Notes Towards the Definition of Patriarchy

Feast of St Timothy, the Apostle of the 70

HOW MIGHT Christians think about the difficult and divisive topic of patriarchy

In current political and cultural discussions, patriarchy is purely negative. The word is used (without precision) as a category for defining and dismissing any form of social organization in which men are systematically given positions of authority. To label a society or organization ‘patriarchal’ is, in current terms, to condemn and... Continue Reading

God Is Agape & Eros: Pope Benedict XVI's Message for Our Mad Nietzschean World

Feast of St Macarius the Great of Egypt

167. To vigorous men intimacy is a matter of shame—and something precious.
168. Christianity gave Eros poison to drink; he did not die of it, certainly, but degenerated to Vice.   ~Friedrich Nietzsche

CHRISTIAN mysticism is dependent upon some familiarity with eros, defined by Pope Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est as “that love between man and woman which... Continue Reading

The Hatred of Purity

Feast of St Athanasius & Cyril, Patriarchs of Alexandria

BACK IN my college days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I was a hippie and a spiritual seeker. The range of spiritual options on campus was broad, and I sampled a bit of everything: Ananda Marga Hinduism, Zen Buddhism, Hare Krishna, Transcendental Meditation. I say I was a “seeker,” but that’s not exactly right; I didn’t... Continue Reading

The Ascetics of Authenticity: Following Maximus the Ironman of Early Christianity

Feast of St Athanasius & Cyril, Patriarchs of Alexandria

SEVERAL years ago I completed an endurance event known as an Ironman. For twelve hours I endured deep, strenuous pain as I swam 2.4 miles, biked 112 miles, and ran a marathon—26.2 miles. By the time I crossed the finish line I had traversed 140.6 grueling miles in 98-degree heat, battling an unceasing 25-mile-per-hour cross-wind. Since... Continue Reading

A Message from Ralph Wood: On Cultural Renewal at Eighth Day Institute

Forefeast of Epiphany

CULTURE is a word related both to cult and to agriculture—i.e., to religious devotion and the cultivation of the crops. In the former sense, it pertains to all those things that do not bear directly on such matters as civil society, government, nationhood, patriotism, even civilization itself—although all of these may be turned into a ‘cult’ in the bad sense. As G. K. Chesterton observed, the Church has... Continue Reading

The New Year: Look at the True Light for Genuine Happiness

Feast of St Basil the Great and the Circumcision of Christ

IT'S AN old custom: on New Year’s Eve, while the clock strikes midnight, we think of our aspirations for the new year and try to enter the unknown future with a dream, looking forward to the fulfillment of some cherished desire. Today we once again are approaching a new year. What do we desire for ourselves, for others,... Continue Reading

A Message from Hans Boersma

Feast of the 20,000 Martyrs burned in Nicomedia (east) and the Holy Innocents (west)

NOT TOO long ago, a friend asked me, “What’s your favorite place to go to for a conference?” I didn’t have to think about the answer. “Wichita, Kansas,” I immediately responded. Anyone who has ever attended one of the events put on by the Eighth Day Institute will straightaway nod in agreement. Of... Continue Reading

The Time of Advent

Feast of St Sebastian the Martyr & His Companions

THE CENTRAL idea of Advent is that it is the ‘coming’ of the Lord Jesus. One might perhaps feel that this term ‘coming’ is purely symbolic, for in fact Christ comes to us at all times, and even lives in us. Nevertheless, this approach and this presence of Christ, both of which are eternal, take on a special character at... Continue Reading

For the Time Being

Feast of St Spyridon the Wonderworker of Trymithous

Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cupboard boxes - 
Some have got broken - and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week -
Not that we... Continue Reading

Santa Claus: The Divinely Good St Nicholas

Feast of St Nicholas the Wonderworker, Archbishop of Myra

SAD AS it is to see Saint Nicholas transformed into the red-suited Santa Claus of the secular winter ‘holidays’, it is easy to understand why the holy bishop has become so closely connected with the festival of Christ’s birth. The stories about the saint, fabricated and embroidered in Christian imagination over the ages, in various times and places, all tell... Continue Reading

