• altar

    What a Clergyman Should and Should Not Be

    Presentation by His Grace Bishop Christoforos of Andida. It is truly an exceptional honour but also a great responsibility for all of us that we have been chosen by God to be clergymen. The Lord Himself affirms: “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). The Greek word for a c Read more…

  • ashamed

    What Is It To Be A “Former” Priest

    Interviewed by Alexander Vygovskyy For obvious reasons, we do not use real names and places, so as not to repeatedly "rub salt in the wound" in the soul of a man who has lost the honor of being a priest and serving the altar. So, our source — Alexander, is now just Alexander ... Let us need the w Read more…

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    Abbot Tryphon – graceful love (not therapy) is needed

    Self-Appointed Therapists: When correcting others becomes a form of abuse Abbot Tryphon in The Morning Offering (11 June 2016) When focusing on the sins of others, we set for ourselves the mission of correcting them. We see ourselves as called to help this poor, unfortunate one by pointing out th Read more…

  • St. Stephen experienced a culture of division; pray for us, O Protomartyr Stephen!

    A Case Study in Church Division – and repentance

    This article, "The Widowmaker Repents", recently appeared in my Facebook Newsfeed.  It's a couple years old, but still well worth the read. One of the challenges of Orthodoxy in America is that so many of our parishes were founded out of schism.  Whether the split was from Rome (as is the c Read more…

  • call-midwife

    About Wearing Cassocks and Other Good Habits

    About Wearing Cassocks and Other Good Habits Fr. Lawrence Farley May 27, 2016, No Other Foundation I am a great fan of the BBC series “Call the Midwife”, which features a group of Anglican sisters working among the poor in a London neighbourhood as midwives. Their order is fictional, but is bas Read more…

  • Untitled

    A Few Thoughts on Narcissism in the Priesthood

    One of the most popular (and useful) GGWB articles of all time is "Signs in a Congregation That a Leader Has Covert Narcissistic Personality Disorder"  If you look at the comments to that article, you will see indicators of something that researchers have confirmed: 1) the proportion of pathological Read more…

  • clergy wife

    Nine Secrets Your Pastor’s Wife Wishes You Knew

    by Christina Stolaas She’s always there. Sometimes in the background, sometimes with a welcoming smile up front, sometimes noticed and appreciated, sometimes being silently judged. Your pastor’s wife; the powerful force behind most church leaders often perceived as a mystery by the rest of the chu Read more…

Dec
07

Day9of40 – Pastoral Strategy in an Iterated Game

As I mentioned yesterday, one of the first thing social scientists do when they want to model interactions is figure out whether the interactions are iterated (i.e. repeated).  The vast majority of the work pastors do consists of repeated interactions.  While this does take the pressure off of each decision and encourage us to work on our peace and holiness, it also makes it apparent that we need to make a strategic choice: should we  Read more…

Dec
06

Day9of40 – The Joy of Ministry being an Iterated Game

When social scientists model interactions, one of the first things they have to figure out is whether the interactions are iterated (i.e. repeat themselves) or not.  Non-iterated games are rare (the classic "Prisoner's Dilemma" is the one most people are familliar with; the game of "Chicken" is another... although even they can be iterated).  One of the blessings of pastoral work (and most work that involves community) is that the i Read more…

Dec
05

Day8of40 – The Sin of Letting People Down

It’s an accepted truism that “you can’t please everyone.”  And, as long as lazy people don’t use it as an excuse to ignore the preferences of those they are called to serve (i.e. their neighbor), it’s a useful one.  But “useful” is not the same as easy. I reckon it’s easy enough when we are letting down habitual complainers; it only takes most of us a few dozen iterations of going out of our way for them to realize that their problems Read more…

Dec
04

Day7of40 – On the Joy of Service, Well Done

One of the many things I am thankful for in being an Orthodox priest is that the most important thing I do is scripted.  As a musician, I was never inclined to jazz (or any kind of improvisation); I found my greatest joy when playing difficult pieces with a group that worked well together.  Expression was not stifled, it was directed and communal (I can see how this is true for jazz players ... but that is way past my ability; I can onl Read more…

Dec
03

Day6of40 – On the Problem of Scientific and Spiritual Validation

As a social scientist, I was trained to test models based on their internal and external validity.  A good model would explain a significant portion of the variation within the sample data (i.e. have internal validity) AND have applicability beyond that sample (i.e. in the "real world" or on additional samples; this is external validity).  Sound individual-level scientific processes (i.e. collecting unbiased samples etc.) are designed t Read more…

Dec
02

Day5of40 – The Vision Thing

Every priest needs to have a vision for his priesthood and for the parish he serves.  Because today's blog is a continuation of yesterday's on leadership, this post will focus on the latter. So... do you have done the hard work of discerning a vision for your parish? Most of us haven't.  If we're asked; "what is your vision for your parish"?  We're smart people and we have learned lots of words, and we can put something together th Read more…

Dec
01

Day4of40 – “Can’t I Just Serve Well?”

This is a question/conversation that comes up fairly regularly with seminarians and priests.  I strongly believe that in most American parishes it is NOT enough to just serve well and that one of the things we are called to do as "fathers" is lead. Yes, we need to strengthen our own life in Christ through asceticism and the rigors of Orthopraxis (e.g. prayer rule, fasting, study of Scripture, repentance, the cultivation of virtue, e Read more…