About this blog

This blog has had a surprisingly long history. I started it in early 2010; since then it has changed just as much as I have. Virtually the only constant has been its basic purpose as a place to put my random thoughts, especially pertaining to my Christian faith, along with other various subjects like music, art, and technology). The history of the blog and its various names roughly parallels the journey of my own faith, from rather naïve evangelicalism to more informed, critical evangelicalism to seemingly unending confusion and doubt to, finally, the Orthodox Church.

Fractal's Great Big Internet Book of Thoughts (2010-3-5—November 2011ish): Ah, the early days, when I barely knew how to write or name a blog. I wrote about anything that crossed my mind during this period: books, games, culture, and theology. I also devoted two months to blogging through my experience on a summer project (mission trip) to Milwaukee with Campus Crusade for Christ.

The Space In Between (November 2011ish—2013-1-9): In late November 2011, I began to increasingly have doubts and questions about my faith. (The experience was chronicled immediately here, two months later here, and three years later here. I began to think more critically about what I believed and why, and how to reconcile the differences between the tentative conclusions I was coming to with what others believed. The new blog title, besides referring to the name of my favorite album at the time, also referenced my attempts to reconcile tensions and close dichotomies that I found through my questioning, as well as the "already/not yet" nature of the Christian faith.

Thoughts of a Faithful Skeptic (2013-1-9—2014-11-10): The doubts did not lift immediately, and instead got worse for over two more years. For a while I mistakenly thought that the proper response to doubt was its "opposite", faith, the conscious decision to trust God despite lacking certainty. But suppressing doubt turned out to be a ruinous course of action as it ate away at my faith from below until I realized there was nothing of substance left. Eventually I realized the first step to overcoming doubt was acknowledging it, taking it seriously, and listening to it. The blog's third title expressed the confusion of stronger-than-ever faith and continuing, serious doubts I experienced as I set out in search of a form of Christianity I could believe in wholeheartedly.

εἰκών βασιλέως (2014-11-10—): Through a master's class I took on church history, I finally realized that the form of Christianity I was looking for is the ancient, apostolic faith of the Eastern Orthodox Church. A skeptic no more, I eventually settled on an allusion to the church father St. Irenaeus as the new title for the blog (explained below). This post has a summary of my eastward journey and links to all the posts explaining it in more detail. Warning: it is quite long.

For the record, everything in this blog is completely spontaneous; I don't hew to any set schedule and I don't make any money off it. If you want to show your appreciation, all I ask is that you share it with interested friends or (dare I say it) post a constructive comment.

What's with the Greek name?

An excerpt from the post explaining the new name:

While thinking about what to rename my blog for the third time, I was tempted to go with a totally nondescriptive name that could never again change, like David's Blog. But then something about Irenaeus' analogy of the mosaic hit me. Here is his telling of it again:
Such, then, is [the Valentinians'] system, which neither the prophets announced, nor the Lord taught, nor the apostles delivered, but of which they boast that beyond all others they have a perfect knowledge. They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures; and, to use a common proverb, they strive to weave ropes of sand, while they endeavour to adapt with an air of probability to their own peculiar assertions the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the apostles, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support. In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth. By transferring passages, and dressing them up anew, and making one thing out of another, they succeed in deluding many through their wicked are in adapting the oracles of the Lord to their opinions. 
Their manner of acting is just as if one, when a beautiful image of a king has been constructed by some skilful artist out of precious jewels, should then take this likeness of the man all to pieces, should rearrange the gems, and so fit them together as to make them into the form of a dog or of a fox, and even that but poorly executed; and should then maintain and declare that this was the beautiful image of the king which the skilful artist constructed, pointing to the jewels which had been admirably fitted together by the first artist to form the image of the king, but have been with bad effect transferred by the latter one to the shape of a dog, and by thus exhibiting the jewels, should deceive the ignorant who had no conception what a king's form was like, and persuade them that that miserable likeness of the fox was, in fact, the beautiful image of the king. 
In like manner do these persons patch together old wives' fables, and then endeavour, by violently drawing away from their proper connection, words, expressions, and parables whenever found, to adapt the oracles of God to their baseless fictions. We have already stated how far they proceed in this way with respect to the interior of the Pleroma.
I realized that this analogy is quite descriptive of my journey through doubt. I experienced crashing waves of doubt caused by reading the Bible, yet not by the Bible itself but by how I was reading it. My presuppositions, the "big picture" I expected to put together from the Scriptures, were wrong. I was trying to assemble the Scriptures into the image of a fox, because that was what I'd been taught they were supposed to point to. I was further taught that this image was truly that of the king, even if it can be hard sometimes to see the resemblance. But in Orthodox Tradition I see the true image of a king, the way to read the Scriptures and put the mosaic together rightly as I'd wanted to do all along. In light of this, I decided that my blog's new name will be εἰκών βασιλέως (or in English, "Image of a King"). May it record my progress as I learn to read the Scriptures so as to assemble them into this image.

The name has added significance because of a souvenir I brought home from my trip to Europe. The trip came right as I was beginning to take an interest in Orthodoxy. Interestingly, each week of the trip took us through a historically different part of Christianity: Lutheran Germany, Catholic Italy, and Orthodox Greece. In Greece, I was of course interested in learning more about Orthodoxy "in its native environment". So on my first day in Athens, when I had some free time, I found a shop where I purchased a museum copy of a beautiful Christ Pantokrator (Christ Almighty) icon. I've used it in my morning prayers ever since, and I'm happy to be able to name my blog after it.

About me

I am a professional software engineer and an amateur theologian with degrees to back up both interests (BS in computer science and MA in theological studies); I like to joke that if I ever pursue a doctorate, it should be in something equally unrelated to my current degrees, like literature or sociology. I am a collector of books, music, and headphones and spend a good deal of time on the bu each week reading and thinking. This blog is the result of this process. I live with my wife, Marissa, in Minneapolis. I am also a bit of an audiophile and have a separate (now-inactive)  music blog to avoid cluttering this one, linked to in the sidebar.