Thoughts After Lambeth: Excerpts on Asceticism, Ecumenism & Cultural Renewal

Feast of St Catherine the Great Martyr of Alexandria

Christianity as the Difficult Way of Discipline and Asceticism
In the section on Youth, we may find some wise and true sayings, if we have the patience to look for them. “The best of the younger generation in every section of the community,” we are told, “and in every country of the world, are not seeking a religion that is watered... Continue Reading

Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy: Commemorating Saints in a Secular Age - Part 2 of 2

Synaxis of the Archangel Michael & the other Bodiless Powers: Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Salaphiel, Jegudiel, & Barachiel

AS THE TITLE of this piece suggests, and as the opening paragraph of Part 1 intimates, I want to suggest that the commemoration of saints is relevant to our secular age. In fact, I believe that telling the stories of holy people promotes the renewal of culture. Before suggesting some ways... Continue Reading

Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy: Commemorating Saints in a Secular Age - Part 1 of 2

Feast of St Paul the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople

G. K. CHESTERTON once said there are only two things that never get boring: stories and persons. Averil Cameron, Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine History, takes Chesterton’s assertion a step further. In her book, Christianity and the Rhetoric of Empire: The Development of Christian Discourse, Cameron argues that the development of a ‘totalizing discourse’ or a ‘Christian rhetoric’ was... Continue Reading

Hall of Men: A Local Fellowship Hall Where the Men Break Bread, Tap the Keg & Toast Their Heroes

Feast of St Anastasia the Martyr of Rome

THE MEETING is about to come to order here at the Hall of Men, where heroism is celebrated and masculinity is encouraged. The men, seated at an oak table that nearly fills the room, push away their soup bowls.

“Gentlemen,” says George Elder, raising his glass at the head of the table.

He offers a toast, drawn from a tale from... Continue Reading

The Rolling English Road

Feast of the Great Martyr Artemius

BEFORE THE Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

I knew no... Continue Reading

G. K. Chesterton's Non-Fictional Prose

Feast of St Joel the Prophet

I HAVE always enjoyed Chesterton’s poetry and fiction, but I must admit that, until I started work on a selection for a publisher, it was many years since I had read any of his non-fictional prose.

The reasons for my neglect were, I think, two. Firstly, his reputation as an anti-Semite. Though he denied the charge and did, certainly, denounce Hitler’s persecution, he... Continue Reading

Alcohol, Drunkenness & Drinking

Feast of St Luke the Evangelist and Physician

I SUPPOSE that there will be some wigs on the green in connection with the recent manifesto signed by a string of very eminent doctors on the subject of what is called ‘alcohol’. ‘Alcohol’ is, to judge by the sound of it, an Arabic word, like ‘algebra’ and ‘Alhambra’, those two other unpleasant things. The Alhambra in Spain I have never... Continue Reading


Feast of St Hosea the Prophet

MY FORTHCOMING work in five volumes, “The Neglect of Cheese in European Literature,” is a work of such unprecedented and laborious detail that it is doubtful whether I shall live to finish it. Some overflowings from such a fountain of information may therefore be permitted to sprinkle these pages. I cannot yet wholly explain the neglect to which I refer. Poets have been... Continue Reading

The Flying Inn: Chesterton on Alcohol & the Sacramental Imagination

Feast of St Lucian the Martyr of Antioch

CHESTERTON anticipated many of our problems in 1914 when he published The Flying Inn, just before the outbreak of the First War. It’s a very funny book that deals, among many other things, with the question of alcohol. To say the least, alcohol is no less a problem in our time than it was in his time. In fact, it’s a... Continue Reading

A Piece of Chalk

Feast of St James the Apostle, Son of Alphaeus

I REMEMBER one splendid morning, all blue and silver, in the summer holidays when I reluctantly tore myself away from the task of doing nothing in particular, and put on a hat of some sort and picked up a walking-stick, and put six very bright-coloured chalks in my pocket. I then went into the kitchen (which, along with the rest... Continue Reading