Losing our Religion: “Retaining” Young People in the Orthodox Church

Young People in the Orthodox Church Youthby Seraphim Danckaert –
A person is most likely to retain Christian faith throughout adult life if he or she had three (3) meaningful and healthy relationships in their early to mid teenage years: one with faithful Christian parents, one with a faithful Christian mentor outside of the family, and one with God Himself.

Seraphim Danckaert at Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy critically evaluated a recent article that claims that “90% of Americans with Greek roots are no longer in communion with the Orthodox Church.” The excerpts below are from Seraphim’s insightful analysis on why the youth leave the Orthodox Church and what must be done to retain them.

The article assumes (but does not show) that the reason for this mass apostasy is two-fold: (1) the inevitable rise of interfaith marriages in America’s multicultural, religiously pluralistic, and secular society; and (2) the Greek Orthodox Church’s failure to respond to the “critical and immediate need for a broad religious outreach; to make room for interfaith families,” and thereby follow St. Paul’s example in extending “Christianity’s outreach to all nations.” [Read more...]

Contemporary Tolerance Is Intrinsically Intolerant

Contemporary Tolerance Is Intrinsically Intolerant by Don Carson –

The notion of tolerance is changing, and with the new definitions the shape of tolerance itself has changed. Although a few things can be said in favor of the newer definition, the sad reality is that this new, contemporary tolerance is intrinsically intolerant. It is blind to its own shortcomings because it erroneously thinks it holds the moral high ground; it cannot be questioned because it has become part of the West’s plausibility structure. Worse, this new tolerance is socially dangerous and is certainly intellectually debilitating. Even the good that it wishes to achieve is better accomplished in other ways.

Let’s begin with dictionaries. In the Oxford English Dictionary, the first meaning of the verb “to tolerate” is “To respect (others’ beliefs, practices, etc.) without necessarily agreeing or sympathizing. 3. to put up with; to bear; as, he tolerates his brother-in-law. 4. in medicine, to have tolerance for (a specified drug, etc.).” Even the computer-based dictionary Encarta includes in its list “ACCEPT EXISTENCE OF DIFFERENT VIEWS to recognize other people’s right to have different beliefs or practices without an attempt to suppress them.” [Read more...]

The Rights of Aphrodite – The New State Paganism

The Rights of Aphrodite - The New State Paganism by W. E. Knickerbocker –
In the essay “We Have No ‘Right To Happiness,'” C. S. Lewis tells his readers of a conversation he had with a woman who was one of his neighbors. The subject of the discussion was two neighbor couples, Mr. and Mrs. A and Mr. and Mrs. B. Mr. A had divorced Mrs. A to marry Mrs. B, who had divorced Mr. B. Mrs. A’s looks were not what they once were, one cause of which was the number of children she had borne to Mr. A. Mr. B had been disabled in the war and was out of a job. The neighbor with whom Lewis was having the conversation justified these divorces and the remarriage by saying that Mr. A and Mrs. B “had a right to happiness.”

Lewis says the neighbor who justified this behavior was “rather leftist” in her politics and a teetotaler, who would certainly not approve of a ruthless businessman whose happiness consisted in making money or of an alcoholic who was happy when he was drunk. Rather, the happiness to which this neighbor said Mr. A and Mrs. B had a right was solely “sexual happiness.” The right to sexual happiness justified breaking vows solemnly made and legally validated. [Read more...]

Caesar, Coercion, and the Christian Conscience: a Dangerous Confusion

Homosexual Tyranny Coercion Christian Persecution by Albert Mohler –
Several states are now considering legislation that would provide explicit protections to citizens whose consciences will not allow an endorsement of same-sex marriage. The bills vary by state, as do the prospects for legislative passage, but the key issues remain constant. Millions of American citizens are facing a direct collision between their moral convictions and the demands of their government.

The cases are now piling up. A wedding photographer in New Mexico, cake bakers in Colorado and Oregon, and a florist in Washington State have all found themselves in this predicament. Each now faces the coercive power of the state. They are being told, in no uncertain terms, that they must participate in providing services for same-sex weddings or go out of business. [Read more...]

