St. Macrina was, by all accounts, quite hard on herself. As the OCA’s website puts it, “She slept on boards and had no possessions.” Why name a would-be-hip magazine devoted to some mixture of speculative theology, academic debate, and on-the-ground observation after a woman for whom “Strictness towards herself and temperance in everything…[characterized her] all her life”? I know the other editors fairly well, and while we may be relatively pious, good-hearted people (yours truly excepted), none are—nor are they, as far as I know, promoting—making one’s bed on top of a board covered in barbed wire.
I am our “head of project vision.” I suppose I should know the answer, right? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what this magazine is and should be in light of the story of St. Macrina. She is, for most Western Christians, an unmistakably Eastern—dare I say, Orthodox—saint. She lived long ago in a manner foreign to most of those living in 2020. Alterity occludes any clear picture of her, something made all the more obvious by her feats of extreme holiness. That alterity is, it seems to me a source of immense fecundity. Faith unites what time and space divide. Shouldn’t Christian publishing work this way?
Here I think we have cultivated (and must continue to cultivate) a culture of on-the-ground diversity. We should publish the voices readers won’t otherwise get to hear—voices that feed the homeless, watch churches close in their neighborhoods, or silently sit and mourn apart from our society’s incessant hubbub. These may be (and perhaps should be) those who fear they don’t have a voice worth raising, those who feel they “can’t write,” those who have no experiences with the glossy world of publishing. If you’re reading this and have wrestled with what it means to be a Christian in your hometown, in your family, heck, in your head—this magazine is for you.
Over the past year, I have had the pleasure to edit pieces like these, little works of theology firmly rooted in their time and place, reflections made from across the globe on matters of the spirit and the body. I pray to receive more and more opportunities to think along with such work—to read it, guide it, and, even, I hope, be transformed by it.
As we grow, I hope that we can take these distinct voices—each standing in a relationship of difference to all the others—and create a montage of modern Christianity, a chorus that helps us, united in faith, to make sense of what it means to live a life of committed faith in a time that otherwise feels so broken. That is my hope for Macrina; that is what you, dear reader, just by looking over these words can help us do.
St. Macrina, ora pro nobis!