Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov

Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 

“The meaning and worth of love, as a feeling, is that it really forces us, with all our being, to acknowledge for ANOTHER the same absolute central significance which, because of the power of our egoism, we are conscious of only in our own selves. Love is important not as one of our feelings, but as the transfer of all our interest in life from ourselves to another, as the shifting of the very centre of our personal life. This is characteristic of every kind of love, but predominantly of sexual love; it is distinguished from other kinds of love by greater intensity, by a more engrossing character, and by the possibility of a more complete overall reciprocity. Only this love can lead to the real and indissoluble union of two lives into one; only of it do the words of Holy Writ say: ‘They shall be one flesh,’ i.e., shall become one real being.”
Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov, The Meaning of Love

“Failure to recognize one’s own absolute significance is equivalent to a denial of human worth; this is a basic error and the origin of all unbelief. If one is so faint-hearted that he is powerless even to believe in himself, how can he believe in anything else? The basic falsehood and evil of egoism lie not in this absolute self-consciousness and self-evaluation of the subject, but in the fact that, ascribing to himself in all justice an absolute significance, he unjustly refuses to others this same significance. Recognizing himself as a centre of life (which as a matter of fact he is), he relegates others to the circumference of his own being and leaves them only an external and relative value.”
Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov, The Meaning of Love

 

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The Spirit and Fr Moses.

Let’s look at a wonderful figure in the Church today, aptly named Fr Moses and a leader in our day. He’s an inspiration, a humble, excellent Teacher who knows his history and let’s Christ’s light shine through it.
The good Father’s even preserved a cemetery for his ancestors, who suffered the hardship of slavery but built churches and lived the good life as they were able.

Moreover, he’s living the Orthodox life organically in a ‘non-Orthodox’ country and appears unburdened with the dead sense of tradition which would link the church to particular nations like Russia or Greece; offering instead a properly Christian vision of a garden, rich with many flowers of different colour and kind. There’s something of the Spirit of Pentecost at work here.

On this Feast of Epiphany/Theophany we may reflect on the various resplendent gifts of The Church, Her people and The Spirit’s ability to break down the barriers that divide along the world’s lines, breathing Life into the whole Cosmos in all its diverse beauty.

The limits of Individualism.

 

Peterson and Shapiro. Jordan is delving deeper than Ben and this is not a meeting of equal minds, but I do enjoy many points made by both and the fearlessness of their character. Yet, regarding Shapiro it must be stated that we should all be wary of some of his underlying tendencies, his rampant Americanism and dogmatic Libertarianism. Plus, beware of anyone who references Leo Strauss. Paul Gottfried offers a wonderful critique of this sophist and even has a book dedicated to the matter.

Moreover, the tradition of ‘individual’ of which they both speak, in spite of it’s many good points doesn’t rise to the Theology of the ‘Person’ that we find in The Church and work of Berdyaev, Florovsky, Lampert, Lossky, Zizioulas et al.

I suspect the lack of sufficient depth in the individualist tradition is relevant to why collectivism has such power over men and women today.

Shapiro’s reliance on the American founding fathers and libertarianism, again it should be said, is ultimately shallow and it makes sense that he isn’t able to article the fuller truth because he’s not an orthodox Christian. (Same for JBP).

This may seem like a scandalously strong claim and in many ways it is but is one that flows from what The Church actually is, which includes elements of ‘Polis’, as helpfully highlighted and ironically enough by James KA Smith, Peter Leithart et al.
In the Trinity you get both Personhood and Communion, on earth as it is in heaven.

https://www.firstthings.com/article/1996/12/002-the-politics-of-baptism

For the particulars of the claim that Individualism doesn’t provide us with enough of what we need and it’s relationship to Personalism, see Vladimir Lossky’s Orthodox Dogmatic Theology. He goes through Personalism, Individualism, etc rather swiftly and effectively. (Another danger would be to perceive Personalism as complete in itself but these Theologians don’t do that and they’re trying to share what it means to be created in Love by The Holy Trinity- which transcends all divisions, limitations, monisms, etc)

 

In remembering other of the finer elements that took root in the west, let’s remember St Benedict and the work of his particular community.

https://curlewriver.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/the-threefold-rule-of-simply-christian-spirituality/

Fr Martin Thornton’s suggestion for the threefold rule of St Benedict applied to all Christians in some form is fantastically practical and will help us get that balance in our ‘Postmodern’ time- Mass, Office and Personal Devotion.

 

Blessed Feast of The Epiphany/Theophany.

“The joy of Epiphany is in the recovery of a cosmic experience of the world, of recovering faith that everything and everyone can always be washed, purified, renewed, reborn and that regardless of how dirty and clouded with mud our life has become, no matter what swamp we might have rolled in, we always have access to a purifying stream of living water, because humanity’s thirst for heaven, goodness, perfection and beauty is not dead, nor can it ever die. Indeed, this thirst alone makes us human beings. ‘Great are You, our Lord, and marvellous are your works, and there are not words which suffice to hymn Your wonders…’ Who said Christianity is depressing and grim, morbid and sad, and pulls human beings away from life? Look at the faces of worshippers that night and see the light and joy that shines as they listen to the psalm thundering its exultation, ‘The voice of the Lord is upon the waters’ (Ps 29:3), as they watch the priest sprinkling volleys of blessed water throughout the church and those glittering drops fly as if throughout the whole world, making that world once again a possibility and a promise, the raw material for a mysterious miracle of transformation and transfiguration. God Himself entered this water in the form of a man; He united Himself not only with humanity, but also with all matter and made all of it a radiant, light-bearing stream flowing towards life and joy.”

~ Alexander Schmemann

 

https://youtu.be/CfKyKA8FtXQ

Lest we forget; The entire Cosmos will be redeemed.

26168938_1928444353850451_7960976272067162397_n Epiphany Christ in The Jordan.

