Concerns about the Great and Holy Council

The First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea

Soon the Orthodox Church will convoke a Great and Holy Council, the first such council in over a millennium. Though by no means ecumenical in any official sense (at least not yet), it is a historic meeting, for which I have felt a deep and abiding ambivalence.

I am a convert to the Orthodox Church. Unlike many converts, I did not see the deep and rich traditions of the Orthodox Church as providing me with resources to be more fundamentalistic than I was before (such as I hear creationists citing Basil as proof of a young earth). I was never a fundamentalist. What attracted me to Orthodoxy was the ambiguity of it all, which is another way of saying Mystery. Jaroslav Pelikan, another convert, described Orthodoxy as the church of the seven councils that we deem ecumenical. We have a lot of other canons, synods, traditions, and opinions, but they are not finally and firmly authoritative in the same way that those minimum of dogmas are.

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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.

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Polyphonous Orthodoxy: When We are Being Different Jesuses

I am always struck by how, at least in the Orthodox Church, we are never taken neatly through the life of Jesus. This is especially pronounced at certain times of the year. For instance, during Epiphany (or Theophany), daily readings included Mark 1:1-8, Luke 3:1-18, Mark 1:9-11, and Matthew 3:13-17 to name a few. It is like we progress through Christ by taking a couple of steps down the road, a couple of steps back, and then three more steps in a slightly different direction the next time. The church seems to want us to dance into holiness, and slowly.
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The Manliest Church of All? – My Response to Frederica Mathewes-Green

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.

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Re-Thinking Fasting in the Eastern Orthodox Church

Dormition of Mary (via Wikimedia Commons)
Dormition of Mary (via Wikimedia Commons)

We are coming to the end of the Dormition Fast (I talk about this in a Religion Moment). It is a fast, that I must confess, I have not kept well. This is partly due to circumstance, and partly due to my own neglectfulness. Yet I also wonder if fasting itself is not something that the Orthodox Church needs to rethink for the modern, American context. There is something about the “rules” of fasting that do not mesh well with the modern world. Some traditionalists might say that’s exactly the point, and I get it. But I must also point out that strict adherence to the letter of the fasting guidelines may violate its spirit.

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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)”