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Catechumen: One who is learning the principles of Christianity.
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The theological reflections of an Eastern Orthodox convert and seminarian
:: St Seraphim, OCA::
:: St Andrew, AA::
:: Orthodox Church of America::
[::..Blogs I Read..::]
:: Huw's Doxos::
:: James' Paradosis::
::Fr. Joseph's Orthodixie::
[::..Other Links..::]
:: St. Vladimir's
(current school)
:: Torrey::
:: Biola::
:: The Onion Dome::
:: Yahoo::
:: Dictionary::
:: Boundless Webzine::

:: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 ::

The Bible…Or People?

After attending yet another of the excellent expository sermons at Talbot (Biola’s affiliated seminary) yesterday, a quote from the speaker stuck with me. He was quoting one of his own professors from Dallas Theological Seminary. The jist was that to a group of seminarians, he said, “You think you are here to teach the Bible? You are not here to teach the Bible! You are here to teach people!”

We are not here to teach the Bible, the Church, or any doctrine. We are here to teach people. Specifically, we are here to teach them to love God and to love man, and by doing so, to save their souls.

How do we teach this? For some of us, we may never stand (as my beloved priest does) with the cross in our hand just outside the Royal Doors, waving it to emphasize points in the sermon. We are never to be the one in the spotlight, whom every one remembers as the ‘Good teacher.’ It is a lot easier to teach like that, but I have found that the teaching does not go as deep, and is quickly forgotten. It is harder, but better, to teach people how to love by loving them. Not only will they remember this more, but they will understand you better and will themselves learn to love.

So, don’t go and teach the Bible, the Church, or any doctrine. Go and teach people. Love them, love God, and save your soul!

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 12:49 PM on Wednesday, September 28, 2005 [+] ::

:: Sunday, September 25, 2005 ::
I really can’t remember the last time I missed church. Certainly not in the four years I have been at Biola…and I highly doubt I did during high school either. Yet, here I sit on Sunday morning, with this stupid flu…

Suffering is good for me, right? Yeah, now if I could only learn to do so in silence…

I'll be back up to posting as soon as I get healthy and work my way out of the massive piles of work that have been steadily accumulating. Give me a week or so.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 10:32 AM on Sunday, September 25, 2005 [+] ::

:: Sunday, September 18, 2005 ::
Orthodox People

When I first came to an Orthodox church, I made sure I knew what to do when…all that bowing, crossing yourself, kissing things can make a newbie quite nervous. Last night, as I went to the Holy Virgin Cathedral to venerate the Sitka ikon, I had yet another good laugh at myself as I discovered again the answer to all of the ‘procedural’ questions of the Orthodox church comes down to simple piety.

At one point in the middle of the Vigil, some people started to come forward to venerate the ikon, which was prominently placed in the middle of the church. I am not sure when, I am certainly not sure why, and I am not even sure to what end. It ended up, however, that most of the people lined up to venerate the ikon…right in the middle of the service. The people weren’t paying attention to the canon (how many of you actually pay attention to the orthros canon anyway?), but they were paying attention to the ikon. It was simple, unlearned, unprovoked, and spontaneous. No theologian was needed to interpret what was happening. People love the Mother of God and wanted to kiss her.

It reminded me that while we converts tend to be intellectuals, theologians, and painstakingly precise in our orthropraxis, the beautiful spontaneous acts of true veneration will always find their way through all of the carefully choreographed services.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 10:08 PM on Sunday, September 18, 2005 [+] ::