Eucharist: Food for Eternal Life and for thought.

Emmaus, Caravaggio

A query I have in regards to the The Bible  is what is the place of ‘vegetarianism’? Recently, and not for the first time, I’ve seen people make the claim that it is ‘the ideal’ in the garden of Eden before the fall and suggest that it will be so in The Kingdom as well. Therefore, I’ve asked Alice Linsley for her help in addressing this contention, which I was very grateful to receive once more.

 

MO- Do you see any evidence of this or is ‘the ideal’ establishing dominion in a different sense? I love Wendell Berry and Norman Wirzba- neither as far as I recall, suggest that this is so. Wirzba, I know, consciously rejects the idea of vegetarianism being the ideal state because it doesn’t have an element of sacrifice and thanksgiving which he enumerates and links to Christ’s sacrifice. I like his take in ways but wonder is it tenable. Perhaps it is if Fr Behr’s right in thinking of Christ as Saviour by His very nature (in the complex preordained way he lays it out.)

Moreover, if it was ‘the ideal’ in Eden, does that mean it is to be so in the coming Kingdom, because Christ, the friend of Fishermen who ate and drank after his Resurrection would suggest otherwise to me. There’s also that quote in Corinthians, which I think people misinterpret to say that God will destroy the stomach and food. Surely this is critiqueing their disincarnate notions about the point and not saying, even implicitly in response, “yes, you’re right, one day there will be no food or stomachs”. At most, it would seem to me that the mutual NEED between the stomach and food; food and the stomach will be done away with because we will be in God’s Eternal Kingdom and we will feed in Him, but not in a way which would necessarily do away with food or the stomach- in a properly Eucharistic sense!?
http://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/6-13.htm

AL- Let’s begin by considering Eden as it is described in Genesis 2:10-14. This was a vast, well-watered region shown in red. It extended from the source of the Nile in the Ethiopian highlands (Havilah) to the Tigris and Euphrates. Biblical Eden had virgin forests, a large variety of edible plants, and sustained large herds in the grasslands. The region was well watered by extensive, inter-connected water systems including the Jordan, the Tigris, the Euphrates, the Nile, many smaller lakes in what is now the Sahara, Lake Chad, Lake Victoria and the Benue Trough which connected to the Atlantic coast of present day Nigeria. Food was plentiful and the archaic inhabitants of this region hunted, butchered their prey and likely cooked the meat on open fires. 26219269_1497586733670556_5811713030007628286_n

AL- Vegetarianism is a trend and a distraction. It shifts our focus from the Tree of Life to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Don’t be tempted to eat of that tree. As Adam stretched out his hand and took of the fruit bringing the curse, so Christ stretched out his arms on the Tree and broke the curse.

https://jandyongenesis.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/what-paradise-must-have-been.html

MO- Insights from Biblical Anthropology help give more root to what seems to be a purely ‘mythological’ reading of Key Biblical Passages.
There seems to be nothing in Genesis for example, at this mythological level or otherwise, that justifies the conjecture of Vegetarians that God ‘only provided fruit and vegetables’ for humans to eat.

http://www.thenazareneway.com/biblicalvegetarianism_denis_giron.htm

MO- Is this a case of eisegesis?

What would you say is the best way to contextualise the response to those who said food and the stomach will be destroyed?

Unfortunately, I can’t just let these disIncarnate readings lie, because they seem, even today to be laden with notions of Body and Soul that doesn’t fit with the Biblical Nephesh.

AL- Did death destroy the stomach of the Risen Lord? Apparently not, since He asked his disciples for food. After He raised Lazarus from the dead, He told the servants to give the newly raised something to eat.

AL- Notice that 1 Cor. 6:13 is a quotation. Paul is refuting the libertines who argued that satisfying sexual desire is the same as satisfying physical hunger.

MO- Yes, but some seem to suggest that he was implicitly agreeing with the libertines by not saying they were wrong about that. I don’t think that is the case at all and is it just me or is Elliot’s commentary here way off!? http://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_corinthians/6-13.htm

It appears indeed he is way off, as are those who proffer such suggestions.

Thanks again to Alice, who has been most helpful. I think, perhaps the keu think I’ll take away is this gem- ”It shifts our focus from the Tree of Life to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Don’t be tempted to eat of that tree. As Adam stretched out his hand and took of the fruit bringing the curse, so Christ stretched out his arms on the Tree and broke the curse.”

We are thinking about all things In Christ, for that is where Escatology leads us, Who it leads us to and just like he showed in an unusual way, literally, that food and the stomach were in him, beyond death, then food and the stomach may be in Him for us, again beyond death; as we join him in The Resurrection.

TreeOfLife Icon

 

The Kingdom is not a garden but it is a garden city- https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2009/03/keep-the-fast-keep-the-feast

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2016/05/ascent-descent-and-human-destiny

For a much more sensible picture on Christian food and agriculture, see Norman Wirzba, Wendell Berry, Fr Farrer Capon, Ellen F Davis, Fabrice Hadjadj etc because this fasion of ‘vegetarianism’ does not tell us the whole Truth of The Biblical Story.

https://www.ecoliteracy.org/article/wendell-berry-pleasures-eating

Articles

Note- The Icon is the Tree of Life Icon and the painting is by Caravaggio.

 

 

Misunderstandings of Marriage.

I continue my attempt at helping clarify what Christian Love and Marriage is about, with God’s Grace.

