Public Theology in the Post-Secular?

Martin Marty in full regalia.
Martin Marty in full regalia.

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?”

We’re Broken: First Thoughts on Orthodox Racism

10253913_750400441645856_6540244272223503811_nMatthew Heimbach is a white nationalist and an Orthodox Christian (see photo). Many of you already know this story. For those who don’t, I’ll sum up the major points: People found out that this guy was recently received into the Orthodox Church and raised hell because he, and several other individuals, seemed to believe that Orthodoxy was consistent with their racist beliefs. Mr. Heimbach was recently excommunicated, pending repentance and renunciation of his beliefs. Since then, some of his compatriots have come out to insist that they are not racist at all, and the entire thing is a big misunderstanding pushed by anti-white communist leftists who are in the pockets of the Jews (read the comments).

I try not to write when my emotions are raw, and this whole thing has me reeling. It will take me days, or more, before I am able to work toward an intelligent response. Right now, I just cannot help but wonder what’s wrong with us. Seriously, Orthodoxy in America has a problem. What do I mean? You might think I am over-reacting. This is an isolated incident of a few white guys in a very racist city (Bloomington, IN) not understanding that Orthodoxy frowns upon using crosses as weapons to push a racist agenda. But I wonder what the chances are that somebody could not “get” the church’s teachings about this:

Presidio_per_matrimonio_gay_-_Foto_Giovanni_Dall'Orto,_23-Mar-2010_-_04

The end.

(Addendum: Some might say that there are no canons about using crosses as weapons. That is true. And in my home, there are no rules about not peeing on the television. Because there are some things you just should not have to make rules for.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orthodoxy and “Homosexuality”

Trisagion anyone?
The church’s teaching on gays and lesbians has been consistent for 2000 years. Also, heliocentrism!

Pretending to be an ostrich is not an effective Christian social theory, but we Orthodox do just that when it comes to sex and gender-identity issues. For example, now that I have said those words, someone is sure to tell me that I am sowing confusion. “You see,” they will say, “the Orthodox Church has been clear and consistent in its position on ‘homosexuality’ for centuries.”

Except it hasn’t! The claim itself is offensive! Why? Well, obviously, those of us who keep talking about “homosexuality” are either ignorant of the clear teachings of the church or we are just stubborn, preferring intellectual gymnastics to intellectual humility necessary to accept what the truly spiritual Orthodox Christians know in their hearts what’s right.

(For the record, I do believe in, and try to practice, intellectual humility.) Continue reading “Orthodoxy and “Homosexuality””

“Au Contraire Mr. Fugelsang!” – Three Legitimate Reasons Christians Oppose Welfare (and Why they are Wrong)

If you don’t want tax dollars helping the sick and poor, then it’s time to stop saying you want a government based on Christian values.

539326_167519193396548_1691013125_nI shared this picture on Facebook the other day because I agree with the sentiment, but I disagree with its simplicity. John Fugelsang correctly identified hypocrisy in the Christian Right, but he applied his diagnosis too broadly.

There are three legitimate reasons why a conservative Christian might want the government to get out of the welfare business: Continue reading ““Au Contraire Mr. Fugelsang!” – Three Legitimate Reasons Christians Oppose Welfare (and Why they are Wrong)”

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”

“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”