This little document of mine serves two purposes; I hope everyone will indulge me in what the French would call *un document polyvalent* — a multi-purpose paper.
Purpose number one: clearing up some confusion about what St. John Chrysostom said and did not say, and, with any luck, proposing a way forward for today’s Orthodox Christians to read patristic documents in an authentic way… a way that doesn’t distort the original author’s intent and doesn’t force artificial parallels between ancient society and contemporary culture.
Purpose number two: sharing a bit of personal history about how I came to my understanding outlined in Purpose number one. The beauty of the Orthodox Tradition is that it is never a story of abstractions, bodiless truths floating in space. Ours is an incarnational faith; Tradition has a *personal* character and progression.
Most of us have had the experience of being amazed at coming up against someone’s perception of us that’s at odds with our perception of ourselves. Such an experience can be an occasion of insight. It can sometimes be funny; it can also be painful.