I am first an Orthodox Christian, married and father of three, therapist, and lover of all things culture. I’ve studied Spanish, German, French, Arabic, Greek, and Hebrew and can’t speak any of them worth a damn; I’ve lived or traveled in 18 countries; I’ve spent my entire literate life studying theology, history, philosophy, and psychology; I once slept in the woods of Northern Arizona for 9 days fasting and praying just to see if God would show up; I sing, play guitar, mandolin, and bagpipes but suck at all of them; I am a life long runner, mountain biker, and freshly pressed swimmer, I also suck at all of those except running; I was a decent artist – pencil drawing mostly – but gave it up after high school. I have a fairly significant addiction to YouTube and hate Hallmark Christmas movies with equal passion.
I spent 4 years earning an almost completely useless BA degree in Pastoral Ministry, another 2 years earning an MA in Theological and Historical Studies, and finished my academic me-time with an MS in Counseling Psychology. I am currently a psychotherapist in private practice working mostly with adults suffering with anxiety, depression, and trauma disorders.
Books I’m working through:
(1) “Commentary on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics” by Thomas Aquinas; (2) “An Elementary Christian Metaphysics” by Joseph Owens; (3) “Technosis” by Erik Davis; (4) “From Dawn to Decadence” by Jacques Barzun; and (5) “The Philokalia, Vol. 4” compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain
(Updated April 28, 2023)
53 thoughts on “About”
You really need to update your “about”
Haha, I completely forgot about it till your comment. Thank you Andrew.
Does this mean you have no more Zen in your life?
Zen has many things going for it. The ancient Chinese understood what many Christians fail to see, that is that the kingdom of heaven is within you. Where they miss it is their idea of total emptying without the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Their understanding of turning inward and rejecting the false “glitters” of the world is something all Christians should pay heed.
Zen actually set me up long ago to accept the physical rigor of aseticism, something the churches I grew up in rejected without question. Not that I’ve ever lived as a hermit, but I’ve always been oriented in that direction (I once spent 2 weeks alone in the woods fasting and praying for a radical visitation from God, IT WORKED). I don’t sit around reading Zen philosophy anymore. Following Eastern Orthodoxy, in my opinion, puts Zen to shame in its physical and mental training, to say nothing of the obvious: Zen no Jesus.
Eric – You certainly have been looking, like an unsettled person who is trying to find his way. I can’t say that I agree with all your finds, and that you are set in them. You’ve had so many beliefs that I wonder if you’ll ever land on the right one…the right one for you. Some people are born to be full of questions and cuiriosity, and I think that is true of you. I know for the present that you have landed on these Orthodoxy beliefs, and you seem satisfied, but I have to ask myself how did you get to this point. I looked at your Facebook profile, and you listed some very divergent books as being your favorite reading. If I were in the process of finding the right religion for myself, after reading these books, I would be confused. I leave my life open to being an agnostic. I don’t want to completely cut God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost out of my life, but I look at them and listen to them in a whole new way than I did when I was called a Christian. I see I’ve run out of room…
David, I was definitely unsettled and definitely looking. Growing up Mormon I was never satisfied. My brief dip into Zen left me miserably unsatisfied. As a young teenager I found Christ in a wild charismatic church. But, my worship life and doctrinal life was always unsettled in the independent, Evangelical world. It wasn’t until God led me to His Church till I found peace. I am, for the first time in my life as a 30-something, settled. What I could never do in Evangelicalism, I can do in Orthodoxy: I can trust the faith, I can trust the liturgy, the sacraments, and the Holy Apostolic Tradition.
My book tastes come from many years of my love of study. History, philosophy and religion have always been my intellectual heartthrob. Those authors displayed on my Facebook page are only some of the more influential ones in my life. You’ll notice that they are not as divergent as you might think. 3 are Orthodox writers, one is basically an Orthodox philosophical writer, one is Catholic, but primarily a satirist, and the other is loved by almost every modern Christian tradition. Which of them are you familiar with (which have you actually read) and why do you find them divergent?
I I can’t find your Facebook page.
I can’t find your Facebook page.
