This blog

Unfortunately that is not because I am hibernating, but because I am frantically getting ready to have a stall selling books at the Rondebosch Craft Market next Saturday. In the unlikely event that this blog has Capetonian readers, I would love to meet you there. There’s more information on my bookbinding blog.

The hibernation may continue for a while after next Saturday, as there is another project that I need to give time to and which I’ll mention again.

I’m not quite sure how succesful I’m hoping the market will be. I would obviously like it to succeed and to see how viable that would be as a way of earning an income. But if I sell out of stock, then I’ll be frantically making stuff for the next market, whereas I’m actually looking forward to a breather to pay attention to other things. Time will tell, it would just all be easier without a day job!

I suspect that I probably have readers who are both less linguistically challenged and less technically challenged than I am. Could one of them please tell me how to include Greek words in WordPress? I finally left out the Greek terms in brackets in Father Gabriel’s quotes in the last post. I’ve generally copied them from a Greek font in Word, and that seems to have sometimes worked in WordPress, but it’s been rather a hit and miss affair, and this time it was definitely miss. I’ve long thought that there must be a proper way to do this, and it’s probably about time to find out how!

The last post was the final post in my reading of Father Boris Bobrinskoy’s The Compassion of the Father. I have added it to my “Completed Series” page and include the links to all the posts here for those who are interested. 

(Please note that my posting on Father Alexander Schmemann’s The Eucharist Sacrament of the Kingdom: Sacrament of the Kingdomis temporarily suspended as I was reading a borrowed copy which I had to leave in the Netherlands. But I fully intend getting my own copy once I can afford it and I hope that posting will continue before too long!)

The Compassion of the Father

Posts from my reading of Boris Bobrinskoy’s The Compassion of the Father. (Crestwood, N.Y., St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003). (June-October 2009)

Towards a Transparency to the Holy Trinity: The Life and Work of Father Boris Bobrinskoy, by Maxime Egger

Facing Evil and Suffering

1. The Lamb of God Takes upon Himself Human Suffering

2. Love for Enemies in the Gospel

3. The Mystery of Forgiveness

The Liturgy of the Heart

4. The Prayer of the Heart and Suffering

5. The Art of the Invocation of the Name

6. The Inner Eucharist

Towards the Knowledge of God

7. Theology and Spirituality

8. The Theology of Language and the Language of Theology

9. Sacred Tradition and Human Traditions


I hope that this posting on this blog will soon become more regular, but it’s likely to take at least a few more days. I’m posting this from my parents’ dial-up connection, which is incredibly slow, and there are still some practical aspects of life that need to get sorted out before I say more. However, things are taking shape and I hope that I’ll be more settled soon.

Last weekend I visited Deacon Stephen Hayes and his wife Val in Pretoria, and they introduced me to various Orthodox people and places in the Johannesburg and Pretoria area. He posted a report here. It was a good visit, but there are lots of impressions to process!

One other thing worth noting: I’ve only just realised it, but Father Maximos of The Anastasis Dialogue is back – only it’s now called Practical Ecumenism. There are also some very interesting thoughts by Abbot Nicholas on the Reform of the Reform and I look forward to the future posts promised. One of the things that has struck me recently is that it is all-too-easy for Orthodox to think that current Catholic liturgical woes are simply the result of the Second Vatican Council, a view that is far too simplistic. As Abbot Nicholas points out, the roots of the crisis are much deeper.  This was always one of my favourite Catholic blogs and I’m pleased that it’s back.

I’m going to be otherwise occupied for a couple of weeks. It’s not impossible that I’ll post something, but I won’t be online much as there are things I need to attend to. However, I do hope to be back in a couple of weeks.

I really don’t like being a censor, but I have deleted a few comments recently. They weren’t offensive or anything, but they contained large amounts of text that was clearly copied from somewhere else that wasn’t directly relevant to the post in question. I’d appreciate it if, in referring online material, people rather please just put the reference and explain its relevance to the current discussion.  Thanks.

A couple of things that may be of interest to others:

  • I have just discovered the Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh Archive, which is an absolutely wonderful resource providing texts, photos, audio and video materials of Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom). I haven’t had a chance to look at too much of it yet – and am slightly disappointed that I don’t seem able to download audio files to listen to when offline – but it looks like a very worthwhile place to spend more time.
  • I’ve added a few blogs to my blogroll recently. To be honest, I’ve been debating what to do about my blogroll and so haven’t added much new. But yesterday I discovered Father David Abernethy’s new blog Philokalia (thanks to a link from The Way of the Fathers) which I just had to include and mention to others. Father Abernethy is a Catholic, an Oratorian and an “Academic Candidate in Freudian Psychoanalysis,” who is writing on the Philokalia – which could well make for very worthwhile reading… 

I’ve done this with a certain amount of hesitation, but I have recently become an Amazon Associate. That means that if people click to Amazon from a link from my blog, and end up buying something, I get a certain commission. I’d realised that there were quite a number of people clicking on the links that I provide to books and realised that it could be a way of enabling me to buy some books, something that I am going to need to do soon but don’t exactly have the resources for. I hesitated about this as I know that there are ethical issues involved in Amazon taking over the market, pushing out small booksellers, and even making life difficult for publishers. Plus I don’t like the idea of commercialising my blog. But the circumstances of my life at the moment seem to outweigh my ethical quibbling and questions of taste. I didn’t intend to post adverts, but then realised that if people go to Amazon from my blog, even if it is to buy something completely different, I still get paid a commission if they buy something. So, I’m placing a general link in the sidebar (under “Recent Comments”: if you are intending to buy from Amazon anyway, you could consider clicking from there.

