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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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Monday
May241999

Men Need Church, Too

[Christianity Today, May 24, 1999]

Next time you're in church, count the number of adult heads and divide by the number of pairs of pantyhose. If the pantyhose contingent makes up more than half the total, there's a word for your church: typical.

"Every sociologist, and indeed every observer, who has looked at the question has found that women are more religious than men," writes Leon Podles in his book, "The Church Impotent." (Ouch; the stentorian title makes me wince. Once inside, however, it's reasonable and well-written.) Podles cites a deluge of statistics: in 1986 church growth expert Lyle Schaller observed 60% female to 40% male churchgoers, a split which has widened since. Jesuit theologian Patrick Arnold says he's found a female-to-male ratio ranging from 2:1 to 7:1, and "some liberal Presbyterian or Methodist congregations are practically bereft of men." Even in churches that have an all-male ordained leadership, the inner circle of laity that actually runs things is likely to be mostly female.

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Sunday
May161999

Subversive Civility

 [Park Ridge Center Bulletin, May-June, 1999]

Issues of medical controversy hit close to home; in fact, they drop a cherry bomb right through the mail slot. Our bodies are our homes: they are where we live. For this reason, discussions relating to medicine can take on a desperate tone. When one person feels another is asserting the right to meddle with his home,

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Monday
Mar011999

Could We Survive Persecution?

[Christianity Today, March 1, 1999]

A few decades ago a small paperback appeared titled "Tortured for Christ," by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. In it Wurmbrand described his experiences of persecution behind the Iron Curtain. He pled with Americans to remember Russian believers suffering for their faith, invisible behind the fog of disinformation.

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Monday
Jan111999

My Spice Girl Moment

[Christianity Today, January 11, 1999]

When I was first approached about becoming a member of the Spice Girls, I was a little taken aback. My impression was that this troupe of British singers was salacious and provocative, one more example of the debasing of our culture.

"I'm embarassed to admit it, Mom," my 21-year-old daughter confessed, "but I actually liked the movie. It's harmless--a teenybopper thing, like for preteen girls. It's singing Barbies, and there's nothing dirty about it. It has that nutty English humor, kind of like the Beatles' Help!, so I actually ended up really enjoying it--I even watched it twice."

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Monday
Oct261998

Moms in the Crossfire

[Christianity Today, October 26, 1998]

“Work or home? Breast or bottle? Spanking or spoiling?” asks the front cover of the New York Times Magazine. “No matter what they choose, they’re made to feel bad.” This “special issue on the joy and guilt of motherhood” is titled in big red letters, “Mothers Can’t Win.”

Is this a special issue from 1987? 1993? 1972? Does it matter? This story has had more lives than Shirley MacLaine.

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Friday
Oct161998

I Believe

[Regeneration Quarterly, Fall 1998]

This speech was given at "Engaging Common Ground," the second national conference of the Common Ground Network for Life and Choice, held in Syracuse, NY on May 14-17, 1998. The Network was organized in 1993 and based in Washington, DC, and worked to enable discussion between pro-choice and pro-life advocates. The Network lost its funding in 1999 and had to disband.

The topic we were assigned for this plenary session was, "What is the broader context of meaning and beliefs in which we engage with the abortion issue?" Though I was in on the discussion to choose this topic, I now find myself in the embarrassing position of wondering "What in the world did we mean by that?" As a result, I've written several different versions of what I would say this morning, and last night when I got up for my regular prayer time I took one more look at the topic, threw out all previous versions, and started over from scratch.

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Monday
Sep071998

Gagging on Shiny, Happy People

[Christianity Today, September 7, 1998]

I flipped back the corners of the rugs, one after another. It was a clammy, rainy day, and these hand-knotted wool specimens from Iran, Pakistan, India, and China were giving off a fresh-from-the-sheep smell. I didn't know what I was doing; I'd never shopped for a rug before. But the one thing that struck me as I gazed at one gorgeous carpet after another was that they looked too perfect.

Then I peeled back one more layer and saw a rug that won my heart.

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Friday
Aug141998

Should You Design Your Own Religion?

[Utne Reader, August 1998]

One of the best pieces of spiritual advice I ever received was one I fortunately gained early, while still in college. It was that I should give up the project of assembling my own private faith out of the greatest hits of the ages. I encountered this idea while reading Ramakrishna, the nineteenth century Hindu mystic. He taught that it was important to respect the integrity of each great path, and said that, for example, when he wanted to explore Christianity he would take down his images of the Great Mother and substitute images of Jesus and Mary.

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Tuesday
Jul141998

Her Flesh and Blood

[Cornerstone, Summer 1998]

A foot, a rib, a womb. A piece of glass. Whalebones smoothed and polished, netted in cloth. The mother takes her daughter's hand.

The girl is dizzy; bright sunlight stripes through the shutters and dims her eyes. The old cloth tape is in her mother's hand. A pause of disappointment; her waist has still not met the mark of 20. The whale bones that stripe across her bones, the bones of the dead behemoth, are stonger than her bones. Her bones are young and they will give. She pauses between small tastes of air. On the day she was born her waist measured 16 inches. The bones press in. The mother thinks: this hurts, yes, but this is the way the world is. Not to do this would hurt my daughter more.

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Monday
Jul131998

Good Old Middle-Class Hypocrisy

[Christianity Today, July 13, 1998]

 
Pundits and commentators, who normally consider themselves more open-minded than the plodding masses, have been rocked by a discovery in the last six months: when it comes to a president's indiscretions, most people just don't care. "But you're supposed to be outraged,"

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