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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The Bomb That Wasn't

[Religion News Service, February 4, 1997]

This year Jan. 22, the date of the March for Life, dawned chilly and gray in the nation's capital. There was no snow, but ugly rumors troubled the crowd.

It was said that there had been an explosion at an abortion clinic in town earlier that morning. A couple of days before there had been a firebombing at a clinic in Tulsa, Okla. Before that, a pair of bombs exploded at an Atlanta building that housed an abortion clinic along with other businesses.


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The Subject Was Noses

[Books & Culture, January/February, 1997] 

One night after dinner, while Gary and the boys and I were still sitting around the kitchen table, Megan called from college. After the phone had been passed around and everyone had done some chatting, it came back to me. Megan hesitated, then said:

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Silence is Golden, Even at the Gas Pump

[Religion News Service, January 7, 1997]

In a north Florida city, just off the interstate, stands a gas station that at first appears routine. But as I came around last week to pump a tankful for my holiday trip home, I noticed a sign posted next to the credit‑card slot.

The wording was oddly formal. "We hope your fueling experience will be enhanced by Jacksonville's first FAST PAY television gas pumps."


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Tasteless Miracles

[NPR, "All Things Considered," December 27, 1996]

As I zipped open the cardboard envelope a sweet, heavy fragrance began to spill out. Rifling among the magazine and newspaper clippings I found it, a plastic bag containing a cotton ball. A drop of golden oil was soaked into the cotton. I gently opened the bag, and the scent of roses spilled into the room.

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Too Much Togetherness

[Religion News Service, December 24, 1996] 

This season of togetherness pushes people together, and in the process they find sometimes that the fit isn't so easy. Family members who see each other once a year do so now, over the turkey or New Year's Day ham; co‑workers from other departments share cookies and a paper cup of soda (or something stronger) and try to make conversation. In this season more than ever we are being appraised and often find ourselves fretting about how to dress or behave to suit different occasions. It's a tense and giddy time, so full of fun that we're quite relieved when it's over.


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The Grim Nativity of an Inconvenient Infant

[Religion News Service, December 9, 1996] 

The story has become familiar: Amy Grossberg and Brian Peterson were high school sweethearts in a New York City suburb usually described as "affluent." They went off to separate colleges as freshmen this fall, but met in mid‑November at a motel outside Newark, Del. There she delivered their firstborn son, and Peterson swaddled him in bloody motel linens and laid him in a gray garbage bag. The corpse was later recovered from the motel trash bin.


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Who's That Idiot Next to the Potted Plant?

[Religion News Service, November 26, 1996]

Has this happened to you? You're watching some talk'n'politics TV show, a few people sitting around a table with a photo backdrop of the U.S. Capitol, and one of them is a total idiot.

You're thinking, "I can't believe what the one next to the potted plant is saying," and "Did you hear that? How'd she/he get on this show?" and "I could do better than that -- in fact, my labrador retriever could do better than that!"

Well, that would be me.

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Deconstructing the Cheshire Cat

[Religion News Service, November 12, 1996] 

Well, here we are. Or are we?

It's an open question among some academic sophisticates. Does anything exist? If it did, how would you know? Is there any feasible way to prove it? Or is everything we perceive (if indeed there's anything there at all) so colored by preconceptions that nothing can be definitively stated?

Is what we call "reality" merely constructed of our prejudices and whims ‑‑ or worse, constructed of our desire to gather power and subjugate others? Can one really state that "physical reality ... is at bottom a social and linguistic construct"?

That's what Alan Sokal, a physicist at New York University, asserted not long ago in the pages of the journal, Social Text. Unfortunately for the editors of Social Text, Sokal was only kidding.

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Men Protecting Women

[NPR, "All Things Considered," October 9, 1996]

When my daughter got a job delivering pizzas, I was a little concerned. Is the neighborhood safe? Do they deliver after dark? I imagined her standing in a shadowy hallway all alone, vulnerable to any sort of mayhem, and armed only with a pizza.

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From Episcopalian to Orthodox

An excerpt from Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey Into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy

Prologue: In the Passenger Seat

Saturday, December 21, 1991

He was an Episcopal priest, but he was standing in an Orthodox church on this Saturday night and thinking about Truth. At the altar a gold-robed priest strode back and forth swinging incense, moving in and out the doors of the iconostasis according to rubrics that were as yet unfamiliar. Golden bells chimed against the censer, and the light was smoky and dim. Over to the left a small choir was singing in haunting harmony, voices twining in a capella simplicity. The Truth part was this: the ancient words of this Vesperal service had been chanted for more than a millennium. Lex orandi, lex credendi; what people pray shapes what they believe. This was a church that had never, could never, apostatize.

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