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“… grow in holiness and purity …”
Sunday, November 26, 2017, 10:55 AM

An edifying thought for those of us who are sometimes discouraged with our church leaders. Our task as Christians: to ignore the passing storms and seek to grow in holiness and purity.

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12).

This is why the Holy Spirit apportioned the gifts, and made some apostles, others prophets, others evangelists, and others pastors and teachers: that the saints, the faithful Christians, become perfected. As in a household, honor and service are apportioned, and there is honor and service appropriate to parents, honor and service appropriate to adult sons and daughters, and honor and service appropriate to young children and servants-yet all serve together for the benefit of one another; so it is in God’s house, the Holy Church: with every honor is a corresponding service, and the services of each are beneficial to all. Thus the body of Christ, God’s Holy Church, is gradually and wisely built. Each of the faithful, assisted by the others, grows and develops as a member of this body; grows and develops in holiness and purity, and in a corresponding measure and proportion to the whole great body.

~ Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue of Ochrid (on the purpose of the apportionment of gifts, ministries and callings)

A Walk Through the Old Testament – Part Two
Saturday, November 25, 2017, 12:00 PM

A panoramic view of the Old Testament and it importance to ancient Christianity.

University of Nottingham professor Margaret Barker, past President of the Society for Old Testament Studies, has developed an approach to Biblical Studies now known as Temple Theology, which uses a wide variety of sources to trace the roots of Christian theology back to the first Temple and to illustrate how the world view, traditions, customs and symbolism of the Temple were formative influences on the development of Christianity.

A Walk Through the Old Testament – Part One
Sunday, November 19, 2017, 12:00 PM

A panoramic view of the Old Testament and it importance to ancient Christianity.

University of Nottingham professor Margaret Barker, past President of the Society for Old Testament Study, has developed an approach to Biblical Studies now known as Temple Theology, which uses a wide variety of sources to trace the roots of Christian theology back to the first Temple and to illustrate how the world view, traditions, customs and symbolism of the Temple were formative influences on the development of Christianity.

Margaret Barker Page at Amazon

Is he Joseph or is he Judah? And can we afford to evade answering the question?
Saturday, November 11, 2017, 10:05 AM

It is as old as the first book of the bible, the man who accuses the woman with whom he has acted inappropriately and the woman who falsely accuses the man. Unfortunately, our tendency is almost always to believe the man involved is Joseph, not his brother Judah, and that the woman is Potiphar’s wife, not Tamar. (See Genesis 38 and 39. It is no coincidence that these two stories are told back-to-back. Perhaps it is also not a coincidence that there are two Tamars in Scripture, one wronged by her father-in-law and one raped by her half-brother. See 2 Samuel 13.)

And, so, we are again confronted with the question: is this man Joseph or is he Judah? And in answering that question, are we allowing our biases to influence our analysis? And whatever we may believe, are we going to just ignore the problem, like King David did with his rapist son Amnon and his injured daughter Tamar? Consider the consequences of that approach. (2 Samuel 14-18.)

As a registered voter in the state of Alabama, I don’t believe I have the luxury of ignoring these questions.

October 18—St. Luke the Evangelist
Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 10:27 AM

30 03 062 c 231x300 October 18   St. Luke the Evangelist

Today the church celebrates St. Luke the Evangelist (see the St. James Calendar of the Christian Year). The artwork here is St. Luke the Evangelist from the Gospel Book of St. Augustine and was discussed in the May/June issue of Touchstone in the A Thousand Words column by Mary Elizabeth Podles.

Here are some other articles about St. Luke from the pages of Toucshtone.

Most Excellent Theophilus by Patrick Henry Reardon

The Glorious Dying of the Son: The Gospel of Luke & Jesus’ Noble Death by Peter J. Scaer

Today in Our Hearing: The Living Voice of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke by Arthur A. Just

A Chaucerian Discovery
Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 1:50 PM

Since the nineteenth century discovery of the Chronicles of William of Gloucester (1473?-1532), medievalists have suspected the received version of the Canterbury Tales is incomplete, that Chaucer composed another group of tales told by his pilgrims upon leaving Canterbury. The speculation of the existence of these stories, suppressed by the church, is based upon a curious passage in William’s MS referring to “ye Canterbury adferensyons of Geoffrey Chaucer, tayles I tell thee I was hard presed to fynd, of pilgrims that dyscovered Canterbury ful of falsnes, ye religioun of Jezebel and ye prophets of Baal.”

Recently what is believed to be one of these came to light when excavating the undercroft of an ancient church in Wales, which I have here put into modern English.

The Bishop’s Tale

There went down from Canterbury with us a holy bishop, a thin [maigre] man of grave aspect, earnest to teach us daily from the scriptures–not like our merry prelates who, with the favor of all, assure all men of heaven and God’s approval.  One night after our good bishop had closed the Holy Book on the history of Susanna, he took his turn in the round and gave us this tale:

It is said that once a group pilgrims seeking heaven together came upon a fork in the road, and called upon their elders to instruct them on which branch to take. The right branch was narrow and steep, but well worn, and had clearly been taken by most pilgrims in the past. The left branch was broader, much newer, and in many ways more easy–a gentle descent.  Most of the elders were for taking the older, narrower path, pointing out that the Pilgrims’ Guide, while not giving explicit instructions on this particular fork, seemed to favor the right path quite strongly, and that almost everyone who had gone before them had thought so as well.

