The Ninth Year

Today marks the ninth anniversary of my foray into the world of blogging. I was enticed into starting a blog by the likes of Tripp, Huw, Karl and James. When I began, I had no real idea what I was doing. But in short order my blog began to reflect my explorations in philosophy and theology, and, notably, my journey into Orthodoxy. It also happened that shortly after I began blogging, my first daughter was conceived. Thus, this blog has its origins in three fundamental and key aspects of my life: my academic endeavors, my conversion to Orthodoxy and my becoming a father.

In the first couple of years, the world of Orthodox bloggers (Russian, Greek, Antiochian, convert, cradle, and mostly laity) was pretty small. I could keep up with all of them. My how things have changed. Some, like Karl, no longer blog. But now there are so many more. I don’t even try. I keep up with a few, like James’ blog, but mostly now I’m more offline than on. In the “good ol’ days” Orthodox blogging was pretty much “how do we live this thing we call the Orthodox faith?” which meant a lot of stuff about work and family, but of course, being the geeks we were (are), there was plenty of theological discussion. Nowadays, I see a lot more polemics. I don’t have time for it. I don’t have the stomach for it. I guess it’s the age we live in.

For several years, this blog reflected the core aspects of my life: academia, becoming Orthodox, fatherhood. But in the last few years, I have begun to sense something of a lack of purpose for the blog. I no longer feel the need to search out the questions I once had regarding Orthodoxy, and feel even less need to pontificate on matters Orthodox and theological. Since my chrismation four and a half years ago, I have become aware of the need for reticence about one’s spiritual life. While questions of philosophy still animate me, I am no longer part of the academic community I once worked in, and am well satisfied simply reading and reflecting on such matters. And what can I say about fatherhood? The longer I am a father, the more I am aware of the need for urgent prayer and thoughtful action. It is a mystery, and a joy, and requires nothing less than constant dependence upon God’s gracious energies.

Further, in recent months my writing focus has changed. I have, in a sense, returned to my first love–the writing of fiction. I do not yet see how to fit together this blog and my present focus of writing. I’ve got no advice to offer. I’m no literary genius. If I ever were to publish anything, it certainly would not make it to the “classics” list.

So here sits this blog. Once again dormant. And here I sit once again on the brink of nuking it, and yet once again finding myself unable to push the delete button. It’s not as though this is some sort of existential struggle. It’s a blog. Keep it. Nuke it. Whatever. And yet . . . perhaps there’s a future for it. Perhaps a little more patience will bring a little more clarity.

But I can say this, I like my little corner of the blogosphere. It doesn’t get any traffic to speak of. It’s not as though any of my posts will ever travel much beyond the orbit of a few readers (like my west coast buddy, Tripp). But it’s my homely little creation. It’s been a good nine years. We’ll see how much more life this little thing has in it. And maybe by next year I’ll have finally figured out where it goes from here.


Holy and Great Martyr Catherine the All-Wise of Alexandria

Today is the feast day of St. Catherine, patron saint of philosophers.

For a little bit about her life and why some churches celebrate St. Catherine’s day on the 24th, read this piece from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Online Chapel:

Saint Catherine, who was from Alexandria, was the daughter of Constas (or Cestus). She was an exceedingly beautiful maiden, most chaste, and illustrious in wealth, lineage, and learning. By her steadfast understanding, she utterly vanquished the passionate and unbridled soul of Maximinus, the tyrant of Alexandria; and by her eloquence, she stopped the mouths of the so-called philosophers who had been gathered to dispute with her. She was crowned with the crown of martyrdom in the year 305. Her holy relics were taken by Angels to the holy mountain of Sinai, where they were discovered many years later; the famous monastery of Saint Catherine was originally dedicated to the Holy Transfiguration of the Lord and the Burning Bush, but later was dedicated to Saint Catherine. According to the ancient usage, Saints Catherine and Mercurius were celebrated on the 24th of this month, whereas the holy Hieromartyrs Clement of Rome and Peter of Alexandria were celebrated on the 25th. The dates of the feasts of these Saints were interchanged at the request of the Church and Monastery of Mount Sinai, so that the festival of Saint Catherine, their patron, might be celebrated more festively together with the Apodosis of the Feast of the Entry of the Theotokos. The Slavic Churches, however, commemorate these Saints on their original dates.

A fuller account of her life can be found here.

Troparion of Great Martyr Katherine Tone 5
Let us praise Katherine, protectress of Sinai,
Bride of Christ and our helper.
With the sword of the Spirit she silenced the wisdom of the wicked.
She is crowned as a martyr and asks mercy for us all.

Kontakion of Great Martyr Katherine Tone 2
You lovers of martyrs raise a chorus now
in honour of wise Katherine.
She preached Christ in the stadium
and spat on the knowledge of philosophers.

Holy and Great Martyr, All-Wise Catherine, pray for us that we may take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ, and pray that we may be made worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven.