Showing posts from April, 2011

The Lost Books of the Bible--Cover Art

Later this year, I have a book coming out on the "Apocryphal"or "Deutero-Canonical" books that are part of the Septuagint or Greek Old Testament, but were removed from the Protestant Old Testament. They are not really lost books. In fact, if you find a book about the "lost books" it is either marketing or books that were never included in any official canon.
Here's the potential cover art:
What do you think of the art? What about the title? Any thoughts?

Track 3 - Humility

Long ago, barrenness was always seen as a curse. In ancient times progeny was a sign of blessing and a hope of establishing the parent’s memory beyond the grave. So to be childless was to be feared.Barrenness humbled to the lower rungs of society. Such a woman was Hannah. She was the wife of Elkanah and shared him with a second wife. Elkanah's second wife bore him children, but Hannah remained barren. Hannah was ridiculed by the other wife because of her childlessness. The family took an annual trip to the Israelite place of worship. During this trip, Hannah cried out to God in her sorrow, and begged for her humiliation to be removed. Her weeping was so deep that her lips moved before God but no sound was heard. This display caused the resident priest, Eli, to accuse her of drunkenness. She revealed her heart to Eli, and spoke of the prayer and vow she had made to the Lord. She had promised to give the child back to God, if He would give her a boy. Returning home, she so…

Best Easter Sermon Ever!

Each year during Easter Liturgy, the Orthodox Church replaces the normal sermon with the best sermon ever. There is no reason to trump this masterpiece with a modern creation, and if it's read with enthusiasm it will make you heart pump with joy.
This was given by St. John Chrysostom who was born in 347, and later became Patriarch of Constantinople. Chrysostom is not his surname but an honorific title meaning Golden-Mouthed. Even though this sermon is 1700 years old, the truths are so timeless and relevant, it can be transported to any age. Several years ago, a visiting priest read this during our church's Easter service. He was a former Pentecostal pastor, so you can imagine the cadence and fervor coming through each word. By the end of the sermon, you could feel the joy of the Resurrection. Here's the text, read out loud for full effect: If any man be devout and loveth God,
Let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast!
If any man be a wise servant,
Let him rejoicin…

Track 2 - Penitence


Love of Place

I've never been out of the country (well, I did drop into Canada for about an hour back in college, but that doesn't count), but whenever I meet those who are arriving from places afar their responses are always the same: "I loved my trip, but it feels great to be home", "I realize how much I love my country when I saw the Statue of Liberty", "On touchdown, I love this place."
I know I have similar feelings when I have been away for while whether on vacation or business. There is something about where you call home.
It is that love of place that touches on the previous post. It is that love of place that allows you to embrace the beautiful. It is that love of place that will transform it.
Fr. Andrew Damick speaks eloquently about this in a collection of posts on place.
Follow these link to see what I mean:
The Politics of Hobbits (The Transfiguration of Place, Part I)
The Locus and Economy of Community (The Transfiguration of Place, Part II)


What Was the Spark Leading to the Crucifixion?

On April 12, Americans remember the start of the Civil War. Conditions of war had been building for years, but the shots at Ft.Sumter accelerated conflicting undercurrents into full scale war. The shot was the fuse to a powder keg filled through years of geographical frustrations. History is often this way. One critical event releases the full force of tension building, and actions unthinkable months before become reality over night.
Palm Sunday is such an event, and is the doorway to Holy Week, becoming the spark, lighting the fuse, leading to the Crucifixion and Glorious Resurrection. The raising of Lazarus and the subsequent entry into Jerusalem thrust Jesus into the events of the Passion. For throughout His ministry, He threatened the religious establishment and this sudden publicity was their opportunity to ensnare Him.

The Church celebrates this day like other feasts with readings from Scriptures and hymns to enlighten the meaning of the feast. The Scriptures for this feast are Ge…

Is Orthodoxy American?

Cradle Orthodox don't leave Orthodoxy for no faith but for an American faith. Orthodoxy's journey to America was a blessing from God. However, we have struggled to incarnate the body of Christ in American clothes. Our people have become thoroughly American in character. Outside of the Church they act, think, and speak like Americans, but their life inside does not reflect this transformation. This is our great challenge. We must answer the question, "What is America?", and incarnate the body of Christ in American clothes if we are to impact the nation where we have been planted.
The Church has always done this task. The most obvious example of this is the communication of truth in the language of the people to whom the Church entered. Many nations and peoples can thank Orthodox missionaries for creating an alphabet and giving them the gospel in their own tongue.
Yet language is not the only way the Church has incarnated herself among the nations of the eart…

Mission & Evangelism - Orthodox Style

Orthodox in America and around the world often gets criticized for lack of evangelism and missions. In some ways this is fair. In the US, we have often created insular communities with little organized community action.
Yet, looked at from a large historical perspective this criticism is unwarranted. Look out over the scope of the globe and most of Europe and Asia have been touched by Orthodoxy. A large majority of our saints were missionary saints. In the 20th Century, Orthodox missions has been vibrant through Africa and parts of Asia.
Missions have been hard for us due to persecution. Orthodoxy in the Middle East has been under the thumb of Islam for centuries so survival often takes precedence over expansion. Eastern Europe was under the Ottoman yoke after the fall of Constantinople, and after a brief period of freedom the Communist scourge took over and decimated the Orthodox world.
Yet after the fall of communism, the Orthodox of Russia have shamed us all by displaying…