Episcopal Bloggingheads

December 25, 2008

It is soooo tempting to comment on this, but it’s Christmas so I’ll leave that to any reader who wishes.

I can’t seem to embed the video for some reason, but it’s here.

Warning: it’s forty-seven minutes long.

I must say, I find the comments (thus far) on the bloggingheads.tv site singularly ignorant and unhelpful.


“A newborn babe, the God before time.”

December 23, 2008

Icon Christmas

The Virgin today gives birth to the superessential One,
And the earth proffers the cave to the unapproachable One.
Angels with the shepherds sing songs of praise;
The Magi, with the star to guide pursue their way.
For to us has been born
A newborn babe, the God before time.

Bethlehem opened Eden, come let us behold;
We have found joy in this hidden place, come let us seize
The pleasures of Paradise within the cave;
There appeared an unwatered root which sprouted forgiveness;
There was found an undug well
From which David once yearned to drink;
And there the Virgin brought forth an infant
Who at once quenched their thirst, that of Adam and of David.
Come, then, let us hasten to this place where there has been born
A newborn babe, the God before time.

The father became of His own will the son of his mother,
The Savior of children lay as a child in the manger.
His mother looked down at Him and said:
“Tell me, my child, how the seed was planted in me and how it grew in me?
I behold thee, merciful One, and am amazed
That I, who am unwed, nurse Thee;
And though I see Thee in swaddling clothes, still I behold
My virginity untouched,
for Thou hast preserved it, and yet consented to be born
A newborn babe, the God before time.

“Exalted King, what hast Thou to do with lowly ones?
Creator of Heaven, why hast Thou come to men on earth?
Didst Thou long for the cave, or joy in the manger?
Lo, there is no place, for Thy handmaiden at the inn;
There is no place, not even a cave,
Since that, too, belongs to another.
On Sarah, as she was to bring forth a child,
Was bestowed a great inheritance of land, but to me,
Not even a den.
I made use of the cave in which Thou didst will to dwell as
A newborn babe, the God before time.

While she was pondering these things in secret,
And entreating Him who has knowledge of all secret things,
She hears the Magi who are seeking the child.
Straightway, the maiden called out to them: “Who are you?”
And they to her: “Who art thou
Who hast produced and brought forth such an One?
Who, thy father? Who, thy mother?
For thou hast become the mother and nurse of a fatherless son.
It was His star that we saw when we came to behold
A newborn babe, the God before time.

“Clearly did Balaam reveal to us
The meaning of the words which were prophesied,
Saying that a star would rise up,
A star which would dim all prophecies and divinations,
A star to destroy the parables of the wise,
Their teachings and their enigmas,
A star much brighter than this star which just appeared.
For he is the maker of stars,
About whom it was written: ‘From Jacob shall rise up
A newborn babe, the God before time.'”

— from Romanos the Melodist (6th c.), Kontakion “On the Nativity I (Mary and the Magi),” trans. Marjorie Carpenter

The only thing I have to say on this blog about Barack Obama, Rick Warren, and the inaugural invocation

December 20, 2008

“Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together.”

Edmund Burke

The Church in Chelyabinsk

December 18, 2008

For those who follow things Russian, NPR has recently been broadcasting a series of reports on life in Chelyabinsk, a central Russian city she has recently revisited after several years. Her specific report on the Russian Orthodox Church in Chelyabinsk is here. (Click on the “listen now” line near the top to actually hear the report.) Nothing surprising to those of us who take an interest in such things, but interesting nonetheless.

I have mixed feelings about this piece and its depiction of the Russian Orthodox Church, but I’ll keep them to myself. I’d be interested in any else’s thoughts, though.

(You can also use the link above to find the other reports in the series.)

Advent and a Christmas Memory

December 15, 2008

More to come soon. Meanwhile, in the spirit of the season, I offer links to past posts here and here.

“We enter the main door of the Church through the tradition of the Lord”

December 11, 2008

They, then, who engage in impious words and introduce them to others, and make no good use, but an utterly wrong use, of the divine words, such men “neither enter themselves into the kingdom of God, nor permit” those whom they have deceived to attain to the truth. Nay, they have not even got the key of the door themselves, but only a false or, as it is commonly called, a skeleton key, which does not enable them to throw open the main door, and enter, as we do, through the tradition of the Lord; but they cut a side door and break secretly through the wall of the Church; and so overstepping the bounds of truth, they initiate the soul of the impious into their mysteries. For it needs no long discourse to prove that the merely human assemblies which they have instituted were later in time that the Catholic Church . . .

Such being the case, it is evident that these later heresies and those which are still more recent are spurious innovations on the oldest and truest Church. From what has been said I think it has been made plain that unity is a characteristic of the true, the really ancient Church, into which those that are righteous according to the divine purpose are enrolled . . .

St. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 7.106-107 (c. 200 AD)

“They oppose divine tradition to establish their heresy”

December 7, 2008

For there are some who absolutely refuse to give ear to those who urge them to seek the truth: aye, and they aim at smartness, pouring out blasphemous words against the truth, while they credit themselves with the possession of the highest knowledge, though they have not learnt or sought or laboured or discovered the harmony of truth—men who excite our pity rather than our hate for such perverseness. But if anyone is still curable, able to endure the plain-speaking of the truth, when it burns and cuts away their false opinions, like the cautery or the knife, let him lend an attentive ear. And this will be so unless, in their slothfulness, they thrust away the truth, or through ambition press after novelties. For those are slothful who, having it in their power to provide the fitting proofs for the Divine Scriptures from the Scriptures themselves, nevertheless select what is exclusively favourable to their own pleasures; and those are ambitious who, of set purpose, explain away by other spurious arguments the beliefs wich attach to the inspired words, beliefs handed down by the blessed apostles and teachers, and thus oppose divine tradition with human doctrines in order to establish their heresy.

St. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 7.103 (c. 200 AD)

“The lover of truth needs energy of soul”

December 3, 2008

And though all men have the same faculty of judgement, some find their grounds for belief in following the dictates of reason, while others surrendur themselves to pleasure and wrest the Scripture to suit their desires. But, methinks, the lover of truth needs energy of soul; for they who set themselves to the greatest tasks must meet the greatest disasters, unless they have received the canon of the truth from the truth itself. And such persons, having fallen away from the right path, generally go wrong in particulars also, as might be expected, because they have no criterion of truth and falsehood accurately trained to make the right choice. Otherwise they would have believed the divine Scriptures.

As if, then, one were to become a beast instead of a man, like those who were changed by Circe’s drugs, so is it with him who has spurned the tradition of the Church and has suddenly taken up with the fancies of human sects; he has lost the character of a man of God, and of enduring trust in the Lord. But he who has returned from this deceit, after hearing the Scriptures, and has turned his life to the truth, such an one becomes in the end as it were a god instead of a man.

Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 7.94-95 (c. 200 AD)

Rechtgläubiges Deutschland im Altertum usw.

July 17, 2008


I am currently in Germany, near Bonn, teaching a course on late antiquity. Late Roman history in Germany, you wonder? Actually, there’s quite a bit here to explore for those of us with an interest in early Christianity and the later Roman Empire.

Alas, responsibilities still do not permit me to write at length–but I thought readers might be intrigued by the above photo, taken from the back of the Bonn Münster. The huge heads represent two Diocletianic martyrs, Cassius and Florentius, whose relics lie beneath the church. The story of the Theban Legion may be largely legendary, but it has left its traces all along the Rhineland, from St. Victor in Xanten to St. Gereon of Köln, not to mention the highly-improbable-but-still-widely-venerated St. Ursula in Köln.


As I was waiting at the airport for my flight to Germany, I encountered a friend from a nearby parish who was on her way to . . . GAFCON! Perhaps the coincidence was part of what snapped me out of my blogger’s block. I hope to have a chance to chat with her when I get home and get a first-hand account.

Meantime, I fear that any comment I make on it or the approaching fiasco at Lambeth will too brief or uninformed to make it worth the reader’s while. I only note that, according to Fr. Robert Hart at The Continuum, at least one bishop at GAFCON is reported to have said, in defense of the “ordination” of women, that “it is not a sin to be a woman.”

Sigh. Is it really necessary to point out yet again how foolish this is? One of the reasons I became so discouraged with writing is because it seems that so many people are incapable of seeing the basic illogic in so much of what passes for “orthodoxy” in Anglicanism these days. Whether it is revisionists crying ‘donatism’ or “orthodox” evangelicals defending WO, all seem caught up in slogans that will not hold up on examination or circles of contradiction from which they cannot break free.


Meanwhile, there seem to still be those who believe that there is some sort of future for “orthodox” Anglicans in ECUSA. William Tighe has brought to my attention another effort to make this case, as well as the gentle but clear repudiation of any such illusions by Fr Al Kimel. Whatever the faults of GAFCON, they seem to understand that much, at least.


Enough. I have exams to grade and a trip to Aachen for which to prepare. Bis später . . .

Still Here

July 9, 2008

I have obviously not been posting much lately.  In fact, I have not posted anything for three months.

There are several reasons for this, but I will not go into them now.  Eventually, I will write something about what led to this sudden and lengthy break.  However, I am presently abroad, working this summer in Germany, and find that, now that my inclination to blog is beginning to rise again, I have in truth even less time to do so than I had when circumstances led me to suspend posting.  I will return to the US of A at the end of July and plan to resume writing.  Perhaps I can even squeeze off a post or two this month.  We’ll see.  In the meantime, if you’ve been wondering, I’m still here . . .