20 Nov 2020

Infinite Human Desire: The Afterlife of The Good Place as Affirmation of Christian Hope

Image: The Good Place promotional material, Fair Use. Since I’m usually around a year behind popular culture (if not more), I only recently watched the final season of The Good Place. I’ll go ahead and show my hand immediately—I love the show and equally loved the final season. Often described by Marc Evan Jackson—the actor who plays Shawn on the show and the host of The Good Place The Podcast—as the smartest, while simultaneously dumbest,

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04 Nov 2020

Divisiveness on Conciliar Post

We live in a divisive time. As I write these words, the outcome of America’s presidential election is uncertain (and may remain so for some time). Regardless of the result, it will leave many unsatisfied and will further foment tension. Now is a fitting time to remind ourselves that, at Conciliar Post, our mission is to facilitate meaningful dialogue across Christian traditions. This is becoming more and more difficult. The reality is that our own

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07 Aug 2020

What’s Worse Than the Devil You Know?

One of my favorite movie characters is Gus Portokalos, the patriarch in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Gus’s defining characteristic is his extreme devotion to his homeland, which is summed up in his famous line: “There are two kinds of people in this world: Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek.” I love this joke because it perfectly encapsulates one of the essential characteristics of the human condition: we view the world as

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17 Jul 2020

Covenant, Ascesis, and the Wedding Industrial Complex: Confessions of a #COVIDBride

I’ve attended a dozen weddings over the past decade. I’ve been a bridesmaid five times (and a grooms-maid once), so if there is a trend in modern weddings, I’ve probably seen it. Before I started planning my own wedding, I was frequently judgmental of the large, ostentatious weddings with six-figure price tags. When Joshua and I got engaged last October, we knew we wanted what I called an “overtly religious high-church wedding.” I was more

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06 Mar 2019

Compendium of Round Table Responses

Below, you can find an up-to-date catalog of my responses to various Conciliar Post Round Tables, as well as links to where they originally appeared. I pray that these thoughts will be helpful to some, and will encourage all to delve further into the mysteries of faith. September, 2019: The Knowability of God “[The LORD] made darkness his covering around him…” –Ps 18:11 Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of discursive practice in Christian theology:

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14 Dec 2018

The Splendor of Light

If I may approach the subject of sacred music without diving into the worship wars, a recent time of personal devotion reminded me of one of the aspects of worship music I particularly appreciate. That is, songs which tickle my brain, allowing me to continue pondering God’s nature after the music has stopped, the service is over, and I am back into the grind of the everyday week. One such song is the hymn Immortal

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08 Aug 2018

We Have A Secret

We have a secret   A secret that energizes us A secret that enables us A secret that brings us joy   That secret is: God is A community of divine Persons   One in love One in purpose Drawing all to Beauty   All is chaos outside this Order All is in fluctuation outside this Stability All is changing outside this Being   We have a secret   It connects us It creates a

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18 Jul 2018

Why Is Christian Liturgy So Repetitive? An Insight from Derrida

Christian liturgy involves cycles of repetition. We have recurring liturgical calendars, weekly gatherings of worship, the Eucharist, and the recitation of important prayers. The repetitive nature of Christian worship is, in my experience, one of its greatest strengths. It is through such liturgical repetition that we engage in disciplined spiritual formation, remind ourselves of the gospel, and actively engage in historic practices of the Church. But what is happening when we engage in these repetitive

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14 May 2018

Theology, Sanctity, and the Academy

It could be said that, throughout history and even now in the “less enlightened” parts of the world, the cults of the Saints drive not only the practice of Christianity but also speculation (in the older, more revered sense of the term) about Christianity itself. That is, hagiography as such – the vitae Sanctorum – is not a strange collection of bygone myths (in the newer, less revered sense of the term), but the pulse

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11 Apr 2018

The Non-Denominational Reformation

Every 500 years or so in the history of the Christian church, a significant restructuring seems to take place. Around the year 500, a church council at Chalcedon published what most of Christendom calls the clearest explanation of orthodox Christology: Christ is one person with two natures. However, large swaths of Christians—the Oriental Orthodox (such as the Coptic, Syrian, and Ethiopian churches) and the Church of the East—found the Chalcedon Definition lacking. And so the

