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)”

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”

“Contextuality and Normality: Orthodox Visions of Human Sexuality” by Dn. Drew Maxwell


The following is a brief summary and response to a short paper delivered at the Sophia Institute Conference, December 7, at Union Theological Seminary, NY.

In this paper, Dcn. Drew Maxwell argued that an overly negative view of human sexuality is one unfortunate consequence of the modern turn to patristic sources. Theology is deeply informed by context. Most patristic and medieval theologians were monks and often wrote to celibates, which is why their writings often stressed celibacy over married intimacy. In some cases, there may have been genuine disdain for the married life; in others we are merely witnessing a kind of pastoral encouragement. If modern readers forget the importance of context, they can walk away from such resources with a distorted view of what their own marriages should be.

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“Interactions in the Family: Can Biology Explain it All?”

The following post is part of a series of responses to the Sophia Institute conference on Love, Marriage, and Family in the Orthodox Tradition, December 7, 2012.

Second Keynote: Dr. Andrei Holodny, “Interactions in the Family: Can Biology Explain it All.”

The second plenary paper was delivered by Dr. Andrei Holodny, a practicing doctor and professor of medicine. His talk explored the interaction of evolutionary biology and family life, and it considered the extent to which biology is capable of explaining both our good and bad human behaviors. Continue reading ““Interactions in the Family: Can Biology Explain it All?””

My Appearance on Huffington Post Live



Late Sunday evening I received an e-mail asking me to appear on Huffington Post Live, which is the video arm of the Huffington Post. Several other guests and I discussed the role clergy should play in the voting decisions of their congregants. Continue reading “My Appearance on Huffington Post Live”