“The more I study the history of the Orthodox Church in this country, the more I am convinced that our work here is God's work; that God himself is helping us; that when it seems as though everything we do is ready to fail, …on the contrary, it not only does not die, but grows in new strength and brilliance.” [said just before leaving the United States for Russia]
Saint Tikhon, enlightener of America

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By the Waters of Exile

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This Sunday, Orthodox churches following the Byzantine rite begin using the service book called the Triodion (or in Slavic tradition, often the Penitential or Lenten Triodion). The Lenten Triodion provides the changing texts for the weeks of the Great Fast and Holy Week, as well as the four pre-lenten Sundays. This is why we begin using it this Sunday, four weeks before the beginning of this Great Forty Days, or Lent. This means that the following Sunday we will beginning singing the psalm that announces some of the great themes of our human condition — exile, bondage, alienation, grief, and even anger at the forces that have exiled, enslaved, and alienated us from our heart’s true home — communion with our creator.

That psalm is Psalm 136 (137 in the Hebrew numbering), the lament of a Judean over their exile in Babylon from Judea and its capital Jerusalem. “Despite the poignant beauty of the opening verses,” writes the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, “it contains some of the most vengeful language in all the Psalter.” That violent language often prompts horror when it is encountered in the modern world. In the reform of the Liturgy of the Hours in the post-Vatican II Roman rite, the final verses of this psalm have been suppressed, along with several other psalm verses with violent imagery. A choral group I sing with, the Archdiocesan Choir of the Archdiocese of Washington in the Orthodox Church in America, recently sang a setting of this psalm in concert, prompting my godson’s mother to ask about its meaning.

Christian tradition often sees multiple layers of meaning in scripture, sometimes called the “fourfold sense of scripture.” The first and most basic meaning is always the literal meaning of a passage. In Psalm 136(137), the literal meaning is the lament and desire for retribution. Here is the psalm in full as it appears in the Greek psalter:

Psalm 136 (137)

For David, a Psalm of Jeremiah.

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down;
we sat down and wept when we remembered Sion.
We hung our harps on the willows in the midst of it.

For there our captors asked of us the words of a song; ?and they that had carried us away required of us a hymn,
saying, Sing us one of the songs of Sion. ?How should we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither.
May my tongue cleave to my throat, if I do not remember you; ?if I do not prefer Jerusalem as my highest joy.

Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem;
who said, Raze it, raze it, even to its foundations.

Wretched daughter of Babylon!
Blessed shall he be who shall reward you as you have rewarded us.
Blessed shall he be who shall seize and dash your infants against the rock.

The psalm was written during the Judean exile in Babylon, so the emotions associated with all that the Judean community has seen in war are fresh and raw in the mind of the writer. The armies of Nebuchadnezzar II successfully laid siege to and conquered Jerusalem in 597 BCE, then deported many of the city’s inhabitants to Babylon and resettled them there — “By the waters [or rivers] of Babylon, there we sat down [or were settled] and wept when we remembered Sion [also Zion, one of the hills on which Jerusalem is built].”

The psalmist recalls being asked by their Babylonian captors to provide some entertainment with songs of their Judean homeland. It’s a taunt to an enslaved community, “Sing us a song of the home you watched us destroy while we abducted you.”

The psalmist mentions the Edomites, a neighboring nation which other scriptural writers identify as descendants of the Israelite patriarch Jacob’s brother Esau, and asks the Lord — in Hebrew, Adonai, spoken instead of the ineffable and sacred name of God, YHWH — to remember their cruelty when Jerusalem is someday again triumphant, “in the day of Jerusalem.” The writer may be thinking that the Babylonians are Edomites but could also be recalling the glee of their neighbors at the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians.

The last verses show us in graphic detail what the Judean people endured — a host of atrocities symbolized by the worst of them all, dashing their infants’ heads against stones and rocks. The psalmist seeks blessing on the one who will do exactly the same to the Babylonians. This is the literal meaning of the psalm; a hymn to God full of grief and rage in the midst of unimaginable pain. It is easy, in our own era in which new wars and new atrocities seem to emerge every day, to understand the perspective of this Judean psalmist and their community. On the level of the psalm’s literal meaning, it speaks to the grief and rage of anyone who has experience such horrors. And yet, the psalmist retains hope in the power of God to save their people.

