From the Dean

News items, published articles, and reading recommendations from Dean Timothy George

Page 4 of 166

The Dean Recommends: The High and Holy Calling of Being a Wife

By Frederica Mathewes-Green
June 8, 2016

[June 8, 2016: “Glory and Honor: Orthodox Christian Resources on Marriage,” edited by David and Mary Ford, St Vladimir’s Seminary Press]

Like elementary school students, writers are regularly asked to supply an essay to fit an assigned title. When I learned that the title of this essay would be “The High and Holy Calling of Being a Wife,” I did what any sensible person would do: I tried to get out of it.

My husband and I celebrated our 40th anniversary last spring, so I have extensive experience in being a wife. But whatever I’ve been doing around here for the last 40 years, “high” and “holy” aren’t terms that immediately spring to mind. For most of us, married life is something we make up as we go along. We learn some deep truths along the way, but usually immediately after it would have been really useful to have known said truth. Whatever height or holiness might have resulted would be entirely the Lord’s doing, not our own.

But that’s true of everything we undertake, isn’t it? We don’t know what we’re doing a lot of the time. We don’t know what’s going to happen next. We don’t know whether what we just did (or said) was the right thing to do (or say). And yet grace still emerges, sometimes at the most unexpected places.


My sweetie and I got married May 18, 1974, under a big oak tree. The wedding party, which included a black lab wearing a red bandana around its neck, processed through the clearing, with our hippie friends standing on one side and astonished family members on the other. When we reached the tree, we turned to the gathering and recited the “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot” passage from Leonard Cohen’s novel, Beautiful Losers. (Everyone calls him “Fr. Gregory,” but I still call him by the name he had when we met. In these pages I’ll call him “G.”)

We had asked our friend, an Episcopal priest, to conduct the service, and were disappointed when he told us that we could not write our own vows. So instead we selected the coolest option from that church’s book of experimental services. We were hardly Christians at that point, and could have been better described as all-religions-are-equal syncretists. We considered Christianity less profound than some religions further East, but endearing in its own little way. About halfway through the service I read a Hindu prayer.

My dress was a simple shift of unbleached muslin. Instead of a bouquet, I wore a circle of flowers in my hair. (I meant this to be rebellious, but the joke was on me: crowns are essential to the Orthodox wedding service, and an ancient emblem of marriage.) After the service, the puzzled caterer set out the requested vegetarian reception. And then, as a string quartet played, we joined hands with our hippie friends and danced in circles under the trees.

This seems the place to say “I guess you had to be there,” but you actually didn’t have to be there. You’re picturing it just fine. When archeologists unearth our wedding photos hundreds of years from now, they’ll be able to place the date within five years. Read the rest at

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Thursday, June 9, 2016
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The Dean Recommends: A Confession of Liberal Intolerance

By Nicholas Kristof
May 7, 2016

WE progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

O.K., that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”

I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

“Much of the ‘conservative’ worldview consists of ideas that are known empirically to be false,” said Carmi.

“The truth has a liberal slant,” wrote Michelle.

“Why stop there?” asked Steven. “How about we make faculties more diverse by hiring idiots?”

To me, the conversation illuminated primarily liberal arrogance — the implication that conservatives don’t have anything significant to add to the discussion. My Facebook followers have incredible compassion for war victims in South Sudan, for kids who have been trafficked, even for abused chickens, but no obvious empathy for conservative scholars facing discrimination. Read the rest at The New York Times.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Tuesday, June 7, 2016
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The Dean Recommends: Lincoln’s Teaching – and Our Politics

By Hadley Arkes
May 31, 2016

Lincoln famously complained that there was nowhere that people could talk about slavery – they couldn’t talk about it in the churches because “it didn’t belong there.” It was too political, too divisive. And they couldn’t talk about it in politics because it was too explosive. It was a moral and religious question, too unsettling for our politics. It was the gravest issue before us. It was the issue that truly went to the core of the kind of regime we meant to establish and the kind of people we had sought to be. And yet we couldn’t talk about it readily in public.

We bring back here one of the most enduring lessons Lincoln taught, with a problem that persistently haunts our politics: One of the prime tasks of the political man is to teach, through his own, artful example how ordinary people can talk about the issues that truly run to the root. But that presupposes the prior, truly first task. The political man or woman will need to get clear in the first place on the questions that really were central; the questions, as Lincoln said, from which everything else radiated.

That is why, as he said, that proposition, “all men are created equal” really was the “father of all moral principle” in us. As Lincoln showed, the case in principle for slavery could not be confined to blacks. A government that could accept the slavery of black people could easily begin disfranchising certain classes of whites as well. And with a simple shift of labels, a whole other class of “human persons” can be removed altogether from the circle of “rights-bearing beings.” Read the rest at The Catholic Thing.

Posted by Hunter Upton at Thursday, June 2, 2016
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