Psalm 1

Blessed is the man who did not walk in the council of the impious, nor stand in the road of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the pestilent. Rather, his will is in the law of the Lord and on his law he will contemplate day and night. And he will be like a…

The Septuagint Psalms

The Psalms are unique in the Bible in that they are both God’s words to humanity and humanity’s words to God. Only in modern times have the Psalms lost this centrality in the heart and mind of the church. It was not so in former times. Indeed at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787…

Five Canonic Lamentations

What can one say in the midst of the madness and mayhem into which our country seems to be descending? The musical response that captured my imagination was the Book of Lamentations — poetic laments about the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 BCE. Somehow that seemed apt. The Book of Lamentations is…

Who Breathes Whom?

Apparently we have varying degrees of control of the dimensions of our lives. For example, I can control my breathing — by holding my breath. But not for long. Rather than "I'm breathing my breath", maybe a better way to look at that is "My breath is breathing me!" After all, who ultimately is in…

William’s Razor

In philosophy there's the idea of Ockham's Razor, attributed to English William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), which states that given two solutions to a problem, if they have the same outcomes but one is simpler than the other, choose the simpler. I use a similar approach to spiritual questions: if an idea or doctrine makes…

Solving for X

There is a sense in which our usual math education misrepresents how math is done in the real world of science and engineering. In high school algebra in particular we 'solve for x', and the one-and-only correct answer can be found in the back of the book. In math, "solving for X" like this is…

Holiness Revisited

The usual word for "holiness" in the New Testament is hAGIOS ('HAH-gee-ohs"), and the usual explanation of it is 'set apart'. That is true enough, but there's a dimension to hAGIOS I'd like to explore. From the very beginnings of Christianity there has been a tension surrounding 'asceticism' — physically denying oneself by abstaining from…

“Repentance” Revisited in a Time of Trial

Lately I've been writing about the Greek word METANOIA ("meh-TAH-nee-ah"), translated 'repentance' (as in "Be repenting, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!"), and how in the original language this is describing a fundamental change in mind-set, a change in outlook. Sometimes dramatic shifts can happen — for example, the alcoholic who wakes up…