Reluctant Conversions

Just watched via Hoopla an off-Broadway production I have wanted to see for some time. Seems it is becoming the custom in this pandemic to place any number of good Broadway shows online where they can be streamed on demand (I confess a recent subscription to Disney plus just so that I could see the musical Hamilton).

Max McClean as C.S. Lewis

This show that I saw on hoopla from a Broadway company I have long admired features a bright light of the 20th century who combined with a handful of others saved my spiritual life from bankruptcy. C.S. Lewis the Most Reluctant Convert in England is a crisp monologue performed by the director of an organization called the Fellowship of the Performing Arts. The show logs in at a crisp hour and 15 minutes and packs more deep philosophical yearning and profound spiritual insight than anything Broadway has cooked up for some time.

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Tear down that statue

First the death of George Floyd. Then the tearing down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. What will come next? Will we forget all of our not so great history? Like my sister wisely said if we forget history we are doomed to make the same mistakes again.

All human beings are flawed, no matter what we may think. Does this mean we should forget about imperfect humans? Should we fail to remember amazing heroes in American history just because of a flaw?

The writers of our own constitution had many flaws, including owning slaves. Does this mean we should forget everything by focusing only on there bad sides? No, we have to recognize that they did a very important job for our country. This means not to tear down statues but instead we should learn from there mistakes (and remember them) and focus on making our world better!

My take on the BLM movement

Let me start by making a very important statement: every single person’s life matters and therefore everyone deserves to be loved, cared for and cherished. This includes police officers and people of any race, background and ethnicity.

In this day and age we find ourselves in a difficult situation. Many thought racism was completely gone but now we know it is very much alive. I myself think that I used to be racist before starting to attend the beautifully diverse school, Boston Trinity Academy. My point is that many people are blind to our present situation. The easiest way out is to blame the police. We forget that these are the amazing brave individuals who save our lives every day. I am not saying that some are not extremely racist, but I am saying that this statement makes the mistake of overgeneralization. I am not trying to protect racist people but instead give you a way to help them. When I went to Boston Trinity Academy, I became friends with many different diverse students. All police officers need to meet and become wonderful friends with many people no matter what color of skin, religion or ethnicity. These relationships will show all that we are equal and that we should treat everyone we see with the love and respect they deserve.

The Quiet Beauty of Orthodox Sprituality

Picture taken near St. John the Baptist Monastery

Monasteries are the center of Orthodox Spirituality and are unfortunately mostly highly underrated. For a while I thought of them as a place to pray and plant seeds. But after visiting St. John the Baptist Monastery in Warwick, MA on many occasions my perception changed.

This small monastery in Western Massachusetts has a very relaxed atmosphere. Encompassed by forest, this place is surrounded by beautiful nature. Having this relaxed, calm setting sets a deep sense of inner peace. The quiet area helps calm the soul and leave all the worldly cares behind.

There are many monasteries around the world, and all of them have a unique setting. But the important key to the quiet beauty is the peace and calmness that is in the core of these Orthodox communities.

The Builder of Aghia Sophia

The following is a repost of an article that appeared on our Diocesan website concerning Aghia Sophia, the ancient Christian temple which for a whole millennium stood for worship of the true and living God worshipped in Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When it was conquered in 1543, it was viciously ransacked, desecrated then rededicated as a mosque for several hundred years. In the past century or so it has served simply as a museum; now by decree of Turkey’s current president, it is reverting again to a mosque. Please pray with me for peace and wisdom to know the proper response to such an important decision.

The Holy Right-Believing King Upravda-Justinian – The Builder of Hagia Sophia

20 July, 2020.  † Metropolitan of the United States, Canada and Australia – Joseph

With the title of Holy Right-Believing King, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has added Emperor Upravda-Justinian in its Calendar of Saints on the date of November 14th.

We recall his life and achievements on the occasion of the recent conversion of the church he built “Hagia Sophia” to a mosque by the Turkish authorities. We ask our readers to pray from the heart to St. Right-Believing Upravda-Justinian to help us in our efforts and struggles. He knows how to do that.

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Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives

The following is a pastoral email shared by the Very Rev. Fr. Patrick Tishel of Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church. I find it to be a prime example of the command from the Scriptures to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ”. It is republished here with permission.

Stay Within, Seek the Lord, Save Your Soul.

Spider webs can be used to stop bullets; they also can entrap a fly for dinner. The slogan: stay home, stay safe, save lives is a brilliantly effective slogan, but as a simplistic slogan, it can be misguided unless we unravel it and find its proper spiritual application. Unless we parse it a little: expose it to the UV Light of Christ, boil it to disinfect and analyze its DNA structure, we can’t be sure when it will protect and when it will entrap.

 As a universal command STAY HOME does not work for everyone, of course. People who are sick or immuno-compromised should take this advise to heart. For this idea to be effective for everyone, we should see its application in the monastic sense as it is given to hermits: Stay in your cell and your cell will teach you everything. This is a good idea while we are staying home more. Use the time to go within, pay attention to the inner person, our heart and mind, do more spiritual reading, especially read the Scriptures, repent as the Lord commanded and practice ascetic feats to accomplish this. Practice more interior prayer; spend more time with our families and care for our relations.

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A Living Link to the Apostles

June 30, 2020: 6th anniversary of the repose of Fr. Herman Podmoshensky

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to Reliable men who may also teach others.” St Paul’s letter to Timothy

The famous saying that Christian Life is caught not simply taught relates to this injunction from the apostle to his disciple. I remember a time in my life when I had just graduated college that I eagerly desired to receive such a transmission. Oh, to be entrusted with the sacred kerygma of the living and saving Gospel of Jesus Christ from someone in that line of succession: a man who had heard it from a man who had heard it from another all the way back to the Lord himself. My own fathers In the flesh had all but denied this possibility. A writer of the book called The History of the Evangelical Association, a German pietistic confession that my ancestors followed in the mid-nineteenth century proclaimed about the historical apostolic succession “There remains an unbridgeable chasm between the Roman Catholic Church and our own Protestant one, and who can bridge this unbridgeable chasm?”

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Fishing Stories

Day 3 of our vacation at Cape Cod and by all accounts this was a very good idea. The house we rented from a Family friend is extraordinarily well-organized, with drawers and even light switches labeled. Situated in Chatham Massachusetts, our lodgings sit in proximity to several good beaches, a private freshwater lake, and bikeable roads leading to dedicated rail trails. It is the perfect cure for families tired of being cooped up in quarantine. We simply take our quarantine somewhere else with only a few more added to the mix.

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Resurrection Comix!!!

bookThis is a picture of a book that my father found when he was digging through old books. Once I saw it, I began reading immediately because I love comics. img011The details in the book about the resurrection of Christ are both simple to copy and complicated enough to be interesting. One picture displays Jesus Christ shining 20 times brighter than the sun and breaking the gates of Hades by destroying the power of death. The author Michael Elgamal creates art by transforming ancient icons into fun kids’ pictures. Here are some of my drawings of his illustrations: Continue reading

Serious About Church

The following is from Friday Reflections, an email sent out every week from the editor of Touchstone Magazine published by the Fellowship of Saint James. It describes exactly how I feel about the Church’s proper response to the current coronavirus pandemic. I hope that you find its news about the Georgian Church’s response refreshing and inspiring. Christ is risen!

The Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, built between 1995 and 2004
By Roberto Strauss from Frankfurt am Main, Deutschland
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