Below, you’ll find mine and others reviews of Josiah Trenham’s dreadful, UnChristian opinion of Marriage, which he misinterprets massively to be ‘Orthodox’ and answers to common questions that you’ll find on online boards. A lot of these folks online misinterpret a Hopeful view of Marriage and human sexuality to be ‘new age’… they couldn’t be further from the truth in regards to many of the truths that I’ve shared and which express the Incarnational Orthodox Christian view. They’ll also say claim that such views are similar to the gnostics and while that may be true for genuine ‘new age’ thoughts, again it isn’t so for many of the great resources i’ve discovered. (I usually post a warning if I share something which has elements of that in it and suggest a Charitable reading, taking Truth wherever it’s found.) Moreover, there are plenty of ‘Gnostic’ and ‘Neo-Platonist’, etc opinions undergirding this mirror faux-Orthodox thought, which is common amongst the more austere clergy, and laypersons often a problem amongst the modern Russian Church abroad; but by no means only relating to them. There are worrying political and psychological trends amongst many of these as well and that impacts their movies more than Good Orthodox Theology.

More than that, it makes sense historically that they cannot see the bigger picture because they’re interpreting it only from their own experience and selective readings of texts, often used to justify their very existence, say as rigorous monks commited to celibacy and combatting demons… after a while it appears everything becomes a demon. That is a down side of an otherwise wonderful vocation.

Peterson makes some great points about only having a small, particular view in this talk, so such people would do well to speak more humbly and we all to one another.

https://jordanbpeterson.com/2017/12/episode-36-jacob-coat-many-colors/

Also see this piece by Fr Martin Thornton on a proper Ascetism. http://akensidepress.com/books/thornton/prayer/chap14/

 

 

I chose to share this because his work is symptomatic of the ignorance out there.

on December 17, 2013
Fr. Josiah does in this book what Protestant fundamentalists do with the Scriptures. With no regard for Chrysostom’s use of rhetoric, platonic influence, or evolution as a believer, pastor, thinker, and academician, he takes the words of St. John Chyrsostom literally and makes his interpretation of Chrysostom and a few other early fathers the teaching of Orthodoxy on virginity and sex. (with arrogant dismissal for the work of many other scholars–you have to read the footnotes to see this). It saddens me to think that any “scholar” on St. John Chrystostom could have such disregard for the spirit of this saint and pillar of the Church.

 

on December 28, 2014
First the caveat: Do not make this your first, and by no means your only reading on Orthodox views of sex and marriage. The book is an outlier, presenting extreme views that are not representative of Orthodox tradition. Rather, it is a very selective reading of Chrysostom (and other of the Church Fathers) to promote an agenda, one feature of which involves valorizing virginity at the expense of marriage, even though in traditional Orthodoxy the two have both been praised. It is ideologically driven and offers a one-sided reading of the texts it examines in order to support extreme views on sex and marriage, views which the vast majority of Orthodox believers, priests, and theologians would vigorously reject as puritanical and largely imported into Orthodoxy from other sources such as Roman Catholicism (On the “Latin Captivity” of the Greek Church, see Yannaras’ “Orthodoxy and the West.” And Peter the Great’s imposition of Western practices and theology on the Russian Church is well documented.) and the Calvinist tradition in which Fr Josiah was originally educated. At the other extreme are books by Sherrard (the farthest removed) and Chyrssavgis (closer to a “centrist” position), and most balanced of all are the books by Meyendorf and Ford, the latter being an excellent corrective to Fr. Josiah’s excesses. Of course, Trenham dismisses all of these other sources (all of them by more distinguished figures than himself) as inauthentic and unfaithful to “true” Orthodoxy.
On the positive side, there are elements of good scholarship here, which give it some value for the experienced reader who is able to discern private “theologoumena” from “the mind of the Fathers.” But overall, it is a failure as a piece of scholarship, both because it is so imbalanced and because (as reviewer “Kerry” has pointed out) it ignores the different kinds of writing we find in St John Chrysostom, as well as changes in his spiritual and intellectual outlook.
Orthodox Christianity has preserved the ancient understanding of Christianity as involving all aspects of life and thought, so its views on sex and marriage are of major importance. This is the most important reason for getting a proper and balanced understanding of these views. I suggest you start with Meyendorf or David Ford, then take a look at either Chyssavgis or Sherrard, and only then go on to Trenham. There are some good insights here, but they are distorted by a dour and prudish view of married sexuality that distort traditional views and teachings.

…I also used the terms “unbalanced” and “outlier” and “not representative,” precisely because this was the point of my review, which undertakes to claim not that what Fr Josiah is saying has no basis, but that his claims are often taken out of context (even within the writings of Chysostom), that he is selective in which Fathers he cites, and that this indeed makes this work extreme with regard to the Orthodox tradition. Meyendorf and the Fords are very much centrists in Orthodox thought, Chryssavgis and Sherrard are perhaps somewhat liberal, and Yannaras is a philosopher who can’t be classified one way or another, although in general he is very much a traditionalist. But in relation to all of these, not in relation to “modernists and liberals,” Fr Josiah’s dour views on sex in marriage are indeed extreme. (And to the other hostile reviewer: I said only that Trenham’s glib dismissal of all the literature in the field was “arrogant,” not that he himself was, nor is this slanderous if in fact it is true. And anyone who dismisses all the existing scholarshp as worthless in a single footnote has opted out of responsible scholarly discourse.)

Sadly, his views are being taken by some naive readers as normative. Have you actually read any of these other authors? Have you studied the bizarre views on married sex (cited by Eve Levin) that Fr Josiah cites approvingly? Have you studied the wholesale appropriation of Stoic natural law philosophy by certain (heterodox) Fathers such as Origen, who proved to be influential. In argumentation, assuming your conclusion is called “begging the question,” and your bald statement that this is the traditional teaching of the Church is a fine example of this. You also engage in the ad hominem argument that assumes I am a “modernist” and a “liberal.” Well, nothing could be further from the truth. But even if this were the case, it wouldn’t relieve you of the responsibility of refuting my views in a coherent manner, rather than calling me names. (By the way, “sophistry” has nothing to do with repetition.)

