Given an Omnipotent, Fully Good and Loving God, Why do Good People Suffer?

Story of Job Bible sufferingby Mackenzie Mulligan –
That is the question for the ages. The suffering of bad people, of evil people, is (for some) an easier question. There is a notion of cosmic reparation, whether of impersonal karma or personal Justice, that provides an explanation on that front. But what of good people?

That, at least, is a question asked repeatedly by characters in G. K. Chesterton’s The Man who was Thursday, and the answers Chesterton hints at are some of the most incredible I have ever read.

But first, we must eliminate the greatest of the false trails apologists often stray down: that human goodness is never good enough in comparison to Christ’s perfection. This relativity, while actual, is nonetheless irrelevant. The goodness and righteousness even of fallen humanity is real enough and meaningful enough to be attested to even from the throne of Jehovah himself. I trust ye have heard of the patience of Job? [Read more…]

Christianity is Truth and Reality, Not Mythology

Christ is God, Lamb abd Lion of Judah by Garet Pahl –
The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. By becoming a fact it does not cease to be a myth. God is more than a god, not less.

Secular mythologists would claim that mythology is the result of ancient man observing the facts and building up the story upon them. As time progressed, simple and crude myths became more elegant and complex, constantly reappearing in higher, more organized forms. Jesus Christ is immortalized in legend as a god that dies and comes back to life, because the concept was copied from less ordered myths about corn gods or gods of the harvest, who die in the fall and are reborn again in the spring. The secularist sees the search for religious significance as growth upward from the simple answers of mythology. C.S. Lewis says that this is the modernist assumption that higher things are always copies of lower things. Much like Darwinian evolution, where more complex life forms have evolved from lower life forms, the secularist claims that Christianity, along with other great religions, is simply myth evolved into a higher form.

On the contrary Lewis would demonstrate that lower things are copies of higher things. Mankind exists as the main example of this. We are made in God’s image. We are a copy of an infinitely higher being. Though the communicable attributes of God are present in mankind, mankind is not God and never will be. Likewise the pagan myths are true in as much as they are copies of the complete truth. The pagan myths though not true in historical reality, are nonetheless the distorted reflection of a higher reality. [Read more…]

The Truth is Always ‘Offensive’

The Truth is Always Offensive - Christ the Truth and Pilate by Trevor Thomas –
True followers of Christ tell the truth with courage, conviction, and love. They also peacefully, but strongly, stand up to the lies of liberalism, Islam, and the like. This is precisely why such Christians are found to be so ‘offensive.’

When Jesus stood before Pilate, just prior to going to His execution, Pilate asked Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” After some discussion, Pilate concluded, “You are a king, then!” Jesus replied, “You are right in saying that I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

Sounding much like a modern-day graduate of Harvard’s divinity school, or the Dean for Religious Life at Stanford University (who both probably have about the same regard for Christ as did Pilate), Pilate concluded his exchange with Jesus by asking, “What is truth?” And just as one would expect from someone so blind to the truth, Pilate and the crowd sent the most innocent man the world has ever known to his excruciating death. [Read more…]

An Orthodox Perspective on Tolerance

Orthodox Perspective on Tolerance by Rdr. Daniel Manzuk –
We are bombarded with the message that we are to be tolerant of the beliefs and practices of others. “Tolerant,” however, has come to mean “accept and condone without question or reservation”; failure to practice this form of tolerance makes one intolerant and a hater. These assertions are addressed especially to those from traditional Christian backgrounds who acknowledge that the truths in Scripture are absolute, not relative, as secular and liberal society views them.

It must be noted, too, that when entirely secularized people refuse to be tolerant of “traditional values,” they are called progressive, open-minded and enlightened, anything but intolerant; while traditional Christians are considered deluded, superstitious, brain-washed, and ignorant. (This is so despite the fact that – in all ages – living a Christian life requires a concerted effort and personal dedication –a clear choice. Just ask the Virgin Mary and the Martyrs.) [Read more…]

Texas Orthodox Priests Reject Fr. Arida’s Scandalous Teaching on Homosexuality

Texas Orthodox Priests Reject Fr. Arida's False Teachingby Texas Orthodox Priests –
Statement of the Brotherhood of the Orthodox Clergy Association of Houston and Southeast Texas on the Comments of Fr. Robert Arida on Homosexuality

In response to Fr. Robert Arida’s recent article, which was posted on the OCA’s Wonder blog, there have been many eloquent rebuttals.  We do not wish to attempt to reproduce those critiques here, but we do wish to underscore some of the more important points that have been made, and to speak out publically on this controversy.

