May 11, 2009

OK, here’s how this works. I’m going to sit and read the writings of a saint for ten minutes or so; and then reflect on what I’ve read. When possible, I will have the text of what was read here, as well as my comments. Then you can offer your comments and insights as well.

I’m going to start with the book, My Life in Christ, by St. John of Kronstadt. There are several reasons for choosing this book. The first reason is that I am named for St. John, although my life is almost nothing at all like his. Apart from sharing the name, the only other points of contact are the Orthodox Church and faith we have in common, and I am a priest, as he was during his life in this world. The bottom line in all this is that he has a great deal to teach me; while I have a lot to learn. The second reason is that his book is not one with a high level of structure. In fact, the book appears to be more of a spiritual journal, or a spiritual diary — or even a blog. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to find that, had the internet been available to our holy Father John, he would have “written” this book by way of a blog. The third reason is that this will not be my first time through the book, so I know what to expect; but I am not so familiar with its contents that there might be little likelihood of finding anything new within its pages.

Let me add that the “ten minutes” is going to be a relative time. It may be that, in the midst of a long passage, time may “run out” on the ten-minute clock before the passage has been read. I don’t intend to stop in mid-passage, simply because ten minutes have gone by! No, I’ll finish that passage. On the other hand, if the next passage is long, and it’s already been eight or nine minutes, why, that will make a good place to stop for the day. Finally, you may read more rapidly or more slowly than my pace; so if you time yourself reading the passage, you may find a different result. But if we agree that, for the purpose before us here, “ten minutes” means “ten minutes, more or less,” we should be just fine!

I am not new to blogging, but I am new to WordPress. This means that it may be some time before I have learned how to use all the bells and whistles available to me here. I have yet to discern the meaning and applications of things such as “tags” and “categories” — to say nothing of embedding video or audio files, using widgets, and so on. If, therefore, you spot something that WordPress can do better than what I have cobbled together, don’t hesitate to point me in the right direction, or to give me instructions! Your help, together with your comments on the main purpose of this activity, will certainly be appreciated.

So, without further ado, here we go!

OK, that’s time for today. However, there’s a problem. The text itself, if I put it here, will make for an extremely long post! I think what I’ll need to do is to store the text at a separate location, and link to it from here. That way, I can still quote from it, but not make you scroll through a page that will seem to be as long as a football field!

Just so you’ll know, I am going to take the liberty of editing the text — not for content, but for clarity. Lately, I’ve found the tendency to what I call “pseudo-King James Version” English to be an irritating and unnecessary distraction. Without losing the references to the Persons of the holy Trinity — “Thee” and “Thou” and so on — I’m not sure why other aspects of speech should be rendered in a form that all too often obscures rather than illuminates. Why not just say, “give” rather than “giveth? Or “takes” rather than “taketh?” I know, it’s not worth worrying about — but it is MY blog — and so that’s what I’m going to do!

All this is going to take a bit more work to set up than I had anticipated. Rather than try to do it in a hurry, I think what I’ll do is stop now as far as this message is concerned; set up the storage site; and then return here with the link and my reflections. I hope you’ll return and take part, even as this struggles through being a “work in progress!”