The Heart of Worship is Surrender to God

Heart of Worship is Surrender to God by Rick Warren –
The heart of worship is surrender. Surrender is an unpopular word, especially in the American culture. Surrender means, to many, defeat. We love winning so surrender is unthinkable. But surrendering to God is the heart of worship. It is the natural response to God’s amazing love and mercy. We give ourselves to Him, not out of fear or duty, but in love, 1 John 4:9:10, 19. Paul urges us to fully surrender our lives to God in worship, Romans 12:1. There are three barriers that block our total surrender to God: fear, pride and confusion. We want to control our own lives so we misunderstand the meaning of surrender.

1. Can I trust God? Trust is essential to surrender. I won’t surrender to God unless I trust Him, but I can’t trust Him until I know Him better. Fear keeps me from surrendering, but love casts out all fear. The more I realize how much God loves me, the easier surrender becomes. How do I know God loves me? God says He loves me, Psalms 145:9. I’m never out of His sight, Psalms 139:3. He cares about every detail of my life – Matthew 10:30. [Read more...]

Totalitarianism and the Silence of the Lambs

Homosexual Tyranny Silence of the Lambs by Doug Mainwaring –
A few days ago, a prominent attorney asked me a question: can religious liberty and the growing demands of government and others occupy the same space? And if not, who wins?

This is, perhaps, not quite the right question.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter, aka “Hannibal the Cannibal” in The Silence of the Lambs asked a more fitting one:

“First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: What is it in itself? What is its nature?”

Most pundits observing what has gone on recently in Arizona and other states regarding same-sex marriage have concluded, “We are witnessing a clash between religious and civil liberties.” While many nod their heads in agreement, this analysis is wrong. [Read more...]

Tolerance and Charity, from a Christian Perspective

Tolerance is Not a Christian Virtue by Brian A. Graebe –
Tolerance is a nice word, but is it a Christian virtue? Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver doesn’t think so, and his claim has occasioned no small amount of protest. In a smug editorial, America magazine recently chastened Chaput for coarsening the tenor of intra-ecclesial discourse. While no call for courtesy and civility should go unheeded, an apology for toleration that ignores its niceties only furthers the intellectual and moral torpor plaguing the public square.

Proponents of a kinder, gentler discussion on the great issues of our day often attempt a rhetorical sleight of hand, coupling tolerance with charity. Such a pairing is ambiguous at best. The call to charity “loving one’s fellow man as a child of God” is universal and, one hopes, uncontroversial. But what does it mean to be tolerant of those with whom we disagree on serious matters? If used as a synonym for charity, combined patience and magnanimity, one can make a case, but that case remains weak and the term imprecise. [Read more...]

Love A Woman, Don’t Lust Over Her!

Love A Woman, Don't Lust Over Her by Jackie Stammen –
I’m bothered by guys who lust after women. Don’t get me wrong, every woman loves to feel beautiful and to be told she’s beautiful; however, women don’t want to to be lusted after, they desire to be loved and respected. No one wants to be made to feel as though they are simply an object for someone else’s satisfaction. It’s rather intrusive, actually, to be spoken of as such. Women want to be valued for everything they are, as a whole human being – body, mind, heart, and soul. A woman wants a man to seek her heart above all else. I’d rather have a man fall in love with my heart than my temporal features.

If you fall in love solely because of looks, you might end up basing everything in your relationship on fire and passion, but the fire and passion won’t always be there. They are beneficial and healthy, but in reality, the passion will likely come and go and come and go again throughout the lifetime of your relationship. When the fire dies, you’re left with nothing but ashes. Ashes to be discarded and forgotten. In a relationship based solely on looks and passion, the relationship often comes to a screeching halt. [Read more...]

Poverty in Spirit More Important Than Material Poverty

St. Basil the Great Orthodoxby St. Basil the Great –
Poverty is not always praiseworthy, but only when it represents a free choice according to the Gospel commandment.

Many are poor in terms of possessions and very miserly in spirit, and those people will not be saved through their poverty but damned by their attitude of mind.

Not every poor person therefore is worthy of praise, but only those who of their own choice put the commandment of the Lord before all the treasures of the world.

Those people the Lord says are blessed when he proclaims “blessed are the poor in spirit.” He does not say the poor in possessions, but those who have freely chosen poverty in spirit.

What is involuntary cannot merit blessedness. Every virtue, and poverty in spirit more than any other, must be a free choice. [Read more...]

Atheists are Wrong – Five Reasons Why God Exists

Atheists are Wrong - Five Reasons Why God Existsby William Lane Craig –
Most atheists, in my experience, have no good reasons for their disbelief. Rather they’ve learned to simply repeat the slogan, “There’s no good evidence for God’s existence!”