:: Thursday, September 15, 2005 ::
Emersonain Caps

In his essay on Experience, Ralph Waldo Emerson mentions an interesting psuedo-scientific idea that was popular at his time and is beginning to make a re-appearance in our own time. While Emerson’s instantiation is that “the [religious] creed [is] in the biliary duct”, the modern instantiation is that there is some sort of a ‘God-gene’ that makes people ‘susceptible’ to religious experiences and beliefs. In fact, it is only the strict individuality of Emersonians that could make this believable, and any examination of history from a non-Emersonian view will show this to be false.
It is easy enough to put an electric cap on someone and induce a ‘religious experience.’ The person with the cap will actually believe he is having a religious experience, and everyone else will be able to see that he is wearing a cap. It is only the man who does not know that he is wearing a cap (he cannot see it). If that man were Emersonian, and believed that he should listen only to himself and his own ideas with no conformity to the ideas of others, he would claim that he is original that the others were trying to force him into conformity. This man thinks he is happy, because he sees himself as having unique experiences, and this will serve all the more to convince him that he is genuine and that the rest of the people are not only unoriginal, but trying to crush his individuality. Because of this man’s staunch Emersonian attitude of individuality, the cap will remain on his head, and he will live a false life, having his false experiences while desperately trying to convince the rest of the world that they are real.
The solution to this is to allow the other people to not only tell us that we are wearing caps (and I believe we are all wearing them), but to allow them to be removed. We should not want to be an individual. Rather, we should allow history, tradition, and other ‘normalizing’ sources to inform us that we are not ‘special.’ Therefore, if the rest of the world does not have the experiences we claim to experience, it is reasonable to conclude that we are wearing a cap; we should allow knowledge of tradition to inform us of this and remove from our heads the cap. Or, if we are unable through various means to become explicitly aware of the existence of the cap, we should be living in a community with other people who are able to see our caps and even without our explicit knowledge begin to remove them.
There can be no God-gene that can have significant impacts on the religious life of a person. This would only be a cap that he was wearing, and his experience with history, tradition, and the community around him would tell him that he is abnormal, and therefore is likely wearing a cap. If he thought this through, he would try to remove this cap (ie: not be religious). However, all of history, tradition, and community points to the fact that humans have always been religious. It is only in the last 100 or so years that we have become ‘abnormal’ and non-religious. Therefore, we should fight our Emersonian tendencies toward individualism and realize the cap we are wearing is likely the one that tells us we are not religious. We should remove it and realize that religion is not abnormal, but is in fact fundamental to our humanity.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 12:33 PM on Thursday, September 15, 2005 [+] ::

:: Sunday, September 11, 2005 ::
Saving The World, One Soul At A Time

After church today, there was a baptism. The sign of the cross was imprinted in oil not only on the body of baby Alexandra, but was stamped most firmly on her soul. In the 45 minute service, she (through her godparents) faced Satan, fought him, beat him, died to her old sinful self, and was brought up a newly-made being after the resurrection of Christ.

The world is getting saved! One soul at a time, we, in our filth and sinfulness, are returning to life as it is meant to be lived. We are not loosing this battle, and we are not giving up. Take courage, take hope!…one more soul wears the sign of the cross, one more soul will learn to follow her Lord…one more soul.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 8:09 PM on Sunday, September 11, 2005 [+] ::

:: Sunday, September 04, 2005 ::
Giving Glory to God

Last Thursday, for the first time in Biola’s history, there was an Orthodox service held on campus. With the blessing of our priest, 4 Biola Orthodox students got together and chanted reader’s vespers in Hope Hall. It was good; it was odd-feeling; it was glorious.

I invited everyone I thought who would be interested (around 15 people), and we had 4 (good!). I believe we will have more next week, as some people called and said they would come. Of course, I left my octoechos in my room, but it worked anyway (I used odes to a canon that was in the horologion, and no one in the group but myself could tell). I brought a few ikons, we set them up, and started. Everyone read a stasis of the kathisma (too fast, but that’s OK), and we prayed together.

Mostly, we prayed together, and in our way, not afraid of anyone bugging us (actually, I was deathly afraid, but that aside…). We crossed ourselves, bowed, and prayed that the Mother of God would be our protectress. We prayed that the saints would intercede before the throne of our merciful Master; we prayed that our guardian angels would defend and guide our souls. It was glorious!

So, please pray for us and our young group. Pray for the students at Biola, that God will truly save their souls. Pray for the administration, that if our activities are discovered (we work hard to not have this happen, but if…) we will not get in trouble. Pray for the catechumens and Orthodox here, that they learn to balance going to Biola and being Orthodox. Pray also for me, a sinner, as I in turn pray for our group. Thank you!

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 9:45 AM on Sunday, September 04, 2005 [+] ::

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