Toll Houses: Truth or Lie?

The Unnecessary Controversy:

I first learned about the toll houses from a friend who was quite concerned that I be exposed to the truth early in my journey into Orthodoxy.  He sent me a copy of Fr. Michael Azkoul’s booklet: The Toll-House Myth: The Neo-Gnosticism of Fr. Seraphim Rose.  I was not impressed with the book, but since I had no other knowledge of the subject, I agreed with my friend and the author that the toll house doctrine must be some kind of new heresy that has been emphasized in the past couple of centuries, especially in Russian Orthodoxy.

Several years later, my beliefs have completely changed.  No one argued me into changing sides.  Shortly after my conversion, when I saw that there were various controversies between modern Orthodox people, I decided to mostly stay away from books that were not written by people glorified as saints of the church.  That “limits” me to tens of thousands of texts written over the past 1,900+ years.

I have no shortage of reading material. Continue reading Toll Houses: Truth or Lie?

Resources on Toll-Houses and the After Life

Orthodox toll house iconI know of only a few other topics in Orthodoxy that can cause as much division as toll houses.  With that in mind, I have put together a page in order to assist people who want to know more information.  Most people I’ve spoken to and resources I’ve encountered that oppose the toll house theology end up creating an overly-literal and exaggerated concept of the toll-houses, or they strive so hard to refute toll-houses that they find themselves in the opposite extreme of sharing theology with groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who teach “soul sleep.”

The resources I have to offer are 1) Free electronic resources and 2) Printed books that are usually a bit more in-depth.  The main purpose of this brief blog post is to point to the resources page that I have been maintaining and periodically updating.

Click here to go to the resource page.

Reflection: Love

justin popovich - young monastic-smallLove is born of prayer, just as prayer is born of faith.  The virtues are of one substance, and are thus born of one another.  Love for God is a sign that the new reality into which a man is led by faith and prayer is far greater than that which has gone before.  Love for God and man is the work of prayer and faith; a true love for man is in fact impossible without faith and prayer.

By faith man changes worlds: he moves from the limited world to the limitless, where he lives no longer by the laws of the senses but by the laws of prayer and love.  St. Isaac lays great emphasis on the conviction he came to through his ascetic experience: that love for God comes through prayer – Love is the fruit of prayer. Continue reading Reflection: Love

The Dream

I had a strange dream before waking this morning.

 A_Shopping_Day_by_jusuartI was in a booming metropolis.  There were tall buildings and skyscrapers and thousands of people milling about.  I saw several people loaded down with bags of stuff they’d “bought” from the stores that were everywhere.  Everything was free.  You simply went into a store, found what you wanted, and walked out with it.  But everyone was gloomy.
I went into a restaurant.  A young new arrival was there, and with bright eyes he was exclaiming, “I can get anything on the menu for free?!”  He ordered one hundred different things and they brought what he desired before him with no wait.  Yet he was not satisfied no matter how much he ate. Continue reading The Dream

The Tale of Three Sons


There was once a man who had three sons.  One day, the first son came to his father and said, “Dad, everyone knows you’re rich, and I’d frankly like some money.  So what work do you need done around here that’ll earn me a bit of cash?”

The father replied, “Well son, there are a few things that need to be done…” Continue reading The Tale of Three Sons