You may also wish to re-read my review more carefully. I did not suggest Fr Josiah book was worthless, but rather gave a caveat not to let this be your only book on the topic. I’m not sure you took this warning to heart. As is your privilege. But you would do well to respect the limits of what you do and don’t know on the matter.

That guy gives the devil his due. I have my own view, which finds this sort of nonsense deeply malevolent. Unfortunately such misunderstandings are common and do not get close to the Truth of God’s Beautiful Gift of Marriage.

 

Trenham’s book is a very poor effort; it doesn’t add anything of value Historically or Theologically. Trenham’s work is severely lacking in it’s placing of Chrysostom in any honest historical context and is more worryingly, very theologically flawed about key elements of Christian Life.
This work is not unlike JP2’s ‘Theology of the Body’ quite ironically, not only in those ways mentioned above but in it’s incredible academic hubris and naivety.
The ideas around birth control are anachronistic and lacking when compared to the more multifaceted understandings among serious Moral Theologians.
There are much better, much more orthodox options out there relating to Marriage, ‘Eros’ , Agape, Philia, sexuality and the purposes of monasticism, ascetism, etc.
Much prayer and rigorous exegesis is essential in any work on Marriage and Virginity beausethey’re so complex and you’re safer looking at the work of Fr Meyendorff, Fr John Behr, Evdokimov, Sherrard, Dr Richard M Davidson, Fr Ed Vacek, WB Zion, Evgeny Lampert, Samuel Terrien, Tremper Longman, Werner Neuer, Fr R. McCormick, Dr Guroian et al for that. Even crazy old fools like BP Mitchell and V Moss do a better job than Trenham (Each with serious problems of their own though).These and others offer much more enlightening and nuanced approaches. A deep understanding of exegesis is needed to show how shallow works like this are, which unfortunately is something that most Lay People wont have and that’s why books like this are so dangerous. There are unjustified underlying assumptions which lend themselves to an unorthodox clericalism and the idea that the virginal state is superior to the Marital state shows an incredible misinterpreting of both the Old and the New Testament, especially Paul. Moreover, since Genesis is key to any Marital Theology, see Peter Bouteneff’s, John Walton’s, Jordan Peterson’s, Robert Alter’s, Fr Louth’s, Bill Arnold’s, Alice Linsleys etc books, articles and talks on Genesis to see just how complex our relationship with Scripture is in reality.The liberal Adrian Thatcher or Patricia Beattie Jung, even with their heretical elements, offer a great alternative from that end as well and by listening to people like them we can see just how ‘orthodox’ a lot of those claims, like those in this book, actually are.
Thatcher’s Exegesis of Song of Songs and recognition of its Liturgical significance should add another nail to the coffin of the argument for virginity as a higher state.

Other Liberals, such as Timothy Johnson, when read charitably (as Alan Jacobs would put it) have good points in their work, which should not be dismissed because they’re proclaimed to be ‘liberal’ or ‘heterodox’; things are not nearly so simple.
Mark D Jordan’s work on Aquinas is worth considering to place the tone of works like this in historical context. There is no place for an Eastern Orthodox Manualism to replace the old Catholic one. (See Alvin Rapien’s article on The Church Fathers as well, to show how hard it is to read’ them.)

https://www.patristics.co/the-difficulty-of-returning-to-the-fathers/


I suggest one should avoid this pseudo- orthodoxy and read the Bible and Fathers collectively and directly instead or else look for a more capable scholars, or better, a collection of scholars. (Fr Behr, Fr Florovsky, Martin Thornton, Peter Leithart, Alice Linsley, N.T Wright etc)

Let’s Hope and Pray for a Pentecostal Way of Exchange as Alan Jacobs calls it or a balance of the schools and the wilderness as Martin Thornton calls it. Ascetism and Mysticism, Marriage and Monasticism.

Common misconceptions.

So, I came across a few articles and threads on Marriage being eternal, pretty typical in many of the questions asked, and wanted to answer a few of the questions over time, building on my previous posts on Marriage where I’ve answered many of them or others have answered them, implicitly or explicitly. There is a lot of confusion out there, amongst all Christians and these questions are a failure to see Marriage with ‘Kingdom eyes’, where all things will be rightly ordered in Christ and which can be done to an extent in The Kingdom now.

Many strains in Marital Theology have preserved important truths about Marriage but even in the Orthodox Church they’ve failed to recognise the proper place for this great Mystery in Christ by bringing them all together.

http://orthodoxcircle.com/blog/3861/is-marriage-eternal/

I’ll answer a few of this persons questions, because they are very much answerable; with the help of Metropolitan Ware and co. It’s clear, from them comparing the Orthodox Marital Theology to that of the Mormons, just how big the misunderstandings are even amongst the Orthodox.

The Orthodox Theology of Marriage as Eternal fits perfectly into the Theology of The Church in toto however and this is not merely the opinion of Fr John Meyendorff (who doesn’t even articulate it as well as he should or as well as others), as can be seen from my previous posts.

Metropolitan Ware answers the question about Second Marriages and this can be seen in Adrian Thatcher’s books- Celebrating Christian Marriage or Postmodern Christian Marriage. Also, if we view the Sacrament of Marriage as a coming together and maintained in Christ/ The Spirit in The Church, rather than merely focusing on the service for the Marriage, as a piece of magic at that, then the criticisms of second marriage don’t hold. There are good questions to be asked about the cermonies and why one’s sacramental and the other’s not, etc.

