bombarded by futher logos orthodoxy

Booting up my laptop this morning I was pleasantly surprised by a 200+ MB download when I opened Logos Bible Study Software. One of my pre-ordered packs came in with a giant slab of Orthodox Literature. This was one of the more expensive packs I have bought, around $230 USD, however it included 32 books from Ancient Faith Publishing (previously concilliar press).

I probably own close to half of these in paper format already, but having them inside Logos, added to my collections list searchable across key resources, and with links to scriptural references.

Now I have a little bit of fun adding the myriad of new “toys” to the right collections. It is a better problem to have than not having the data in the first place 😉

I am now looking forward to the other pre-orders that I have placed back in time including works of St John of Kronstadt, The Rudder, Octoechos and much more.

As mentioned in a previous post, keep an eye on the twitter feed @LogosOrthodox for more information. I heard on Ancient Faith Radio a few weeks ago that Logos has employed someone specifically to managed the Orthodox requirements for their system so that is great news indeed. This with more and more evangelicals looking into Church History and the Church Fathers gives us greater and more systematic access for research, study and contemplation.

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amongst the bees

As part of her recent speaking tour of Australia, Frederica Matthews-Green visited Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Monastery, Bombala. She has recorded an interview with Father Marcarius talking about the Monastery and his journey to Orthodoxy and monasticism.

You can find the interview here on Ancient Faith Radio.

new AFR app

Ancient Faith Radio have released an improved mobile app for listening to their radio streams. In April this year when they updated their streams the previous app stopped working and I wrote a note to them asking “Wasssup”. It was a very simple app, but it worked (simple + work = I like).

Their Operations Manager, Bobby Maddex kindly wrote me back “The good news is that we already have a new app in development that will allow you to stream the stations, play
the podcasts, and more. Look for it later this spring”.

Well, here it is!

The app gives the usual access to the “Talk” and “Music” stations, along with access to the podcasts and specials.


Not only listening but the app allows you to share what you have enjoyed via email, Twitter or Facebook. It is up and running on all my iOS devices now and I will follow up with info after a few days of pounding. For those who are Android owners, there is a version there also.

You can access the download page for iOS and Android here.

one hour, one word

As mentioned here recently I have been listening intently to the Podcast “Worship in Spirit and Truth” by Father Tom Hopko. The latest episode takes a lengthy look at a single word “Amen“.

All giggles aside regarding the hour spent on a single word, Father Tom takes a number of interesting tangents on his journey in this episode. The importance of the “Amen” in corporate worship, particularly the Divine Liturgy is spelled out over a number of minutes. Many people are not aware that the Divine Liturgy should not occur without a congregation in place, or at least invited (by the doors of the church being open). As Father Tom says “And therefore it shows that the clergy or a priest or a bishop cannot celebrate the Liturgy, or any liturgical office for that matter, without the people being there to say Amen. Otherwise, it’s not a liturgical service. Now perhaps, not only a bishop or a priest but any one of us might be home all alone, and it might be that the church is having Vespers, so we might take out our Vespers book at home and pray along the prayers that are said liturgically in church; in the gathering; in the assembly. We may say them home alone. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. And when we are saying it, we would even say the Amen to what we ourselves have prayed.”

There is much discussion also regarding our ability, or in some instances lack of ability to say “Amen” to the service. Fr Tom talks much about the language of the Liturgy, raising concern not only at the use of foreign languages in english speaking countries, or older versions of the language (ancient greek or slavonic) but even Old English as an impediment to the faith.

If the celebrant turns to the people and says, “Peace be to you,” how can a person who doesn’t know what, “Peace be to you means,” say back to the priest, “And to your spirit too.” Now, we may know it by looking at a book, but you’ve got to have some understanding. Now, this also applies to the kind of language that we use; not only that it would not be the common language of the person praying, but perhaps it would be that language but in such an ancient form that the people couldn’t understand it.

For example, a person may speak modern Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, or Bulgarian, but they go to a service in Old Church Slavonic, and they can’t understand it. That’s why in Bulgaria and Serbia, they’re now using modern Serbian and modern Bulgarian, and in Ukrainian, they’re using modern Ukrainian, because the people understand it. The people have to understand it.

Worship in Spirit and Truth

This is the part where I began to bite my tongue, as honestly we need to address the issue of language in our parishes. I love the poetry of Slavonic, and do serve as a Deacon mostly in Slavonic, but it is an impediment to many people. Also, I stood at the back of the church reading a bilingual service book for years before I felt comfortable that I knew what was going on. Not the most accessible.

The majority of the fixed portions of the service can be learned, but “Suppose there are hymns, Troparia, and Kontakia sung that you only hear once or twice a year. People can have not the foggiest idea of what is being said, because it’s a Slavic language but they don’t understand it, because it’s so ancient. It’s so primitive.”

I have many ideas, not necessarily answers. Perhaps less familiar readings (during vespers if prescribed from the Old Testament, or much of the Canons of the saints in Matins) should be in Russian or English (talking from an Australian context with Russian and English speaking congregations).

Anyway, there is much food for thought in this one. The podcast link is above and there is a full transcript available there also.

should we worry about the equality waffle?

Last night I listened to an interesting new perspective on the “marriage equality debate” mentioned in my posts here and here. The forum was the live call-in program on Ancient Faith Radio, Ancient Faith Today, hosted by Kevin Allen. His guests were Father John Whiteford, an American priest from our jurisdiction and Dr David Dunn, a lay theologian. The topic for the program was Same-Sex Marriage: Separation of Church-State Issue, or a Moral Problem We Must Oppose?.

