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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Entries in Orthodoxy (127)


Shamassey Ina Goes to Rome I

[Ancient Faith Radio; June 2, 2008]

Frederica: The wheels are turning on the pavement and we’re hurtling north-westward. [Laughter] I’m making this sound like a dramatic story here. We’re on I-795, hitting the pavement, as Colleen Oren, choir director at Holy Cross Church, intrepidly, courageously, and bravely drives her car forward, westward, into the cold. It’s sort of a chilly morning today. Colleen is one of my prayer partners, and so is Ina O’Dell who is sitting next to her in the front seat. Shamassey Ina, the wife of our deacon, Mark O’Dell. And I thought, now that we’re all trapped together in this one car for half an hour to get out there to the restaurant—we’re going out to a restaurant, sort of a country restaurant, and a fair trade store that’s nearby. Now that we’re on this expedition, I wanted to corral Ina and have her tell me about something. Ina and Mark went to Rome - it was something related to his work, wasn’t it? What was it that he was going for?

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Magi from the East

[Ancient Faith Radio; December 26, 2007]

Recently I was interviewed for a TV program about the star, the star of Bethlehem, and some of the things that I found out as I was researching it, were pretty interesting to me. Some things about the star, other things about the wise men, or the magi. And here’s the first one: the Bible doesn’t say there were three of them. It just says ‘Wise men from the east.’ It doesn’t say how many. Perhaps there were three. There were three gifts, the gold, frankincense and myrrh, so perhaps that’s where the idea came from, that there were three of them.

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Bethlehem Star

[Ancient Faith Radio; December 19, 2007]

Recently I was interviewed by a TV show, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, which appears on PBS, for a story they were doing about the Bethlehem star. And the interviewer told me that she had talked to an astronomer and another person, a Christian, who had done a lot of research into the astronomical records that were kept by the Chinese and by the Egyptians. And there are various theories—you know, a lot of people have theories about what dramatic heavenly event it could have been that would have brought constellations together, or brought comets together or something to fill the role of that star.

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From Mennonite to Orthodox

[Ancient Faith Radio; November 7, 2007]

Frederica: I’m up in the third, or maybe it’s fourth floor apartment here in an old building, they’ve got some offices on the first floor and living space upstairs. I think this was probably built in the 1920s or 30s, what do you think?

Katherine: It was actually the old Linthicum family barn.

Frederica: This was the barn?

Katherine: Yeah. Yeah.

Frederica: Oh, for goodness sakes.

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The World and the Grail

[First Things Online; November 6, 2007] 

For some time now I’ve been reading Bill Bryson’s terrific 2003 book, A Short History of Nearly Everything. (You should interpret “some time” to mean “a pretty long time,” because not only is this a hefty-sized book, it’s about science.) In his introduction Bryson, an entertaining travel writer, explains how he came to write a book about the origins of life, the universe, and everything. He says that when he was in the fourth or fifth grade the cover of his science text showed the earth with a quarter cut away, revealing an interior neatly arranged in colorful layers. Not only did Bryson enjoy the thought of unsuspecting motorists sailing off the edge,

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Men and Church (podcast version)

[Ancient Faith Radio; October 24, 2007]

I’m in the car today driving down I-95, going south (as usual) toward Washington, this time toward northern Virginia, where I’m going to a reunion of my seminary class at Virginia Episcopal Theological Seminary. It’s our 30th anniversary so I’m going back on campus to hear some speakers today and to attempt to give the seminary library a stack of my books; we’ll see if they will accept these, we’ll see what happens. I expect so; they’re actually very gracious people at Virginia Seminary.

I’m thinking about a conversation I’ve been having, an email conversation, with a lot of people in the last couple of weeks, that has led up to an article just published on Beliefnet was doing an interview with John Eldridge. Now if you don’t know that name,

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The World and the Grail

[Ancient Faith Radio; October 17, 2007]

Last year, for Christmas, I gave each of my children a copy of a big, fat, almost 550-page book by Bill Bryson, titled A Short History of Nearly Everything. I had begun reading this book and was so fascinated that I wanted each of my children to have a copy so we could talk about it. Bill Bryson talks about in childhood being so interested in science, and disappointed to find out how boring it was in the classroom. He described looking at the cover of his science text, that showed a quarter of the Earth cut away so that you cold see the layers. And he thought, ‘How do they know that? How do they discover things like that?’ And not finding that answer in the book.

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Men and Church

[Beliefnet; September 30, 2007] 

In a time when churches of every description are faced with Vanishing Male Syndrome, men are showing up at Eastern Orthodox churches in numbers that, if not numerically impressive, are proportionately intriguing. This may be the only church which attracts and holds men in numbers equal to women. As Leon Podles wrote in his 1999 book, The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, “The Orthodox are the only Christians who write basso profundo church music, or need to.”

Rather than guess why this is, I emailed a hundred Orthodox men, most of whom joined the Church as adults.

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A Capella Music

[Ancient Faith Radio; September 13, 2007]

In early June I went to Los Angeles to speak at a conference at Pepperdine University that was on a fascinating topic; it was about a capella church music. I didn’t know this, but Pepperdine was established as a Church of Christ school—Church of Christ being a flavor of Christianity that is extremely Bible-based, very conservative in many senses, and in fact, they say the three things that make them different from most protestant churches is that they have weekly communion, they baptize by full immersion, and that everything in their worship is sung without instruments, it’s all a capella. They say they do these three things because that’s the way the early church did it, and of course as an Orthodox visitor to the campus, I was delighted to say, ‘Yeah, that’s the reason we do it too.’ We certainly agree that that’s what the early church did.

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Heather Kochamma, Iconographer

[Ancient Faith Radio; September 5, 2007]

Frederica: Hello, I’m in Spokane Washington at the conclusion of the ‘To the Ends of the Earth’ Conference sponsored by St. Gregorios Malankar Syrian Orthodox Church, and I’m sitting here with, I would say Khouria Heather Durka.  We have all these names for clergy wives: presbytera, and preoteasa, and Pani Matka, and matushka and all these things, and here’s another one: Kochamma.  And your tradition is in stead of saying Kochamma Heather, you say Heather Kochamma. 

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