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17 Jan 2018

Sermon-less Church: A Thought Experiment

“If you took away the sermon from your worship service, what sort of theology could you construct from what remains?” Sometime back, a Facebook friend shared this quote from Pastor Mark Jones and it got me thinking. What would a sermon-less church service look like? What messages and theology would it convey? Would we attend? Just how central is the sermon to Christian worship? In order to really consider this question, consider the state of

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21 Nov 2017

Anastasis: A Graphic Novel about Christ’s Descent into Hades (Review)

In a world where Christian media is often a sad parody of the secular standard, Anastasis stands out as an exemplary work of theological and artistic import. The short 54-page graphic novel, written and designed by Creative Orthodox, is centered around Christ’s descent into hades. Even though the theme is theologically rich in content, the way it is written makes the topic both approachable and engaging for an audience of all ages. Of particular note

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02 Oct 2017

Spending Time Together in the Temple

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple… (Acts 2:46a NRSV). This article is a continuation of a series of articles on Acts 2:41-47. The previous articles in this series can be found in the author’s archives. I teach classes on the Bible, world religions, and humanities at several community colleges in my area. Each semester I notice that students seem genuinely surprised when they learn about the Jewish roots of

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17 Jul 2017

Assurance and Development, Part I

The basic doctrines that distinguish Christianity from all other religions have, at their root, assumptions that also differentiate Catholicism from all other forms of Christianity. I have spent some time illustrating this phenomenon in the case of several dogmas—the Incarnation, the authority of Christ, the exclusive claim to grace, and the baptismal nature of the Gospel. However, if you are just joining me now, don’t be daunted. Each essay is independent in its argument, since

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11 Jul 2017

Reflections on a Mega Church Experience

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending Bethel Church in Redding, California. For those unfamiliar with this church, Bethel was founded in 1952 by Robert Doherty and grew steadily from the 1960s to the early 1990s. Following the call of current senior pastor Bill Johnson in 1996, Bethel underwent a time of divisiveness followed by a period of tremendous growth. Currently, Bethel has approximately 9,000 weekly attendees—easily categorizing it as a mega church—and

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03 Jul 2017

A Reflection on Christian Patriotism

Throughout my college years I experienced a religious awakening of sorts. Having recently involved myself in a local church and young adult ministry, I was beginning to grow in my faith and see the world in a more Christian way. This development of faith, in my life, was preceded by a more robust understanding of civic life, political spaces, and politics more generally. For me, government and politics was a place for people of diverse

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29 Jun 2017

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a Match…: St. Phanourios and the long wished for Husband

This is the continuation of my essay series on St. Phanourios.  You can read part 1 here 1 and part 2 here 2. Last time, I wrote about how St. Phanourios helped me through a series of personal crises that, as they often do, all spilled out at once. I was jobless, looking for work, had run out of money, and my health was crumbling, with a 50/50 chance of having cancer.  St. Phanourios’ prayers

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26 Jun 2017

Devoted to the Apostles’ Teaching

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42; NRSV).” Acts 2:41-47 provides us with an important window into the Jerusalem mother church, the source of all holy, catholic, and apostolic churches in the world today. Given that nearly 2,000 years have passed since the day of Pentecost, modern Christians do well whenever they re-investigate the roots of their own faith and practices. When we

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16 Jun 2017

Three Years of Conciliar Post

“God is a God not of disorder but of peace.” (1 Cor 14:33) Dear Friends, It has been a banner year for Conciliar Post. We have composed a new “About” page that updates our mission and looks ahead to the future. We have revised and simplified our leadership structure. We have added an SSL security certificate, and are now backing up the website daily. We would also like to share some encouraging statistics: As of today,

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08 Jun 2017

The Ratzinger Option

At the end of The Benedict Option (2017), Rod Dreher writes, “At the risk of sounding grandiose, I also want to express my gratitude for the life and work of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, who I consider the second Benedict of the Benedict Option.”1 This is not a random shout-out; the reason is pretty clear in Dreher’s introduction: “Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI foretells a world in which the church will live in small circles

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