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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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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Marketing Narnia

[Beliefnet, June 20, 2001] 

 Just hours after the New York Times hit doorsteps on the first Sunday of this month, my e‑mailbox began to fill with distraught messages. "Sit down before you read this, in case you start crying," wrote one friend, and another muttered "Poor Lewis must be turning over in his grave."

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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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Monkey Can, Monkey Do?

[Beliefnet, May 29, 2001]

It's got the head of a monkey and the body of a monkey. But not the same monkey.

You probably don't want to hear any more details of this Mondo Bizarro medical news item. According to pioneering scientist Robert White, the mix-and-match creature he fabricated in a 1970's experiment survived for "many days." This experiment raised hopes, he told the BBC in an interview last month, because "People are dying today who, if they had body transplants, ...would remain alive."

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Easter Changes Everything

[Beliefnet, April 14, 2001]

It’s that time of year again, when school children are coloring pictures of Jesus hanging from a cross, and shop-owners fill their windows with gaily colored cutouts of the Flogging at the Pillar. In the malls everyone’s humming along with seasonal hits on the sound system, like “O Sacred Head Sore Wounded” (did you hear the Chipmunks’ version?). Car dealers are promoting Great Big Empty-Tomb Size discounts on Toyotas.

Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Easter. Who hasn’t been invited to an “In His Steps” party, where players move plastic pieces around a board emblazoned with a map of Jesus’ last suffering day in Jerusalem?

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The Hidden Gospels

[Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2001]

Imagine a convocation of New Testament scholars, circa 2100 AD, poring over a recently discovered cache of ancient scrolls. What a delightful, mystical figure Jesus cuts here! He’s hardly like the fire-and-brimstone version promoted in the establishment Gospels. Surely this is the *real* Jesus, the one suppressed for so long by a rigid hierarchy.

Sad, isn’t it, that all previous generations of scholars were too hidebound and fundamentalist to perceive the truth. Like those folks in the Jesus Seminar, a hundred years ago.

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God Isn't Dead, I Talked With Him this Morning

[Beliefnet, March 27, 2001]

“God isn’t dead‚ I talked with Him this morning.”

There’s a sweet naivete in this bumper sticker from a few decades ago, as it blithely eludes the complexities of the old “God is Dead” debate. Though philosophers wrestle with Resurrection texts and idiosyncrasies, these believers find such angst irrelevant. They know God personally, and hand-wringing about whether he’s there or not is a waste of time.

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[Beliefnet, March 19, 2001]

I’ve got an idea for a movie script guaranteed to win an Oscar. We’ll call it “Sizzle.” See, there’s a village in India where all the people think there’s something bad about eating beef. It’s part of their religion, which says they should repress their desires and hate pleasure.

Then this sexy young cowboy comes to town and opens up a grill. All day long it’s thick steaks frying, or maybe some tender filets, and sometimes he dishes up a few racks of barbecued ribs.

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Moment of Silence

[Dallas Morning News, March 10, 2001]

Listen. Do you hear the turmoil simmering over the nations’ most painfully divisive issue? Do you hear protesters and counter-protesters clashing in the streets? Do you hear opposing sides contending in a battle of rhetoric and passionate will?

Me neither. Pretty quiet out there. Once there were magazine covers devoted to the abortion debate, panels earnestly arguing on TV, politicians sweating out meticulously vacant sound bites.

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The Joy of Filboid Studge

[Beliefnet, March 4, 2001]

A person can only hope to accomplish so much in a lifetime, and of course many of the better discoveries (fire, the wheel, the home Jeopardy game) have already been taken. But I can rest easier now that my own contribution to mankind has been perfected. I have discovered the moral equivalent of oatmeal.

It goes like this. You know that eating oatmeal is the most noble act a human can perform in the course of food consumption. It’s the right thing to do, as some wise man (Copernicus?) once said. This is because, face it, oatmeal is not very appealing. Once in a bowl, it transitions quickly from homey to homely, and in bright morning light is a soggy, depressing mess. What better sight to thrill our sense of duty?

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