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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 (167)

Wednesday
Dec242008

Prayers for Our Nation

[The City; November 2008]

All the articles surrounding this one are hot off the keyboard, written in the days since the election. This one goes back a ways. When editor Ben Domenech asked me to contribute to this forum, I told him that I was utterly unqualified. I try not to follow politics.

That probably sounds unpatriotic, as well as irresponsible, for someone who is grateful to have been born an American citizen. But I find that the verbal sparring in print and on line, the “yelling shows” on TV, aren’t healthy for me.

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Monday
Dec222008

The Hypnotic Mall

[Again Magazine; December 2008]

The first thing we saw was a blinking sign warning us not to park on the interstate, and then a helicopter circling overhead. As we took the exit, signs assured us that all lanes led to parking, and every block or so a guy in security uniform was windmilling his arms, coaxing the herd of cars to creep forward. All the parking lots were full, their entrances blocked off by police cars. We followed the herd off the road to a vast field of gravel and hardened mud, and finally shut off the engine. Far in the distance we could see it, glowing like the Emerald City of Oz: Arundel Mills Mall.

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Thursday
Dec042008

The Voice Beneath the Altar

[from A Faith and Culture Devotional, Zondervan, 2008]

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?”( Revelation 6:9-10)

During the first centuries of Christianity, the church was battered within and without. Pseudo-Christians distorted the faith and misled the faithful, while the powerful Roman Empire persecuted Christians with torture and death. When local church members were able to gather the remains of their fellow-believers (often, this was forbidden), they lovingly interred these broken bodies beneath their altars, a reminder that the blessed departed are invisibly present to join us in worship. St. John writes that, in his vision, he heard the voice of the martyrs crying out from under the altar.

 

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Wednesday
Dec032008

Growing a Parish

[Ancient Faith Radio; December 3, 2008]

 

FMG: Today I am at St. Justin Martyr OCA Church in Jacksonville, Florida, just south of Jacksonville, in the area of Mandarin. My family has owned a small farm here since 1880 or so; it’s been in the family, or with the in-laws of the family, since then. I came down to visit my sister, Dorothy, who’s a member of this church, and to visit my mother, who’s in a nursing home here, and now I’m talking to one of my favorite priests, Fr. Ted Pisarchuk. “Ball of fire” is what they call him behind his back, because he’s always up to something. You especially have a love of missions. Were you the founding pastor of St. Justin Martyr?

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Wednesday
Nov192008

The Saints and Me

[Orthodox Outlook; Fall 2008]

I wrote my most recent book, “The Lost Gospel of Mary: The Mother of Jesus in Three Ancient Texts,” about the Theotokos, and the main reason was that I felt like I didn’t understand her very well. I recognized that other Christians feel very warmly toward her, but I always felt kind of scared of her. She looked so fierce, in her icons. (I underwent some teasing in an all-girl school when I was young, and maybe that had something to do with it.) I could look at the icon of Christ and see that he looked equally tough, and yet I could understand why, and knew that he loved me. I wasn’t sure that the Virgin Mary did. I hoped that by looking into the way that the earliest Christians saw the Virgin, I would myself learn a healthier perspective.

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Saturday
Nov012008

Lettuce Pray

[Touchstone; November, 2008]

Just at the moment my first grandchild was placed in my arms, my cell phone rang — and it was Big Idea, Inc., the Veggie Tales company, asking my help in discerning whether to expand into different media. That’s always struck me as a curious synchronicity: my family tree was putting forth its newest branch, and there was the world of children’s entertainment, ready to follow them every day of their lives. But I handed off the child and took the phone call, and after some more conversation said yes to the invitation. They eventually said no to the project, but in the meantime I had the opportunity to observe a lot of talented people working at a high pitch of creativity.

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Tuesday
Oct212008

Let's Create a Perfect World

[Beliefnet.com; October 21, 2008]

So you think that the existence of suffering proves that there is no God. But can I ask a question? How would you eliminate suffering? What would a world without suffering look like? You have free rein-make it any way you like.

Why don’t we start with something specific. People often cite the story told by the character Ivan in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov: parents punished their little daughter for bedwetting by locking her in a frozen outhouse. Ivan cannot accept a God who would let that happen.

OK, how would you prevent it? Can you imagine a world where there is no child abuse? Not just that one awful case-there’s no point in stopping only one act of abuse. How would you stop child abuse entirely? Would you make it so that an angry parent could not think of any way to hurt a child?

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Friday
Aug082008

Transfiguration, Light, and an Icon

[Ancient Faith Radio; August 8, 2008]

I’m looking at an icon of the Transfiguration—and it’s beautiful. Now, you’ve seen icons of the Transfiguration. You can imagine what it looks like. In the center, there’s an image of Christ transfigured in white robes, light streaking from Him. He is standing in an oval that is blue, it comes to a lighter shade of blue on the edges, and that’s meant to suggest a full-body halo. It’s called a mandorla, these large sort of oval halos. And, of course, on the left and right are Elijah and Moses speaking to Him. In these images they have their hands raised, sort of like philosophers, as they’re talking to Him. And around and beneath Him are scattered James and John and Peter, falling on their faces in awe at this amazing scene that they’re witnessing.

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Wednesday
May282008

Light and Evangelicals

[Ancient Faith Radio; May 28, 2008]

Today I wanted to touch on a couple podcasts from the past, one recent, one a little longer ago, because I’ve had some other interactions since those podcasts were posted, and it’s given me some more to think about.

 

One is the very recent one, about light and darkness. I got an email from someone who said, You know, I always pictured that before creation, God was in darkness; that darkness came first, because after all, it says that when God was creating the heavens and the earth, in the beginning of Genesis, Genesis 1: “The earth was without form and void, darkness was upon the face of the deep, God said, ‘Let There be Light’, and there was light”. I always thought that since he had to create light, that the first thing was actually darkness.

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Tuesday
Mar042008

Holy Hegemony!

[Books & Culture, March/April 2008]

On the road, shuttling between airports and motels, I sent my daughter an email: “I’m on my way to Branson, Missouri. They say it’s like Las Vegas, but for Christians over fifty.” She wrote back, “I can’t even begin to imagine what that means.”

I could; I imagined it would be laughable and hokey. (You could point out that I am a Christian over fifty and should get off my high horse, but I would only blink at you.) This little town of 6,000

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