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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::

:: Tuesday, September 26, 2006 ::


I graduated from Biola with a lot of units in theology/bible. I got 30 from Torrey of straight ‘Bible,’ not including classes like Trinity, Athanasius, and Thomas Aquinas, which add another 12. Then I had 18 units of theology from Oxford. So, I ended up with about 50 units of Bible/Theology. Funny; I thought I knew what theology was.

I think I may be starting to see the breadth and depth of theology here. Until I got here, I’d never even heard of Canon Law. Dogmatics was something that Catholics did, and Liturgics was…I dunno. The musical aspect of worship was something that other people did and had nothing to do with theology. History was history --- facts, not theology.

I feel like I’ve stepped into a whole new world of my chosen discipline. I mean, I knew that I loved theology, but this is a whole new level of it. It is like adding color to a black and white drawing. There is so much more to learn out there, so many new angles to take! One of my favorite aspects of theology here are the varied angles on the same truth. For example, I have two professors, both dedicated and pious churchmen, who discuss the same issue from such different perspectives and hold such different opinions that I am amazed that they come from the same tradition! I am not at all saying that either is right or wrong, or even that one is ‘liberal’ and the other ‘conservative,’ but that within the same tradition, they are able to provide opposing and enlightening points of view. Contrary to what some would assert, there can be a strong unity of faith and tradition and still a wide diversity of fervently held opinions.

I feel like I am just stepping into the world of theology and am being amazed by it. It is awesome. Of course, I have 19 units, daily chapel, the obedience of breakfast cook (got any good breakfast ideas? Seriously, send them to me!), and I sing in the choir, so I am quite aware of the more mundane aspects of life. But above all of this floats theology, spurring me on to keep struggling. Pray for me!

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 6:58 PM on Tuesday, September 26, 2006 [+] ::

:: Sunday, September 24, 2006 ::

I spent the weekend at St. Tikhon’s Monastery/Seminary in Pensylvania at an OISM meeting. Firstly, let me say that St. Tikhon’s is nothing like St. Vladimir’s. That’s not a judgment so much as a clarification for any who might be confused about it.

The Orthodox Inner-Seminary Movement is a wonderful idea. There were approximately 25 students from four Orthodox seminaries (St. Herman’s in Alaska was not represented) who met to eat delicious Arab food, play basketball, and talk seriously about things like becoming clergy and leading the Church in America. If nothing else, students from Holy Cross, St. Tikhon’s, St. Vladimir’s, and Holy Trinity met, socialized, and networked with each other. What does it matter? Networking. These students will be serving in diocese across the U.S. and world, and hopefully we can see unity come from these meetings where the Venezuelan at the “Russian” school can talk with the Bulgarian at the “Greek” school, or the Arab at the “American” school can talk with the Indian students about everything from sinking a three-pointer, passing the water, or jurisdictional and ecclesiastical unity.

There should be official pictures and information on the OCA website (see side link) in a few days.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 7:22 AM on Sunday, September 24, 2006 [+] ::

:: Saturday, September 16, 2006 ::
Back to the Basics: How to Venerate Ikons

Sometimes, I can get too caught up in hustle and bustle of it all to remember the one thing needful. The other day, I had class all morning (until 1:00), then choir rehearsal in the evening before dinner, then vigil afterwards and liturgy the next day. Basically, I had no time.

Thankfully, as I was venerating the ikons at the beginning of vigil, I caught myself. Venerating ikons does not mean looking at them briefly and kissing them while thinking of the next two thousand things you need to do. Hey, if that were true then no one would ever accuse us of ‘worshipping’ them! Venerating an ikon is not trying to look ‘cool’ as you come into chapel, whether that cool is the attitude of ‘I’m far too suave to really care about these things!’ or ‘I’m so pious and holy I can barely stand myself!’ (although, I admit that there seems to be surprisingly more of the former here then the latter). Venerating the ikons is not something we do hurriedly, even if there is a line of people, even if we are late, even if the deacon is standing there wanting to cense the ikon. The people can wait, I can report to choir a few seconds later, and deacons tend to be patient.

Rather, venerating an ikon means stopping the noise of your head (or the world around you, as the case may be), crossing yourself and bowing twice, kissing the ikon, and crossing and bowing again. It’s like asking a priest’s blessing: sure, you can do it sloppily and disrespectfully, but you can also do it properly and reverently.

Funny, I would have thought that by the time I got here, I would have mastered the little things like venerating ikons. Back to the basics though, right?

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 6:44 AM on Saturday, September 16, 2006 [+] ::

:: Friday, September 08, 2006 ::

Greetings of the Feast!

Today is the Nativity of the Mother of God. Joachim and Anna are freed from childlessness. That which is good is able to reproduce and multiply. The Church Year begins and is off with a bang.

I too am beginning new things. Yesterday, I began seminary with Church History and Dogmatic Theology. Today, we have the day off (Yay for feasts!), after a hierarchical liturgy with His Beatitude Met. Herman and two ordinations.

The people here seem good; I am the most awkward of them all. While I may be somewhat chronically scared of people, I am usually not awkward in church per se. Yesterday, I was awkward in church. Perhaps it was because we had just been shown how to venerate ikons and enter the church and stuff. I guess I’d never officially been shown that in so many formal words; I’d just kind of picked it up. I know it is my own self-consciousness, but I feel as though I don’t want to cross myself or bow or do any thing at the wrong time. Of course, I still remember what Fr. J. told me right before I was coming out to tour St. Vlad’s last year. I asked him if I should shake hands or get the blessings of priests/professors. Through a story, he told me not to deny who I am (an Orthodox Christian first, a scholar second), and to get blessings. Not only have been too shy to get any blessings yet (I just kind of awkwardly introduce myself), I try to be ‘cool’ in chapel and not act like the obnoxious first-year seminarian that I am. Perhaps that is the very obnoxiousness of it all?

Anyway, if you remember, pray for me in these first few weeks of adjustment to seminary life. I could certainly use it!

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 8:21 PM on Friday, September 08, 2006 [+] ::

:: Friday, September 01, 2006 ::
A Broad Swath, or The Narrow Way

In my last post, I spoke of the narrow Way of Christianity being a broad path. But if we are specifically told in Matthew 7:13 that “…broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction…[but]…narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life” How can the path to life be broad?

There is one end of salvation and many means. The one end can be the narrow way --- salvation is fully becoming the image of God within ourselves. There are as many paths that lead to this end as there are people. Some saints are great warriors --- St. Theodore the General comes instantly to mind. Some saints were ardently against bloodshed of all kinds. Some were priests, living in the world and saving it by their ministrations; some were monks who never spoke to another soul. Some were intellectuals and writers; some were illiterate. All followed the narrow path, and yet there was such diversity among them, not only of culture, time, and language, but of occupation, personality, and manner of life.

The narrowness of the path allows for its very broadness to show through. Salvation is to become who you are; to realize in its fullest sense the image of God in which we were created. This image of God is not a static, dead image which is the same everywhere, for it was created by the same Life who created the wonderful diversity of the plants, the animals, and the heavens. And yet this image of God is the same in all --- it is a reflection of the glory of its Creator. No matter how marred and fallen this image is, it cannot help but have at least a glimmer of hope that it can be fully restored.

If the saints are so diverse and different, what unites them? Their Christ-like actions and being. They loved, they prayed, they wept, they did all they could to save the world. Christ – the image of God – united their otherwise diverse lives.

So, is the gate of salvation narrow or broad? Yes, it is.

Forgive me,


Glory to God!

:: 6:14 PM on Friday, September 01, 2006 [+] ::

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