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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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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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Sunday
Jul051998

All We Can Bring

[Orthodox Christian Mission Center, Summer 1998]

How can we transfigure the world?

The world presents itself to us damaged, restless, wronged and wronging, bent of heart and broken of spirit. We present ourselves, come to be its healers, and we are bent and broken as well. How can we transfigure the world? An old Western prayer of confession says, "There is no health in us."

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Wednesday
Jun241998

Green Linoleum Floor

[NPR, "All Things Considered," June 24, 1998]

An hour before worship my husband and some guys from church arrive to set up, going down the alleylike passage to the side door, past cigarette butts and soda cans. It isn’t a church building, and it isn’t ours, except on Sunday morning; the rest of the week it’s a day care center for adults with psychiatric disabilities. Since we’re Orthodox Christians, creating a worship space takes some work.

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Monday
Jun081998

Horse Trough Baptism

[NPR, "All Things Considered," June 8, 1998]

In this ranch house in an older suburb, the carpet in the dining room is vintage orange shag. But no dining table stands on it tonight; we moved out the table and moved in a giant Rubbermaid horse trough--the hundred-gallon size. The baptismal service is in full swing. As incense rises and the choir sings, my husband, the priest, floats blessed oil on top of the warm water. Then it' s time for Mitchell to step in.

Some churches sprinkle for baptism, or pour water from a silver cup. But the Eastern Orthodox Church prefers full immersion, dunking the entire person underwater.

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Monday
May181998

I Didn't Mean to be Rude

[Christianity Today, May 18, 1998]

Twenty-four years ago this month I learned something specific. The specificity of what I learned is what makes it, to many, offensive.

 Twenty-four years ago a hitchiking jaunt around Europe brought me one afternoon to a church in Dublin.

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Saturday
May161998

Why the Bathroom Walls are Lumpy

Unpublished, May 1998]

Come on in! Just have a seat on the sofa, and my husband will be in in a minute with some coffee. Where’s the bathroom? Ah, better have a seat first. I need to explain something. I should tell you why the walls are lumpy.

Last summer I was looking at that paneling—well, actually, I guess it really began back when we bought the house, a few years ago—no, to tell the truth—

It all started when I was about six, and built a fort of sofa cushions on the living room floor.

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Saturday
May021998

Go Ahead, Offend Me

[First Things, May 1998]

Last spring saw a free-for-all break out in the evangelical Protestant camp over a proposed new "inclusive language" translation of the New International Version Bible. While World magazine, which sounded the alarm, was scolded for joining battle in hysterical and sarcastic tones, the translators were compelled to explain in what sense it was "accurate" to render masculine terms neuter, singulars plural, or produce grammatical whimsies like "everyone...they."

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Thursday
Apr161998

The Dangers of Fantasy

[Unpublished; Spring 1998]

“The more I think about it, the more it bothers me,” my husband said. He had spent the morning with our teenaged son playing paintball, a first-time experience for both of them. This sophisticated version of “capture the flag” pits two teams against each other, each armed with modified guns that shoot a non-staining liquid. Anyone “killed” must retire from the game. My husband’s concern was that the game was too realistic. It’s the closest thing imaginable to actually killing people, he said.

“I support the military, and I understand their need to prepare,” he went on. “There’s a reason for soldiers to play war games. But I’m not sure its right for civilians to do it, just as a form of entertainment. You shoot someone, see liquid explode on his body—it’s not the sort of thing a Christian should enjoy.”

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