Zacchaeus Sunday 2023

We know Lent is coming when Zacchaeus Sunday arrives. It has arrived.


Every sacrament of the Church is about union with Christ, or union with another human being (marriage). It is predicated on the possibility of true communion and participation.

The claim that this is true and possible distinguishes Orthodox Christianity from virtually every form of contemporary Christian believing. It is the foundation of the sacramental world of the Church.

Fr. Stephen Freeman, The Communion of Friends

The (occasional religious) wisdom of David French

It’s one thing to yell at the culture, “Get back to church!” It’s another thing entirely to make sure your religious community is worth coming back to.

David French

I enjoy David French on the law quite a lot, but there’s a wide gap between his Reformed Christianity (in which I’d have been quite at home 30 years ago) and Orthodox Christianity. Hence the parenthetical in the title.

Science and the Christian Faith

After a 25-year hiatus, I am reading again about Science and the Christian Faith. What drew me back was that this book is by an Orthodox Christian — a priest and astrophysicist. Apparently there have been others, but this was the first to come to my attention.

The difference from other Christian treatments is material, as I fully expected it would be. I may have more to say later — or I may not. Some of it’s getting pretty deep.


Observing Orthodox practices is no more a guarantee of salvation than abiding by all the decisions of the pope and the magisterium, or speaking in tongues, or saying the “sinner’s prayer” and acknowledging Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

Adhering to Orthodox practices to the letter is legalism, and legalism distorts the entire spiritual life. True Orthodoxy is devoid of a spirit of legalism.

Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou, Thinking Orthodox: Understanding and Acquiring the Orthodox Christian Mind

I can think of a very prominent person, widely judged to be evil, who knows and practices much Orthodox choreography.

Evangelical guru lightened up in Italy

Italy was where they proved themselves to be so much more than their fundamentalist beliefs. It was as if they wanted me to somehow grow past the constricted world they had fallen into.

Frank Schaeffer, of his parents Francis and Elizabeth Schaeffer, in Crazy for God.

I quote this with my usual caveat: Frank Schaeffer was an angry Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist and now he’s an angry Orthodox Christian. I don’t like or trust anger, even if I tend toward it myself.

That said, this is an uncommonly gracious observation, almost out of context in the overall book.

A pairing

Ultimately, theology is not a set of definitions or theories. Theology is mystery since it transcends the rational mind and attempts to express the inexpressible. In schools of theology and seminaries, theology is indeed an academic subject and, as such, it requires accuracy and embraces a certain “intellectual rigour,” as Met. Kallistos remarks. This does not conflict with Orthodoxy, since “we do not serve the Kingdom of God through vagueness, muddle and lazy thinking.”28 But he also notes that in other sciences or areas of investigation, the personal sanctity of the scientist or inquirer is irrelevant. This is not the case with theology, which requires metanoia (repentance), catharsis (purification), and askesis (spiritual struggle).

Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou, Thinking Orthodox: Understanding and Acquiring the Orthodox Christian Mind

Both the fundamentalist and the higher critic assume that it is possible to understand the biblical text without training, without moral transformation, without the confession and forgiveness that come about within the church. Unconsciously, both means of interpretation try to make everyone religious (that is, able to understand and appropriate scripture) without everyone’s being a member of the community for which the Bible is Scripture.

Stanley Hauerwas, Resident Aliens

Tradition is a bulwark against the power of commerce and the dissolving acid of money, and by removing these, all revolutions in the modern period have ended up accelerating the commercial and technological shift towards the Machine.

Paul Kingsnorth

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