[Christian Vision Project email newsletter, Spring 2007]As a writer and culture critic Frederica Mathewes-Green has landed stories on National Public Radio, in the pages of major magazines and newspapers, and in bestselling books on culture and Christian spirituality. Like all public figures who challenge the assumptions of mainstream culture, she has had to learn how to stay focused and humble in the midst of both success and hostility. There are few Christians who model grace and creativity better than this grandmother of four. In this interview she describes two basic spiritual disciplines that lead to a life of integrity in a fragmented culture.
Entries in Christian Life (166)
[ExploreFaith.com, May 2007]
We sat down recently with Frederica Mathewes-Green to talk about spiritual practice…
Explorefaith: Your spiritual journey has taken you from growing up Catholic, to practicing Hinduism in your twenties, to Anglicanism, and finally, conversion into the Orthodox Church. Would you say it was primarily belief, or practice, that drew to you to Orthodoxy?
FMG: Strangely enough, I had finished most of those changes by the time I was 21; the “wilderness wandering” was brief but intense in my teens. When I came home to Christianity my husband and I went to Episcopal seminary and enjoyed being part of the “renewal” movement in that denomination. In the late 80’s we were concerned about theological drift in that church, and that is why we set out to examine alternatives.
[Beliefnet, April 13, 2007]
Last summer we had a houseful at the beach, with our children and their spouses and the seven (soon to be nine) little grandchildren. The cousins don’t see each other much, so they splashed and ran and shouted, the wind tearing at their voices. But Adam, then four, stayed by himself. He moved along the edges of the dunes, circling the family like a silent satellite. Last year, Adam received a diagnosis of autism.
[National Review Online, April 5, 2007]
Interview about “The Lost Gospel of Mary”
Q. Frederica, you have a new book out about Mary. Have you discovered a new gospel? Where was it hiding?
A. I feel ambivalent about the title — kind of lurid, isn’t it! But my point was that there are many, many ancient Christian texts that are fully orthodox; it’s not only a matter of New Testament versus gnostics. Earlier generations of Christians read the same kind of supplemental and devotional works we do today: biographies, commentaries,
[excerpted from “The Lost Gospel of Mary,” Paraclete Press, 2007]
The Beloved Virgin Mary
Who was she?
It is hard to see Mary clearly, beneath the conflicting identities she has borne over the centuries. To one era she is the flower of femininity, and to another the champion of feminism; in one age she is the paragon of obedience, and in another the advocate of liberation. Some enthusiasts have been tempted to pile her status so high that it rivals that of her Son. Others, aware that excessive adulation can be dangerous, do their best to ignore her entirely.
Behind all that there is a woman nursing a baby. The child in her arms looks into her eyes. Years later he will look at her from the cross, through a haze of blood and sweat.
[Gifted For Leadership, January 2007]
I don’t like the category “spirituality.” It sounds so external. It sounds so optional. It isn’t a concept I find in the first millennium, or anywhere in Eastern Christianity. As far as I can tell, what people today mean by “spirituality” is what St. Paul meant by “life in Christ.”
[Beliefnet, Jan 10, 2007]
In recent decades, some Protestant denominations have undergone heavy fighting over the question of whether women should be ordained. A woman holding a worship service or preaching was once so rare that the 18th century English author, Samuel Johnson, could say: “a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”
This controversy hasn’t gained a high profile in the Orthodox Church, probably due to our way of approaching such issues: if the early church was in agreement on a matter, if that consensus continued unbroken over the centuries, then that seems to be the Holy Spirit’s leading. Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13).
[Relevant; Jan/Feb 2007]
1. What trends in church and worship styles do you see? Are they positive or negative?
As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, I’m glad to see communities digging into the treasures of the ancient church, particularly in terms of seeking beauty. The less we try to make worship like an evening in the family room, the more we make it something directed beyond our familiar experience, bringing us to the God of beauty, awe, and mystery, the better — and my personal hunch is that this is more attractive to seekers, too.
[Foreword to The Sign of the Cross by Andreas Andreopoulos, Paraclete Press, 2007]
At my Orthodox church every Sunday I see families arrive at church and go up to the iconostasis, to greet the icon of the Lord. The parents stand before his searching gaze and make the sign of the cross fluidly: the right thumb and first two fingers together to recall the Trinity, and the last two fingers together and pressed down to the palm, to recall Christ’s two natures and his descent to the earth. They touch forehead, abdomen, right shoulder, left shoulder, then sweep the right hand to the floor with a deep bow. After making two of these “metanias,” they kiss Christ’s hand, then make one more sign of the Cross and a last bow.
Reverend Father Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa Fallen Asleep in the Lord
Alexandria VA – The Reverend Father Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa, parish priest of Holy Cross Church in Alexandria, Virginia, fell asleep in the Lord on Tuesday afternoon, 21 November 2006 following a short but difficult illness.