Ignoring Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards (via Wikimedia Commons)
Jonathan Edwards (via Wikimedia Commons)

I am taking a momentary pause from my writing retreat to think out loud about a question that has been bugging me. I am working on an invited chapter for a book Kyle Strobel is editing which seeks various takes on the theology of Jonathan Edwards. If memory serves, it is called The Ecumenical Edwards.

I would say what I am working on, but I have heard a few stories about scholars stealing each others’ ideas to be a bit shy about that sort of thing. It does not happen often, but it happens. Continue reading “Ignoring Jonathan Edwards”

“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”

A Lesson in Gratitude

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 “A Lesson in Gratitude”

Three Reasons Why Market Liberalism is a Religion

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.


– Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

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 “Three Reasons Why Market Liberalism is a Religion”

Post-Imperial Orthodoxy

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 “Post-Imperial Orthodoxy”

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”