This requires much more thought but here goes- My personal view at this time is that, like the Roman Catholic annulment, a Marriage that is ‘spritually dead’, prompting a divorce was not really an eternal sacramental Marriage because it lacked the coming together of the Love that lasts, Divine and Human. The ideal would therefore be to have all the elements of a good marriage together and all the elements of a good, fitting Marital service but not one of these in isolation seals the bond for eternity of itself. It nvolves a long obediance in the same direction, borne of God’s two great commandments. For, it is a Mystery and The Holy Spirit blows where He wills. Consequently, non-Orthodox Marriages may be sealed for Eternity in Christ’s Love and I’d be humble about saying too much on that- people like John Wooden come to mind as living icons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tySxPue9Dmw

The misinterpreation of ‘… the angels in heaven.’ verse has been addressed in previous posts.

The coming together in Marriage, Transfigured by Christ and eternally sustained by Love is not the same as sinful ‘one flesh’ unions which are not sealed for eternity in The Church, The Eucharist and Christian Love.

Mixed-Marriages is an interesting question based on some Ecclesiologies, but if both partners make it into God’s Kingdom then of course what God has joined together will stay together.

The ‘purpose’ of ‘carnal relations’ has been dealt with in the previous posts.

The differences between people will be like Pentecost, a miracle of God. Both/And.

Regarding the ‘triangle’, in the Kingdom and in Christ both will be in His eternal bliss and ther won’t be holding one another back, as there shouldn’t be now when we’re following our Holy Vocation.

 

It is apparent from the nature of The Liturgy, the outline of The Scriptures, the practice of Christian Love and God’s Good Creation in general that ‘eternal’ here is not merely a metaphor for a really long time but is conditional on Christ, The Church, Love, etc coming together in consummate fullness as The Good Lord sets it out.

 

 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2016/02/19/what-does-consummation-mean/

 

You also get incessant bickering between Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox which unfortunately wastes so much time chasing wind, each accusing the other of introducing secular elements into their respective Theology and making wild unfounded claims about ‘the east’ ir ‘the west’ in toto.

 

A few of the comments which perked my intrigue in relation to this and which I’ll have to research further are

”The Roman Catholic “legalist” conception is based on the Roman Law as codified by Justinian, the Eastern Roman Emperor and its interpretation by the school of Bologna interpretors. The fact is that the fall of the Constantinople destroyed the Byzantine Roman Law tradition; but the tradition of Justinian continued in the West up to today, being the basis of Western Canon Law and the modern Civil Law tradition.
The fact that the Orthodox, maintaining their Greek identity, deny their own Roman legal tradition as “legalism” is funny.” and

”After he codified the pagan Law, Justinian began the process of the reinterpretation in the light of the higher Law of Christ. That process was completed by the Basilika, and passed on and lives on in the Nomocanons. Even after the fall of New Rome, it still remained the law of the Rum Millet, as the Slave version, the Zakonopravilo of St. Sava remained the law of Ottoman occupied Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania, as implemented by the Code of Dushan. With independence, they became the basis of the Constitutions of the new nation-states.

What is funny is that the Ultramontanists, clinging to the pagan notions of Caesar, think that is theology.”

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=37171.0

 

The quoted StaurtK comment, is more helpful than many of the uninformed comments made across these boards but probably needs loked at in some detail.

 

”The oldest stratum of Tradition in both the East and the West saw marriage as an eternal bond that transcended death. For that reason, the early Church refused to bless second marriages for any reason. In the West, the view of marriage as a life contract eventually emerged, probably because remarriage was a virtual necessity at a time of low life expectancy. In the East, until the 9th century, the Church did not bless second marriages, but civil marriage was available for those who wanted to remarry after divorce or widowhood, and the Church focused instead on reintegrating those who did into the Body of Christ. In the West, with the collapse of civil authority, civil marriage did not exist, and the Church became the de facto regulator of marriage.

In the 9th century, the Emperor Leo VI abolished civil marriage and made the Church responsible for all aspects of marriage. The Church now had to deal with the social and legal aspects of marriage, as well as the sacramental aspect. It had to recognize that marriages do break down, and that men and women may feel the need to remarry, either after divorce or widowhood. But it did not want to compromise its understanding of Christian marriage as a sacrament that perdures in the divine kairos. The compromise solution was the “Rite of Second Marriage”, open to those who are widowed and the innocent parties in a divorce, which was not sacramental but merely contractual, and highly penitential in nature. There is no crowning, there is no Dance of Isaiah, there is no sealing with the Eucharist. In fact, those who remarry are excluded from communion for a period of 3-5 years, which in itself means that second marriage ceremonies are not sacramental.” (This is probably Stuart Koehl, who often provides greeat clarity on Eastern Christianity, on FaceBook and fits with the Orthodox Pastoral Theology which recognises a Marriage as Spiritually dead and the Churches act a recognition of what is already the case. The ‘Sacramental’ element of the first Marriage is integral but I think there will be cases, as I pointed to above, whereby a second Marriage is actually the eternal one, based on living spiritual love. Say for example, the first marriage was ‘spiritually dead’.

This understanding also helps answer questions about ‘which wife a man would be married to’. God knows better than we do and will not sell anyone short- you’ll be Married to the one you Love and who loves you, in Christ; the attempts to do away with Mystery are futile but a lot more Pastoral clarity is clearly needed, as these forums suggest.) For insight into how hard it is to understand or be The Church, see Martin Tornton’s wonderful work* 1. or Florovsky’s, Behr’s, etc

http://www.byzcath.org/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/344097/Why%20is%20marriage%20perceived%20as%20e

There are long tedious arguments about what makes it a Sacrament and many miss the point completely about Marriage, trying to pass off this wonderful Gift of God by suggesting it is only Meyendorff’s opinion. Certainly not, as is made clear in my previous posts.

Moreover, the argument over whether the Priest’s blessing or the couple’s consent ‘make it a Sacrament’ is a non-issue essentially, as I hope is clear from above and the previous posts, and while many make the assumption that it’s not the Eucharist that ‘makes Marriage a Sacrament’, they do not understand the Integral nature of The Kingdom or central it must be- in actual fact it’s the coming together of these and other elements in The Church which manifests The Kingdom and the eternity of Marriage; beyond the service, by God’s Grace.

