6a00d8345191b869e200e54f4685898833-800wiThe sayings of the Desert Fathers are an absolute treasure trove of spiritual wisdom. I recently ran across the following story that has absolutely captivated me. I have an inkling of what it means, but I’d be very interested in anyone else’s perspective:

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, ‘Abba as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?’ then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, ‘If you will, you can become all flame.’

“If you will, you can become all flame.” This is one of the most incredible things anyone has ever said as far as I’m concerned. I’m just about ready to make it my new motto and base my entire life around it.

So, thoughts? What is the meaning of this?

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I’m very happy to announce a new venture that myself and several other converts from the reformed faith to Catholicism have started. It’s a website we’ve dubbed “Called to Communion.”

The site’s goal is to foster communication between the spheres of the churches of the reformation and the Catholic Church.

All of us have learned and grown in our faith during our time in the reformed communities and appreciate the depth that lies therein. But we have all come to agree that the fullness of the Christian faith subsists in the Catholic Church and we want to talk about those ideas with our reformed brethren.

The roster of guys who will be writing on this site blew me away the first time I read it. These are the most irenic, respectful, even keeled converts I know on the web. There’s even a few PhD’s in the mix! There will be no Jew-bashing, turn-or-burn polemics here. Only reasoned dialogue between brothers in Christ.

The main part of the site will consist of peer-reviewed articles on topics of major difference between Catholics and reformed. There will also be a blog where readers can discuss the articles and other subjects pertinent to the mission of the site.

So, I hope you stop by early and often. I think it’ll be a great site to discuss the issues that divide us now so that one day, by God’s grace, they will unite us.

In the most recent First Things, a collection of the best of the best from The Public Square section of the journal by the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, may his memory be eternal, was published.

The lead article was a piece from 1997 entitled “The Unhappy Fate of Optional Orthodoxy,” in which Fr. Neuhaus put forward the thesis that, where orthodoxy is optional, it will soon be proscribed.

That is to say, the moment we tell people that truth is a matter of what one believes in his heart of hearts, not the faith handed down from the Apostles with the sure safeguard of Apostolic Succession, it will only be a matter of time until what was in the early stage a tolerated opinion becomes an orthodoxy of its own.

In fact, Doug Wilson himself has acknowledged this principle in his analysis of conservative politics in America. The conservative Christian position used to be A. Then people came along questioning A, and next thing you know people were arguing for B and C. It then became the conservative position to argue for B, only a troglodyte would argue for A, after all. And so on and so on until the conservative position is barely defending K.

Nowhere is this clearer than in liberal Christianity’s positions on sexuality. First a little creeping liberalism lets in some ambiguity on contraception. Next thing you know, it’s become a sin of the highest order to question sexual perversion of any kind. Read the rest of this entry »

new_chickenWell, Lent’s almost here. In the Byzantine Church, we ease our way into Lent with Meatfare and Cheesfare Sundays. Two weeks before Lent we give up meat, one week before Lent we give up dairy, then the next week we’re into the full on fast.

So tomorrow being Meatfare Sunday, we decided to have one last meal of a nice piece of meat. We saw this recipe on Cook’s Country by America’s Test Kitchen this morning and decided this would have to be the one.

I’ve tried my hand at fried chicken a few times. I recall last year getting to a recipe that I like, but it wasn’t like really good restaurant quality fried chicken.

This recipe is it. Absolutely. The only thing we changed was using strips of boneless skinless breasts instead of a whole chicken. I would’ve like to do it the whole chicken way, but the wife was in the mood for strips.

This chicken will shift your paradigm.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups buttermilk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons table salt or 4 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 (3 1/2 lb) roasting chickens, cut in 8 pieces
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions

  1. Remove 6 tbsp buttermilk and set aside. To remaining buttermilk, add salt and whisk until dissolved.
  2. Cut chicken in 8 pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, cut each breast in half). Submerge chicken in buttermilk brine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, thyme, pepper, garlic powder and baking powder. Add reserved buttermilk and toss with fingertips to form pea-sized crumbs.
  4. Drain chicken and transfer to breading, 2 pieces at a time. Pack breading onto chicken firmly.
  5. Heat 4-5 cups vegetable shortening or peanut oil to 375°F It should be about 3/4″ deep in the pot. Place chicken into hot fat, skin side down. The temperature will drop to about 300°F; maintain the temperature at 310-315°F Cover pot and cook 8-10 minutes; check chicken after 4 minutes to ensure even browning, and move pieces around if needed. After 8-10 minutes, turn pieces over; cook another 6-8 minutes until the second side is also golden brown.
  6. Remove chicken and drain on paper towels. Allow to drain and cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

***UPDATE*** I lost the contest. Frown. Still, Abra’s got a cool blog, the game’s fun, and I’ll still have the contest. First three people. Go! ***END UPDATE***

Because I thought it would be fun to win a contest on Abra Carnahan’s blog, I’m now obliged to hold one on my own.

To wit, the first three people to link to this contest on their blog or Facebook status get a free thing from me. No promises as to what, but I’ll be creative and you can rest assured it will be individually tailored to you, my friend.

