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
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…

Nov
30

Day3of40 – Self-Discipline, Camaraderie, and the Demon of Noonday

Even in the West, where we have built up huge walls to keep it out (and bread and circuses to keep us busy when the siege is strong and infiltrations are many), pain makes its way into our lives.  Pain may not be the right word; I'm not talking about the sudden "oops I stubbed my toe" sensation, but about that deep bone ache that sneaks its way into our core and threatens to infect our lives from the inside out.  It g a crows into a cons Read more…