In the case of a Christian who has no good reasons for what he believes, this slogan serves as an effective conversation-stopper. But if we have good reasons for our beliefs, then this slogan serves rather as a conversation-starter.

The atheist who merely repeats this slogan after having been presented with arguments for God’s existence makes an empty assertion.

So what reasons might be given in defense of Christian theism? In my publications and oral debates with some of the world’s most notable atheists, I’ve defended the following five reasons why God exists: [Read more...]

Government Violates First Amendment Rights of Parents of ‘Gay’ Minors

Government Violating Parental Rights of Parents of Gay Minorsby Robert Carle –
California and New Jersey’s new laws banning talk therapy to address same-sex attraction in minors violate the rights of parents and children to seek counseling that conforms to their values. They also endanger First Amendment rights.

The governors of California and New Jersey have recently signed bills into law that violate First Amendment protections of freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

These new laws ban licensed counselors from engaging in talk therapies that reduce the level of same-sex attractions in minors for whom such reduction is a personal goal. Strikingly, these bills apply to all minors except those who wish to change their sex (“gender identity”) altogether, via hormones and surgery. Legislators in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania are pushing for similar talk-therapy bans. Such legislation usurps the rights of parents and children to seek counseling that conforms to their values. [Read more...]

Freedom from a Godly Perspective

Freedom from Godly Perspective, God and Freedomby Fr. Patrick Reardon –
With respect to the life in Christ it is important to keep in mind two aspects of freedom:

First, a correct concept of freedom disinclines us to reduce it to the mere ability to make choices. Thus reduced, indeed, freedom looks more like a potential than a reality. Freedom is counted, after all, as a great human blessing.

But how can the mere capacity for choice be —without reservation— a blessing? Is that man to be called blessed who chooses to fling himself into a fire? Is freedom truly a blessing if someone deliberately enslaves himself? If freedom is to be counted a blessing, choice must in some measure be qualified by its object. [Read more...]

Abortion is The Greatest Destroyer of Peace

Mother Teresa Abortion is Greatest Destroyer of Peaceby Mother Teresa –
I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing – direct murder by the mother herself. And we read in the Scripture, for God says very clearly: Even if a mother could forget her child – I will not forget you – I have carved you in the palm of my hand. We are carved in the palm of His hand, so close to Him that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God. And that is what strikes me most, the beginning of that sentence, that even if a mother could forget something impossible – but even if she could forget – I will not forget you.

And today the greatest means – the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion. And we who are standing here – our parents wanted us. We would not be here if our parents would do that to us. Our children, we want them, we love them, but what of the millions. Many people are very, very concerned with the children in India, with the children in Africa where quite a number die, maybe of malnutrition, of hunger and so on, but millions are dying deliberately by the will of the mother. [Read more...]

Sex, Publics Schools and Social Suicide

Sex, Publics Schools and Social Suicideby Kevin Ryan –
If students attend schools which are run as sexual playgrounds, is it any wonder if they fail to learn?

Over the last three decades, social scientists, educational researchers, and pundits have probed for the reason why educationally the US on the fringe of being a Third World country. In particular, why does the academic achievement of American students begin to fall off during junior high and plummet during the high school years?

The “failure theories” are many: our schools are too big; our schools are too small; our school year is too short; our school day is too long; our teachers are too dumb or too lazy or under paid; our parents don’t care; we don’t give the schools enough money. Critics endlessly opine that our students don’t have enough arts, enough sports; enough science, enough math. They don’t have enough homework; they have too much homework. What is being missed from the analyses is the teenagers’ elephant in the room, their Kim Kardashian at the Sunday school picnic: sex. [Read more...]

Self Awareness and Self Control Key to Living a Virtuous Life

Self Awareness and Self Control Know Thyselfby Fr. George Morelli –
Many are familiar with the famous ancient Greek adage: “Know thyself.” Countless philosophers and spiritual teachers as well have used this theme. To my best recollection, I first came across this aphorism while reading Plato in a philosophy course my first year in college. Interestingly, this aphorism was also used by the ancient Egyptians, who gave it a religious connection. In the temple of Luxor (1400 BC) is the inscription: “Man, know thyself … and thou shalt know the gods.”

The importance of self-awareness and self-control also can be found in other religious systems. In the Buddhist tradition one reads: “Though one should conquer a million men on the battlefield, yet he, indeed, is the noblest victor who has conquered himself.” [Read more...]