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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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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Shows the Famiily Can Watch

[Religion News Service, September 3, 1996] 

 A recent television awards ceremony sought to honor so‑called "family" shows; advertising for the program proclaimed that it would celebrate "shows the whole family can watch together." The tone was both defensive and opportunistic.

The show's producers read their demographics correctly: There are a lot of parents out there who are just plain peeved.

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Seeking Abortion's Middle Ground

[Washington Post, July 28, 1997]

I was pro-choice at one point in my life, but I came over to a pro-life position years ago. I've been there ever since. Perhaps because of my background, I think there's a logic to the pro-choice position that deserves respect, even as we engage it critically. It is possible to disagree with somebody without calling them baby-killers, without believing that they are monsters or fiends. It is possible to disagree in an agreeable way.

The abortion argument is essentially an argument among women. It's been a bitter and ugly debate, and I find that embarrassing. For me, that gives a special urgency to this conference.

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Church Fires, Contagious Hatred

[Religion News Service, July 23, 1996]

At the beginning of a summer expected to be long and hot, a shocking charge was made: Racists are burning black churches. In a June 8 address, President Clinton cited the burning of Murkland Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, N.C., which he described as the 30th such fire in 18 months.


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Virtual Water Cooler

[NPR, "All Things Considered," July 12, 1996]

Someone somewhere is sitting in a car. She's just left the office and is trying to get home, but the traffic is backed into a snarl.The setting sun cuts through the windshield, steaming the car and wilting the collar of her blouse. It's been a long day, and tomorrow will be another, all summer, all winter, year after year.

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Generation Why

[NPR, "All Things Considered," July 8, 1996]

When my daughter came home from college she announced she wants to paint something else on her car. It's already covered with daisies. Now she wants to add cartoon depictions of the Beatles, Yellow-Submarine style, on the doors. The tape rack inside is filled with Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors. "Everybody I like is dead," she says. Her brother David is a couple of years younger. His golden hair flows over his shoulders, and he's attempting by sheer force of willpower to generate a moustache and goatee. Wire-rim glasses complete the look. The other day I found him bent over his guitar, picking out the chords to Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone."

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Mosh Pit Manners

[Recorded for NPR "All Things Considered," June 21, 1996; never aired]

Thirty years ago, I was sitting in a stadium screaming at the Beatles and throwing jelly beans. We’d heard that was George’s favorite, so we were doing our best to pelt him. I screamed at Herman's Hermits, too, freaked out with Frank Zappa, and then it was the Stones.

But it had been a long time since I'd been to a rock concert. Recently I piled my teenage kids and a couple of their friends into the station wagon and went to hear one of their favorite bands‑‑a band I've overheard enough to enjoy myself.

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Everyday Faith

[NPR, "All Things Considered," June 6, 1996]

Michael's been gone about a month now, and we miss him. In a small church like ours, you need everybody. Now the choir's down to just one bass, and the other Sunday School teachers have to do double duty. At the same time we're happy for Michael, even proud. Our little church started just three years ago, and we're almost all converts--some from various denominations, some from no faith at all. Michael was one of the few who'd actually grown up Eastern Orthodox. When he announced he wanted to join Holy Cross Monastery in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain, we felt somehow honored.

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