*1. Parochial theology is concerned with giving some sort of unity to the parish body without which its individual members cannot really exist; while facing the facts of modern society, it seeks to reduce a prevalent confusion to some ordered pattern. As one would expect from this, many modern parishes will contain much real devotion, deep Prayer, sound knowledge and a host of other good things; but they will tend to lack shape and form, which real creativity demands. Thus the problem of parochial theology begins with the problem of cure of souls, and the ambiguity of this term itself supports the validity of our criticism. It is significant that we must spend some time in finding out what so common a phrase really means.

When a priest is instituted to a parish he is said to acquire “cure of” or “care for” souls, he accepts a stewardship and he undertakes a responsibility. The first difficulty arises when, assuming a responsibility to God, we ask precisely whom the priest is responsible for. Superficially there seem to be two possible answers. (1) The Priest with cure of souls is directly responsible to God for the spiritual well-being of each and every individual soul within his parish; or (2) he is responsible only for the flock of Christ, for the members of his parish church at any given time. It is argued that despite the duty of evangelism, no one can be held responsible for the unresponsive, for those of other religious persuasion, or even of other Christian denominations.

But theories are unsatisfactory. The first, if consistently applied, would lead to such a lowering of Christian standards as to admit as many possible to the fold consistent with the existence of a Church at all. The emphasis is numerical, membership is nominal; which inevitably means convention, respectability, Pelagianism, apathy, and spiritual sterility. The sole pastoral function is ostensibly evangelism, which would be more truthfully described as recruitment. Such an approach finds little room for ascetic, creative Prayer, or objective worship. More serious still is what might be called the futurist element inherent in such an outlook; its only ideal is a population of one-hundred-per-cent churchpeople. This means that every activity and every detail looks forward to an ideal never to be achieved; the parish, as such, never worships, intercedes, or appears before the throne of God.[1] All human worship is inadequate, but parochially speaking we are to suggest that it can be, and indeed must be, complete. The Father’s House on earth is necessarily sin-stained, leaky, ramshackle, jerry-built, and generally inadequate to his transcendent glory; but it can still be in a real sense whole. The parochial system under review never gets beyond the ideal blue-print, its house only exists in an hypothetical future. Ironically, a scheme of things aiming at complete literal, individual representation of all souls in the Divine stream, ends with no Church at all. And no good purpose is achieved by imputing Christian hope to what is only impracticable nonsense. The world may end to-morrow, and although the priestly plea before Christ’s judgement seat must be “guilty,” there may yet be a more worthy defence than “I have not had time to begun.” This theory may be called multitudinism; an ugly and unwieldy word, but no means inappropriate.

The second position, that pastoral priesthood’s responsibility ends with the Christian element at any given time, is more obviously unsatisfactory, yet it has the unqualified pastoral advantage of facing facts. Before the multitudinist priest has been instituted a day he is forced to make reservations; Jews, Baptists, Papists, and Hindus if there are any, are best left alone, the heathen nonagenarian and the lunatic boy are unconvertible: one such case and his system, as system, collapses. This second theory is unshaken and untroubled by such contingencies, for which it becomes a policy of purposeful exclusion, and we are down to a complacent satisfaction with the “nice little nucleus.” Here is plain dualism, for any exclusive spiritual élite, whatever the depth of its devotion and purity of its Prayer, is just not a parish. If we are rid of recruitment, we have left no place for true evangelism.

 

On The Beloved Dust…

I am itching to read another Robert Hughes, Robert Davis Hughes III and his ‘Beloved Dust: Tides of The Spirit’ this year, just begun. It sounds lovely and this image of Beloved Dust is profoundly exciting. This heavenly earthiness, Beloved Dustwhich may well synchronise with what I’ve discerned from the Scriptures and discovered in Evgeny Lampert and Martin Thornton, seems to suggest a necessary spiritual rootedness, striking threefold, Holy chords- Conversion, Transfiguration, Glory...
(Here are a couple of reviews and overviews of the book from Amazon to bring it to life. The front cover is enticingly sweet too.)

”Robert Davis Hughes’ brilliant and generous exploration of the “tides of the Spirit” in Christian spirituality, Beloved Dust, is an education in the history, interrelatedness, and potential of spiritual life in the Christian in all its forms.

Hughes “rescues” spiritual theology from its exile–begun in the thirteenth century–from being considered outside dogmatic theology or subordinated to moral theology. Describing how spirituality in a new pneumatological context “flows naturally from Trinity to creation to Christ to Spirit to church and beyond”–he develops implications of the Spirit’s mission as koinonia: participation in the Trinity as a gift to the whole created order.

Beginning with an understanding of our humanness as dust–assembled as we are from material elements in the universe–Hughes illustrates how spiritual life manifests as physical life indwelt by God’s Spirit. Humans indwelled can grow to discover their capability for self-transcendence–evoked in us through God’s self-transcendence–while remaining always dependent on God’s giftedness to us.

Covered here–among many other topics extensively explored–are aspects of conversion; the theological and cardinal virtues as actualized in Christian life; theories of self-transcendence and spiritual style; and implications of Christian love as individuals and communities become engraced in this ultimate gift of God.

Highly recommended as a satisfying and comprehensive case for a new understanding of Christian spirituality in the light of what we know about being human and what we must seek to understand and incorporate into our lives as disciples of Jesus.”

