Religion Without Mercy


This is what the government of (Northern) Sudan sent to pick up the teacher who named the class teddy bear ‘Muhammed.’  While every prime time in America Christianity is blasphemed, the government in Khartoum can hardly handle something this innocuous.

If you want to know what has happened in Sudan, imagine the whole Southern part of the country being ruled by a government like the one in the North.  Kyrie Elieson!

Quddouson Allââh, Quddouson ul-qawee, Quddouson ulladhee la yamout, Irhamna!

Dare We Hope for the Salvation of All?

So asks the Orthodox bishop, Kallistos Ware. In his work The Inner Kingdom, he dares to ask the question. Ware is not a squishy theologian. He is thoroughly traditional and Orthodox in all points. But he is expressing a true and I think orthodox hope.

He mentions that St. Gregory of Nyssa also had such hopes. Ware says,

“Gregory [writes], ‘the wickedness which is now mingled and consolidated with our nature has been finally expelled from it, and when all those things that are now sunk down in evil are restored to their original state, there will ascend from the entire creation a united hymn of thanksgiving…All this is contained in the great mystery of the Divine Incarnation.’ This final restoration, Gregory clearly states, will embrace even the devil.”

Ware does not deny the existence of hell, he only questions the purpose for it. Is it a place of condemnation and judgment, or does it have a restorative or healing element to it? Is the fire of God wrathful or is it remedial? Ware is not trying to presume that God’s purpose will eventually win out to save everyone, he is only expressing a hope and a sincere prayer.

How Do You Sing the Songs of Zion…


So many of our Mainline denominations are becoming pathetic shells of irrelevance and heretical teaching. There have been a variety of schisms and people in exodus for at least three decades, my Episcopal Church being a case study in hemorrhaging and splintering. There are basically two choices, Exodus or Exile. To exodus is to leave it all behind, to find solace in Rome, Orthodoxy, or some sort of megalomania church. Or, in the case of orthodox Anglicans, to ‘come under Episcopal oversight’ of a foreign body. The new body then becomes characterized by the bitterness and memories of the old. The new body then tries to create an idealism from a bygone era, whether that be the ’50s or (God forbid) the 60s or 70s, or even the mega-church 80s.

There then the bitterness will extend to the ‘foolish ones’ who chose to stay behind. ‘They just stay because they are afraid for their jobs (or pensions, or whatever).’ The insecurity they feel in their ‘safe haven’ is projected upon those who are still in the ‘apostate’ tradition.

But what of those who choose exile in their own traditions? What of those who choose to stay in the Episcopal Church, for example? What of their fate?

There are no easy solutions and tomes have been written in this regard. Can you be apostolic and missional in Babylon? Can you be Catholic in the midst of heresy? Can you have Catholic order amidst ecclesiastical disorder? Can you sing the songs of Zion in a foreign land?

We, who are orthodox must find a different way other than schism and compromise. There are tools in the unopened chests of our tradition that must be employed. The first is repentance. Years of compromise in areas of sexuality have left us where we are today. How can we speak against one form of fornication when we have turned a blind eye to other forms of fornication for years?

We also need to repent for neglecting widows, the fatherless and the sojourners among us. Conservative Episcopalians in the US have been the arrogant elite who have failed to care for the poor among us and our fellow Anglican Africans overseas. While Christians have been dying and abused in this and every land, we conservative Episcopalians have been sipping brandy and talking about the stock market. It is time to repent.

Secondly, we need to pray. We need to create monastic and neo-monastic communities within our churches that call upon the power of God. No structural solution is as strong as the power of God working among his people. Prayer is also an antidote to the venom that characterizes so many of our own ranks. When we have Matthew 5 and Luke 6 hearts, the world will take notice. Only prayer can get us there.

Lastly, we (orthodox) need to work together. We need to rely on the power of the gospel and the koinonia of our mutual work. We need to worship and learn together. We need to be inspired to grow our churches and our own souls. We need to find out why there is revival in our world and ask the Holy Spirit to bring it to us. We need to scan the world for the fire of God and follow its light. We also need to share resources and even workers in the harvest.

There are no easy answers for those of us in Babylon. Only the path of Jesus.

So I Had This Dream…

mtcarmelchurch.jpgI was invited to interview with a small but vibrant church outside of town.  My wife and I were greeted to at least a hundred folks for a picnic.  We thought they were there to see us, but it was really a ‘going away party’ for most of the parish.

They were a parish meeting in a trailer while the church next door was huge with all the great facilities.  So, the young rector decided it would be good to leave the fuddy duddies behind and merge with the larger body.  He took the picnic as an opportunity to yell at an old guy who had held him back and told him he couldn’t wait to ‘get the hell out’ of the little church.

In the dream, my wife and I were sympathetic to the 10-15 quirky older folks who were staying behind and wondered if God were still calling us there.  One guy walked by us in the picnic and asked if I was the new rector.  He then said, ‘well, too bad I’m leaving, but that other church has the best library, and a school, and…’

So, who does dream interpretation out there?