A Plea for Prohibition

Feast of the Holy Protection of the Theotokos

AFTER A careful study of the operations of Prohibition in America, I have come to the conclusion that one of the best things that the Government could do would be to prohibit everything.

That the story of Mephistopheles, the fiend who tempted Faust, is in reality an allegory of the story of Prohibition in America, is admitted by all serious scholars... Continue Reading

Notes toward an Eighth Day Definition of Culture

Feast of St Euphrosynos the Cook

CERTAIN lineaments can be identified that set the parameters for a definition of culture. ‘Culture’ seems to describe a particular way of being human shared by a society or community over time. Among others, it includes elements such as:

1. Language: a shared language with embedded perceptions and nuances unique to it.

2. Religion: a mode of relating to... Continue Reading

He Has Seen the Stars ... For Us: The Vicarious Humanity of Christ, the Priest of Creation

Feast of the Holy Martyr Agathonicus

THEY HAVE not seen the stars,” speaks Ray Bradbury of the non-human creation in his poem of the same name (They Have Not Seen the Stars: The Collected Poems of Ray Bradbury, 259-60). Of all the creatures in the world, humanity is privileged to know what it is seeing, to give voice to mute creation. So also, patristic and Orthodox theologies speak frequently... Continue Reading

Doubt and the Vicarious Faith of Christ

Feast of the Prophet Samuel

THE PAIN would be unbearable if the joy were not indescribable. Doubt is a problem of living with two realities: unbelief and belief, or pain and joy. Doubt is a problem, but it not just an intellectual problem. It is an agony of the soul, of our very being. Pain is bad enough, yet it is truly pain because of the joy in life,... Continue Reading

Rashkolnikov's Question and the Reality of Salvation

Feast of St Myron the Martyr of Cyzicus

IN DOSTOEVSKY'S classic novel, Crime and Punishment, Rashkolnikov’s meeting with Sonia leads him to believe that the girl is quite feeble-minded. He believes that her belief in miracles and in God is an indication of insanity. Rashkolnikov prods her, “So you pray a lot to God, Sonia?” Sonia is silent, then quickly responds, “What should I be without God?” Rashkolnikov’s suspicions... Continue Reading

Kneeling Beside Mary through Byzantine Imagery: The Mystery of the Incarnation

Feast of the Translation of the Image of our Lord & God & Savior, Jesus Christ

THE VIRGIN Mary has been embraced and esteemed by the Church ever since her encounter with the archangel Gabriel and his glorious annunciation: “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you” (Lk. 1.28). Elizabeth’s exclamation that followed shortly thereafter – “Blessed are you among women” (Lk. 1.42) – and Mary’s prophetic response... Continue Reading

Spiritual Homily 1: An Allegorical Interpretation of the Prophet Ezekiel's Vision

Feast of the Holy Seven Youths of Ephesus

WHEN EZEKIEL the prophet beheld the divinely, glorious vision, he described it in human terms but in a way full of mysteries that completely surpass the powers of the human mind. He saw in a plain a chariot of Cherubim, four spiritual animals. Each one had four faces. On one side each had the face of a lion, on another side... Continue Reading

Inaugural Eighth Day Institute Florovsky Lecture: On Memory, Hope & Cultural Renewal

Feast of the Holy Martyrs Proclus & Hilary

"…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17.21).

In January of 2015 the noted author James K. A. Smith visited Wichita as the keynote speaker for our fifth annual Eighth Day Symposium. Around a... Continue Reading

Penal Substitution: A Patristic View of the Atonement?

Feast of St Pappias the Martyr

GOD SET MAN in paradise as a cultivator of immortal plants—perhaps by this is meant divine concepts, both of the more simple and of the more perfect kind—naked by virtue of his simplicity and his life without artifice, and bereft of any covering or protection, for that is how it was fitting that the original man should be. And He gave him law... Continue Reading

On Catholicity: The One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church

Feast of St Jude the Apostle & Brother of Our Lord

THE CHURCH is one. There is but one church of Christ. For the church is His body, and Christ is never divided. Unity is not one note of the church among the others. It denotes rather the very nature of the church: one Head and one body. “The unity of the Spirit” has been given from the beginning,... Continue Reading

