Making Fun of Evil

October 31, 2015
Eve of All Saints (Western Calendar)

At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”  So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.   (I Kings 18:27-29)

There is a long and venerable tradition of mocking evil in the Church. The Prophet Elijah taunted the devotees of the false god Baal and revealed this demon’s utter powerlessness. The righteous maiden Justina fouled the plans of the arch-sorcerer Cyprian and made light of his demonic powers to seduce her into an unlawful and sinful union. And the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ, mocked death itself and eventually defeated death by deceiving the deceiver with his outward weakness and humility. Continue reading

Advertisements

O God of Too Much Giving

April 12, 2015
Bright and Saving PASCHA
of our Lord Jesus Christ

Come, let us drink,
Not miraculous water
Drawn from a barren stone,
But a new vintage
From the fount of incorruption
Springing from the tomb of Christ:
In him we are established!
(Ode 3, Paschal Canon)

The strongest and most delicious liquor I have ever tasted was made by the hands of monks in a remote monastery in Greece. It brought refreshment at the end of a long and arduous journey and was accompanied by an equally strong piece of candy. Both were inebriating, but not excessive; intoxicating, while at the same time mysteriously bringing the calm of sobriety. Continue reading

The Sweet-Bitter Taste of Fun

Clean Tuesday
First Week of Great Lent

I grew up near one of the best amusement parks in the country, or so the advertisements boldly proclaimed. As a child, I envied the houses we passed along the way as we started getting closer to the place of our yearly pilgrimage of fun. How did these folks get so lucky to live so close to a place where perpetual thrills were to be had almost 24/7? Surely a place with this much mindless entertainment must be like living in a virtual paradise. Yet my youthful impressions lasted only as long as the day, and my disappointment in the end came from the fleeting and exhausting nature of this exhilaration. For a steady diet of cotton candy and deep fat fried fun begins in sweetness but turns very quickly into bitterness. Continue reading