However, Christian tradition has also perceived a spiritual meaning in this startling text, which is why the Byzantine Christian tradition continues to sing it in its entirety for its Sunday morning service of prayer in preparation for Lent: We live in exile. We have been spiritually alienated from the paradise for which we were created: communion with God, our creator. We have been enslaved to the forces of fear and hatred, but we retain a memory of our heart’s homeland.

The answer to this bondage is to smash the little thoughts of fear, hatred, greed, lust — all the little temptations to be my worst self, to give in to the forces of darkness in the world — before they grow up to be strong, powerful Babylonians who will enslave me. These little thoughts must be smashed against the rock — which Christian tradition identifies as the rock of Christ. Only such spiritual warfare allows us to return to our heart’s homeland: the embrace of the Father.


Filed under: — Basil @ 1:06 pm

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I Speak

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Tree of Life Synagogue with memorial Stars of David; night shot; policeman walks by
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Three tragedies of our current political situation exploded into the headlines this week, each screaming for our attention.

  1. First, explosive devices were found addressed to outspoken critics of the US president: first in the mailbox of George Soros, a Hungarian-American, Jewish philanthropist known for supporting progressive causes and frequently a bogeyman for anti-semitic conspiracy theories, then in the mail of former President Barrack and Michelle Obama and former Secretary Hilary Clinton. Eventually former Vice President Joe Biden, several Democratic senators, and news outlets were targeted. The bombs were all found before anyone could be hurt. A Florida man has been arrested on suspicion of sending the bombs. Although he was of Filipino and Italian descent, he longed for a different identity. For many years, he self-identified as a member of the indigenous Seminole nation, plastering the van he lived in with Native American stickers. Upon the election of President Trump, he registered as a Republican and traded the Native American stickers for stickers supporting President Trump and repeating far right messaging fueled by the president in campaign rallies and posts on Twitter. He expressed hatred towards his own family, even his mother.
  2. A white gunman shot and killed two black shoppers in a Kroger in Kentucky; witnesses heard him making a racist remark. Prior to entering the grocery store, he was seen attempting to enter an historic black church where people were gathered.
  3. The week concluded with the mass shooting of Jewish worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on the Sabbath (Saturday). The gunman shot and killed 11 worshippers and injured 2 worshippers and 4 police officers responding. Before opening fire, the white gunman yelled, “All Jews must die.” According to the Anti-Defamation League, it is “one of the deadliest [attacks] against the Jewish community in the U.S.”

In the face of violence, it can be hard to know how to react, but silence only emboldens abusers.

I speak as a Christian: Jesus’ teachings demand that his followers love and accept all people as their brothers and sisters, without regard for their ethnicity, faith tradition, country of origin, sex, gender, orientation, or any other distinguishing characteristics. “Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself. In this is summed up all the [Jewish] Law and the prophets.” Jesus said this was true, and when asked, “Who is my neighbor?” he told a story about a man beaten and left for dead on a stretch of highway. A clergyman and a temple worker passed by on the other side of the road so that the man’s blood would not prevent them from doing their job as worship leaders. It was the foreigner and heretic who bandaged his wounds and set him up in the equivalent of a hospital and who Jesus identified as the person to emulate — and as the neighbor to love in return. No one, in other words, should be rejected. Every human being should be loved in the same way that we love ourselves.

I speak as an Orthodox Christian: Yesterday was the commemoration of “‘Ohi!’ Day” — that is, “‘No!’ Day,” when Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas and the Greek nation responded to Mussolini with a united “No.” We, too, must respond with a united “NO!” to a resurgent fascism, a resurgent hatred of Jews, as well as hatred of people of color and immigrants, — in short, a resurgent hatred, born of fear, of anyone who is different from us. Of course, none of this is new at all; it just never died. St Maria (Skobtsova) of Paris and her companions stood against Nazism in France and protected Jews in every way they could. When asked if he would stop protecting Jews, Fr. St Dmitri Klepnin said he could not. It was impossible. He looked the German commander in the eye, pointed to the crucifix on his chest, and asked, “Do you know this Jew?” He was struck backward and to the ground. He and St Maria were taken to concentration camps and died as martyrs for authentic Orthodox Christianity.

