The Place Called Hell


Taken from Gehenna: The Orthodox Christian Doctrine about Judgment and Hell, from the Tradition and Holy Fathers and a Historical Survey at Icons of the Last Judgement by Archbishop Lazar Puhalo (here)

“….Latins, and later Protestants, developed their concept of hell (as well as of heaven) from the presuppositions of civil law, Aristotelian rationalism, and to some degree, the elements of Orphic Gnosticism found in Plato with its radical dichotomy between body and soul, and noetos kosmos. There were also aspects of superstition  and the terrors of the pagan world involved – what we have referred to as “folk religion”.  They applied the metaphors and similitudes of Greek sagas to their concepts, although many of the ideas themselves might have been found in the Vedic writings of India, Zoroastrianism or the idolatry of Babylon and Egypt. None of these sources were strangers to the Hellenistic world or to Rome. The most likely source of the idea of a literal place called hell, with its horrors and tortures and chambers, is Zarathustra (Zoroaster). The depictions of hell that appear in Western art and in corrupted paintings in the Orthodox Christian world are found nowhere in Hebrew Scripture or tradition, nor in early Christian iconography or tradition. Rather, they match the descriptions presented by Zarathustra and in some Hindi and Buddhist art.”

Feeling Good vs. Being Good


In his perceptive book This Little Church Went to Market , Pastor Gary Gilley notes that the professional marketing journal American Demographics recognizes that people are:

“…into spirituality, not religion….Behind this shift is the search for an experiential faith, a religion of the heart, not the head. It’s a religious expression that downplays doctrine and dogma, and revels in direct experience of the divine–whether it’s called the ‘Holy Spirit’ or ‘cosmic consciousness’ or the ‘true self.’ It is practical and personal, more about stress reduction than salvation, more therapeutic than theological. It’s about feeling good, not being good. It’s as much about the body as the soul….Some marketing gurus have begun calling it ‘the experience industry.’ ” (pp. 20-21)

*Taken from an article on the Seeker-Friendly way of doing things here

Alcohol, Pros and Cons


Fr. Ted’s blog (here)

“When watered in due measure the earth yields a good, clean crop from the seed sown in it; but when it is soaked with torrential rain it bears nothing but thistles and thorns. Likewise, when we drink wine in due measure, the earth of the heart yields a clean crop from its natural seed and produces a fine harvest from what is sown in it by the Holy Spirit. But if it is soaked through excessive drinking, the thoughts it bears will be nothing but thistles and thorns.”

St. Diadochos of Photiki in The Philokalia, Vol 1, p. 267

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine, those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink.” (Proverbs 23:29-35). 

We are all human


“In general, the whole concept of ‘Greek’ versus ‘Russian’ seems to us rather artificial and is only a cause of quite unnecessary tensions and quarrels. Obviously, the ‘Greeks’ who use ‘Russian’ as a term of opprobrium are thinking of a certain attitude among Russians which is indeed deplorable; and the other side obviously has in mind some unpleasant characteristics of some ‘Greeks’. But this only proves we are all human, and the truth is not to be found in either ‘party’ as such. It would be much better and wiser to think of both ‘Greeks’ and ‘Russians’ only the best things, those which enter into the higher harmony of Orthodoxy, which is beyond nationalities. This is how Vladika John always thought of ‘Greeks’ and is why he adopted many Greek customs which are not commonly practiced by Russians today – Greek customs, that is, which are closer to the authentic tradition of Orthodoxy, and certainly not just because they are ‘Greek’!

Taken from the Letters from Father Seraphim (Rose)

The inability of man to love

docek_nj._p._vladike_davida_u_johanesburgu_16._10._2013._9Homily delivered by Bishop David of Stobija upon his arrival in Johannesburg for the church feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. Loosely translated from here:

(Pictured far left – fellow blogger Deacon Steve Hayes, author of the Khanya blog.)

Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to share with you a thought and feeling I have today here with you in Africa. That thought I consider to be very important and that’s why I wish to share it with you.

They say that hell is the inability of man to love. And truly, in the tradition of the Church we find the most diverse presentations of what hell is and what it looks like. But I think the most accurate presentation of hell is man’s inability to love. This summer I had the blessing of having Fr. Panteleimon visit our monastery. He spoke to me with such love about all of you so that at this moment I feel as if I already know you all. In the eyes and heart of Fr. Panteleimon  I saw the great love he has for all of you,  he conveyed that love to me and the fathers and monastics and all the people that were at the Divine Liturgy then which was served by Fr. Panteleimon . Filled with that love, we have a momentary foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven.

For if hell, as we have stated, is man’s inability to love and we see and hear how much Fr. Panteleimon  loves you and conveys that love to us then it is truly a foretaste of the Heavenly Kingdom here on earth, and together with that love comes also joy. For believe me, it is not possible for someone to even say that they are an Orthodox Christian unless they are joyful. Love and joy go together. Joy is the foundation of every Christian family, every parish, every monastery.

I greet you with that joy now. That love and joy, joy conveyed to us this past summer by Fr. Panteleimon which we feel for it simply does not cease. I believe we will only multiply that love and that joy of which we now speak in our fellowship during these days, and God grant, I hope that you will all allow us to return that love and joy when you visit us. I speak not only from my lips but my heart that when you come it will be as if you come to your own home and may it all be in glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity, in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.