When I first started blogging I was concerned about the polemical nature of some internet interactions and somewhat wary of the sort of comments my blog would attract. As it happened virtually all the people who responded were reasonable and polite. More recently, when I started blogging again after having announced my intention of becoming Orthodox, I was a bit concerned about the sort of reactions I would get, and I suppose that if I expected negative reactions from anyone it would have been from Catholics. What I did not expect – and what saddened me – was that I would attract vitriolic comments attacking Father Schmemann, other Orthodox and other Churches, and basically identifying Orthodoxy with what appear to me to be decidedly sectarian and fundamentalist groupings. I had only recently heard the phrase “Orthodox Taliban” but am beginning to think it appropriate and was reminded of quote that I previously posted of Metropolitan Jonah where he spoke about zeal that is rooted in the passions.

I am blogging because it helps me to process what I read, and because I value some of the interactions which it has brought. Much of what I do is simply summarising the authors I read although I may interact more with them at some time. I am by no means setting myself up as an expert – whether on Orthodoxy, Christianity or anything else; this blog is there in order to help me to learn and if others learn anything in the process, fine. If they don’t approve of what I read, they don’t have to read it. But if I have to interact with the sort of comments I have been getting as a result of posting on Father Schmemann, then it will not only pull my blog into the sort of negativity that is sadly typical of some online interaction, but it will, more seriously, just arouse my own passions and poison my own thoughts. And I am not going to allow that.

If people want to post critical comments that respond to particular ideas in posts in a respectful manner, they are welcome to do so. But to simply malign people or to question their Orthodoxy is not. Likewise, while I appreciate that it may arise out of well-meaning concern, this blog is not the place for advising me on my ecclesial life. I am the first to admit that I need guidance, but looking for that on the internet would seem to be the height of foolishness.

While I realise that I may be accused of censorship, I have started to simply delete offensive, negative and passionate comments. This is after all my blog and if people want to post vitriol they can do so elsewhere.


One other note on comments: I put comment moderation on – and in the light of the above it was just as well – as, as I indicated earlier, my internet access is somewhat sporadic. That means that comments may wait a couple of days before being approved, and also that I may not be able to respond to them immediately or at all. Please don’t take offence if that happens – it’s simply part of the circumstances of my life at present.

As this post suggests, I have decided to start blogging again, at least for the time being and possibly intermittently (depending, among other things, on internet connections as I’m presently living in a tent in the middle of nowhere a relatively isolated area – there is no middle of nowhere in the Netherlands! – and need to investigate whether I can afford mobile internet). But there are things that I keep coming across, books that I’ve read that I want to mention, quotes that have accumulated – and I generally need to find a disciplined framework to force, or at least encourage, myself to write. I’ve been thinking this for a while, but am finally starting again as, as any earlier readers who may still see this will hopefully appreciate, the event described in the following post is something I could hardly pass over in silence. (Okay, so I’ve acquired another favourite theologian in the meantime, but that is another story).

While this blog was never intended to be a personal journal neither was it anonymous in that I was quite open about who I was. I was also aware (and one of my readers once commented on this) that my writing had a personal tone and was self-revealing. Given this, it seems impossible to start blogging again without saying something about what has happened in my life in the past year.

My reason for suspending my blog in the last post was because I was about to be leaving my monastery in order to become Orthodox. Much has happened in the past year and I don’t intend talking about it all in public. Suffice it to say that it has not been an easy time, that I had second thoughts, that I realised that there had been a lot more going on than I originally imagined, that it has been a painful process, but also that there has been great relief and joy and that God has been very good to me, not least in the people He has sent to help me.

Needless to say, this has been a rather disruptive process. I had originally thought that I would simply have to find an Orthodox monastery, but it eventually became clear that there is simply too much to work through at once and that I need to find a certain stability before I can make long-term decisions. And so I am now in the process of trying to negotiate some of the practical challenges of finding a way to get settled, at least for a while, which is complicated by being in a foreign country. While I may well think of going back to South Africa in the future, if I am able to I would like to stay in Europe for a while in order to get more of an Orthodox formation, visit more Orthodox monasteries etc. I do have tentative plans which may come together in a couple of months’ time (and I’ll say more about that then) but for the time being I’m living in a tent (which I’ve dedicated to Saint Moses the Ethiopian – I told him that if he found me a room I’d dedicate it to him and when I got offered a tent realised that I couldn’t complain as he probably hadn’t had much more. It’s just as well I didn’t ask Saint Mary of Egypt!) and am doing odd bits of work and, well, it’s all a rather interesting new experience!

I am sharing this here as it would be rather difficult to simply start blogging again without saying anything as at the very least I would have had to change my “About” page. But I don’t intend to focus on it and certainly don’t intend getting into any polemical discussions – and I may as well warn you that triumphalistic Orthodox make me want to run a mile! Breaking communion (which I have not yet done) is not something that I will do lightly or without pain in my heart. At a future stage I may try and write more about some of my reasons for taking this step, and about dynamics in the Catholic Church, if I am able to do so in an irenic spirit, for these are things that I have reflected on much recently and about which I feel deeply. I have also been privileged to meet some outstanding Catholics (and some outstanding Orthodox) in this last year – and I think here particularly of the monastic community in Bose where I spent three months – but in the final analysis I could not live with the contradictions involved and had to follow where God led me.

All this to say that I’ll hopefully be blogging again. And I would of course value your prayers.

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