Hello Dean. You can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1526897591
Eric- I am new to your blog, but I wanted to express my thanks for the encouragement and edification I have received from your many posts. I have recently journeyed to Orthodoxy with my family. It has been a tough because I was in ministry (a deacon) within the Anglican church (REC). My journey began a couple of years ago and I knew I had to become Orthodox, but had to move cautiously, because my wife and family were just quite there yet. But then, my wife made the decision we should go back to the local Orthodox church, “to check it out again,” she was as they say hooked. One minister once said that when God wants a husband and wife to make a major move, he will inspire both of them to embrace it. My wife became enthusiastic about the possibility of becoming Orthodox. Needless to say we hope to be chrismated very soon. Thank you the posts, and please continue to encourage those of us who have made the decision to become what we should have done many years ago. Dave
Thank you Dave, that touches me deeply. My wife was raised in the deep, deep Charismatic world. She wanted nothing to do with Orthodoxy when I became interested in it in grad school. Her first 3 trips to the Church were literally painful for her, but after a single catechism class, where, for the first time, she was presented with the history of the Church she was totally hooked. We’ve never been more happy and peaceful in all our Christian lives since we made the move. Its been an amazing journey so far. My love and prayers to you and your family.
Eric, I grew up in a mainline Calvinistic Church, became a minister and is now retired. I sometimes visit charismatic churches, and sometimes orthodox, but find myself comfortable with both the teaching and spiritual atmosphere in the middle.
You mention your journey ending in an Eastern Orthodox Church. Yet I don’t quite understand how you experience the difference and especially your connection and unity with God. Have you posted on this subject on your blog yet?
I found your posts Calvinism, Atheism and “spiritual, not religious” very enlightening. Thank you.
Hey Herman, glad to have you on. I actually wrote a long series on my first year experiences with the Orthodox Church. You’ll find it under “My Journey with the Orthodox Church” tab. I would love to hear more about your own experiences.
Your journey resonates with me – to mix a cliched metaphor. I have been a Pentecostal my whole life and frequently find myself frustrated with the relentless positivity of it, the narrowness of focus, the sermons that are like leadership seminars with scriptures tacked on. I have a great deal of respect for my church leaders in person, and I have no calling or plans to leave, but often I wonder why I haven’t!
I am about to start an MSc next year in Psychology, aiming for Clinical Neuropsychology.
I look forward to your future posts.
Wow, yah, I’d say our stories have more than a few points of similarity. I was at the point, just before converting the the Orthodox Church, of throwing in the towel and declaring the whole of modern Christianity a fraud. All I can say is thank God for the Church or I would have given up on church. 🙂 Great to have you one, Anna. Cheers.
“the relentless positivity of it.”
Interesting turn of phrase. Slightly on topic, I’ve been looking for a good answer for why pretty much all icons have a sadness or frown. Anyone?
Dean, I believe it speaks to the idea that the saints were champions in their struggles against life’s trials and tribulations. The countenance on their faces reflect the battle posture of humility.
Hi Eric, nice meeting you as well. I wish I were able to write in a less public way, but couldn’t find a contact form.
I wanted to share some background with you. I was once an agnostic, a hair this side of atheism. I disliked Christians.
A Pauline encounter with Jesus Christ occurred that led me to faith and the Roman Catholic Church. I studied and read, moving into deeper theology than most new Christians. I developed a close connection with Spirit, who guided me closely. Spiritual direction helped to keep my feet on the floor.
Over time, I entered a Carmelite Monastery, later spirituality and theological studies, and serving the oppressed and poor in a Missionary order. Eventually, I left the church because I couldn’t remain obedient to the Pope, and I couldn’t be a hypocrite.
After marrying, I continued studying and had an increasingly more eclectic and expanding contemplative spirituality and service to the poor, but old age and poor health are bringing the later to a end.
Art is a tool at the moment to help a dying friend. I haven’t really practiced much of my own art for a long time, only an occasional splash of intuition, which is more abstract.
I remember back at how many absolutes were once in my life and have to smile at how life and choices alter our thinking, opening us to new understandings and visions. I guess the one lesson I have learned is to be open to the inspiration of the Spirit, which we think will be much different than it sometimes is. Everything is for the advancement and evolution of our souls. For that I am grateful and rejoice.
You may now understand why I defend the paths that people travel spiritually, even without organized religion, and how I trust in Spirit to grace and guide all travelers. I have lived it and been exceedingly blessed. I am also grateful for the foundations of my spirituality that were born before religion and were formed in religion.
I wish you the very best with your continued studies and hope you are filled with continual grace in all you do.
