Monday, October 25, 2004

Male and female created he them

Several weeks ago I read this on the Touchstone blog. I will excert the last paragraph since it is the one I am interested in dealing with.

Christianity is a patriarchal faith which teaches that the Image of God is
perfectly and completely expressed in a male human being--indeed, that maleness
is the very sign of sexual inclusiveness. If one believes that in, by, through,
and for Christ, none of whose characteristics, including his sex, are
superfluous to his being, everything was made, everything subsists, and
everything will be consummated, and understands the implications of this belief,
he will reject egalitarianism and its grammar.

I find this disturbing on several levels. The first is that I object to being told that as a woman I do not have the complete expression of humanity. However, from a larger theological perspective, this can lead to heresy in my opinion. According to Mr. Hutchens, "the male is the iconic principal, the "defining" member of the human race, in a way the woman, who is in this regard secondary and subordinate, cannot be." This makes me question the incarnation. How can Christ possess the fulness of humanity if the Theotokos did not possess this fulness? If this is the case, we arrive quite quickly at the heresy of Docetism.

Let me now express a caveat: apparently there are rumors spreading through the Orthodox world that St. Vlads is in favor of women's ordination. This is blatantly false. I have yet to meet any one of the faculty or staff who have expressed such ideas. I myself am not in favor of women’s ordination. On the other hand, I do think I am worthwhile, fully human, and could choose to do something with my seminary education other than marry someone entering the priesthood and spend the rest of my life baking prosphora. I am unclear why people insist that I must be a feminist for pursuing a theological education. I even had a professor from St. Tikhon's imply as much.

So...there's my rant for the week. Sorry for being so strident.

Imago Dei

Sorry for the lack of posting lately: midterms, papers, and attending the celebration of His Beatitude Metropolitan Herman's 40 anniversary of his ordination was keeping me quite busy. There are photos here. I assume it was a lovely service, but I couldn't see anything from the choir loft. However the choir sounded very nice. We did the Kalinikov Cherubic Hymn. It's amazing!

Tuesday, Fr. John Behr, my professor for Theological Anthropology, assigned us a 5-7 page paper on what it means to be in the image and likeness of God. I should of course mention that he has spent much of the last 5 weeks showing that whatever we previously thought on the topic is quite probably wrong. So, I'm unclear what this means; and further, if I knew I am unsure I could write it in 5-7 pages.

That said, I think what Fr. John has been emphasizing is that Christ is the image of God and we are in His image when we are in Christ. I'm thinking of relating this to baptism as a return to Eden. But my thought are unclear as yet. Anyone with valuable insight should feel free to comment.

Sunday, October 03, 2004


Please check out Fr. John Breck's article on the OCA website regarding medically assisted procreation. It is excellent and informative. Amazingly enough, the Europeans have gotten this one right.

Why I study theology

This weekend was Orthodox Education Day here at St. Vladimir's. This is, a huge, exhausting event for the students but I highly recommend for everyone else. Over the course of the day I got to meet a number of new people. Several of them were very interested by the fact that I am a woman and a seminarian. One person asked me if I was studying theology to revolutionize the church. I responded that I study theology so that I will be revolutionized by the church. The question surprised me, but I suppose that I should not be surprised - many feel that they have much to offer the church. All I know is that the church has within her all that I shall need. And yet I must offer to the church my self crucified.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Faith and politics