I speak as an Orthodox Christian in America: We must be clear that racism (or ethnophyletism) has no place in our church. Orthodox Christians love our families and take pride in our old world origins; when warped minds confuse this with their own hatred and fear toward people who are different from them, we must clearly say, “NO. That is not who we are.” We follow a man who was crucified and yet still loved his executors to the end, asking that they be forgiven in his last breath. We are united to his death and resurrection, and therefore we must never, as our fathers wickedly did, use his passion as an excuse for hatred of his people, who remain our brothers and sisters and our neighbors.

I speak as an Orthodox Christian in America who was raised White, Anglo-Saxon, and evangelical Protestant: We must recognize that our ancestors caused grave harm to people of color and created a world where we benefit and they do not. We must clearly speak about this and say, It is not right. We must act to bend the arc of our shared history toward the justice and mercy our scriptures teach: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 NKJV). About this and other teachings of our shared prophetic tradition, the Jewish Talmud says, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it” (Pirkei Avot 2:21).

Yesterday, the Greek Church commemorated the Holy Protection of the Mother of God, transferred to October 28 from October 1, when most Orthodox Christians commemorate it, because there were so many stories of her miraculous protection in Greece as the Greek people stood against German Nazism and Italian Fascism. We, too, should implore her protection and the intervention of her divine Son against the demonic winds of hate and evil which are now possessing our land, and we must be prepared to speak and to act. Not to do so is itself to act and speak in favor of the evil.

God will not hold us guiltless.


Filed under: — Basil @ 12:21 pm

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Four Types of Disagreement

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My friend, Peter Gardner, identified four types of disagreement about action. These principles can be applied to other types of disagreement, but he thinks disagreements about what to do in any given situation — disagreements about action — are the clearest to identify. These categories can be applied to political problems and their solutions, but they also apply to any disagreement about action — at work, home, etc.

Type I Disagreement
You agree on what the situation is, and you agree on the basic goals, but prioritize the goals differently.
Type I(b) Disagreement
you agree on the goals, and generally agree on the priority, but disagree on the optimal course of action to achieve these goals.
Type II Disagreement
You assess the situation more or less the same, but disagree about the goals. There is no point in arguing about how to prioritize goals if you can’t even agree on what they are.
Type III Disagreement
You have fundamentally different assessments of the relevant portions of reality. There is no point in discussing goals, much less prioritization, if you don’t agree about reality.
Type IV Disagreement
You are arguing about different things entirely, and aren’t paying attention to what the other person is saying at all. There is no point in continuing the argument until you figure out what you’re actually arguing about in the first place.

Peter originally posted these categories on Facebook. (You may not be able to see that post if you and he are not connected on Facebook.) I present them here in a slightly less ephemeral medium. The above essentially quotes him directly, lightly edited to be in the form of a list of terms with definitions.


Filed under: — Basil @ 8:02 am

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BibleHub on eleos

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eleos at BibleHub.com


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Former Launch Officer on Trump’s Potential for Nuclear First Strike

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John Noonan is a defense analyst and former United States Air Force officer who performed duties as a Minuteman III launch officer. In a nuclear war, he would have been one of the people turning the keys to end civilization as we know it. As a result, his series of tweets analyzing Donald Trump’s potential attitude toward using nuclear weapons carry a certain moral weight not available to most discussions on the matter.

Noonan writes in response to anonymous allegations reported by Joe Scarborough that Trump asked a foreign policy expert “three times,” “if we have [nuclear weapons], why can’t we use them?” The Trump campaign has denied Scarborough’s statement, saying, “There is no truth to this [story].”

Enter Noonan’s series of tweets, which analyze the consequences of such a shift in nuclear weapons use philosophy, if true.

Noonan tells those who are just tuning in (like myself) that he has significant experience with nuclear weapons.

