Secularism and the moral tradition

I just finished an article for Again magazine on Orthodoxy Christianity and the public square. They asked four or five authors to contribute articles on this theme, and it promises to be an interesting issue. Again is repositioning itself for a larger audience and wants to move into examing current issues from an Orthodox Christian perspective. They’ve totally revamped the visuals as well. It looks very promising.

I met the new editor, Doug Cramer, in New York at Clergy Laity who was representing Conciliar Press in the exhibit area. He’s a bright and engaging person. We ended up leaving the Congress for an hour and had coffee on the street somewhere to talk about the magazine and more. Nothing like sitting on the sidewalk talking and drinking coffee. It’s great.

Anyway, you never really know where a piece will end when you start out, but I devoted over half of it to a discussion about secularism vs. the Christian moral tradition, ie: the culture war. As I was discussing that theme here, I was also working on the article. One feeds the other I think. My final conclusion, not definitively proven but explained well enough to be compelling I think, is that secularism in the end is a Christian heresy.

Unfortunately I can’t post it until it is published which will be in September sometime.

Overall the week has been great and also liturgically full. Paraklesis on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening. Vespers of the Transfiguration last night, and Liturgy this morning. I always like this day, particularly the relationship between the Transfiguration and the ancient Jewish Holy Day of the Feast of Booths. The Transfiguration of course occurred on the feast which is why Peter wanted to construct a booth.

By the way, the only place in Matthew where the Greek word describing the light of glory of Christ occurs again is in the description of the garment of the angel that sat on the stone after the resurrection.

I’m also busy working on building up the infrastructure of the parish. I am fortunate in that a professor of patristics just joined the parish who will be teaching at the new Catholic college (Ave Maria) being built nearby. He will help me with adult education. Today another family came by with four children from 5 to 16 years old. They moved here last week. I’m told that during “season” (the time when all northerners come back down south) attendance exceeds 400 people or so. It’s going to be busy.

We need a new web page. GOA internet services has a new program called web-builder, a point and click operation of sorts that lets you pull together a pretty decent looking site in half-a-day or so. I could build one, but I just don’t have enough time for it. I could get someone to build it, but it would take a whole lot of time explaining how I want it done. I just might try the point and click.

They also have a new service called bulletin builder. Basically you download a preformatted bulletin with all the relevant info already included — scripture readings, apolytikia, kontakia, everything . Nice. We’ll switch to that too.

It rained almost all week. Usually when it rains here is drives down hard but ends in an hour or two and then the sun comes back out. This week it rained for hours, and there were almost entire days with no sun. My car ended up getting soaked. It turns out a seal along the floor somewhere was never installed and will all the puddles water worker its way up. I ended up with almost a half inch of water on the floor. I took the car in Monday and got it back today. They ended up resealing the area in the body shop and replacing all the carpeting. Fortunately it was all on warranty. I even got a loaner. All in all, the hassle factor was minimal.

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Naples

It looks like I have my work cut out for me. My new parish has 214 families, averages 25-30 chrismations a year, has a notable number of Albanian immigrants, and projects rapid growth. During “season” (September to May) the parish is full so in a year or two we may have to move to two liturgies. Fortunately four retired priests live here also and help serve every Sunday.

It also has a beautiful Church recently built. (See pictures here: St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church.) It’s quite a change from the storefront Church I pastored in Atlanta, but where two or three are gathered in the name of Christ, Christ is among them. The commission to preach the Gospel of Christ and the ministry derived from that commission is the same where ever one serves.
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Moving to a new parish

Some of you may have noticed my postings on the main page have been intermittent, I disappear for several days and then reappear, etc. It’s because I’ve been tied up with a lot of extra work closing out my ministry in Atlanta in order to start a new work at another parish.

On July 1, I start serving St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church in Naples, Florida. I am going there next Monday to find a place to live, returning late in the week to serve my final liturgy in my present parish, and then moving my belongings on the Monday following. I will pop in and out as time permits. (All told I will spend 30 hours in the car in a 7 day period. Not as grueling as last summer though, when I travelled 1300 miles in one day. My car broke down in northeast Georgia. I lived in southern Florida. I got a rental while the car was being fixed and when it was ready for pick up I drove the 625 miles up and the 625 miles back in one day. I left at five in the morning and got home at 11:30 that evening. This was 100 miles farther than the distance from Minneapolis to New York City.)

My wife, daughter, andI like sun and water. Heat is better than cold we say, and growing up in Minnesota we know the difference. I served the Fort Myers parish for four years so we know the area well and look forward to returning to it. Palm trees are cool too.

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