Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | August 2, 2012

Recommended: AFR’s Becoming a Healing Presence

Okay, I’m still a fan of AFR. Easy to listen to at the gym or even the car. Sure, there seem to be plenty out there who pooh-pooh the whole thing. Guess I’m just not one of them. There’s still plenty there, and sure, you will wade through this and that, but there’s plenty to be found. Dr. Albert Rossi’s podcasts to me seem to be one of the keepers.  What is I like? His sense of balance… and his consistent message to us to be a healing presence. It’s sort of a simple lens by which to view the whole of the Christian Life and to filter our sense of things and assure that we remain in balance. I’ve listened to quite a few. And while many seem to have fascinating  dogma, theology, or apologetics… you won’t find that here. What I think you in these podcasts is different… not too different because it seems to be still quite firmly in the mainstream, my expectation is that you will find thought is a sense of maturity. And to me as a convert with all the good and bad of convert zeal, I think what he has to say is not just a good thing, but a useful and helpful thing in what I pray is a more mature spirit.

Long ago, I recollect that Fr. Evan Armatas’s podcasts first alerted me to Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s great comment, but here I’ll credit Dr. Rossi with reminding me of it:

“We see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder.”

And yet what we want are answers and certainty, right? We think we”know” something, that this is right and that is wrong, and so we think we measure a difference…. right? Sure we do… or at least that’s the temptation.Somehow there must be an old saying that goes, “A degree of distinction is not necessarily an inch of difference” but I can’t find it. What I will admit to and have admitted before is that small things make a difference… often in large ways, and I can tell you that in following Fr. Meletios Webber’s suggestion to use “I have faith…” rather than “I believe…” in my daily recitations of the Creed was a point where I began to feel some of the tension leave my body… my hand as I crossed myself, and I’m sure at a deeper level somehow as well. As Fr. Mel likes to say (and this is my sense of it from memory… so please forgive me if it’s not precise), “Somehow here in the West we tend to say ‘I believe…’ when what we really mean is we have some very firm ideas about something and we’re willing to fight to the death to hold on to them… when in fact, the truth is that the Greek is very  much closer to “I have faith…” where having faith isn’t an idea, or notion, or some mental construct, but something that comes from and engages the heart.”

And I think this is the sort of balance and perspective in daily living that Dr. Albert Rossi’s podcasts seem to be getting at. Give them a try. Let me know what you think. If you follow this link, you’ll land on a two-part series on “Orthodoxy as Paradoxy” followed by “Embracing Ambiguity” and then a three-parter on “Asceticism”. Rossi was a Roman Catholic monk for 20 years or so before becoming Orthodox and having a family over 30 years ago. He teaches at St. Vlad’s, and I hope you’ll enjoy what he has to offer. But then again… only some of us whackjobs actually need this, right? Is there a reason my dog’s a whackjob? Do they say dogs take after their owners? Nah.


  1. I think I started listening to this series a while ago and got sidetracked. At least I remember it was on a similar subject. Your post reminds me of St. Seraphim’s comment “Acquire the Holy Spirit and thousands around you will be saved.”

  2. We seem to be exploring some similar themes.
    You might want to check out my book, “Paradoxy: Creating Christian Community Beyond Us and Them.”

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