Read the rest of “Former Launch Officer on Trump’s Potential for Nuclear First Strike”


Filed under: — Basil @ 11:58 am

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You Won’t Believe How Ted Cruz Treats Syrian Christians

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Senator Ted Cruz wants the US to accept only Christian refugees from Syria and other ISIL-ravaged countries in the Middle East, reports Amy Davidson in the New Yorker. This is curious, because his past actions tell a different story than his recent words.
Read the rest of “You Won’t Believe How Ted Cruz Treats Syrian Christians”


Filed under: — Basil @ 4:38 pm

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Who Has “Found the True Faith”?

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“We have seen the true light…![1] We have found the true faith…!” These words appear in a hymn that Byzantine rite Christians sing after communion in the Divine Liturgy. They are a source of pride for many, a source of embarrassment for others. Many Orthodox interpret “the true faith” to mean the entirety of the Eastern Orthodox faith in all of its peculiarity, and converts in particular often take pride having found this “true faith” and abandoned their “former error.”[2] But it may be worthwhile to ask: Is that what the hymn itself says? We do not always sing this hymn after communion: We do not sing it from Pascha to Pentecost.[3] This fact hints that perhaps the hymn’s meaning lies deeper than the surface reading.

Read the rest of “Who Has “Found the True Faith”?”


  1. This incipit is Εἴδομεν τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν/Eidomen to phos to alethinon.
  2. This phrase, also translated as “former delusion,” appears in various euchologies in rites for receiving non-Orthodox Christians into the Orthodox Church.
  3. Archimandrite Robert Taft, sj, cites A. A. Dmitrievski and L. D. Huculak that this hymn is also replaced by the festal apolytikion on dominical feasts. [A History of the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, vol. VI: The Communion, Thanksgiving, and Concluding Rites. Orientalia Christiana Analecta 281. (Rome: Pontificio Instituto Orientale, 2008) 472.] I am not familiar with this variant custom, which is not prescribed in the standard English-language source on East Slavic liturgical practice, The Order of Divine Services by Peter Fekula and Matthew Williams [(Liberty, TN: St John of Kronstadt Press, 2007.)].

Filed under: — Basil @ 9:33 pm

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The Real Point of “The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt,” Part III

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Icon of Ss Mary of Egypt and ZosimusIn Part I, I examined the context in which Saint Sophronius wrote “The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt.” He draws on a long tradition of monastic literature in which there are several similar stories which he amplifies in his tale. In Part II, I briefly summarized the tale as Sophronius tells it, and I examined the character of Saint Zosimus. Sophronius describes Zosimus as a nearly perfect monk, the “monk’s monk,” so to speak, who begins to be tormented by thoughts that he is perfect and there is no one on earth who could teach him anything further. He enters the desert as a temporary hermit, according to the custom of his monastery for Lent, “hoping to find a holy father dwelling there, who could help him to find what he longed for,” someone to teach him some new ascetic discipline, so that he can attain even greater heights of ascetic perfection.

When first we encounter Mary, Zosimus wonders if she might be a demonic phantasm, evoking Christ’s temptation in the wilderness,[1] but from the beginning she is shown to be an ascetic who charismatically earns the authority to be a spiritual guide. She is characterized as a thaumaturge—a wonder-worker—who unselfconsciously commands the created order: by clairvoyance and by levitating a cubit (a foot and a half) above the ground. So before she begins narrating her life, the story within the story, we already know she’s a living saint[2] (whereas we may have wondered about Zosimus’ sanctity, since he is described as being precipitously close to succumbing to pride).

Once she begins telling her story, however, she reveals herself to have been a harlot among harlots—the “sinner’s sinner,” as it were. Read the rest of “The Real Point of “The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt,” Part III”


  1. Lynda L. Coon, Sacred Fictions: Holy Women and Hagiography in Late Antiquity. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997) 86.
  2. The ability to work miracles is a common way to indicate sanctity in the lives of the saints.