There have been interesting discussions going on in the orthodox blogosphere re. and article on the OCA website by Dr. Peter Bouteneff. The touchstone blog has had a comment and Fr. Jacobse had had a post regarding this. This morning I noticed that Grace did as well. I've commented on several of these, finding myself accused of "defending Dr. Bouteneff." I've decided to write a post of my own.
Dr. Bouteneff is my dogmatic theology professor. His teaching style tends to be very low key - he presents evidence from the fathers, the councils, scripture, etc but lets us synthesize it. He is very careful (and can be quite emphatic) about not letting us stray into heresy. He carefully guards the dogma of the church - the Trinity, the 2 natures of Christ, certain things re. the Theotokos, dogmas regarding the church as the hermeneutic community within which we can read and interpret the Scriptures, etc. Consequently, I am not surprised when his article has no clear directions at the end telling us how to vote. It is not his way. Further, I'm not sure he ought to be telling us how to vote.
My own take on the whole situation is as follows: Various posts in the Orthodox blogosphere seem to find this unacceptable. People are certain that Orthodox Christians ought to vote only one way - their way. And frankly, I don't think we can find a consistent witness in the fathers, scripture, or the liturgy that clarifies this issue.
For example, a never of Orthodox Christians who live in America approve of Mr. Bush's doctrine of pre-emption. A number of Orthodox Christians who live elsewhere do not. And since last I checked there were no essays by St. Basil the Great regarding pre-emptive military strategy - I think both sets of people are free to think as they choose without deviating from the principles of the church.
Our church does have things to say about several issues that do come into play during this election. It has things to say about our attitudes re. the poor, the sick, the imprisoned. (cf. Matt 25) And frankly I don't think the Republican party embodies the attitude our Savior instructed us to have. On the other hand, elements of the far left, and even the not so far left, have views on things like abortion and stem-cell research that I think are in direct contradiction to our church's teachings. I think Kerry is wrong on abortion, stem-cell research, gay marriage. And I think Bush is wrong on economic policy, the environment, health care, and our energy policies.
Other general observations: Kerry is a terrible candidate, and I'm not sure I can vote for him. Neither am I pleased with Mr. Bush, and specifically with certain factions of his administration. And consequently I remain a confused and conflicted Orthodox Christian.
Thanks be to God that while we may passionately disagree with one another, we all receive the Holy Mysteries. None of us are cut off from Christ's Holy Church for our political beliefs. So I think what I am trying to say is that not only can people of goodwill disagree on these issues but Orthodox Christians can disagree on these issues while still remaining in the fullness of the faith.

Sunday, September 26, 2004


Yesterday, as I was preparing to go to confession, I was thinking about my greatest struggles. I t seems to me that many of them go back to one source: I want people to think well of me without actually doing the work to become that sort of person. I wish to appear righteous, smart, clever, amusing, thoughtful, etc. Unfortunately, actually being that person is hard. I am often in all actuality greedy, gluttonous, small minded, petty, judgmental, and shallow. I am blessed that God has seen fit to give me the sacrament of confession that I may begin the work of becoming more of His and less of mine. "For if God numbered our transgressions who could stand."

Monday, September 20, 2004

Today's Homily

Today at matins we had the first of the student homilies this year. Nick Belcher spoke of Christ submitting to baptism. He also pointed out our arrogance and tendency to be stiff necked. According to Matthew the Poor, Christ's baptism is a balm for our stiff necks. Nick gave an excellent homily indeed that spoke directly to my own besetting sin - spiritual pride. I could probably use daily homilies on that particular subject.

This reminds me of something I thought about last year when Nona, and elderly lacy in our parish, fell asleep in the Lord. Nona, despite having only a 6th grade education, knew far more about Christ than I do with all of my theological education. She had 90 years of Lent, Pascha, fasting, and prayer to teach her what I only glimpse from time to time.

While I don't wish to fall into some sort of anti-intellectualism, and I know that I will learn an amazing amount about my faith here in seminary, what I truly need to learn will only come with prayer and fasting.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Greek fonts

I was pleased to discover that my word processing programs contains several Greek fonts. (it is wordperfect.) Does any one know how to figure out which key produce which character? Other than very frustrating trial and error I am not sure how to do this. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Spirituality Class

I am taking a night class on prayer in the Orthodox tradition. I think this will probably be one of my 2 favorite classes this semester. Professor Bouteneff is extremely well read, knowledgeable, and yet very thoughtful and humble. This should be an excellent chance for me to learn. One thing he told us tonight that resonated for me was that the goal of prayer is to know God, not to attain pure or perfect prayer. God may grant us the gift of pure prayer as He wills or not. I find this a comfort, because often I find prayer, well..., Hard. Making sure I have the right goal will make this easier.


