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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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Entries in Christian Life (168)

Friday
Feb152002

The Case Against "Youth-anasia"

Beliefnet, February 15, 2002]

 
Greta Van Susteren took a look in the mirror not long ago and didn't like what she saw. "God, how did I get to be 47?" she says she thought. So she had cosmetic surgery to tighten up the skin around her eyes. "I just did it on a whim," she told People magazine.

Leave aside the question of whether someone who whimsically has her face permanently altered can be relied on for more sober judgment about, say, Al Qaeda. The bottom line is that the deed seemed so out of character. Greta's was one of the few really authentic female faces on television. Her face was interesting because it was unattractive, and attractive because it was so interesting. It was a startlingly real face in the world of artifice, a face that could attract and pull you in.

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Tuesday
Feb052002

Whatever Happened to Repentance?

[Christianity Today, February 4, 2002]

Forget what the Billboard charts say; to judge from church ads in the Yellow Pages, America's favorite song is "I'm Mr. Lonely." Churches are quick to spot that need and promise eagerly that they will be friendly, or be family, or just care. Apparently this is the church's principal product. When people need tires, they look up a tire store; when they start having those bad-sad-mad feelings, they shop for a church.

Here, for once, denominational and political divisions vanish. Churches across the spectrum compete to display their capacity for caring, though each has its own way of making the pitch. The Tabernacle, a "spirit-filled, multi-cultured church," pleads, "Come let us love you," while the Bible Way Temple is more formal, if not downright odd: "A church where no stranger need feel strangely." (The only response that comes to mind is "Thank thee.") One church sign in South Carolina announced, "Where Jesus is Lord and everybody is special," which made it sound like second prize. And one Methodist congregation tries to get it all in: "A Christ-centered church where you can make new friends and form lasting relationships with people who care about you."

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Saturday
Dec152001

Give Santa the Boot

[Beliefnet, December 15, 2001]

 

Close the damper, quick! If there's one thing your kids don't need this Christmas, it's Santa. The notion that someone, somewhere, has access to unlimited material goods, and can shower them around at will, would be hazardously intoxicating to just about anybody who believed it. (Picture it: your boss sends around a memo that the magic Lexus fairy will be visiting the office Christmas party with goodies for everyone.)

 

 

Yes, you can have Christmas without Santa. Yes, you should. Here are a few why's, followed by a few how's.

 

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Monday
Oct082001

Why Did This Happen?

[Touchstone, October 2001]

On the day after the tragedy I drove through Washington, surprised to find it uncongested and tranquil. I drove past the battered Pentagon, where cars crept along the interstate at a few miles an hour as people craned their necks to see and comprehend our national wound. A few miles further, down among the suburban office towers, is a tiny old white clapboard church.

I stepped inside the cool interior, which was dimly lit and covered on walls and ceiling with paintings of Christ and the Apostles, of biblical figures and heroes from long ago. I took a seat to wait for my spiritual father and looked around. I saw faces of men and women who had known suffering, much more severe than what I had ever experienced, even as rocked as I felt just then. They stood serene around the walls, many holding symbols of victory.

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Thursday
Sep272001

Mark Pickup

[Citizen, October 2001]

Here’s the problem. The audience, a couple of hundred doctors and nurses, are clustered along conference tables and in rows of chairs all around the room, waiting for the next speaker. But he’s still a good twenty feet from the podium. Between him and that microphone, up on a raised dais, there’s a short flight of stairs. And that’s the problem.

 

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Thursday
Sep202001

Can Any Good Come Out of This?

[Beliefnet, September 20, 2001]


Here's a checklist for post 9-11: Rescue survivors. Comfort the bereaved. Execute strategic response. Revise security protocols. Repent.

That last one clangs like a cymbal in a flute solo. We're Americans; when slapped by suffering, we get practical. We move ahead soberly and briskly, confident with resolve. Introspection isn't our style. A call to repentance may even seem cruel, as if it implied that this disaster was our own making. When we can see hard-faced mugshots of killers on TV, we're not confused about who the bad guys are.

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Sunday
Sep162001

How Can God Permit Suffering?

[Beliefnet, September 16, 2001]

When it hits home, we reel back. Thoughts explode in confusion: I trusted God, where is he? If he's all-powerful, why didn't he stop it? Maybe he doesn't love us. Maybe he is punishing us. Maybe he is weak. Are we really so alone and endangered? Can we not trust him? Are we so terrifyingly alone?

Suffering on this scale is new to us. But it is not new to the weary human race, and countless men and women before us have tried to understand God's presence in times of horror.

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Wednesday
Jul112001

Liberty, Death followup

[Beliefnet, July 11, 2001] 

 The discussion in the wake of my Fourth of July column has been invigorating, and it is moving to see the high pitch of idealism on every side. There are things I wish I'd said more clearly, and side-topics I wish I'd had room to address, but limited space demands selectivity.

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Tuesday
Jul032001

Liberty, Death, or Something Else?

[Beliefnet, July 4, 2001]

Give me liberty or give me death. Or give me something else. Staying alive, but under the rule of another nation? Yeah, that sounds all right, too.

Scandalous thoughts, especially this time of year. I’m a conservative Christian, born an American, born into the idea of faith intertwined with freedom. But I’ve been thinking over something I read recently. During the Jewish rebellion against Rome in the first century, religious leaders were the last to join the cause. They worked for peace and opposed revolution because, as one historian put it, “Roman rule presented no serious threat to Jewish religion.” In other words, overthrowing an oppressive government wasn’t a requisite of the faith.

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Wednesday
Jun202001

Jiminy Cricket was Wrong

[Beliefnet, June 20, 2001]

King Henry VIII was desperate. He was swept with lust for Anne Boleyn, but she was holding out for a wedding ring. The problem, of course, was Queen Katherine, who had been his loyal, forgiving wife for twenty years.

Henry needed an annulment, but the pope kept stalling. So Henry moved Katharine from one damp, drafty lodging to another, reducing her provisions, in hopes that illness would carry her off. To break her spirit, he replaced her staff with hostile spies, and refused to let her see their daughter.

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