Filed under: — Basil @ 3:37 pm

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—» The Real Point of “The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt,” Part III

The Real Point of “The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt,” Part II

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Icon of Ss Mary of Egypt and ZosimusIn the previous installment, we examined the context for the story as told by Saint Sophronius and saw that Saint Mary’s story becomes progressively more magnified. In Sophronius’ version, both the monk who finds Mary and Mary herself become magnified to almost unbelievable proportions.

Sophronius begins by introducing Zosimus, who we are told has been in the monastery since being weaned.[1] After many years of obeying the rule of his monastery, ceaselessly singing psalms and studying the scripture, and acting as spiritual father or guide to many monks far and wide, he begins to be “disturbed, as he said, by certain thoughts, namely, that he had become perfect in all practices and did not need anyone else’s teaching at all.” Zosimus moves to a monastery by the river Jordan which has a custom whereby all the monks leave the monastery during Lent and live as anchorites or hermits in the desert. Zosimus journeys into “the innermost part of the desert,” a key ideal for monasticism, and a key phrase for our story, “hoping to find a holy father dwelling there, who could help him to find what he longed for,” which is a father either to instruct him in some new discipline or to confirm that he has reached perfection.

Read the rest of “The Real Point of “The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt,” Part II”


  1. In the summary that follows, quotes are from the translation by Maria Kouli unless other wise noted. Sophronius of Jerusalem, “The Life of Mary of Egypt, the Former Harlot, Who in Blessed Manner Became an Ascetic in the Desert of the <River> Jordan.” Translated by Maria Kouli, in Holy Women of Byzantium: Ten Saints’ Lives in Translation, edited by Alice-Mary Talbot. Byzantine Saints’ Lives in Translation.(&C: Dumbarton Oaks, 1996). I have omitted the brackets with which Kouli notes her interpolations. Greek text of Sophronius is found in Patrologia Graeca (PG) 87:3697–3726.

Filed under: — Basil @ 10:28 pm

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Teaser for the Next Installment

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I said yesterday that I would begin analyzing the role of Saint Zosimus in Saint Sophronius’ “The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt.” I greatly underestimated the toll that assisting my parish in hosting Lenten vespers this evening would take, or how late I would be arriving back at my dormitory. I must beg your forgiveness—I will not be fulfilling that stated goal. Even so, as not to leave you entirely empty of hand, I offer some questions as teasers. 

What clue does Saint Sophronius give us early in his story that foreshadows the advent of Saint Mary? He paints a very rosy picture of Zosimus’ life as a monk. Are there any problems? What is Zosimus looking for in the desert?

Tune in tomorrow. 


Filed under: — Basil @ 8:21 pm

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The Real Point of “The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt,” Part I

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Icon of Ss Mary of Egypt and Zosimus“The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt” by Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem comes to us in a form that is, to put it bluntly, very inefficient. When I was first investigating the Orthodox Church, I tried to download a copy of “The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt.” This was the late 1990s, and finding information on the internet was often feast or famine. What I got was not right at all. It started out talking about some guy named (Saint) Zosimus, and it kept going on and on about him. Obviously not the life of Mary. So I deleted it and tried again. Finally, I realized that Saint Mary’s story does not start until somewhere between one third and one half of the way into what is ostensibly her Life!

Who cares about Zosimus? Sure, he’s the monk who finds St Mary out in the desert,[1] but does that mean a third to one-half of the Life of Mary needs to be taken up with his story? I thought for a very long time that “The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt” needed an editor. More Mary—no Zosimus. On closer inspection, though, the whole point of this story lies in the contrast between Zosimus and Mary, and it’s a surprise ending.

Read the rest of “The Real Point of “The Life of Saint Mary of Egypt,” Part I”


  1. That is, according to the version of the story told by Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem.

Filed under: — Basil @ 2:29 pm

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The Cross is a Time Machine (and It’s Bigger on the Inside)

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Good evening.[1] I have been asked to speak to you today about the Eucharist as sacrifice—something of a daunting prospect for an Orthodox speaker in front of a hall of mostly Roman Catholic and Lutheran Christians. So instead, I am going to talk about the Doctor.

