Monthly Archives: March 2014

5 Lessons from Sleepless in Seattle

It turns out Sleepless in Seattle has more than snarky repartee and Cary Grant references. There’s a smidge of wisdom, too.

1. Coincidence ≠ Kismet
Jay: “Well, this is fate. She’s divorced, we don’t want to redo the cabinets, and you need a wife. What do they call it when everything intersects?”
Sam: “The Bermuda Triangle.”


Sometimes things do come together in amusing and startling ways, and it’s good to pay attention. But serendipity isn’t a sign from God, and it doesn’t mean you’re MFEO.

2. It’s just a date
Sam: “Jonah. Listen, you don’t know Victoria. In fact she’s a mystery to me, too. She tosses her hair a lot, why? Is it a twitch? Does she need a haircut or a barrette? I’d like to understand these things, and that’s why I’m dating her. I’m not living with her. I’m not marrying her. Can you appreciate the difference? That’s what single people do. They see how other people fit.”

It’s okay to get coffee even if you’re skeptical about there being a white picket fence in your future together. Look, you don’t have to—if you don’t want to go on a date, don’t go! That’s enough of a reason. But there’s no need to rule people out before you get to know them, either. Even if they do have a hyena laugh.

3. Keep your feet on the ground
Annie: “Now those were the days when people knew how to be in love.”
Becky: “You’re a basket case.”
Annie: “They knew it. Time, distance, nothing could separate them. Because they knew. It was right. It was real. It was…”
Becky: “… a movie. That’s your problem. You don’t want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie.”

Between Nashville and Hollywood, it’s easy to get swept up in the idea of how things once were or how they should be or what life would be like with Mr. Darcy by your side. Fantasies are fine, but don’t pin your hopes and dreams on them.
Also, it’s good to have friends around who call you on your nonsense. Seriously, Annie, get a grip.


4. Don’t be settled for
Walter: “Look, Annie…I love you. But let’s leave that out of this. I don’t want to be someone you’re settling for. I don’t want to be someone that anyone settles for. Marriage is hard enough without bringing such low expectations into it.”

You deserve someone that you think is a catch. But you also deserve someone who thinks you are a catch.

5. Trust yourself
Annie: “It’s a sign.”
Walter: “Who needed a sign?”

Look, I don’t believe in signs by-and-large. You both ordered lettuce and tomato without something else like tuna, that’s interesting but unimportant. But your trying to make your sandwiches into a Meaningful Thing? That’s a sign.

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Quick and painless readership survey

Dear ladies and gents,

We would be most appreciative if you could respond to this survey. Won’t take more than a minute, we promise! We would love to get an updated snapshot of who you are!

With love,
The Orthogals

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Linkage: Good stuff edition

The Manliest Church of All? [David Dunn]

In Defense of Wasting Your Life [Eve Tushnet]

Interesting conclusions from research on Interfaith marriages [Austin Institute]

How to Pick Your Life Partner [Wait But Why]

God is faithful, but we’re not marrying God [Simcha Fisher]

Typical Misconceptions Single People Have About Married Life [The Crescat]

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Words of Wisdom

The meaning of our time of trial here below is not to give us the chance to earn a reward but to teach us how to love, to enable us to enter into a true loving relationship with God, in which our response to him is truly a personal free response. If God keeps us in the dark, this is not because he wishes to keep his distance from us, it is in order to lead us to a deeper communion with himself through humility.

~Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, in Courage to Pray

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Reader Question: Is finding an Orthodox man hopeless?

Dear Orthogals,

Hi Orthogals!!! I am so happy to stumble upon other Orthodox Christians! I have such problems with dating. First of all, I live in an isolated area. Number of Orthodox Christians besides myself is probably zero. It’s really hard to find any good Orthodox guys. So I’ve pretty much resigned myself to never finding any and have tried settling with guys who aren’t Orthodox and who aren’t even Christians or religious in any way.

While I met some pretty cool people this way, most of them weren’t interested in any type of serious commitment. They were also extremely damaged; for some reason I attract people with issues. For example, one guy I dated was addicted to weed and another had alcoholic parents and a messy dating past in which every relationship he’s ever had, he’s been cheated on. It’s in my nature to try and see the good in everyone and so I give them all a chance and every time I end up making serious mistakes and wind up in a worse place than I was before. I know that when I get married eventually, I want to marry a guy who’s Orthodox. So why do I date all these other guys when I know my religion is important to me? Well, I see it as either I will be alone or with someone who is not Orthodox.

My parents tell me to give them a try because they are converts and firmly believe that people can change, which I also believe. On the flip side, my friends keep telling me I shouldn’t bother giving anyone a chance who isn’t a Christian. This leaves me torn and I am not sure what to do anymore. I don’t even think I know what love feels like so how would I know if a person is right for me or not? I’ve never met one who really seemed like they wanted to get to know me better. I feel like there is no way I will ever successfully find a guy who is Orthodox. At this point, my views on dating and ever even getting married are pretty hopeless. Have any of you ever felt this way? Am I the only one?


Dear GT,

Dating is hard. You have our deepest sympathies. I guarantee you that almost every single Orthodox gal has despaired that she won’t find an Orthodox Christian guy to marry. In fact, our blog got started due to this frustration!

One of us (Anna) lives in the US county with the most Orthodox Christians, and she still hasn’t managed to get married! That said, having a community and the friendship of other Orthodox Christians is invaluable. Where you live is not far from many other Orthodox communities. Is driving to other parishes an option for you? Is there a chance you can move sooner or later?

