Problems with Talking to the Rider

Ritual is a great way to train the elephant!

In a previous post, I shared the strong finding from psychology that many of our moral decisions are made pre-cognitively (i.e. by the elephant), with the active mind (i.e. the rider) pretending to play the role of objective and pious investigator but actually playing the role of marketing guy for the decision the gut had already made.  Now I want to start thinking about some of the implications of this finding for ministry. Instincts are powerful things, but they are simple.  An instinct that is useful in one situation can be destructive in another.  Instincts like loyalty and deference to authority are wonderful when directed at God and the Orthodox Church... less so when directed towards a totalitarian state or … [Continue reading]

Becoming a Peacemaker

How can I become a Peacemaker?  Come, ye children, hearken unto me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.What man is he that desireth life, that loveth to see good days?Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.Turn away from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. (Psalm 33: 11-14)  King David was a great warrior.  He killed the giant goliath in single-handed combat and led God’s people to countless victories.  He was also a man of God and a prophet, the man God anointed  (Christ in Greek; Messiah in Hebrew) to lead His people after King Saul turned his back on Him.  The Holy Spirit empowered David to give voice to mankind’s greatest longings and fears and prophesy God’s teachings on how to live well and the … [Continue reading]

Homily on St. John of the Ladder

Every Sunday of Great Lent is dedicated to person or event, with the sequence of these commemorations designed to prepare us for a deeper participation in Christ’s passion and resurrection.  This Sunday is dedicated to the life and work of St. John … [Continue reading]

A Plea for Pastoral Gentleness

Eko using his "Jesus Stick" (from "Lost").

Thoughts on the calling of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew Matthew was a tax collector.  When Jesus gave him the invitation to “follow me”, he responded with hospitality.  He opened his house to the Lord, his disciples, fellow tax … [Continue reading]

Homily on the Cross (notes)

St. Mark 8:34-9:1 Context:  Christ has told his disciples about his coming passion.  Peter rejected it; and Christ widened the coming persecution to include Himself.  He had done this in his greatest homily saying “Blessed are you, when people … [Continue reading]

The Challenge of Post-Hoc Moral Decision Making


The Rational Decision-makerIn the post-enlightenment west, we have this idea that man is rational; that when he approaches a decision, he gathers the available data, calculates the costs and benefits of each alternative, and selects the one that he … [Continue reading]

Homily on St. Gregory Palamas (notes)

What God do you meet in those moments of transcendence? Humans are built with the ability to enjoy and bask in the glory of God (brief warmth of sun after a long winter) Was meant to be a permanent reality; but we chose another way But we still … [Continue reading]

Homily for the Sunday of Orthodoxy: Extreme Orthodoxy (notes)

A Note on Extremism Extremism is the only way to become perfect in God  Extremism?  Yeah it can be dangerous That’s why we’d better get it right What does Extreme Christianity look like? Orthodoxy!  But what does that mean? Danger of … [Continue reading]

The Triumph of True-Worship and Defeat of Iconoclasm (and why it matters)

The Triumph of True-Worship and Defeat of Iconoclasm (and why it matters)A Homily on the First Sunday of Lent: the Triumph of Orthodoxy  Note about length of services. This is traditionally a time of catechetical instruction, so sermons may be … [Continue reading]

What is a “Peacemaker”? A Reflection

Then Jesus Christ said; “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (St. Matthew 5:9) We sing this every Sunday as part of the Beatitudes (sung during the Little Entrance, when the clergy process to the Holy Doors … [Continue reading]