Earls Court Police Box.jpg
Earls Court Police Box” by User:Canley – Photographer: User:Canley. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

My patristics professor, Fr John Behr, told students in our first year at seminary that we have to learn to think about time in ways that seem more like science fiction than what we are used to.[2] So allow me to begin with this quote from Doctor Who: “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint—it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… timey wimey… stuff.”[3]

We tend to think of time as a linear progression. There’s no rewind or fast-forward. I have no access to the Battle of Okinawa, because 70 years intervene between it and my present existence. When I lived on the island as a teenager, I could visit various monuments to those momentous events, but I had no access to the battle itself. Moreover, even though I lived on Okinawa as a youth, I longer have any access to Okinawa except as a memory. From our limited perspective within the system of time and space, subject to its constraints, as participants in it, we can only call to mind past events and imagine future possibilities.

Understandably, we bring this limited perspective to salvation history. The perspective of an observer outside this system (of which we know only one) would see things quite a bit differently. Classical theism and classical Judaeo-Christian faith both hold that God exists outside of the time-space system. With no frame of reference except that of our existence within time, so we tend to think of God’s eternity as merely extension in time—time, only longer. In fact, this is the quality of everlastingness, not eternity. Eternity is to be outside of time, unbound by it, time-less.

This insight has several implications for our theology. The most important for us this evening is that God’s acts or operations within creation will appear to us as discrete moments in time and will seem like separate acts or events, but in fact they are a single divine action. The cross stands at the center of the Big Bang.

This brings me to one more quote, which will require a bit of explaining: “The TARDIS is …burning. It’s exploding at every moment in history”[4] The TARDIS is the Doctor’s almost sentient time machine/spaceship, famously “larger on the inside than the outside,” an almost infinite amount of space and time crammed into the space of a 1960s London police box via the dimensional magic of television science fiction. As a space-time machine, its destruction in one episode occurs “at every moment in history.” A complete synopsis of the story is too complex to undertake tonight, but I think you can imagine what I’m driving at.

The execution of God on a cross does not simply occur on a hillside outside the walls of Jerusalem in first century Palestine. It is the eternal Word of God voluntarily sacrificing himself on the cross; the crucifixion exists eternally in the life of God. The cross stands at the center of all time and space. The Lamb of God is slain for the life of the world and its salvation “at every moment in history.”

Notice that this is not about repeating the Lamb’s sacrifice. The Apostle makes this clear in his letter to the Hebrews: “Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb 9.24–26 ESV). The sacrifice is not repeated; it is the single divine self-sacrifice that stands at the center of creation. The cross creates the world.

Now, finally, we can look at the Lord’s Supper in a new light. When we speak of the Eucharist as a sacrifice, it is not a new sacrifice or a repeated sacrifice. Martin Luther correctly opposed the idea that Christ was crucified again in the Mass, as did the Council of Trent. His sensitivity to scripture as a unique source of authority made such an interpretation of the “perpetual sacrifice” abhorrent, and he said so in very colorful language. To understand how the Lord’s Supper can be a perpetual sacrifice without “they are crucifying once again the Son of God to [our] own harm and holding him up to contempt,” we must understand the biblical concept of memorial.

The Israelites were instructed to keep the memorial of the Passover yearly. In this ritual (which continues to be remembered among Jews in the seder meal), the exodus from Egypt is not merely recalled. Let me read you a passage from Kevin Irwin’s Models of the Eucharist:

For the Jews the Passover is considered as much more than a past event that occurred once and for all. The Passover is also an event that is a present, effective reality. And in being commemorated (literally remembered together) in the present, it also necessarily leads to its fulfillment in the future. In biblical phraseology, saving events like the Passover and the death and resurrection of Christ [that is, the Christian Passover] are events that occurred “once for all (time)” (from the Greek term ephapax in Hebrews 7:27). The Passover of Israel and the paschal mystery of Christ are both events that occurred once and for all and yet they are also events that by their very nature occur still, here and now, in the unique moment of liturgical commemoration.[5]

So, the Doctor Who version of time and space actually takes on biblical proportions.