Virtual communities are another way to meet more Orthodox Christians. For example:
-Start a blog and link to other Orthodox Christians. Leave comments on Orthodox blogs.
-Use Tumblr or Twitter or Facebook to find Orthodox users

Real-life options include:
-Go to college conference
-Go on Real Break
-Volunteer to be a counselor at an Orthodox camp

It sounds like you have a lot of anxiety about finding the right person and get conflicting advice from family members. Despite what a lot of people will tell single Orthodox Christians, it’s not our job to convert the people we date to Orthodoxy. We do believe that if you don’t have core values in common with the guy you are dating, marriage with him probably won’t work very well. We are not saying to not date non-Christian guys, just that it’s smart to look out for red flags that you know will mean that the relationship won’t work out. Dating guys who aren’t Christians, or Christians who don’t believe in waiting until after marriage to have sex, can be really tricky. So be prepared to give The Talk. Auntie Seraphic has a great post on this here.

From your letter, what it sounds like you want is someone who shares your values and has good character. That’s great! That means you’re more likely to end up with the right person for you. However, since it sounds like you tend to attract guys who aren’t good for you, it would be worthwhile to figure out why you’re okay with putting up with them in your life. Please don’t use boyfriends to fill any loneliness in your life. A mark of adulthood is choosing to be lonely than being with people who aren’t good for you. A book you might find helpful is Boundaries in Dating. Another one would be Codependent No More, especially if you continue to attract alcoholics.

If the choice is between being alone or being with someone heterodox and unhealthy for you, choose to be single. You can glorify God and live a beautiful life while single—it can be downright awesome—but crummy relationships can do damage. Build a great life alone first.

One of us in high school (Brigid) was friends with some terrible people, and some good people who were lousy friends for her, because they were accidentally toxic/emotional vampires despite their “good hearts”. And it was hard for her to learn that you can love someone from over there without having to let them become close or involved in your life. And you definitely don’t have to date them.

Since there isn’t currently someone that you’re considering getting married to, we suggest focusing on other areas of your life. Depending on your age, and this may sound really boring but bear with us, we mean going to church and regularly participating in confession and communion, making friends with quality people, working towards goals, for instance in fitness or writing or crafting, getting an education, getting a job, traveling.

There is so much more to life than romantic relationships. Fill your life with awesome, beautiful goals and hobbies, build strong friendships, and trust that God has good things in store for you.

Much love,
The Orthogals

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Linkage: Nuanced Takes

On Marrying Your Intellectual Equal [Role Reboot]

What’s In A Kiss [Verily]

Save Your Relationships: Ask the Right Questions [Momastery]

So What if Being Married With Children Isn’t the Road to Happiness? [Good Men Project]

What It Means to Ban the Word Bossy [Social in the Science]

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Words of Wisdom

He who busies himself with the sins of others, or judges his brother on suspicion, has not yet even begun to repent or to examine himself so as to discover his own sins, which are truly heavier than a great lump of lead; nor does he know why a man becomes heavyhearted when he loves vanity and chases after falsehood (cf. Ps. 4:2). That is why, like a fool who walks in darkness, he no longer attends to his own sins but lets his imagination dwell on the sins of others, whether these sins are real or merely the products of his own suspicious mind.

– St. Maximos the Confessor


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There are worse things than teen sex

Like forgetting to teach teens that they’re valuable and beloved.  Like not teaching them how to recognize healthy and unhealthy relationships. Like not showing them that they deserve the fruits of good choices.  Coincidentally, all of those things contribute to teen sex.

So a few weeks ago, some guys I know were talking about their daughters dating.  The usual stuff came up: “Clean a shotgun when he comes to pick her up” and “I know how to hide a body,” along with “Whatever you do to her, I’m going to do to you.”
(Sidebar: the best response ever is “I didn’t realize so many dads were willing to make out with teenage boys.”)

But to be honest, I never found any of that particularly compelling.  Humiliating, definitely, but not effective.  You know what worked on me?  Seeing GREAT marriages, and knowing I wanted to work towards that.

Talking to me like a thinking person in charge of my own choices (like it or not), and looking at the unavoidable, objective consequences—positive and negative—of different choices. Not the punishments, just the ways my choices affect my life for better and worse.

Talking about my right to set and keep my own boundaries, and recognizing the methods people use to try and erode them. Learning to recognize healthy vs unhealthy patterns of behavior.

Knowing no matter what happened Mom would be on my side, that I could trust her on a fundamental level.

Talking honestly about what lust is on both a physical and spiritual level, and what works to deal with it and what only makes it grow stronger.

Knowing my own worth had nothing to do with sex, both in the sense of “I’m worthwhile as a partner even without having sex” and “even if I screw up I’m still a valuable human being and partner”.

Sitting down all by myself and writing down the reasons I wanted to work towards chastity, beyond religion or morals.  Because it’s always a “working towards”, whether it’s in thoughts or actions—we’re not perfect, and no matter where we are in life we have to strive towards chastity. There’s no point of “oh look, I mastered chastity, all done with that now.”  It’s lifelong and moment-by-moment.  No shame required.

And my mother very pragmatically telling me that sexuality was a healthy and beautiful thing, and that like most things it belonged in the right context.

But you know what I wish someone had said?  It’s hard.  Growing up is hard.  Dating is hard.  Chastity is hard.

And like with every other spiritual endeavor, you have to choose chastity again and again every day.  There’s no set-it-and-forget-it mode for life.  And if you fail (in big ways or small) you’re not off the hook, you still have to pick yourself up and try again in this new moment now.  It’s not “oops, now I’m impure which means it doesn’t matter what I do.”  You have to honor yourself as Christ’s every day.  And it just isn’t easy.

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Linkage: Childlessness

Living with baby fever [Verily]

To have or to not have…Kids [Acculturated]

My Secret Grief. Over 35, Single and Childless [HuffPo]

Providential! [Seraphic Singles]

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A Lenten Classic


Orthographs from Pithless Thoughts

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