We find it unacceptable for Orthodox Clergy, who have been given the charge to instruct and guide the laity, to suggest that the moral Tradition of the Orthodox Church needs to change with the times or with the prevalent culture. St. Paul admonishes us to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2). [Read more…]

Forming a Moral Foundation is Vital in Educating Children

Virtues Forming a Moral Foundation is Vital in Educating Childrenby Anthony Esolen –
The forming of a moral imagination is not something additional in the education of a child. It is the education of a child.

What is remarkable in our age is not that half of our citizens believe it is wrong to kill the child in the womb, the child whose existence, except in the rare case of rape, is owing to our own voluntary actions. That would be like congratulating ourselves for believing that it’s wrong to steal someone’s car, to lie under oath to hurt an enemy, to throw our aged parents into the street, or to desecrate churches.

Where is the great moral insight? What’s remarkable instead is that half of us believe it is all right to snuff out the life of that child – because nothing must be allowed to interfere with our “right” to pursue pleasure, as we use the child-making thing as a sweating-off spa on our way to money, prestige, a five-bathroom mansion for two, a tenured chair in Women’s Studies, the mayoralty of Camden, another year of nights out on the town, whatever. [Read more…]

To Be Healed We Must Open Ourselves to God

To Be Healed We Must Open Ourselves to God by Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh –
Each of us is in need of physical healing and of the healing of our soul. And yet, only a few are healed — why? What we miss in the reading of the Gospel is that Christ did not heal people indiscriminately.

Again and again we hear in the Gospel the story of men or women who were healed of their illnesses, and it seems so simple in the Gospel: there is a need, and God meets it. Why is it then — we ask ourselves — that it does not happen to each of us? Each of us is in need of physical healing and of the healing of our soul. And yet, only a few are healed — why? What we miss in the reading of the Gospel is that Christ did not heal people indiscriminately. One person in a crowd was healed; many who were also sick in body or soul, were not. That comes from the fact that, in order to receive the Grace of God, so that it acts in us unto the healing of soul or body, or both, we must be open to God — not to the healing, but to God. [Read more…]

Charles Dickens Can Help Us Fight the Moral Madness

Charles Dickens Can Help Us Fight the Moral Madness by Anthony Esolen –
I recently observed that there must be something odd about someone who likes to play Naming of Parts with the children of strangers, whether it’s a slobbering bachelor down the street who’s friendly with one kid, or a minor governmental functionary who is friendly with two dozen. For suggesting that parents and not slobs or schoolteachers have the sole authority to teach their children about sex, I was called “bizarre.”

Get used to it, comrades. The collapse of moral values is now shifting into a mad inversion. It used to be considered evil to deprive a child of a mother or a father. It will now be considered evil to insist that a child should have a mother and a father. It used to be considered evil to walk naked in front of children. It will now be considered evil to demand that people stay clothed in front of children. [Read more…]

Daily Prayers: The Battle with Extraneous Thoughts

Daily Prayers: The Battle with Extraneous Thoughts by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) –
Short prayers help in overcoming distractions and extraneous thoughts: “Lord, have mercy,” “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” and others, which do not require a special focus on the words, but incline one to the birth of feelings and the movement of the heart. With the help of such prayers, one can learn to pray attentively and to focus on prayer.

One of the main obstacles to attentive prayer is the appearance of extraneous thoughts. St. John of Kronstadt, the great ascetic of the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, describes in his diaries how, during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, at the most crucial and sacred moments, before his mind’s eye would appear an apple pie or some other reward that he might be given. And with bitter regret he suggests how such extraneous images and thoughts can destroy a prayerful state. If such happened with the saints, then there is nothing surprising if it happens to us, too. To protect ourselves from extraneous thoughts and images, we have to learn, as did the ancient Fathers of the Church, “to guard our minds.” [Read more…]

Orthodox Truth in an Age of Relativism

Orthodox Truth in an Age of Relativism by Gabe Martini –
It is not loving to affirm a person in their sin.

It is not loving to affirm a person in their rebellion against both God and His created, natural order—not “supernatural,” or “unnatural,” but the way nature was always intended to be, revealed most perfectly in Jesus Christ and the Mother of God and all the Saints.

It is not loving to affirm a person in their beliefs or perspectives that run contrary to the blessings offered us in both Christ and His one, holy Church.

It is not compassionate to ignore truth in order to affirm a person in lies.

It is not compassionate to let people live a life contrary to the author of Life.

It is not compassionate to revise, ignore, or trample under foot the essential truths of our Church in order to curry favor with public opinion, the winds and waves of doctrine, cultural trends, the fools—for the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God—of the Academy, and those with the largest checkbooks. [Read more…]

I Can Do All Thinks Through Christ, Who Strengthens Me

I Can Do All Thinks Through Christ, Who Strengthens Me by Fr. Matthew Jackson –
From the ‘smallest’ temptation to the most dramatic events, all temptation is more than fallen humanity can bear. It is only through God’s assistance that we can bear all things. God will not give us more than we can bear, but bearing our temptations requires that we turn to Him for help.

