Today is the feast of Transfiguration in the Orthodox Church. Jesus hiked up Mt. Tabor with Peter, James, and John, and was transfigured before them so that he shone with the uncreated light of the Most Holy Trinity. Transfiguration comes near harvest time, and so a tradition has been established to bless grapes and sometimes other fruits and vegetables. There is a deep symbolism here. Grapes take their flavor from their environment—the soil and the rains where they are grown. The ripened grape is a transfiguration of the earth. The grape itself is transfigured into the Eucharist, when fruit of the vine becomes the blood of our Savior. Continue reading “Lord, Bless These Store-Bought Grapes”
Preparing for my trip to Germany, I got on Verizon’s webpage and used their trip planner to try to determine which international options would be most cost-effective for me. As I kept trying to fine tune my estimates, I noticed that it kept suggesting the same plan. So then I tried something:
What happens if I kick all the settings to their maximum?
I recently read/pillaged an article by Linell Cady which calls for a re-evaluation of the role and methods of public theology in light of our post-secular context (brill.com/ijpt).
The term “public theology” appears to have been coined by Martin Marty. It was a liberal Christian response to a growing religio-political fundamentalism. Of course, religio-political fundamentalism (i.e. the religious right) was itself responding to secularization. So, in a way, public theology attempted to be a better, more “right” kind of response. Think of it as the “B” side of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, but with a smaller PR budget. Continue reading “Public Theology in the Post-Secular?”
Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green strikes me as a sincere and eloquent writer. I respect her, but I do not always agree with her. This is one of those times. A Facebook friend posted a link to a well-trafficked article in which Mathewes-Green explains why Orthodoxy is especially attractive to men. Rather than speculate about why men might like the Orthodox Church, she asks them, and then arranges their answers topically. But her suggestions for why Orthodoxy might appeal to men are illogical, silly, dangerous to the heart of Orthodoxy, and maybe even a little bit sinful.
Happy Santa Claus Day! We Americans derive our Santa Claus from immigrants’ celebrations of St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6). (I have heard that we call him Santa Claus because we misheard how Italians pronounced “Santo Nicholas;” I don’t know if that is true, but it’s as good a story as any.) St. Nicholas was a fourth century bishop in Turkey. A couple of legends make him the patron saint of children and sailors, but in our house he is the patron saint of gift giving.
Jesus said that we should give so that our left hand does not know what our right hand is doing,
That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly (Matthew 6:4).
St. Nicholas exemplified this kind of giving. Continue reading “The Real Santa: Three Ways We Teach our Kids that Christmas is about Giving, not Getting”
Let’s get this straight: If you insist on wishing a Jew, Muslim, or atheist a merry birth of a Savior they do not believe in, that does not make you a good Christian. It makes you a condescending jerk. I know that some people think saying “Happy Holidays” is tantamount to kicking over a plastic baby Jesus in the front lawn of your local Catholic Church, but the so called “war on Christmas” has a lot more to do with what comes out of our wallets than our mouths.
I wrote a recent piece in the Huffington Post that pointed out the irony of the Black Friday ritual. To celebrate the incomprehensible mystery of the birth of the infant God, we rush to fill our homes with new assortments of plastic crap. Continue reading ““Happy Holidays” and the Real Assault on Baby Jesus”
Shortly before I was to appear on Ancient Faith Today with Fr. John Whiteford, I accepted his invitation to have a brief phone conversation. Telling me about his background, he made an offhanded remark that some decades ago kids began going to “Children’s Church,” and they never left. The more I think about that remark, the more disturbed I become (and not just because I actually agree with Fr. John about something). I think the well-intentioned efforts to meet the worship needs of children has contributed to an increasing trend toward a narcissistic faith. Continue reading “Children’s Church and Christian Narcissism”