Isabel Anders, Managing Editor, Synthesis Publications
Author, The Faces of Friendship (Wipf & Stock, 2008).

and

”This superb book begins with about seventy pages devoted to surveying the history of spiritual theology (also known in earlier times as mystical theology or ascetical theology), particularly unpacking the reasons why mysticism became marginalized after the Reformation, and why the entire discipline of spiritual theology more or less collapsed after Vatican II, largely because trends in ascetical theology in the early to mid-twentieth century were essentially rendered obsolete by the council. Of course, even if theologians and the church at large were not paying much attention to a theology of the Spirit, the Spirit himself (or herself, as Hughes clearly prefers the ancient Syriac rendering of the Holy Spirit as feminine) was on the move, as evidenced by the post-conciliar explosions such as the charismatic renewal, the interest in Christian meditation and centering prayer, the growth in oblate and lay monastic associations, and the increased (actually, emergent) interest among lay Christians in the writings of the classical mystics. Hence, Hughes correctly discerned a need in the larger discourse of the Christian community: a survey of the issues and concerns related to the theology of the Holy Spirit, anchored in the tradition but fully engaged with the issues of our time. This is what the book sets out to do. Speaking as a layperson for whom spiritual theology is deeply relevant to my own identity and practice as a Christian, I’d say this book is not only a splendid compendium of the first two thousand years of Christian spiritual wisdom, but it offers plenty of food for thought to nourish us as we move forward into the third millennium.

Although he acknowledges the weaknesses in the traditional developmental map of the spiritual life as purgation – illumination – union, Hughes retains this tripartite model, both because of its Trinitarian character and because it so neatly corresponds with three central events of the life of Christ: his baptism, his transfiguration, and his resurrection. With the life of Christ in mind, Hughes recasts this mystical itinerary as conversion, transfiguration, and glory. But just as the Christian experience involves a coterminous relationship with all three persons of the Blessed Trinity, so too the spiritual life should not be understood as sequential: as if we undergo conversion and then, done with that, move on to transfiguration as a prelude to the final experience of glory. Rather, the clear evidence of how spirituality manifests in so many unique ways in the lives of different people down the ages reveals that the Spirit can bring us to continual, life-long conversion — a process that never ends, at least not on this side of eternity — that can coexist simultaneously with the experience of luminous transfiguration and joyous glory. Hughes uses the metaphor of waves crashing on the shore to suggest that these three aspects of the spiritual life are “tides of the spirit,” moving in a circular rather than sequential manner.

He also considers the “slack” between tides as a metaphor for John of the Cross’s famous concepts of the dark night: the dark night of the senses, when we are called to ever-deeper detachment from our earthly addictions and will-to-control, and the far more terrifying dark night of the soul, when even our attachments to God and to matters of the Spirit are called to be sacrificed on the altar of utter self-donation to the Ultimate Mystery. These “darknesses” exist and persist beneath, before and beyond our experience of the Light of God, just as profound silence exists beneath, before and beyond our words as well as our apprehension of The Word.

Throughout Hughes’ study, a deep appreciation of the Trinitarian nature of Christian spirituality remains central to the narrative, as does his titular metaphor of humanity as dust, beloved by God, called into being, given life, and ultimately deified through the continual unmerited grace bestowed upon us by our loving creator. Consideration of classical categories of ascetical theology — such as the cardinal and theological virtues — anchor this book’s function as a continuation of the tradition.

The “transfiguration” chapters form the book’s strongest section, primarily because of the brilliant discussion of the work of two of the twentieth century’s most important mystics, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Simone Weil. His unpacking of Weil’s four forms of the implicit love of God is particularly enlightening. The final section on “glory” is beautifully written but seems far too short, even with the author’s humble insistence that he himself “knows precious little” of the deified life.”

Carl McColman

Let’s Hope it becomes a beloved work in my library and lives up to these high expectations.

Word, Image and Life.

Today, I have been familiarising myself with the work of Art critic Robert Hughes. He is an Australian of Irish Catholic descent and is someone I’ve come across serendipitiously. And am I grateful for that!

Basically, I’d been looking for pieces by the Christian Scholar Robert Davis Hughes, whose book Beloved Dust… appeals to me greatly, when I came across his namesake. Now, to add to the wonderful insights of Robert Davis Hughes on the Johannine Spirit of today and it’s work across time, I’ve Robert Hughes to teach me about the history of Art across time and to enable me to see some of it’s dreadful forms today.

The latter’s work on America in ‘American Visions’ has been most fruitful in helping me to understand the significance of researching art and architecture to understand a people, their visions and their lives.

robert hughes

‘The Shock of The New’ has had the same effect and would serve well as an overview of History in terms of Images, not as something trivial or ornamental but as integral to understanding. This deeper non-economist driven, non- Marxist play of History is much closer to the Truth and delves deeper to discern what life’s about.

A simple but necessary revelation hit me after watching these programmes, obvious as it is in ways  and as far as this is possible- All History should be Illustrated History. Perhaps partly this is why I love David Bentley Hart’s The Story of Christianity so much more than other histories, even though I’m not a big fan of his overall.

Hart Story of Christianity

 

There are other fine guides through History in Word, Image and other- Roger Scruton, Bishop Barron, Kenneth Clark, Marshall McLuhan, Jacques Ellul, Wendell Berry, Norman Wirzba, Christopher Lasch, Paul Gottfried, Jaroslav Pelikan, etc- but I’m happy that Robert Hughes has brought this emphasis on The Image to the forefront of my mind.

How would one understand Christianity without all of these- her Scriptures, Her Icons, Her lavish Cathedrals, Her complex liturgies and Churches? They would not.

Let us not be iconoclasts of History but give Word, Image and even the fruits of the other senses their due in History, which is to say Theology, because this is His-Story.

Clearly, we live and move and have our being not in Word and Image alone but all the senses gifted to us by God and His Eschatological fulfillment is surely Transfiguring them all, in The Kingdom. The experience in the liturgy and a life fully lived engages them all for Good so let us lovingly manifest and reflect upon that in Word, Image, Sound, Taste, Touch and Smell.

”Experiences of the first order, of the first rank, are not realized through the eye.”

