Gregory Palamas Sunday 2023

Losing Passion

As I age, I find I’m ever slightly improving in my ability to, as my internal dialog has it,

Let it go. You can’t change it, either because you don’t know how or because your superannuated and faith-informed voice is inaudible to the powers that be. If it’s to be changed, someone else, someone younger, someone more fluent in the desacralized argot of the day, must take the initiative.

To some extent, this is just an appropriate response to my stage of life. I said four years ago, as I passed threescore and ten, that I’d passed my “Sell By” date. Eternal matters feel even more urgent.

But there’s a sense in which anyone who wants truly to follow Christ needs the same attitude. So teaches my tradition, pretty consistently.

It’s a hard admonition to heed.

I therefore take it that Orthodox politicians, varying from to Justin Amash to Barbara Mukulski, are rather like soldiers, doing what needs to be done but risking or incurring a lot of soul-harm in the process.

Is that why we’re admonished to pray for those in authority?


Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.

Proverbs 4:7

Making a virtue of one of the great vices

What the Fathers decried as schism is now regarded as normal church growth. So long as the new church does not make a point of denying the Trinity, it remains a part of the una sancta.

Fr. Lawrence Farley

Myth and Tradition

In Japan, the old myths broke down after the war, and people needed a new way to understand our place in the universe. So because it is impossible to go back to the old myths, we will have to make new ones.

Quoted by Andy Couterier, The Abundance of Less: Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan

This reminds me of when my high school Headmaster announced that we were starting “a new tradition.”

That I didn’t have great regard for tradition at the time may have what made it sound weird to me; that I have much respect for tradition now makes it sound no less weird.

Not Just Another Pretty Face

Raquel Welch, to my surprise, died a traditional Presbyterian Church lady in a small church outside Beverly Hills:

Outside Beverly Hills, the starlet found a small church “on the way to Pasadena, where the pastor and congregation were very devout and really knew their scripture. I had come there because I’d heard the pastor speak on the radio, and it sounded like he might be a good source of information. That turned out to be true. Apparently, even inept, awkward prayers are answered.”

Welch described the congregation as modest, unassuming, and friendly. “The people in this church weren’t Hollywood types,” she reported. “Even so, when I entered the chapel on that first day, I felt quite tentative. Maybe I didn’t belong among these people who actually practiced their faith. I didn’t look like them, sound like them, or act like them. I stood out like a sore thumb.” She sat in the back of the chapel.

“By the time the sermon was over, I felt remarkably comfortable sitting among these parishioners; not one of them gave me a second look,” recalled Welch. She found the members refreshing. “Not a superficial bone in their body.”

Without divulging the name of the congregation, Welch had found a spiritual home. “This is my church now. I have become a member of this parish and its people are my brothers and sisters in faith,” she wrote. “Together we form a fellowship where I can reaffirm my beliefs and worship every Sunday. When I’m in their midst, I’m just Raquel, not anybody special.”

This may have been the only location in Southern California where Raquel Welch was “not anybody special.” Counterintuitively, that must have been sweet liberation for a woman who had spent a lifetime under intense scrutiny and critique.

If she had joined a megachurch, we surely we have known about it.

Ravi Zacharias

The Ravi Zacharias scandal and corporate complicity have bothered me a great deal, if only because Zacharias seemed even to skeptical Orthodox me like a serious and devout guy.

Oddly, a court decision in a lawsuit against Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Inc. has helped me get my facts a little straighter, to lessen my impression of a pervasive coverup, and to appreciate how damaging it would have been to allow the class action lawsuit to proceed. (Don’t be intimidated: this link is to a blog summary of the decision.)

Who can theologize?

[T]he overintellectualization of religion has contributed to the belief that anyone can theologize. Our Western culture, which itself is a by-product of the Renaissance, Reformation, and so-called Age of Enlightenment, influences us to focus on the intellectual aspect of Orthodoxy.

Dr. Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou, Thinking Orthodox

The Gospel of Progress

In these latter days, the masters of machines and money have imagined themselves to be “building the Kingdom” (Blake’s Jerusalem) with plans, intentions, goals, and utopias. [Such language was the bread and butter of public speech in my time among the Episcopalians]. The plans generally seemed to involve the rich helping the humble and meek so they would no longer need to be humble and meek. With every success they became even greater strangers to God. Their Churches stand empty, their children having forgotten God and looked towards other dreams.

Fr. Stephen Freeman, The Gospel of Progress – and the New Jerusalem

Attempted aphorism

A Christian who Pastors himself has a fool for a parish.

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

You can read most of my more impromptu stuff here (cathartic venting) and here (the only social medium I frequent, because people there are quirky, pleasant and real). Both should work in your RSS aggregator, like Feedly or Reeder, should you want to make a habit of it.

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