I write these columns for the Hill Country News along with several other local clergymen. All of my fellow columnists are good guys, but I’m especially fond of Chuck Robison, because almost all of his articles are filled with references to things like “quantum convergences” and “radionic chakras” (OK, I don’t think he’s ever actually written about radionic chakras, but I bet you that someday he will). He produces the sort of pieces I think Hunter S. Thompson would have churned out if he had lived long enough to get religion. However, as much as I enjoy Chuck’s style, I’m going to have to take issue with the column he wrote for the June 20 issue of the paper. In that article, Chuck made a pretty standard case for abortion, but, to round off his argument, he offered a proposal for how Christian communities might approach the whole issue.
Game of Thrones is a phenomenon; there's no doubt on that score. I mean,it has even achieved the much-coveted Acronym Status: all you have to say is GOT, and everyone knows what you're talking about. I didn't look up any of the actual metrics, but the show is now being regularly referred to as the most-watched series in the history of broadcasting. However, if that is true, I can't help but wonder what that says about our culture.
For this roundtable, Scott the Editor wants us to explain why Easter is more significant than other Christian holidays. In Holy Orthodoxy, Easter is the most basic Christian holiday. That’s because, on Easter, we celebrate the central event in the salvation of this world: the Resurrection of Christ Jesus. And since the Resurrection is so fundamental to the Faith, we actually celebrate it each and every Sunday of the year.
This coming Sunday, March 17, is St Patrick’s Day, and, if you have been cruising social media for ‘Things to Do on St Patrick’s Day’ then you know that there is a lot going on this weekend. You can listen to Irish music and eat Irish food and drink Irish beer and watch Irish dancing. You can wear one of those silly green hats, and you can even get a shamrock tattoo. But I’d like to make a suggestion that isn’t going to show up on YouTube, WhatsApp, Twitter, or Instagram.
You can go to Church.
That’s right. Church. St Patrick is famous for a lot of things, but what was most important to him was connecting people with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. For St Patrick, Church was the main place that connection happens, and, since that’s still the case today, if you want to really honor the Apostle to the Irish, the very best way you can do that is by going to Church.
In this roundtable, Scott wants us to discuss whether religious organizations should be tax-exempt. The idea must be gaining some traction, because Scott’s predecessor at The Hill Country News had us write about this same topic about a year and a half ago.
My views on the subject haven’t changed in the last eighteen months: we live in a representative democracy, and if folks decide that religious organizations should pay taxes, then my congregation will start sending in the required funds. Nevertheless, I think there are a couple of important points that are often overlooked in this discussion.
From time to time, folks will ask me, “Do the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit really speak to us?” And when I assure them that the Most Holy Trinity does, indeed, communicate with us, the next question is always some version of this: “Well, how do you hear the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?”
Listening to the Most Holy Trinity is a skill, and, like any other skill, it can be learned. But there are two dimensions to this particular skill set: If you want to communicate with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the first thing you have to do is learn how to be quiet; the second thing you have to is learn the language of poetry.
Editor Scott Coleman wants to know what the Christmas Season means to me. The best way I can express that is by telling you what I’m going to be doing on the morning of Wednesday, December 26.
Like all Orthodox priests, I go to work on Christmas Day, but on the Day After Christmas, I get up while everyone else is still asleep. I go into the kitchen; I fire up the oven and one of the burners on the stove; I pull a cookie sheet and a frying pan out of the cabinets, then I reach into the refrigerator and get a pound of thick-sliced, super-smoked applewood-seasoned bacon, a tube of those ready-made biscuits, and a big tub of butter.
“Fact is, I had no reason to do it, and I just thought…(expletive deleted), life is boring so why not?”
That’s what the 1000 Oaks shooter posted on Instagram, when he paused in the midst of his stunning crime. The twenty-eight year old had already killed eleven people; he would go on to gun down a policeman and then take his own life.
We used to spend a good deal of time and energy wondering why someone would do something so terrible. We don’t do that much anymore, and that may be a sign that we’re actually getting used to this kind of random violence.
I finally figured it out. Y’know how a lot of times one person will remind you of someone else, but you just can’t quite put your finger on who that someone else is? That’s the way it’s been with me and our current president, Donald Trump. Of course, The Donald has been around for a long time. I never paid much attention to him until he started his presidential campaign; however, ever since then, I’ve been dogged by the thought that he just reminds me of someone else.
This time around Editor Scott Coleman wants to know whether the perspective of ‘once saved, always saved’ can be reconciled with the belief that we must repent and seek forgiveness on a regular basis. This is an issue that Protestants have been arguing about ever since that movement first got started 500 years ago.