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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Christmas Shopping Blues

[Religion News Service, November 28, 1995] 

Is everybody happy? I'm not sure. On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Christiana Mall in Christiana, Delaware was crowded and bristling with festive decor, but the people waiting around the base of the fountain looked dazed and glum. The fountain was dry, so its circular field of brownish rocks sat idle,

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Overthrown by Eros

[World, November 18, 1995]

As Morality in Media launched their eighth annual "White Ribbon Against Pornography" campaign, the New Yorker magazine helpfully provided a 22-page look inside the world of porn film production. Author Susan Faludi gave readers a sympathetic glimpse at the tough lot of a male porn star. No, really. In this business, the woman is the object of desire and the male is furniture, and pay follows accordingly. What's more, male actors regularly find themselves the unwilling cause of production delays, and reap as a result the irritation and scorn of their peers. Habitual apprehension creates more problems, and this career-destroying pressure eventually destroys every career. Has-beens shuffle into backstage work, or, if they're lucky, marry a female star who can support them.

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A Books & Culture Field Trip: The Baltimore Book Dump

[Books & Culture, November 1995]

When I was down to the Big City not long ago, my youthful friend Rod took me to his favorite bookstore-cafe. We sat on high stools at a small, sticky square of yellow wood, buffeted by alternative rock flowing from the excellent sound system. I chose, at Rod's suggestion, a designer beer that the menu described as "fruity and complex." Nearby, patrons lingered at blond-wood book racks, perusing the handsome volumes with impressive nonchalance. Diversity spread her amiable wings: elbowpatch-and-beret types mingled easily with Birkenstocker-backpackers en tout noir. So when Rod came up to Baltimore I took him to my favorite book source, across the street from the Friend General Store and Love Nest Package Liquors. The bulky one-story building fills nearly a city block; it is painted rosy beige with deeper-brown trim, and topped with romantic crenellations. The orange metal sign bolted to the wall reads "Baltimore Department of Finance, Bureau of Purchases, Warehouse #9." But those familiar with its charms eschew the formal title; we call it the Baltimore Book Dump.

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Futile Utilitarian Religiosity

[Religion News Service, November 14, 1995] 

Pick a page, any page, in your daily paper and you're likely to find one of two things. Either there's a horrific story of violence and evil, or there's a politician or pundit decrying such and telling us America is going to hell in a handbasket. All around us we hear the predictions of catastrophe. What we don't hear is what to do about it.

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To Hell on a Cream Puff

[Christianity Today, November 18, 1995]

It's hard to know just how to take an invitation to write about gluttony. "We thought you would be the perfect person," the editor's letter read. "Gee, is it that obvious?" I thought, alarmed. "No, no," I wanted to protest, "that's not really me. It just these horizontal stripes." But, if I'm honest, I have to admit that it is me. It's most of us. Food is an intoxicating pleasure, and it appears superficially like an innocuous one; it's not one of the bad sins, like adultery or stealing. We wouldn't do that; gluttony is different. All it does is make you soft and huggable. It's the cute sin.

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Sweet Mystery of Daisy

[World, November 4, 1995]

The message on my answering machine begins with the loud exhalation of a child holding the phone too close. Then, apparently, she pressed her hand over the mouthpiece because this is muffled: "Mom, it's a answering machine."

The voice of a middle-aged woman comes on the line. It is kindly and somehow lush; I picture a full-bodied woman with big eyes. "Hi, Daisy? This is Cammie. Would you like to go on a cruise?" She speaks clearly and precisely; maybe Daisy is hard of hearing. "In August. If so, give me a call." Cammie gives her number, then adds in a sweet voice, "Thank you. Have a pleasant evening."

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The Weeping Icon and Eugene

[Religion News Service, October 31, 1995] 

 All day long Eugene Nahum prays in a church on the outskirts of Chicago. At night, he sleeps in the basement below the church offices. "This is my life now," he says. "I have no other life."

    Both the man and the church are remarkable. Before moving here permanently, Eugene made several day-trips from his home in Ohio to this church in the grimy suburb of Cicero, Ill., because it is the site of an unusual phenomenon: a weeping icon.

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Unnatural Childbirth

[World, October 7, 1995] 

I got a “what’s wrong with this picture” feeling from reading the news clip: Sens. Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kansas) and Bill Bradley (D-New Jersey) were introducing a bill to require health insurers to provide a minimum 48 hour stay after childbirth. Over the last twenty years, the length of postpartum stays has shortened from four days to two or less.

Health insurers, not surprisingly, love the shorter stays.

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Against Capital Punishment

[Religion News Service, October 3, 1995]

When Jane's fiance, a tugboat engineer, disappeared at sea, there were many theories about the cause of his death. When his best friend suggested that he had been murdered after stumbling across a drug deal, the idea electrified her.

"It caused such a rage it was almost a physical reaction," she told me.

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Soap Gets In Your Eyes

[World, September 23, 1995] 

Reporters are brave adventurers, required by their profession to visit places where they face danger in the forms of gunfire, tornados, or foreign food. Recently I undertook a similar expedition: I spent an entire afternoon in my living room. With the television on.


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