Thank you, Suzanne. I’m touched that you took the time to introduce me to your story. I’m sure there are volumes more that could be told. I pray for your continued growth and inspiration. Thanks for giving me another chance. 🙂
Hello Eric. Let me give you some background on why I am writing. I was baptized at birth into the GOC but I was raised in a Charismatic Anglican Church that believed in a concept called the “Three Streams, One River” approach. The streams represent the catholic, charismatic, and evangelical ideas under one Church. I adored it and been unable to find anything like it.
I am interested in learning what you kept from your Charismatic days and what ideas the Orthodox Church tends to accept and deny. I still believe strongly in the gifts and feel they are an important part in the history and present of the Church.
I would also like to know how you navigate through Marian adoration and prayers to saints and the dead. These are by far my biggest theological hurtles. I’m a Church History buff and also in school for theological degrees so I am very familiar with arguments for and against these topics.
Thank you for any time you can take to answer these questions.
Great questions. Sorry for the delay in answering them, but I wanted to answer in full which forced me to wait till I had time. You asked:
“I am interested in learning what you kept from your Charismatic days and what ideas the Orthodox Church tends to accept and deny.”
The Orthodox Church is steeped in signs and wonders going back for 20 centuries. There is a book I read every morning called the “Prologue of Ohrid” which tells the lives and acts of the saints through the generations. There is nothing charismania ever even thought of doing that hasn’t been done and more in the Orthodox Church. It truly is THE Spirit empowered Church (without the rock and roll praise and worship bands). I suppose what is denied is the way in which the Charismatic movement chose to interpret and act out the gift of tongues, which is a major obstacle for many Charismatics I know. It wasn’t for me, and for both Church tradition and Biblical reasons (which would take too long to spell out here).
“I would also like to know how you navigate through Marian adoration and prayers to saints and the dead.”
Venerating Mary is something the angel Gabriel taught the Church to do when he said: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” We’ve been saying it ever since. Mary is an icon of the Church. She carried the Son of God in her own body; one can even say the Temple in Jerusalem was a typology of Mary, prophetic of the advent of Christ’s birth. She is the mother of God and worthy of adoration if there ever was someone worthy of it. As for the saints, they are heroes of the faith, examples we strive to be like. They are not dead in the sense that they are inactive in the life of the Church. They continue as the “great cloud of witnesses” and are Christ’s body, as all those baptized in Christ are. They remain not just as reminders of what life in Christ looks like, but participants in His life. Christ’s transfiguration when He was found with Moses and Elijah are clear signs that the Church past is the Church present and also the Church future. Prayers offered to the saints are primarily for them to intercede for us, just as one would ask his/her friend, father, or minister to pray for their well being. It’s a beautiful thing.
But, like you said, you probably already know all this stuff intellectually. If you’re asking about how “I” personally navigate these issues the only thing I know to say is that it is done through humility and trust. I trust the historic Church as being the work of the Holy Spirit, and I trust the Church more than I trust my own intelligence. I studied in grad school under PhDs from all walks of life (Christian denomination speaking): Calvinists, Lutherans, Catholics, Charismatics, etc. All I learned from them was that even if I spend the rest of my life earning theology degrees I would be no better off then them – disagreeing with every other professor in the building who also spent his or her entire life studying theology. Christianity isn’t verified by my intelligence, its verified by the Apostolic Tradition.
I am an Evangelical minister who has been a Prison Chaplain for 20 years… Pentecostal by experience, M.Div. at an Evangelical Seminary… Yet ‘strangely drawn’ to Eastern Orthodoxy…. I ‘sneak out of church’ and attend a local Antiochian Orthodox Church in Waterloo, Ontario. I follow certain Orthodox sites on FB and twitter etc. just found your blog tonight and hope I signed up properly! Thank you for your non-inflammatory style of writing… I look forward to reading more…
Thank you Rev. Swirski. If there is anything I can help with in your understanding of Orthodoxy, please don’t be a stranger. And, I must say this, watch where you hang out on Facebook. Many of the Orthodox pages are populated by overly sensitive and bored, arm-chair theologians who are just waiting for an opportunity to tell the world how much they know about whatever they think they know. It is very often an extreme turn-off for seekers, and is not representative of the Orthodox ethos.
