Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Real St. Nicholas

On Christmas day, a new motion picture trailer for the upcoming movie on St. Nicholas of Myra (the "real Santa Claus") was released. Watch the trailer (small, medium, or large format) on the St. Nicholas of Myra movie website.

For information on the life of St. Nicholas, visit the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America or Orthodoxwiki.

(The photo is in the public domain.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

To find out about the place where Christ was born, read In a Bethlehem Cave.

Go to the Greek Archdiocese or Antiochian Archdiocese websites to learn about the meaning of the icon of the Holy Nativity.

You may listen to Frederica Mathewes-Green read the Kontakion of the Nativity or read selections from ancient sermons for yourself. (These resources and others are found at the Antiochian Archdiocese website). You may also read St. Ephrem the Syrian's Hymns on the Nativity. All of these texts express the true meaning of Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Orthodox Study Bible

The complete Orthodox Study Bible is set for release this February (2008). Visit the Orthodox Study Bible website for information on the project, articles, features, and sample pages.

Significant features of the Orthodox Study Bible include a translation of the Septuagint, the version of the Old Testament used by the early Church, and commentary from the ancient Fathers of the Church. The notes in the OSB help the reader understand the Scriptural text in the proper context of the ancient Church who wrote, compiled, and has preserved the Holy Scripture.

To hear about the significance of the Orthodox Study Bible, listen to a great interview on Ancient Faith Radio.

The Orthodox Study Bible can be pre-ordered from the OSB site or from A flier on the OSB with order information is also available.

(The photo has been taken from the Conciliar Press website.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

An Atheist on Secular Humanism & Art

In a recent article on, entitled "Dogma Days," Camille Paglia, an atheist, wrote,
"In my lecture on religion and the arts in America earlier this year at Colorado College, I argued that secular humanism has failed, that the avant-garde is dead, and that liberals must start acknowledging the impoverished culture that my 1960s generation has left to the young. Atheism alone is a rotting corpse. I substitute art and nature for God -- the grandeur of man and the vast mystery of the universe."

Ms. Paglia sees the effects of secular humanism on our culture. Unfortunately, substituting art and the created cosmos for the Creator isn't an adequate response to the problems of either false religion or secular humanism. I'm reminded of a passage from the Wisdom of Solomon:

For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator. Yet these people are little to be blamed, for perhaps they go astray while seeking God and desiring to find him. For while they live among his works, they keep searching, and they trust in what they see, because the things that are seen are beautiful. Yet again, not even they are to be excused; for if they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world, how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things? (13.7-9, NRSV)

The secular humanism in our culture that has called for the removal of religion from public life and public education has failed, but the antidote to this failure is not to embrace all religions as though they are equally true and valuable. While we can acknowledge a seed of truth in other religions, we can only experience the depth of Beauty, discover the reality to which art and nature point, and embody the fullness of human meaning and purpose by embracing the One who made all things and by following the path He has laid before us. This is the God and the way of life revealed to us in the Holy Icons.

Camille Paglia makes some interesting observations worth considering from an Orthodox perspective. (Also check out her article on "Religion and Arts in America," published in Arion: A Journal of the Humanities and the Classics.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Parents, Children, and the Environment

"Meet the women who won't have babies - because they're not eco friendly," reads a headline in the UK's Daily Mail. This article shows how warped the secular understanding of the world can be and its tragic effect on human life.

Memorable quotes include:

“Having children is selfish. It's all about maintaining your genetic line at the expense of the planet."

"Every person who is born uses more food, more water, more land, more fossil fuels, more trees and produces more rubbish, more pollution, more greenhouse gases, and adds to the problem of over-population."

"I realised then that a baby would pollute the planet - and that never having a child was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do."

The views in the article show a significant misunderstanding about what it means to be human. By living the Orthodox way of life we know (experiential knowledge, not just intellectual knowledge) the nature of the creation and our place within it. As human beings we are part of the creation, the cosmic ecosystem, but we are not just a part of it, we are the center of it. This doesn't mean that the world is here for us to destroy. Instead, we were intended to be its benevolent caretakers, knowing the true significance of each aspect of creation and using everything according to its purpose for good. To live according to our calling is to be a true spiritual environmentalist, motivated by love. Secular environmentalists encourage actions, like the individual recycling of trash or national reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, to improve the environment. We know, however, that the way to transfigure the creation around us begins with the purification of the inner heart. (Inner purity produces outer action.)

As we dragged the world down with us through our Fall, we participate in the renewal of creation through our own participation in God, who fills all creation and in whom the whole universe is contained. This personal and cosmic renewal requires one to do something many environmentalists are unwilling to do: repent. Repentence means personally turning away from self-centeredness, self-justification, and confusion to embrace the living Creator God Himself. Self-confident spiritual ignorance mixed with delusional pride can result in chaos and death, spiritual death and, as the article makes clear, even the death of an innocent, unborn child.

I wish all those influenced by secular ideologies would take the time to know the truth revealed in the icon of the Holy Nativity: The One through whom all things came into being humbly lays as a newborn infant in the feeding trough of animals within an earthy cave. Next to Him is His mother, an image of perfect faith and selfless love, who is honored above all other people and even above the angelic Cherubim and Seraphim. If the men and women of secular culture knew this woman and, most importantly, her Son, their perspectives on family, children, and the world would be dramatically altered and their lives would be radically transformed.

After you read the original article, check out this response on the Philadelphia Inquirer website (Nov. 29, 2007).