Eugen Rosenstock- Huessy

The glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God” (Against Heresies, Book 4, 20:7).

https://www.openbible.info/topics/the_five_senses

 

Ascetical Theology

 

Just recently I have been blessed to come across the work of Fr Martin Thornton and have already learnt so much from his ressourcement reflections on The Life in God.

As I showed with the last post on this page with the help of my friend and wonderful scholar Alice’s work, the Bible and Church at Her best are very much about the great both/and of life and love, the consummation of all things, the great Mystical Supper of the lamb, new heaven and new earth, and on and on; the Incarnational Theology of Martin Thornton lives and moves and has its being in that Christian participation so should be shared in.

He called this ‘Ascetical Theology’ but uses that word in a wonderfully encompassing manner and saves it from the dry rigidity of the past alone or from men in far-off places nothing to do with how we live our lives with The Living God; as Fr Behr has done wonderfully elsewhere.

 

Thornton speaks of ‘the schools’ and ‘the wilderness’ as well ‘the pendulum’ that often swings too far in one way and doesn’t allow for the Paradoxes of Christ to command our ascent. On all of this is is presciently correct and he offers guidance against such folly, comparable to Alan Jacobs’ ‘Way of exchange’.

Take this from Fr Dallman’s thesis on Thornton. (Referring here to his book on English Spirituality.)
”The next words are “makes the bold and exciting assumption”
These clearly demarcate this statement as either part or all of Thornton’s
motif. He is trying to state what he understands, at the writing of this book at least, the basis for his interpretation and thinking to be. Why is this assumption both “bold” and “exciting”? We might be reminded of the words “we are bold to say” that precede the recitation of the Our Father in eucharistic liturgy. Thornton does not expressly explain his use of the word “bold.”
Yet he does immediately expand on what he means by “exciting,” or at least one
meaning. In the subsequent paragraph, he writes
It is a common dilemma of theological students, absorbed or otherwise, in
a lecture on Old Testament sources, the synoptic problem, or some
intricate piece of Scholastic philosophy, to sit back and ask themselves ‘if
I am training to be a parish priest what has all this to do with it?’ Ascetical
theology asks the same question in a way which excludes the answer
‘nothing at all.’ The question becomes honest and exciting instead of
frustrating; one of the lesser values of ascetical study is to colour and
bring alive some aspects of theology which, to the average student, would
otherwise be academic and dull.
At least in the immediate sense, “exciting” refers to theological students who are bored
by a particular aspect, idea, or area of their study. This
continues to affirm that Thornton
intended to offer here a motif, because he thinks application of the motif in real life
theology brings some kind of change to the interpretation or interpretive mood of the
person who adopts it. Furthermore, application of this motif does exclude at least one
kind of interpretation. The response to any theological insight cannot be “it has no
bearing on my priestly ministry,” or more bluntly, “it does not matter.”
Expressed in the converse, the consequence of Thornton’s theological motif
is “everything matters.”
Somehow, the most intricate piece of Scholastic philosophy, the most arcane aspect of an
Old Testament lecture or lecture on the synoptic problem of the gospels must have some
kind of relationship to the ministry of the theological student after graduation.
Thornton continues with the words “that every truth flowing from the Incarnation,
from the entrance of God into the human world, must have its practical lesson.” This is
the expression, in clear terms, of the motif that governs Thornton’s ascetical thinking, at
least as of 1963 and English Spirituality. Notice the clear and strong language: “every
truth,” not just some and not others; “flowing from the Incarnation,” an image that brings to mind the image of “living water” from the Gospel of Saint John;
“entrance of God into the human world,” brings to mind another Johannine image, “
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father”;
and then “must have its practical lesson,” is a clear affirmation of the relationship between theological interpretation and Christian practice: a practical lesson and not an
intellectual lesson.”
Is this the ‘Johannine’ stage that Rosenstock-Huessy spoke of? (As mentioned in Peter Leithart’s article linked below.)

”He spoke of the world entering a “Johannine” age of history, an age of the Spirit that would move quite differently from the earlier ages of the Church: “each generation has to act differently precisely in order to represent the same thing. Only so can each become a full partner in the process of Making Man.”

Rosenstock-Huessy also develops a kind of Trinitarian historiography and anthropology. He links the articles of the creed¯which moves from Father, Son, to Spirit¯with three millennia of church history. During the first millennium, the Church concerned with being body of Christ (Son); the second concentrated on restoring creation to its Creator, since after men restored to God, they could begin to purge the world of ungodliness (Father); the next millennium will be the age of the Spirit, which will concentrate on “revealing God in society” (Spirit).”

 

This gets at what the Church and Life in Christ is about- the great both/and, the Pentecost of Life, God and Man, Marriage and Monasticism, Male and Female, etc etc and is true witness. May such work help you to love God and others as yourself in a joyful pleroma of ways, now and ever and unto ages of ages.

 

 

Memory Eternal!

http://akensidepress.com/books/thornton/my_god/

http://anglicanhistory.org/academic/dallman_thornton2015.pdf

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/03/the-benedict-option-and-the-way-of-exchange

https://www.svots.edu/sites/default/files/marriage-ascetisicm-sobornost.pdf

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2007/06/the-relevance-of-eugen-rosenst

 

The Bible… both/and.

Thanks to the great Alice Linsley I understand the Bible a lot better. A lot of my views on Marriage and Sexuality, resistance to Universalism and Pacifism are built on the Theologic of The Bible and The Kingdom so I hope this helps understand the posts on this blog.

A healthy skepticsim of false dualisms is a good thing of course but need not rule out all binaries. Paradox, paradox, paradox…

 

http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.ie/2017/12/greek-linear-logic-vs-hebrew-step-logic.html?m=1

 

http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.ie/2017/07/the-binary-worldview-of-bible.html

 

Happy Christmas season.