Thanks Eric! I didn’t expect a response ! To help me avoid ‘arm chair theologians’ , can u suggest a couple of ‘good’ sites or priests to ‘follow’? Also, I need to buy a prayer book, psalter, and maybe a horologian ? Any suggestions as to which ones and from which publisher (English) . I will be following your blog with interest!!! Thanks! And God’s blessings to u this Holy Week! – Nick
Humm, you got me. Off hand I can’t say I follow any priests on Facebook (except my own, I suppose). Everyday I read from the Philokalia (currently in volume 4), the Prologue of Ohrid, St. Isaac the Syrian’s Homilies, and Scripture. I’ve been on that diet for the last 3 or 4 years, swapping out Saints once I finish them. I get a lot out of it. I’m embarrassed to say that I do not own a Psalter or horologian, but we use the Antiochian Orthodox prayer book published in New York (I think).
A prayer book used by many at my church is called Prayer Book published by Holy Trinity Monastery, this one is the fifth priniting (2011) and from ROCOR, though my church is OCA currently..the little red prayer book from the Antiochian church is good for a prayer rule, it is more concise… This other one also has prayers, akathists, festal troparia, selections from Vespers, selections from Matins, etc.
Just reading back through these posts and realize that I have a good Orthodox prayer book to recommend to you now. It is “The Ancient Faith Prayer Book” by Ancient Faith Publishing compiled by Vassilios Papavassiliou (a wonderful Orthodox priest in London).
Thanks Eric! I will check it out !!!
Eric, I can’t find your personal email and Ierfectly understand why, so I’m posting here.(if you can obtain mine, perhaps with WP, please feel free should you ever want to).
i just want you to know that I fully appreciate the support you’ve given me. I have wondered about the validity of some correspondence I’ve reeived from others and now, i believe, I have satisfied my opinion, but will always remain open to any changes. As such, I want you to know that if I leave your site it will not be due to any disagreement with anyone, and, if I remain it may be on slightly different terms with some, (which may leave you puzzled, so this is why I’m writing), but, hopefully, never with you as you have respected the terms I always hope for. This may sound like some sort of ranting but it is not and I do believe you will understand.
Thanks again. I intend to remain in touch on the blog (probably to a lesser degree!), but if I do ever go elsewhere I would like to take this opportunity to wish you well on each of your steps.
BTW- I think some who have used this site are indeed on the very same road but, genuinely, within the truth of Christ, have a different perspective from you on that road. It’s a bit like having different lanes on a road but drivers going at various paces all the time and not getting quite within arm’s reach of each other so thinking they are different.
Dichasium, you’re always welcome here. You just post a lot and sometimes its overwhelming. With so many replies at times I can’t follow the threaded discussions without much effort. That’s all. I didn’t want to hurt your feelings, just make you conscious of the excessive posting.
In addition, one of the more frustrating things is when you answer people in the “Ask a Question” page. It is specifically for people asking me to clarify something which doesn’t fit anywhere else on my blog. When you respond to people there (sometimes multiple times) before I get a chance to respond it sort of ruins the point of the page. Hope that makes sense.
Eric, thanks so much but you’ve the wrong end of the stick 🙂
I don’t expect you to read all that lot between me and others! And absolutely no-one has hurt my feelings – I’m quite a toughy and could show it in no uncertain terms if I wanted to. It’s merely that i’ve found good reason in life not to, at least, while I’m capable of resisting the temptation! Thanks for the kind thoughts anyway.
You are doing a tremendous amount of reading, thinking and writing. Yet you apparently chose NOT to study for a doctorate in theology. Why?
Good question. Partly because I live in a land far, far away from any good seminaries I didn’t want to uproot my family to pursue it, partly because ultimately I didn’t want my financial future wholly dependent on whether or not I could land a professorship in theology (which is one of the only professional routes with such a degree), and partly because once I became Orthodox my desires shifted to wanting to develop as a psychotherapist instead of a professor.
I feel that my learning in theology, philosophy and history has taken me far in psychological studies, so all my schooling up to this point has been incredibly beneficial.
How bout you?
Hi Eric. I stubled upon your blog yesterday for some reason (can’t remember why now), and I spent the whole evening reading some of your posts. They are great! I think you manage to illustrate certain points very good by using parables and metaphores. This is especially true when it comes to your “journey to orthodoxy” posts.
I’m a convert from Lutheranism, and was received into the Orthodox Church in January 2010 together with my wife. Now I’m serving as a deacon in a small Antiochian mission in Gothenburg on the westcoast of Sweden. You’ve encouraged me to finally start writing my own “journey”, but I’m afraid I will not do it much justice. There are simply too many factors to tell, and I will not remember them all.
