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”

Review: Lifted by Angels



Lifted by Angels
Lifted by Angels

Joel J. Miller, Lifted by Angels: The Presence and Power of our Heavenly Guides and Guardians (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012).

When I was 13, I read This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. The story is about the spiritual warfare that takes place between angels and demons in a small town. I was riveted. Only later did I realize how Manichean the whole thing was. In college, I questioned the very existence of angels. I asked myself, “Why does God need them?” If my flirtations with partial unbelief shock you, I just want to remind you: Frank Peretti! According to Joel Miller, the way angels have been packaged and marketed and, consequently, misrepresented in popular media is one reason people abandon belief in them (I do feel obliged to note the irony of the author’s statement juxtaposed against other products from his publisher. Continue reading “Review: Lifted by Angels”

Ancient Faith Continued: Elastic Tradition

I was in the library last month, looking for something from Fr. Dumitru Staniloae when I came across a book by David N. Bell. It’s title immediately caught my attention: Orthodoxy: Evolving Tradition. I had been thinking about what it means to be a modern member of the so-called “Ancient Faith” (read more here), so I picked it up. It reads a lot like an introduction to Orthodoxy, except that it is more frank about our warts than some other primers.

One of the things I loved about Bell’s book was that he constantly stresses the internal diversity within Orthodoxy. The church is not monolithic either in terms of belief or practice. This gets personal for me in the last chapter of his book. Continue reading “Ancient Faith Continued: Elastic Tradition”

Review: “Ritual Impurity and the Churching of Women”


Kathryn Wehr, “Understanding Ritual Purity and Sin in the Church of Women: From Ontological to Pedagogical to Eschatological,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 55.1 (2011): 85-105.


An Orthodox woman traditionally avoids church for 40 days after giving birth. She and her child are welcomed into the parish with a rite called “churching.” The priest thanks God for the safe delivery of the child, and he prays for the mother, asking God to, “Purify her…from all sin and from every uncleanness.” Then he takes the new babe into his arms and walks to the front of the church. If the babe is a girl, he stops at the iconostasis (the icon screen). If the child is a boy, he passes through the royal doors and processes the child around the altar. Continue reading “Review: “Ritual Impurity and the Churching of Women””

Evolution and Eastern Orthodoxy



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 “Evolution and Eastern Orthodoxy”

Against Thrift


James Livingston, Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul

James Livingston has published a timely and provocative book in Against Thrift. He is not an economist but teaches history at Rutgers, and his argument is basically that everything you think you know about economic growth is wrong. Continue reading “Against Thrift”