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 Marriage and Family (55)


A Bouquet of Vacuums for Mother's Day

[National Review Online, May 12, 2006] 

On Mother’s Day, what says “I love you, Mom!” like a new vacuum cleaner? A whole lot of dark chocolate with almonds might do it. Or a pair of chunky silver earrings, or a dozen of the smelliest roses. Even a phone call saying “I love you, Mom!” does a pretty good job. But it takes a vacuum cleaner to really evoke the whole motherhood experience. Oh, the many times I shoved a vacuum under a child’s bed and got a pajama bottom tangled around the brushroll. Do tears spring up prompted by wistful memory, or by the smoke of the jammed rubber belt?

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Three Kinds of Childhood Innocence

[Unpublished; email to a friend, January 7, 2006]

There are three things people mean when they talk of childhood innocence: vulnerability, ignorance, and moral purity. (I touched on this in my First Things piece on “Against Eternal Youth,” but didn’t have room to get into it fully.)
A child's (1) vulnerability ought to stir us; we want to protect them physically and emotionally. That's one of our most urgent drives. But (3) moral purity is a chimera; children are born completely selfish, and slowly and painfully learn to make room for others in their lives.

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Against Eternal Youth

[First Things, August 2005]

I'm a fan of old movies, the black-and-whites from the 30's and 40's, in part because of the things this time-travel reveals about how American culture has changed. One thing that's struck me lately is how differently the adults in these films carry themselves, walk and speak. It seems adults used to have a whole different kind of bearing. It's hard sometimes to figure out how old the characters are supposed to be. They seem to be portraying a phase of the human life-cycle that we don't even *have* any more.

Take the 1934 version of "Imitation of Life." Here Claudette Colbert portrays a young widow who builds a successful business (selling pancakes, actually. Well, it's more believable if you see the whole movie.)

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The Real Meaning of Sex

[Touchstone, June 2005]

On January 24, 2005, I stood on the sidewalk of Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C., as the March for Life surged by. There was a small band of pro-choice counter-protestors, and I positioned myself just past them because I was curious about how pro-lifers would react to their presence.

Now, I’m a convert from pro-choice to pro-life myself, and I have a strong interest in getting the two sides to understand each other’s positions more clearly. I was one of the founders of a group called The Common Ground Network for Life and Choice, which sponsored ongoing dialogue groups in twelve cities and held two national conferences. So I have known and talked with many pro-choicers.

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Unfashionable Adultery

[Washington Examiner, February 1, 2005]

Feeling nostalgic for the good old days, when popular entertainment was full of good old-fashioned values? No nudity, teen sex, or potty jokes. Instead, there was lots of adultery.

That's not the usual take on our cultural history. Instead, commentators keep insisting that popular entertainment used to be pure, and now it's garbage.

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What to Say at a Naked Party

[Christianity Today, February 2005]

Anyone who's been on a college campus lately will confirm the depressing report delivered by Vigen Guroian in his essay [about sex on campus]. As someone who does a lot of campus speaking, I've seen my fair share of posters announcing sex-toy workshops, transgender celebrations, and, on one Ivy League campus, an open invitation to a "naked party." What's a naked party? Anybody who wants can attend, but you have to take off all your clothes to stay.

It makes you want to weep for the children, for girls in particular, who deserve to be protected from this carnival of leering and molestation.

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Elder Care for Jesus' Aging Mother

[Beliefnet, August 13, 2004]

My mother lives far from me. It's about a thirteen-hour drive to get there. She is in pain frequently now, though she brushes it off; her thinking gets confused, though she is always cheerful, in the wry and whimsical way I remember from childhood. I hear her faint voice on the phone, but she usually says she can't hear me. I rely on my sisters, who live closer, to manage most of her daily needs. Excellent doctors, pharmacists, and in-home caregivers help to make long-distance parental care possible, if not quite perfect.

Care of elderly parents has been a burden throughout human history.

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Goin' to Take a Hyphenated Journey

[National Review Online, June 1, 2004]

As the hubby and I approach our 30th anniversary, our youngest is approaching his wedding day. Stephen’s older brother David and sister Megan preceded him into wedded bliss, and have already built up our stock of grandchildren to the number of five; no doubt these newest newlyweds will supplement in time.

But none of our grandchildren will bear our name. Like David and Megan before him, Steve will take this opportunity to change his last name. So long, hyphen-Green.

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Marriage -- Seriously, Now

[Beliefnet, June 2003]

The bridal season is in full swing, and many of us have already clutched more little plastic champagne stems than we can count. As I look back over my own 29 years of marriage-most of them years as a pastor's wife, with the unique perspective that gives on other people's marriages-there are two mistakes I think a new couple can make. The first is to take marriage too seriously. The second is to fail to take it seriously enough.

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Jane Juska

[National Review Online, May 9, 2003]

Got big plans for Mother's Day? Candy and flowers, hugs and kisses? Maybe snapping some heartwarming photos of Grandma with the multiple generations of progeny gathered all around?

Boy, are you out of it. Didn't you know that playing with grandchildren is something women do just to keep themselves from thinking about how they've wasted their lives?

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