Christmas Parties in Desolate Places

02closeup_scrooge_cratchit“I’m a Christian, so I don’t go to parties,” said a person to me recently. There was a time in my life I would have accepted such a judgment about parties without qualification. The theology behind the idea of canceling Christmas is partly to blame for this tepid approach to life. Indeed the Lord does give his peace to us not as the world gives  with the implication that all worldly parties without Him will always fall short of the mark. But where does this trepidation towards partying in general and towards specific Christian feasts/parties mean for the life in Christ? How do we answer Scrooge’s argument to his jubilant nephew in our musical adaptation of Dicken’s classic Carol:

“The 25th of December from what I remember is no special day, just a date.” Continue reading

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Our Home Away From Home

Red Square in Moscow, by Fedor Alekseev, 1801

My father always commented after a long time away that he was going back to work so that he could rest from his vacation. While everyone wishes for a vacation to get away from it all, the work required for the planning and execution keeps many a person from ever leaving their predictable patterns of home, school, and job. Yet unmitigated stress and monotonous labor strains both body and soul and causes one to forget his/her true purpose in this life and in the one to come. Continue reading

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 Man Who Sang Me Home

New Movie on the Life of Rich Mullins

New Movie on the Life of Rich Mullins

I first heard his music in a Christian bookstore back in the eighties when the only way to listen to new music was to sample it in the store or hear it in church. Christian Contemporary music (CCM) did not have the advantage of its secular counterpart: playtime on multiple radio stations, so songs and singers were far less known. Oh the hours I spent in my favorite Christian superstore looking for deep theological reflection and profound devotional commitment… mostly to no avail. More often what I heard was pop cultural leftovers, bands that were supposed to be the “Christian equivalent” of bands in the world, but were merely derivative and therefore inferior to what the world produced. I was lost in this sea of spin-off artistry, desperate to find an authentic voice, someone who did not have to imitate the world and sprinkle their lyrics with God-speak to sell records to gullible, culture-starved believers. And that’s when I heard Rich Mullins, who not only inspired me with his authentic witness for Christ, but showed me the way home into apostolic Christianity. Continue reading

Chesterton Conference Videos

Want to share this link for those who might be interested in seeing my talk on the big screen. I shared an audio version and written version of my talk previously. Now if you wish, for a few well spent bucks, you can see it in living color! Just click on the link below for me and many other amazing speakers. I recommend especially Socrates Meets Jesus.

Divine Mirth & Russian Clowns

Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian… I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality [of the Lord] a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.

 —Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton, Chapter 9 conclusion

Thus ends the reverently joyful tome of Orthodoxy that led me to the true Church. And thus begins my discovery of the best kept secret of the Church of Jesus Christ. It is not found in austerity or great sacrifice, deeds of great reknown:

For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

— Psalm 51:16-17

And what could be more humbling than a grown man making a fool of himself, or rather a grown man revealing the wisdom of God through the foolishness of this world? Continue reading

The North Pole is a City

BON-7December 6/19, St. Nicholas
Archbishop of Myra in Lycia, the Wonderworker
Whose Relics Lie Principally in Bari, Italy
And Whose Legendary Brother Santa Claus Lives in the North Pole

It was unthinkable. Several years ago, we were celebrating the annual feast of St. Nicholas, and our priest confessed that there was not a single person in our parish whom we could wish a happy name’s day. My wife, who was pregnant at the time, turned to me and we decided then and there to start a trend that is all too common in other Orthodox and Eastern European Churches. Now, including my son, there are at least two boys named Nicholas in our parish. We are now more like the Greek family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding with every other person named Nick, Nikko, Nikki, or Nikolaki. Continue reading