Pray More, Shop Less

Lessons and Carols at King’s College, Cambridge

Friday, November 15/28
First Day of the Nativity Fast
Commencement of Advent in the Orthodox Church
For the rest of the country,
Black Friday

I refuse to add to the growing litany of bloggers who want to end the atrocities of our over-driven consumerist culture. While I mostly agree with their criticisms, I don’t think it works to curse the darkness without lighting a candle. And the candle of prayer that I wish to light on this commencement of Holy Advent is a plug for a very potent service of prayer. Continue reading

Why Should Your Heart Not Dance?

DancersLargeThere is a joke among recovering fundamentalist Christians. It goes, “Why is pre-marital sex so wrong? Because it might lead to dancing.” While most Christians can agree with the former prohibition against sex outside of marriage, the latter taboo has brought frustration to many a footloose Christian who begs for a definition of exactly what kind of dancing leads to moral degradation. As for this recovering fundamentalist, I have never been happier than the first time I witnessed centuries-old folk dancing going on right in the fellowship hall of an Eastern Orthodox church. You can even say it was one of the things that led me to the Church. Continue reading

What C.S. Lewis Did For My Love Life

50th Anniversary of the Repose of C.S. Lewis
+ November 22, 1963 +

My first experience of the writing of C.S. Lewis was through his theological and cultural treatises. He made me a fan of theology when I was the ripe age of only 14. I still have yet to read any of his famous fictional work from start to finish. But the book which made the biggest difference in my life bridges those genres of fiction, culture, and theology. I picked up a copy of Lewis’ Four Loves when I was an undergraduate in college, and it changed my outlook on love and human relationships forever. Continue reading

If Narnia Had a Beach

IMG_1710If the legendary Narnia had a beach, its name would be Wingaersheek. Located just under an hour away from Boston on Cape Anne, this wonderland rivals the great Cape Cod in elegance and tidal pool exuberance. Its only deficiency is that there is not much beach at high tide and the parking is slim on the weekends. Thankfully, we avoided both those pitfalls by coming in the middle of the week when the the tide was low, and we were richly rewarded with miles of walkable beech, several warm water tide pools where creatures abounded, and a lovely patch of shade courtesy of the large boulders which shoulder the western edge. Enjoy this small photo montage of the rest of the sights: Continue reading

Hospital Waiting Rooms

What Marilyn says here about hospital waiting rooms is capital pastoral theology. I have often had the same thoughts about riding the bus, except the stories are a little less desperate. Witnessing souls at the crossroads of their lives… Reminds me of one of my best beloved quotes:

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. … Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.

—C.S. Lewis “The Weight of Glory”

MARILYN R. GARDNER

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau

Everyone should have to go into a hospital waiting room once a week and just sit – just sit and observe. I believe the results of such an experiment would be extraordinary.

Because it’s in the hospital waiting room where outward beauty is revealed for what it is and inward beauty shines.

It’s in the hospital waiting room where we are among those walking wounded. Those who bear their scars with nobility. It’s in hospital waiting rooms that you don’t try to hide tears; where you can’t hide anger or disappointment and where shock is just a part of the day’s story.

It’s in hospital waiting rooms where you realize that you share a lot more with fellow humans than you choose to admit. Where you realize that…

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The Dogma is the Drama

Just before the beginning of Great Lent, I was thumbing through my library wondering again what would be the best thing to read in this season of the fast. It is a good and pious practice during the forty days of fasting not only to increase prayers and attendance to church services but to practice some form of media fast and engage instead in one good spiritual book that will help one reflect on the life of Christ and repent of sinful habits. It was then that I came across an article which highlighted the book or rather set of plays that C.S. Lewis frequently read during Lent. This and the name Dorothy Sayers both caught my attention. Sayers is popular for her saying that “the dogma is the drama”; i.e., contrary to popular opinion that learning right doctrine is for dull and doltish people who like dusty libraries and don’t know how to have a good time, the dogma of the Church, relating first and foremost to the identity and work of Jesus Christ as He reveals the worship of the All-Holy Trinity, is rather for those who wish to engage in the greatest of all dramas. Continue reading

Living History into the Present

To celebrate Veteran’s Day, I chaperoned an annual field trip that my children’s school takes to Plimoth Plantation, in Plymouth, MA, a living history museum which seeks to recreate the atmosphere of the first permanent English settlement in the New World on a site very close to that of the original settlement. The school staff and I have an ongoing joke that we almost prefer to have real and deep conversations with these folks faking the seventeenth century over the usual trite and sometimes fake conversations we find ourselves having with the real (or at least living) people of the 21st century. What is it about our own sense of history which is so lacking that we have to pay actors to help us re-imagine the past? Continue reading