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 Gender (36)


Why Not Speak Out on Gay Marriage? Part 3

Well, we’ve about exhausted that topic, haven’t we? Sometimes I have to talk something out completely before I understand what I actually think.

I could sum it up: 1, I haven’t spoken out against gay marriage because I don’t see it damaging marriage any more than straight people have already done.

2, my spiritual tradition has found by experience, over millennia,

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Why Not Speak Out on Gay Marriage? Part 2

In the wake of my “Why Speak Out on Gay Marriage?” post I received some thought-provoking comments and emails, which led me to think further about the situation of people who support traditional marriage, but live in communities where that opinion is socially disapproved. Here’s an email I sent to a correspondent living in the Pacific Northwest:

Thanks for writing. I am realizing that I live in a bubble. People who are involved in their communities on the ground level are in more of a bind about this. Current opinion has become the “new normal,” and to resist it is to send up flares, designating yourself a bad, untrustworthy person. For my part, I’m a grandma so have no kids in public schools, I worship in a traditional local congregation, and in my work-life engage mostly with thoughtful, intelligent people who agree or disagree in a civil way. I understand that many people are in more of a bind, not free to hold their own private opinions, but socially pressured to demonstrate allegiance to the new opinion.

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Why Not Speak Out on Gay Marriage?

Today I read a blog post praising an Orthodox bishop for speaking out on gay marriage, and I wondered if the time will come when someone scolds me for not speaking out. Well, here’s how it looks to me, as a member of the Orthodox Church.

The Church’s ancient wisdom on transformation in Christ, called theosis, includes the spiritual discipline of fasting. We fast in a number of ways: from sex outside hetero marriage, from anger, gossip, unforgiveness, and other negative impulses, and (about half the days of the year) from meat, dairy, and some other foods. Christianity isn’t the only religion to recognize that self-control in the face of strong desires enables deeper union with God. The spiritual discipline of fasting keeps appearing in religions around the world and throughout history. It’s been tested and proved again and again.

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Enough of Anger

Sorting through some old boxes in the basement, I ran across a manila envelope stuffed with 40-year-old women’s lib literature. It was right under the Earth Shoes. Back then, I was a mother-earth-type hippie, and an enthusiastic “women’s libber” (then the prevailing term of choice). In the envelope I found an assortment of leaflets protesting the nuclear family (inherently oppressive) and warning against “female hygiene deodorant,” “the myth of the vaginal orgasm,” and other threats to womankind. There were some huffy letters I’d written to the campus newspaper, and mimeographed flyers for the campus women’s group. The pride of the collection was a 1971 copy of the classic feminist guide to health and sexuality, Our Bodies Ourselves. This was the pre-mainstream edition, published by the New England Free Press, stapled together and priced at 40 cents.

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On Improving as a Listener


            Don’t listen with your ears alone; use your eyes, as well, to gather clues from the person’s expression, stance, and overall demeanor. The body can reveal the soul. In writing about Eastern Orthodox spirituality, Metropolitan Anthony Bloom (1914-2003) said that the body is like a Geiger counter;[i] it can disclose what is going on in the soul. He was making the point that it is not necessary for a monk to continually plumb the psyche, because his own body will disclose his inner spiritual and emotional processes. We can use that insight as well. By paying attention to what the other person’s body communicates as we listen to them, we can discern what is going on inside the heart, soul, and understanding. 

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Hannah Montana: The Movie

[National Review: April 10, 2009]

Whoever’s in charge of truth-in-labeling in Washington needs to take a look at the phenomenon called “Hannah Montana”. That’s the name of a fictitious world-famous pop star, who conceals her secret identity in order to live a normal life as fictitious high-schooler Miley Stewart; this way, she has “The Best of Both Worlds” (as Hannah-Miley’s hit song has it). What needs re-classification is the omni-capable 16-year-old, Miley Cyrus, who portrays this double character. She’s frequently described as a singer, a pop star, or a rock star; you can call her an actress, too, since she’s spent the last three years starring in the Disney Channel show named for her character, and now carries her first narrative film (a concert film released last year was a blockbuster). Pop star, actress, ordinary high school student? Certify her for a whole new title: comedienne.

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Hookups and Hope

[Ancient Faith Radio; December 10, 2008]

FMG: Not too long ago, someone mailed me a copy of an article in a magazine called “US Catholic”. This is the November, 2008 issue. And it’s an interview with an author named Donna Freitas. She’s just written a book called “Sex and the Soul”. The subtitle is “Juggling sexuality, spirituality, romance, and religion on America’s college campuses”. In this interview, Freitas talks about the research that she did on college campuses- secular, Catholic, and Evangelical. She herself actually teaches at St. Michael’s College in Vermont, which I think is a Catholic college.


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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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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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Victoria's Secret

[Ancient Faith Radio; July 26, 2007]

This shopping mall, Arundel Mills Mall, is one (I think) of a national chain of malls, the Mills malls.  All of them are made up of a lot of discount stores.  We’ve got a discount Saks 5th Avenue, a discount Neiman Marcus; there’s always an Outdoor World, I can see that over there.  There’s a Bed Bath & Beyond, a, what’s it called? Birmingham Coat Factory? That doesn’t sound right.  Burlington! Burlington Coat Factory.  So it’s a big mall; it’s built in a circular shape so as you walk around it, I think it’s a whole mile if you walk all the way around the circuit.  And it’s a great place for people to come with kids because you can walk, it’s air conditioned, it’s warm in the winter.  And as you go along, there are different, kind of, themes, as you go from section to section.  Right now, you might be able to hear this electronic sound of a cricket overhead.  And there goes a loon or something.  This section here is supposed to be like, you’re out in a marsh and there are giant dragonflies and butterflies hanging overhead and a bench – a sort of circular thing to sit on – that’s a great big water lily. 

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