My goal when I started blogging was to write two posts per week. I think it is safe to say that I have not met that goal lately. We have been a bit short staffed at work, and I have been putting in long hours both in the office and at home just to keep up. I have also had to resign myself to the fact that, when keeping up is your goal, perfection cannot be. So the past month has been the month where I have been learning to be content with what is possible.
I am painfully aware of the fact that I have not met my goal with turning my dissertation into my book. I have to remind myself that this is not because of laziness. Rather, the opposite! It owes to the fact that, as my psychiatrist put it, I “tend to greatly overestimate my own capacities.” I have a hard time saying “No” to good opportunities.
The American Academy of Religion (AAR) society meeting has been going on last weekend. Most things wrap up sometime today. I was really hoping I could make it this year. It was in Chicago. I have a friend I could stay with, but our finances are pretty tight. I was trying to find a way to make it work right up until last Friday, but I just could not swing it.
I am a bit starved for intense theological dialogue. I learn best when I surround myself with people who are smarter than me. I have not been able to attend the past several AAR meetings, partly because of expense, and partly because I was trying to focus on my dissertation. Cost has kept me off the conference circuit for too long. Continue reading →
Like all fundamentalist faiths, Chicago School economics is, for its true believers, a closed loop. The starting premise is that the free market is a perfect scientific system, one in which individuals, acting on their own self-interested desires, create the maximum benefits for all. It follows ineluctably that if something is wrong within a free market economy – high inflation or soaring unemployment – it has to be because the market is not truly free. There must be some interference, some distortion in the system. The Chicago solution is always the same: a stricter and more complete application of the fundamentals.
Several years ago I read Fr. Sergei Bulgakov’s claim that Marxism is not social science but a kind of religion. Recently I realized his argument could also be applied to the laissez-faire capitalism promoted by “market liberalism” (which is basically libertarianism). Beginning with Bulgakov, here are a few reasons why I think market liberalism is a religious movement. Continue reading →
This morning I read a quotation from my well worn copy of The Orthodox Church by Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, and I wanted to share it with you. Writing “by the rivers of Babylon,” so to speak, exiled from Soviet Russia and tending to the Orthodox Christians in Paris, Bulgakov writes about the way church and state have related in the past and they way they should relate in the future.
The Church’s methods of influence change; the work is no longer done outside, from above, but from within, from below, from the people and by the people. The representation of the people by the Christian sovereign, in force at the time of the Orthodox Empire, no longer exists; the laity participate in the life of the Church, without any intermediary, so that the Church influences the state in a democratic way. But it is a democracy of souls. New dangers, new difficulties arise in this way, analogous to those which existed at the time of the alliance between Church and state. The Church m ay be led to interfere in party politics; the latter, in its turn, may divert the Church from its true path. But an essential advantage remains; the Church exercises its influence on souls by the way of liberty, which alone corresponds to Christian dignity, not by that of constraint. Constraint leads more quickly to certain results, but it carries with it its own punishment. Contemporary history in both East and West proves this. Continue reading →
The following is a review of Gayle E. Woloschak’s article, “The Compatibility of the Principles of Biological Evolution with Eastern Orthodoxy,” published in St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, 55.2 (2011).
I added Gayle Woloschak’s article on evolution and Orthodoxy to my reading list for a couple of reasons. For one, it goes to my interest in the culture wars and the ideas that fund them. It also bears upon my role as a recovering-evangelical convert to the Orthodox Church and the way I evaluate the impact people like me have on Orthodoxy at large.
Woloschak’s basic argument is that denying evolution is theologically problematic for an Orthodox Christian.Continue reading →