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I'll Come Speak

    I write and speak on all sorts of topics: ancient Christian spirituality and the Eastern Orthodox faith, the Jesus Prayer, marriage and family, the pro-life cause, cultural issues, and more. You can contact Cynthia Damaskos of the Orthodox Speakers Bureau if you’d like to bring me to an event. This Calendar will let you know when I’m in your neighborhood.

 

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Monday
Dec152014

Karen Armstrong's "Fields of Blood"

Well, good for her. I’ve often thought what Karen Armstrong states in her new book, “Fields of Blood”: that people don’t go to war for religious reasons, but for property. If there’s no property to be seized from another people, there’s no motive to fight. (I’ve read James Fallows’s review in the New York Times, not the book itself.)

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Monday
Dec082014

Psalms 152 and 200

My son Steve (Fr Steve Mathewes, pastor of Christ the Savior Orthodox Church in Bluff City, TN), was putting the kids to bed, and Ruthie (who turned 7 yesterday) asked him how many psalms are in the Bible.  He told her that there are 151 in the book of Psalms (according to the numbering in the ancient Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint). Ruthie said, “I bet I could make the 152nd Psalm.” She wrote the following.

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Friday
Jul252014

Magic in the Moonlight

[National Review; July 25, 2014]

When they invent a really reliable time machine, I’m going back to the day I graduated from college. I was an English major who took electives like “German Film of the 1930s” and dreamed of being a movie critic for The Village Voice. (How did I end up here instead? It’s a long story.) One thing graduation-day me will ask is “How have movies changed in 40 years?”

I’ll say, “You can’t imagine how much better the visuals are.” Not only because of improved cameras, and not even considering the advent of CGI, but because such meticulous care is now taken with color design, costumes, lighting, locations, and set dressing. Even crummy movies provide an immersive, atmospheric experience. Modern-day filmmaking is consistently a feast for the eyes.

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Saturday
Jun282014

A Summary of Orthodox Spirituality in St. Maximos

Every day I get an entry from the writings of St. Maximos the Confessor, from his Four “Centuries” (four sets of one hundred short sayings) on Love. They come in Greek and English. I don’t know who sends them; I expect someone has set himself a task of translating one a day.

As I read today’s I thought how absolutely mystified I would have been by it, a few years back.

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Sunday
Jun152014

Leaping into Light

Springing from her lap he leaps,

my father, into light;

Grandmother holds him tight;

and Grandad penned the frame with time:

“MAR 30-1926”

and birthday “7-MONTHS.”

But all this fails to hold him back:

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Friday
Jun062014

The Fault in Our Stars

It was “beautifully tragic,” my young companion said, and judging from the sobs and sighing all around us, this opinion was widely shared. The film is based on the best-selling Young Adult book by the same title, authored by John Green (best known, with his brother Hank, for the YouTube channel Vlogbrothers). The novel bucked current trends by not being set in a near-future dystopia ruled by vampires. Instead it’s a dying-teenager story, but not of the usual sort. It’s literate and funny. It doesn’t exploit the drama of diagnosis, horror, and teary acceptance; the characters have had cancer for years already, and have worked out believably different ways of living with their condition. (As a one-time aspirant for the Episcopal priesthood, Green spent some time as a chaplain in a children’s hospital. Hard lessons learned greatly benefit the storytelling.)

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Tuesday
Apr012014

St. Mary of Egypt (for all ages)

St. Mary of Egypt

Feasts: April 1 and 5th Sunday of Great Lent

About 500 years after the Resurrection of our Lord, a holy monk by the name of Zosimas lived in a monastery by the Jordan River. He had lived as a monk since childhood and when he was about 50 years old he began to think that he had surpassed all the other monks in virtue and that no one could teach him anything he didn’t already know. To prevent such a prideful thought from taking root, God taught him a lesson.

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Friday
Mar072014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel is surely the most Wes-Andersony of all the Wes Anderson movies, and if you’ve never seen a Wes Anderson movie, well, I don’t know what to tell you. Try this: of all contemporary filmmakers, Anderson is the one most likely to provoke reviewers to use the words “fey” and “twee.”

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Friday
Mar072014

Unforgiveable

[St Seraphim Prison Fellowship; Winter 2013]

 Are there crimes that cannot be forgiven?

Apollo was a shepherd, and had been hardened by his rough life. One day he saw a pregnant woman alone in the field, and was seized with curiosity to know how the unborn child lay in the womb. So he killed her; there was no one there to help her. He opened her body and looked upon the dying child.

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Wednesday
Jan292014

A Miracle of Flowers

Wes Smith’s column this week for First Things is about the flowers at his church that continued to be fresh, after a parishioner poured out the last of his holy water into one of the vases.

 


The comment of a skeptic at that site clarified for me a point of miscommunication. The skeptic seems to think we are claiming that holy water is magic, and if we tested this in a controlled environment it would have this effect on flowers every time. There would be a pattern, one that kept appearing in any place and time.

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