Ready…Set…GO!

Mark Driscoll is about to choke a dude for the gospel

Mark Driscoll is about to choke a dude for the gospel

So Mark Driscoll‘s been getting a lot of buzz in the ol’ mainstream media as of late. First in the New York Times, then a piece on Nightline. Given the fact that he’s growing in prominence and that a few of my friends seem to like him a lot, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share my thoughts on the guy.

Out of the gates, let me say, I used to be a fan. Driscoll is an engaging speaker and has tapped into the masculine aspect of Christianity that modern evangelicalism shoves under the rug.

Underneath the amusing stand-up routine, however, lies not only a shallow and sloppy biblical scholar, but a man who is crafting Christ into his own image and leading thousands to believe in his Jesus.

But what is it that draws the secular press to Mars Hill? In the opinion of this humble narrator, three things:

  • Driscoll’s views on men’s and women’s roles
  • Driscoll’s hardcore Calvinism
  • Driscoll’s anti-traditional views on sex and willingness to speak about them in front of God and everyone

It’s going to take a few posts to cover all three. Read the rest of this entry »

ambrose1My son thought up his very first joke tonight. It goes like this:

Ambrose: Cows

Momma or Daddy: Moo

Ambrose and Momma or Daddy: Unrestrained laughter

This has been going on all night.

And it turns out, the more you think about it, it is pretty hilarious that cows say moo. Props to the youngster for finding the humor in the mundane

The day after the March for Life I had the privilege of joining Stand True Ministries’ Bryan Kemper and pro-life teens from the Youth Life Alliance in a jam packed day of pro-life activism.

Over 350 teens came out to stand up for life. It was totally inspiring and I took a bunch of video, which I have distilled down to this:

Enjoy, and go get active in pro-life ministry in your neighborhood, slacker.

neuhausThe most recent issue of First Things has been sitting around my house for nearly a week now. By this time, I would usually have torn through the whole issue, waiting as long as I could to resist the temptation to skip to the back to read Fr. Neuhaus’s The Public Square section, usually the best part of a wholly delightful magazine.

But this time I had to wait. It would be Fr. Neuhaus’s very last and final Public Square. It turns out Fr. Neuhaus had been struggling with cancer for some months. I was totally unaware of his struggle.

The day I found out about it was the day I heard he had died. I was at a staff meeting and all of my colleagues and I were surprised to find that within the last few days, and in some cases minutes, our thoughts had independently been drawn to Fr. Neuhaus.

I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t read it (if you’re not a subscriber you owe it to yourself to track down this issue), but Fr. Neuhaus approached what he knew might well be his last piece in the journal he founded with incredible tact.

A former Lutheran minister, his long piece focused on recent scholarship concerning the Lutheran view of justification and what still separates us as Catholics from the reformed position.

He then made his first mention of death in giving due notice and honor to the recent passing of Avery Cardinal Dulles, a great champion of orthodox Catholicism and a principle pillar of the First Things roster.

He then proceeded on with a few of his beloved book reviews and cultural criticisms.

Then, in the last few pieces, he returned to death. He spoke of Solzhenitsyn, he remembered Cardinal Dulles again, he thought of Studs Terkel, and he cited some recent scholarship on what very young babies know.

Then, finally, he spoke of his own plight. He talked like St. Paul. Full of the vigor to continue to live and fight for the gospel, but ready to accept his calling home whenever his Savior was ready to make it happen. His grit, determination, tenacity and humility in the face of death should be a shining example to us all.

And so I closed the final page on the last issue of First Things in which I would ever read new thoughts from one of the world’s great cultural critics.

I will miss you greatly, Father Neuhaus, until I finally get to meet you face to face on the other side of the veil.

I’ll leave you all with his final words in the journal he founded:

“Who knew that at this point in my life I would be understanding, as if for the first time, the words of Paul, “When I am weak, then I am strong”? This is not a farewell. Please God, we will be pondering together the follies and splendors of the Church and the world for years to come. But maybe not. In any event, when there is an unidentified agent in your body aggressively attacking the good things you body is intended to do, it does concentrate the mind. The entirety of our prayers is “Your will be done”—not as a note of resignation but of desire beyond expression. To that end, I commend myself to your intercession, and that of all the saints and angels who accompany us each step through time toward home.”

Through the prayers of the Holy Mother of God, may the soul of thy servant rest in peace.

May his memory be eternal.

Lord have mercy.

twentyfive Well, I was tagged on Facebook so, by the law of the internet, which cannot be rescinded, I am obliged to tell the world 25 random things about myself.

Though I will obey the law of obligation, I will not make other people partake in this spectacle, though feel free to pick it up yourself if you’re it suits your fancy.

1. I once wandered the streets of Hollywood for an entire night, having no money and no place to stay. The freaks do indeed come out at night.

2. I have terrible eyesight.

3. I know a guy who’s cousin used to date Mel Gibson.

4. I’m gonna steal one from my wife, I really don’t mind changing diapers all that much. I kinda fail to see what the big deal is.

5. I can play the bassoon. And not badly, either. Read the rest of this entry »