There is an article (a few of them, actually) making the rounds on social media right now which tries to make the point that the phrase “God will not give you more than you can handle” is not an accurate thing to say. Unfortunately, these articles themselves don’t quite have things right.

They refer back to the quote from 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able.” (This is where the quote ‘God will not give you more than you can handle’ originates). The point is then attempted: this verse doesn’t mean you won’t be given things that can’t be handled, only that God will not allow a temptation you can’t bear – that the verse doesn’t say anything about other experiences you may have within life. [Read more…]

Prayer is the Gauge of Our Spiritual Life

Prayer is the Gauge of Our Spiritual Life by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) –
If our life is not a preparation for prayer, then it can be very difficult for us to pray. Prayer is the gauge of our spiritual life, a kind of litmus test. We need to construct our life in such a way that it conforms to prayer.

Prayer involves not only joy and attainments, which take place because of it, but also painstaking daily labor. Sometimes prayer brings enormous joy, refreshing man and giving him new strength and opportunities. But it very often happens that one is not disposed towards prayer, that one does not want to pray. Thus, prayer should not depend upon our mood. Prayer is labor. St. Silouan the Athonite said: “To pray is to shed blood.” As in every labor, this requires great effort, sometimes enormous effort, in order to force oneself to pray even when one does not want to. And such an effort [podvig] will be repaid one hundredfold. [Read more…]

Don’t Despair, Cling to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

Don't Despair, Cling to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by St. John of Kronstadt –
When the darkness of the accursed one [the devil] covers you — doubt, despondency, despair, disturbance — then only call with your whole heart upon the sweetest name of Jesus Christ, and in Him you shall find all — light, strengthening, trust, comfort, and peace; in Him you shall find the greatest mercy, goodness and bountifulness; all these mercies you will find contained in His name alone, as though in a rich treasury.

Never despair in God’s mercy by whatever sins you may have been bound by the temptation of the Devil, but pray with your whole heart, with the hope of forgiveness; knock at the door of God’s mercy and it shall be opened unto you. I, a simple priest, am an example for you: however I may sometimes sin by the action of the Devil, for instance, by enmity towards a brother, whatever the cause may be, even though it may be a right cause, and I myself become thoroughly disturbed and set my brother against me, and unworthily celebrate the Holy Sacrament, not from wilful neglect, but by being myself unprepared, and by the action of the Devil; yet, after repentance, the Lord forgives all, and everything, especially after the worthy communion of the Holy Sacrament: [Read more…]

Christian Woman’s Role in the Home: Nurturer of the Spirit

St. Julianna of Lazarevo Nurturer of the Spirit by Matushka Susan Young –
Most especially we must bring otherworldliness into the home and keep worldliness out by our prayerful attitude.

The duty of a laywoman in the Orthodox Church, especially a married woman, is to keep alive the spirit of other-worldliness which has been so lost today. The beginning of this is seen in the very concept of Christian marriage which is not to be thought of as a source of personal happiness or self-gratification, but rather as the means by which two people may save their souls and bring up children in godliness. All this presupposes a common understanding and mutual struggle.

How can a mother bring up children in godliness? First it must be remembered that the mother has the great role of nurturer. The mother is the first object of the child’s affection because she is his feeder and nourisher, not only of the body, but also of the soul. She must surround her child with an atmosphere of prayer and make of her home a place where virtues are emphasized. From infancy up she can say morning and evening prayers with the child, gradually allowing him to take more responsibility as he grows and learns. She ought to bless her child often, at the least when he leaves for school and when he goes to bed. [Read more…]

Christians Stand Firm: Fight the Lies, Defend the Truth

Christians Stand Firm: Fight the Lies, Defend the Truth Sword by Anthony Esolen –
Truth is truth to the end of time. Even if the battle appears lost, let each Christian raise one sword at least against the lie. Even if the fight is fierce, the warfare long, let each Christian remember that our Captain triumphed in and through the hour of His utter defeat upon Calvary.

One day, said St. Jerome, the world awoke and groaned to find itself half Arian. It was the reasonable position of the time, bearing all the marks of historical inevitability. It shrugged away the most challenging points of Christology, for if Christ was but a creature, a Platonic demiurge, we need not puzzle our minds over how God might be both one and three. We need not be stunned into reverence by the words, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” since the Word was, in a sense, already “flesh.”

Arianism was an easy slide. Most of the bishops leaned that way; it was the way of the well-stuffed. But Athanasius rose up contra mundum, the single-minded saint whom his opponents derided and often exiled for his bigotry. Athanasius was on the wrong side of “history.” Good for him; Christians must always so station themselves. Our Lord was murdered on Calvary by the great dead historical hulk called the Roman Empire. [Read more…]