The Philokalia: Hidden Fountain of Inner Prayer & Spiritual Time-Bomb

Feast of St Alexandros, the New Martyr of Thessaloniki

THIS EVENING'S Table Talk is a brief historical introduction to the Philokalia, an anthology of ascetic texts organized chronologically from the 4th – 15th centuries. The talk is a slightly adapted and expanded version of a small section in my dissertation that sets the background for Fr. Georges Florovsky’s tireless call for a return to the Fathers. We’ll cover three... Continue Reading

The Avengers and Biblical Theomachy

Feast of St Theodore the Sanctified and Apodosis of Pascha

WARNING: Spoilers follow for Avengers: Infinity War

Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of ten years of cinematic adaptations of classic Marvel comic book characters and storylines, beginning with 2008’s Iron Man and preceded most recently by February’s Black Panther. In this most recent installment (which is part one of a two-part conclusion to what has been billed as... Continue Reading

Christian Duties according to Florovsky: Learning, History & Reintegration

Feast of St Germanus, Archbishop of Constantinople

HOW MANY Christian heroes—what the Church has traditionally called a Saint or a Church Father/Mother—can you name from the first sixteen centuries (i.e., after the Apostles and before George Fox)? If you are like many twenty-first century Christians, you probably aren't able to name many. (If you are interested, you can see a list of “40 Heroes of the Faith” before the... Continue Reading

The Lost Scriptural Mind: "As the Truth is in Jesus" (Eph. 4.21)

Feast of the Martyr Paphnutius

CHRISTIAN ministers are not supposed to preach their private opinions, at least from the pulpit. Ministers are commissioned and ordained in the church precisely to preach the Word of God. They are given some fixed terms of reference—namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ—and they are committed to this sole and perennial message. They are expected to propagate and to sustain “the faith which was... Continue Reading

The Gospel of Resurrection

Holy Friday and Feast of the 120 Martyrs of Persia

DEATH IS a catastrophe for man; this is the basic principle of the whole of Christian anthropology. Man is an amphibious being, both spiritual and corporeal, and so he was created by God. Body belongs organically to the unity of human existence. And this was perhaps the most striking novelty in the original Christian message. The preaching... Continue Reading

All Become One Cake: A Sermon on the Lord's Supper (Maundy Thursday, 1523)

Feast of the Martyr Cyril the Deacon & Companions; Maundy Thursday (West)

THUS YOU now have the correct and Christian use for the reception of the Sacrament. Furthermore, we shall speak of the fruit, which follows when one uses the Sacrament aright. The Holy Sacrament produces two things: one is that it makes us brothers and fellow heirs of the Lord Christ, such that it makes us one with... Continue Reading

Empire & Desert: Antinomies of Christian History

Feast of the Righteous John Cassian the Confessor

Justinian_Square.jpegCHRISTIANITY entered history as a new social order, or rather a new social dimension. From the very beginning Christianity was not primarily a “doctrine,” but exactly a “community.” There was not only a “Message” to be proclaimed and delivered, and “Good News” to be declared. There was precisely a New Community, distinct and peculiar, in the process of... Continue Reading

Henry Benjamin Whipple: Bishop of the State of Minnesota & Straight-Tongued Defender of the Minnesota Indians

Feast of Sts Porphyrios and Baptos the Monk Martyrs and Saturday of Souls

Whipple_Square_3.jpegWHEN ONE thinks today of the Episcopal Church and its contributions to the shared life and history of American Christians one thinks most readily, perhaps, of the unrivalled linguistic beauty of the traditional Book of Common Prayer or its built-heritage of many of the most aesthetically beautiful churches in the United States. Those contributions are easy... Continue Reading

St John Chrysostom: A Golden-Tongued Homily on the Great Delight of Friendship

Feast of St Gregory the Theologian

Paul_Square_2.jpegBUT WE WERE gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherisheth her own children; even so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were become very dear to us.” ~1 Thess. 2.7-8

[…] He who loves, ought to love, that if... Continue Reading

Pastors & Friendship: St. Paul's Call to Shape a Christoform Culture

Feast of St Xenia, Deaconess of Rome

Paul_Square.jpegAN EDITOR once told me, “Never begin a chapter with a quotation.” Now that I have gotten that advice behind me, I turn to the magnificent stylist of yesteryear, Edward Gibbon, who in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, said this of the young emperor Alexander Severus and his advisors and educators as Rome’s decline was sputtering along:

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