Thus, in the Lord’s Supper, it is the Lamb of God who offers and is offered on the altar, and the offering is the same offering he makes on the cross. The priest acts under the authority of Christ, making Christ present by his action—or rather, revealing the sacramental presence of Christ by his submission to Christ’s command, summed up in the Latin phrase in persona Christi. The Lord offers himself, a human being, through the action of offering the gifts of bread and wine and the gifts of the people which are his body and are made to be his body by the eucharistic action. Indeed, the priest acts on behalf of the people who corporately act in persona Christi to offer themselves as living sacrifices (Rom 12.1).[6]


  1. In this post, I give you my answer for a take-home exam. The question asked the student to address an inter-faith gathering of Catholic and Lutheran Christians, speaking about the idea of sacrifice in the Eucharist—a notion notoriously hated by Martin Luther.
  2. He alludes to some of this in his book The Mystery of Christ: Life in Death. (Crestwood, NY: Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2004).Behr talked much more extensively about this approach to time in class.
  3. “Blink,”Doctor Who, series 3, episode 10.
  4. “The Big Bang,”Doctor Who, series 5, episode 13.
  5. Kevin Irwin, Models of the Eucharist. (New York: Paulist Press, 2004), Kindle Locations 1590-1594.
  6. Ibid., Kindle Locations 2912–2937.

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PO;DR—Pop-over; Didn’t Read.

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PO;DRPop-overs. Those annoying advertisements, requests for information, and alerts that appear over a web page, obscuring its content. Developers call them modal windows. I call them “the reason that I immediately close that tab or window.” The only way that this annoying virus will stop is if the organizations that are doing it realize that it is killing their bottom line.

If you are as infuriated as I am, join me in closing that tab or window without any further action. Then tell the people in charge via email, Twitter, Facebook, body tattoo, or whatever floats your boat: “PO;DR”—pop-over; didn’t read.


Filed under: — Basil @ 1:16 pm

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Beautiful Websites Will Save the World

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A dear classmate of mine wrote me today to ask for examples of good parish website design—the “best to examine for style, layout, information and the most welcoming to the non-Orthodox.” My reply was short on examples, but long on some fundamental design principles. I wondered if maybe I had not really answered the question my friend asked. In concluding, I realized why I think these principles are so important: I have seen too many bad parish websites. Getting a parish website right is not optional. It is a pastoral and evangelical necessity. Here is my reply to my friend (edited for style and content):

Read the rest of “Beautiful Websites Will Save the World”


Filed under: — Basil @ 6:05 pm

«— When in Rome, Do What St Ambrose Does
—» Beautiful Websites Will Save the World

Hatteras-style Clam Chowder

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You have heard, no doubt, of New England-style clam chowder. You may have heard of Manhattan-style clam chowder. I had not heard, until yesterday, of Hatteras-style clam chowder.

Hatteras-style chowder uses a clear broth, salt and pepper to taste for seasoning, and typically flour to thicken it. I made some today using some canned ingredients. You could just as easily use fresh ingredients, and it would work fine.

2 cans minced clams (not drained)
1 8 oz bottle clam juice
1 can diced potatoes
1 can kernel corn
1 can mixed vegetables (or diced carrots)
2 tbsp coconut oil (or some other vegetable oil)
1–2 cups potato flakes (ie, dry mashed potato mix)
salt and pepper to taste
dried minced onion, to taste

Most recipes I’ve seen online include chopped bacon. I did not include this for obvious reasons.[1] If you want to include it, cook it beforehand and add it with the other ingredients at the end, before simmering.

Combine clam juice, coconut oil and juice from one or both cans of clams in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Add potato flakes to desired thickness (it should be thicker at this point than desired finished product). Combine remaining contents. Return to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or so.

The corn is my own take: I really like for my chowder to have corn. If you have dietary issues with corn, just omit it. Also, you’ll notice I used pototo flakes instead of flour to thicken it.


  1. I’m an Orthodox Christian. For fasting days — like Lent — we are allowed shellfish, but virtually any other animal product is, technically, supposed to be avoided, technically. Flesh meats like beef, poultry or pork (bacon) are forbidden. “Obvious,” because most of my readers know this part.

Filed under: — Basil @ 3:01 pm