Archived entries for Chris Hoke

Monasticism In Lockdown America, Part 7: Holy Fool

By Chris Hoke

Hank’s trembling confession had charged the small jail visitation cell where I sat discussing the image of God with three men from the infirmary. I pulled out the last of three “icons” and passed it around. It was a color printout of the crumbling Sphinx in Egypt—its nose fallen off, all color worn away by sand and time. “How have we, have you, become like this? If we were made images of God, works of art, how have we been defaced?”

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Monasticism in Lockdown America, Part 6: Icons

By Chris Hoke

I sat down at the small, bare table in a cramped lawyer visitation cell, and three men in red scrubs squeezed by each other to take their seats with me. One of them was Hank, an old man with a scraggly white beard stained yellow around his mouth, gray and white hair hanging over his sagging face.

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Monasticism In Lockdown America, Part 5: Holy Elders

By Chris Hoke

With their white beards and deep lines in their faces, the older men stand out in our jail Bible study’s circle of usually-young men with either tattoos on the outsides of their arms or track marks on the insides. I’m always struck by the old men’s humility, how they don’t tell the whippersnappers to shut up. They listen. There is a sorrow about them.

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Monasticism In Lockdown America, Part 4: Asceticism

By Chris Hoke

Monks in the Orthodox tradition have long believed that God’s love is unchanging, constant, like the light of the sun. We do not need to appease a deity’s anger or perform well to turn the light of God’s affection and gaze upon us.

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Monasticism in Lockdown America, Part 3

By Chris Hoke

In the “burpees” the guys often showed me after they were home from prison—in their driveways and garages, always getting my heart thumping in my throat and a sweat in my shirt sooner than I expect—I recognized the Orthodox monks’ prostrations I’d learned in the monastery.

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Monasticism in Lockdown America, Part 2

By Chris Hoke

Earlier this year during Lent, I visited a Russian Orthodox monastery on an evergreen island out across the water from Seattle. I’d never been there before, but this local pilgrimage felt somehow familiar.

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Monasticism in Lockdown America, Part 1

By Chris Hoke

The gentlemen I’ve been visiting in my local jail for the past decade live a daily existence, I’ve often considered, not unlike monks in the monastery I’ve also visited. They don’t have their wives or girlfriends with them. They all wear the same plain garment—not black robes, but old red scrubs.

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Saint Death and Easter

By Chris Hoke

I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. The voice was low, lifeless. He just got out of jail, and the guys in there told him to call me.

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