The elders who favored the leftward path pointed out their Master had said “every teacher instructed in the ways of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings both the old and the new from his treasury,” so that those who favor new and different paths should not be ill-treated for that reason. They also said the new path did not differ substantially from the old, and that there were many reasons based in charity, fraternal amity, and good sense for those who chose it to take the new road.

Most significantly, they said the pilgrims on both the old and new roads could travel as one within easy sight of each other, could stop together on the common ground between them as often as they pleased, to be fortified mutually in the unity of their association. Those who favored the older path were inclined to doubt the wisdom of this, but they valued the friendship of the others so much that they cooperated in hiring a firm of Clever Men to obscure the “Which Fork?” question the elders had been asked by the people.  The Clever Men produced a very long, complex answer of four parts which, reduced to its sum, was that because parting company, as we pilgrims must sadly do each day, is unthinkable, the only solution was the one proposed by Left Fork party: the Right Fork People had to plant one foot firmly on each branch and very prayerfully move forward. After finally receiving the report of the Clever Men, the elders met to deliberate.  After their deliberation the Eldest Elder issued this letter:

Dear People:

I tell you first of all that there is a lot of bad weather about these days, and we are distressed by it.

I go on to say that at our meeting each of us shared his Fork In the Road position frankly with the rest. Because we disagree on which branch to take, our discussion was often poignant and painful, so instead of taking upon ourselves the burden of deciding which to travel, we together worked ourselves into the fog the Clever Men recommended by the well-traveled road of pious evasion—by praying and meditating mightily as though God hadn’t already told us all we needed to know to make a decision. It is hard to describe the elevated frame of mind into which this put us, but be assured our continued indecision on this matter is a very good and godly thing for which I expect you all to be grateful, and in which I expect you to cooperate. This implies, of course, that if you won’t, you’re not a good pilgrim.

Religiously Yours,

The Eldest Elder


“Now I, my children,” the sober bishop said, “think this is a very old story that has been acted many times, and am not tempted, on the strength of what the prophets have said, to believe that prayers, fastings, pilgrimages, flagellations, silence before God, or any number of pious exercises can stand in the place of simply doing what one has already been taught is right.”  And here he ended his discourse.

Robert P. George to Speak in Chicago, Oct. 20 on Religious Freedom
Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 8:34 PM

Invitation to hear Dr. Robert George on Religious Freedom

Dr. Robert George is coming to North Park University in Chicago, Illinois to speak on “Religious Freedom in the Culture Wars.” Dr. George from Princeton University is a nationally recognized authority on religious freedom in America. This includes public schools, the health care industry, business, universities, and government places of employment. The respondent is Dr. Edith Humphrey, William F. Orr Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

The audience will have an opportunity to speak with Dr. George, so bring your questions and concerns with you. The event is made possible by the generosity of the John C. Kulis Foundation and is offered free of charge. Please invite school teachers, nurses, business owners, employees, doctors, government workers, and others. The event seeks to strengthen the faith of Christians in the Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant communities.

Please reserve Friday, October, 20th, 2017 (7:30pm–9:30pm) for this second annual Engaging Orthodoxy speakers’ series. No charge.

RSVP here to let us know you are coming.

Join Touchstone for “Good Cheer” Conference – Friday Evening is Free
Monday, October 9, 2017, 1:14 PM

Join 10 speakers on the theme: “Be of Good Cheer: In the Company of Christ & the Great Cloud of Witnesses,” this Thursday evening, October 12 through Saturday noon, October 14. Only $40 for general registration (includes 2 meals), $10 (no meals), and Friday Evening’s special presentation on The New Martyrs and Confessor of Russia in the 20th Century is free and open to the public. Please register for all sessions here.

The conference is on the campus of Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois.


Society of Friends
Monday, October 9, 2017, 10:21 AM

IMG 3441 225x300 Society of FriendsI think I have purchased every under-$25 copy of  Cold Friday by Whittaker Chambers on the internet.  I use one for underlining and margin notes.  Another I keep clean as a backup.  The rest are future gifts for those I deem worthy.

As far as I know, I’ve read just about everything Chambers wrote and I can’t recall any laugh-out-loud moments.  But then this morning I read this:

P.S. For no better reason than the fact that I was reminded of it last night, let me close with an irrelevant story which I find amusing. After the Hiss trials, I attended my first Quaker meeting in two years. I found myself the only man in a group of women Friends.We sat as usual in a circle. Facing me was Mrs. XXX who might have modeled for one of the Helen Hokinson ladies.  For an hour, the silence was total, rather than rewarding.  Mrs. XXX herself ended it.  Emerging from the mystic depths, she glanced across at me and asked: “Does thee feel that Dean Acheson must go?”

“Modern Martyrs” This Saturday at St. Vladimir’s
Thursday, October 5, 2017, 8:39 AM

For those living in the New York City area (or beyond), a special conference on Modern Martyrs is being held this SATURDAY OCTOBER 7 at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. I truly wish I could be there!

I am busy preparing for Touchstone‘s 2018 Annual Conference, “Be of Good Cheer: In the Company of Christ & the Great Cloud of Witnesses,” which begins next Thursday Evening, October 12, and runs through noon Saturday, October 14. Friday evening will be dedicated to the Russian New Martyrs of the Soviet Union, with a presentation from faculty of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University in Moscow. I hope to see you at any one of the sessions! But if you can’t make it, do check out the conference on Modern Martyrs at St. Vladimir’s.

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