I was speaking with a fellow seminarian today. During the course of the conversation, I told him I was hesitant to use the word feminism to describe my beliefs about women. On the other hand I think that I should be paid the same amount for the same work as a man; that I should be treated with respect at work, not as a sex object; that I should be able to vote, own property, and generally enjoy the rights afforded to adult men. However, I am not interested in being "the same" as a man, a sort of masculinized femininity, neither am I in favor of abortion, or some of the other positions espoused by modern feminism. He suggested that there may be a "crucified feminism" which I might be able to espouse. I had not thought of this before. I am unsure what this would look like, but it is something for me to think about.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

His Beatitude's Visit

Today we had a hierachichal liturgy with Metropolitan Herman. We also managed to have 2 ordinations as well. This may be the longest litugical experience of my life. It may be time for some shoe shopping if this sort of thing continues.

That said, it was a beautiful service. Holy Cross is one of my favorite feasts. I enjoy going home after Vespers (or now after Vigil) smelling of holy oil and singing of God's invincible weapon of peace. I ma a fortunate woman to be so blessed.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Belated thought regarding 9/11

Yesterday I was in Manhattan. I was sitting, reading, in a Starbucks on 9th and 30th. I heard sirens and looked up. Two fire engines went by, FDNY emblazoned on their doors and American flags streaming behind. I realized that it was very likely that men from that very company had died on 9/11 trying to save others. It was, for me at least, a much more poignant reminder than any of the very orchestrated memorials I have seen. NY firefighters going about their business, continuing their jobs, is a pointed reminder for us all - remembering the past is good but we must live, work, and struggle in the present.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

The falling asleep of the Patriarch of Alexandria

As the bell of Vigil rings I realize that we will be praying for the repose of His Holiness who fell asleep in the Lord today. May his memory be eternal.

Even Saturdays are busy

Today seemed to be as busy as all the other days this week. Besides doing errands and laundry, I had a 2 hour choir rehearsal and will soon be headed to 2 hours of Vigil. The mixed choir will be doing 2-3 recording projects this semester. Amazing!! My voice will be on a CD someone actually pays money to own. Fortunately for all, I won't be alone but in the midst of people who actually know what they are doing. I became used to being directed by Tracey, the choir director at St. Nicholas in Portland, OR. Deacon Kevin Smith is our director here, but I am having to adjust to his directing style. He's a bit more subtle in his cues. I also started reading for church history and the class I'm going to audit - Theological Anthropology. I'm reading The Humanity of God by Karl Barth. His analysis of 19th Century theology in the West is fascinating and I think a profound look at what I view as the fruits of Scholsticism. The class should be fascinating.

Friday, September 10, 2004

My arrival at Seminary

I arrived here on Tuesday morning to move into to my dorm. After carrying all my stuff upstairs to my room for most of the day, I cleaned up for vigil. A note about stuff - I have too much and the weather and stairs combination was not all that fun. But enough of my whining. Vigil was amazingly beautiful, and comprised my first experience with the dual choirs here at St. Vlads. The mixed choir and the men's choir sing antiphonally at vespers and vigils. I can see that this regular cycle of services will be grounding for me while I am here.

I have also registered for classes. St. Vlads allowed me to transfer in 24 credits from Biola. Consequently, I am enrolled in Church History 101, Dogmatic Theology 101, Liturgical Theology 201, Litugical Music 201, Old testament 301 (Wisdom literature), and Spirituality 301 (Prayer). I will also attempt to audit Fr. Behr's course on Theological Anthropology. This will give me 16 credits of class with 2 credits of audit. I should be very busy.

I've been very impressed with the faculty and staff here. They are very approachable. And very willing to help or answer silly new student questions.

I am very excited about the coming year, knowing that God has lead me here for a purpose.

The New and improved blog

So, I have safely arrived at St. Vladimir's. I now have internet access and will be posting regularly I hope. Tuesday and Thursday will probably be very light posting days as they are very heavy class days for me. I'll continue to try to update the blog and get it up to speed this weekend.