Dr Dunn has come under fire for his article here where he seems to propose that a civil marriages are not the same as Church Sacramental Marriages and therefore, well, kinda “Why me worry?”.

I encourage you all to listen to this discussion as it outlines the difficulty of dealing with the sudden onslaught of tolerance related injuries to our faith, while still maintaining the love of Christ that is required of us. There was a typical US flavour to all this given the separation of Church & State built into the constitution over there.

Father John put some very interesting points across, respectfully so but firmly. I found Dr Dunn to be overly flexible in his responses which, in my opinion, left things open to an influx of jabber at times.

It seems to all boil down to whether we think it is the Churches mandate to take a stand at the changing of this definition, even if we may not have to adhere to it “inside the dome”.

There are already examples where, in places where same-sex marriage has been legalised, Churches have faced discrimination on the reverse because of their belief in the definition of marriage created by God. In some Euro countries it looks to become illegal to not marry a gay couple, and in Canada Churches have been restricted from renting hall space if they refuse to rent it out to gay wedding receptions.

The wobbly army of tolerance again marches forward to a theatre near you.

Listen to this, it is coming here soon.

bringing Jesus to the desert

Bringing Jesus to the Desert (Ancient Context, Ancient Faith) by Brad Nassif & Gary M. Burge

I must admit I was a little apprehensive when it came to dropping this one on the Kindle. I have listened to Dr Nassif on AFR and was happy from that perspective but it was included in an Evangelical Protestant book series put out by Zondervan Publishing. The apprehension came from feeling that some things would be held back in editing to dull the message for an audience less accustomed to the ascetic life.

Whether or not there was any chopping for the audience I was quite impressed at the result. This is by no means and exhaustive treatise on the Desert Fathers, it is an introductory text; but a better one than many I have in my bookshelf. While introductory and high level it walks through sharing with us the existence of these prayerful men and women of the early church and gives an understanding of their times, their struggles and their faith.

There are short extracts from the lives of these holy people, such as one of my old favourites where a Monk teaches another Monk humility by asking him to praise and chastise the dead and consider their response. Although hearing this quoted by many I did not know until this review that it should be attributed to St Marcarius.

Throughout the book the Authors also include hints and expansions on how we can take lessons from the desert, even without a leaning towards the monastic life, such as –

“To be sure, without spiritual purpose, work can make us despondent. Our routines can turn into cruel drudgery. But if we add Christlike purpose to our work, we can transform our daily routines into a spiritual cause. The salesperson will view their customer’s problems as a spiritual opportunity to cultivate a servant’s heart; a nurse’s obedience to a doctor’s request will become an exercise in meekness; writing “thank you” notes to former customers can create a deeper level of humility; correcting an error at work can foster the spiritual quality of repentance. If we contemplate the spiritual side of labor, we will come to understand that our work is not just a place where we till the soil; it is also where the soil tills us!”

For the audience not familiar with the ascetic life, there is a recurrent theme throughout the book fuelled by Dr Nassif’s life, of how the experience of the eastern family structure and everyday life affected how these early Christians lived and worshipped.

In conclusion, this book is a great introduction to the ascetic life and a number of significant examples of desert holiness. Brining Jesus is not difficult to read and I would even consider it as a present for non-Orthodox friends to share the monastic qualities with them. Now added to my eBook list here.

explaining the Liturgy (eventually)

Fort the last few months I have been listening to the podcast “Worship in Spirit and Truth” by Fr Thomas Hopko. This is a very detailed look at the Orthodox Divine Liturgy from the very origins of worship in the Old an New Testaments through to a line by line review of the text itself. It is by no means finished, and will unlikely be for some time (more fodder for the iPhone!!!). In fact I heard Fr Thomas on a recording of a lecture series joke at it’s length recently. Seriously, we are at episode 32 and have just started the opening audible words of the Priest at it’s beginning “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages”.

Fr Tom does take delightful tangents in many of his talks and podcasts, but this is one of the points I like about his style; they make take different roads but are always entertaining. Are all the pieces of information vital to our knowledge and Salvation?; perhaps not but they will not hurt either. I remember listening to the podcasts on the vesting of the Priest and Deacon – a process that takes me around 10 minutes including the careful reading of the vesting prayers. I was aware of the scriptural references in the prayers, but not to the fullest extent. I will say, however, that I did find the seven, almost hour long podcasts a little much; but the origins of the vestments and the prayers are no longer a mystery to me.

To pick favourites in this series is a little hard to do, and your interests may vary. I found the discussion of the importance in the role of the Laity spelled out in “As Clergy And Laity” very insightful, and in “Practical Preparations For Liturgy” an insightful examination of how and why things need to be in order to begin this Divine Service a solid wake up call for all Orthodox Christians. Highly Recommended.

Worship in Spirit and Truth

P.S – It may just be a coincidence but one could be mistaken that Father Thomas Hopko and Presvytera and Dr. Jeannie Constantinou are engaged in a reverse race to their respective destinations. Presvytera Jeannie is currently at episode 130 of Search the Scriptures, her introduction to the Bible. Episode 130 finds us in Isaiah as an opening look at the Prophets of the Old Testament. All in good jest, I have both of these series on my iPhone as well.