlottesville Protests”

What the Hell is Happening???

I woke up this morning to find that the Trump administration had fired Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General, because she refused to defend his refugee ban in court. Screw the independent judiciary.

Two days ago I learned that the Department of Homeland security was defying court stays of Trump’s executive order banning refugees.

A few days before that I saw a rich white woman talk about the threat of bear attacks in schools, and today she is poised to be approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions later today.

Oh! And did I mention that a white nationalist with no experience in national security is now sitting in on every National Security Council meeting?

The past few days have convinced me more than ever before of two things.

  1. Americans desperately need to revive a liberal arts education. Focusing on education as a means to earn an income has left us bereft of critical thinking skills or the kind of historical knowledge that would help more people to recognize the serious danger Trump poses to democracy.
  2. American Christianity is bankrupt. The fact that many good, church-going people voted for this man, even though they had serious misgivings about him, proves that far too many Christians do not know the difference between being a disciple of Jesus Christ and being a Republican.

I have never felt closer to principled conservatives than I do today. I desperately need them to step up, which they are beginning to do. The conservative public needs their leadership.

I have hope for Bob Corker, my senator from Tennessee, if for no other reason than that he has always struck me as a decent and reasonable human being.

There is political opportunity to be had here as well. The first Republican senator to hold a news conference denouncing Trump’s demagoguery will be the next GOP presidential frontrunner. Assuming we make it that long.

Thoughts About Prayer and Christian Politics

Perhaps my greatest struggle as an Orthodoxy Christian, indeed as a Christian in general, is the role of the church in politics. I have been thinking about this a lot in the wake of the refugee crisis and the Daesh attacks on Paris. Part of me wishes my church had a more cohesive response to these poignant issues. Yet another part of me is glad it does not.

Continue reading “Thoughts About Prayer and Christian Politics”

Orthodoxy and Democracy: A Response to Fr. Stephen Freeman

I get the distinct impression that many Orthodox Christians think they are supposed to have an emperor. This is only a feeling. It is hard to quantify. I get it when Facebook friends seem to do everything they can to put a halo on Putin, I overhear it in conversations at coffee hour, and sometimes I see it in a blog’s subtext, like this post Fr. Stephen Freeman wrote back in December. Continue reading “Orthodoxy and Democracy: A Response to Fr. Stephen Freeman”

The Blessing and Burden of Holy Tradition

Having been caught up in other projects and deadlines, I picked up Pantelis Kalaitzidis’ Orthodoxy & Political Theology last night after several weeks’ absence. The following words reminded me of how our love for “Holy Tradition” can kill our witness.

A certain version of theology…[has] turned Tradition into traditionalism and taught us to associate the identity of the church mainly – or even exclusively – with the past, making us accustomed to an Orthodoxy that is permanently out of step with its time and history in general. In fact, Orthodox theology often suffers…from a kind of inertia with regard to participating in history and the socio-cultural context…Speaking about the church’s transforming presence and activity in society, culture, and politics is reduced to nothing more than wishful thinking. Continue reading “The Blessing and Burden of Holy Tradition”