Anyway, keep up the good work!
Hi Deacon Mikael. Forgive me for the late reply, life has been very, let’s say, “full” over the past few weeks. Thank you for your post, it is very encouraging to continue blogging when I read posts like this. I would highly recommend you blog/write your journey out. My priest advised me initially 5 years ago to track my journey in this fashion since I was already blogging. I wanted to say something about Orthodoxy but being so new to it I really had nothing to say about it in general terms that was either “true” or “helpful” for others, but I could write about my own experience with impunity. It helped me to grow along the way, and now it provides very useful self-reflection.
Let me know if you decide to go this route as I would be more than interested to read it. Cheers!
I know all about life being “full” – I have two kids and a parish to tend to. I think I’ll start writing my journey as a project for 2016, probably a story with too many parts. I’ll write it in swedish, which I don’t suppose you’d understand. Maybe Google translate would make something fun of it!
Anyway, I’ll keep an eye on your blog and I’m looking forward to future posts. Pray for me!
I have a very good friend whom I went to seminary with who lives in Sweden. He didn’t teach me much Swedish unfortunately. He’s Lutheran as well, interested in EO but not converting anytime soon. Blessings to you my friend.
Wow! What’s his name? And where does he live in Sweden? Maybe I know him.
His name is Johan Wimbo. Not sure where he lives now. He recently moved.
Your post ‘top 10 most common atheist arguments…’ is awesome it really brings the whole problem together in a coherent way.
it was very useful.
Nice blog with a wonderful ability to broach various disciplines in discussing topics. Bravo
Thanks Chris! Great to have you on.
Hi Eric, someone just recommended this blog to me. I’m a recent (2015) convert to Orthodoxy, a former Mormon, and just finishing my third year of a clinical psychology program. Nice to meet you. I will search around when the semester’s over and I have a bit more time to think about it. Enjoy Holy Week.
Great to meet you Arthur. Congrats on your studies, I’m jealous. Happy Holy Week to you as well!
Eric: I have briefly read your blog….My past is United Church, Evangelical, charismatic Roman Catholic….and now I seem attracted to Orthodox.
Each time I read about it, there is a gentle understanding of faith based on accepting the principle that God does things out of love and His desire for people to be part of His new creation. Examples where I have liked the Orthodox teaching include reconciliation of the divorcee and communion, approach to confession, teaching on mortal sin, etc.
Perhaps you would recommend a few basic “texts” about the Orthodox philosophy and teachings.
Absolutely. For someone looking into Orthodoxy I highly recommend Timothy Ware’s “The Orthodox Church,” Kyriacos Markides’s “The Mountain of Silence,” Steven Damick’s “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy,” and anything by Alexander Schmemann. If you have some theological training Zizioulas’s “Being as Communion” is one of my all time favorites. Some of, if not THE best reading is the Philokalia. It comes in 4 volumes and covers Orthodox saints and ascetic writings from the 4th to the 15th century.
Hope that helps. Great to have you on as a reader!
Your writing is truly inspirational and heartening. It’s great to see someone lay out sense and truth so coherently.
To preface the second part of what I have to say, I did not come here seeking to nitpick, but insufferable pedant that I tend to be sometimes, it happens. Overlooking grammatical incongruity is a real struggle for me (my own included and I must say it far exceeds others’). Please look into your ‘then’s and ‘than’s. Thank you.
Haha, thanks Susanna. I plead guilty to being a poor self editor. Thanks for the check.
I have just entered your blog and have enjoyed what I read so far. I am a monk in the Catholic tradition and have worked in child psychoanalysis in the past. I read Zizioulas’ book “Being as Communion” recently and wrote a paper on it, which I am happy to send you, but I am not sure how to best do that. Our philosophies and theologies are very similar (I wrote a book “Being and Incarnation” before entering monastic life, which you are also welcome to access freely on the internet), but there is a radical twist in the tail (helped from insights into the preverbal world of the infant), which transfigures the understanding of “communion”.
Very interesting stuff, Kevin. I’ll look up your book.
Here’s for brevity! – ‘But the growing numbers of people exploring being ‘spiritual but not religious’, reveals an enduring appetite for meaning, community and spirituality – without the sanctimony.’
Amazing Biography Eric, I am impressed by your perseverance to experience God. To spend one’s life time experiencing God is not enough, I would say.
God bless your work in this blog.