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Author Topic: Fake Orthodoxy  (Read 8390 times) Average Rating: 0
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Heorhij
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« on: August 17, 2010, 10:08:45 PM »

I just watched "Cocktail" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocktail_(film)), and thought, well, with many things that were not exactly the same (like, I was never a bartender...Smiley)), it's exactly about me, about my marriage...

Imagine Tom Cruise asking Elisabeth Shue, "wait, are you really Orthodox? Shall we raise our children in the Orthodox faith?"

Nonsense. I believe in love, in craziness, "romance," excitement, whatever.

In marriage. In lifelong commitment.

And, sorry, the more I am on this list, the less I believe in things "Orthodox." They're fake.
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2010, 10:59:12 PM »


Hold on there!

Did you just call things "Orthodox" fake?

Seriously?

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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2010, 11:19:49 PM »

And, sorry, the more I am on this list, the less I believe in things "Orthodox." They're fake.

Worldly ideas are fake.  Orthodoxy is real.
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« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2010, 11:35:07 PM »


Hold on there!

Did you just call things "Orthodox" fake?

Seriously?



Many of them, yes.
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2010, 11:36:18 PM »

And, sorry, the more I am on this list, the less I believe in things "Orthodox." They're fake.

Worldly ideas are fake.  Orthodoxy is real.

I believe in one real WORLD. The beautiful one. Ill, yes, and yet beautiful. What people call "Orthodoxy" as opposed to THIS world is escapism, a very, very fake thing.
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2010, 11:45:33 PM »

And, sorry, the more I am on this list, the less I believe in things "Orthodox." They're fake.

Worldly ideas are fake.  Orthodoxy is real.

I believe in one real WORLD. The beautiful one. Ill, yes, and yet beautiful. What people call "Orthodoxy" as opposed to THIS world is escapism, a very, very fake thing.

Truly refreshing to hear words like these, Heorhij.
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2010, 11:59:11 PM »


Refreshing?

On the contrary!  It's sad!  ...no, it's worse than sad.

All it means is that your faith is not real.  You've been fooling us and yourself.  You only purport to be Orthodox....for your views of late are far from being Orthodox.

How can you say Orthodoxy is fake?  I am still incredulous that I am hearing this from you.

I never took you for a hypocrite.  I always thought of you as a rock solid Orthodox individual.  I am heart broken.

Man, am I gullible! 

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« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2010, 12:27:20 AM »


Refreshing?

On the contrary!  It's sad!  ...no, it's worse than sad.

All it means is that your faith is not real.  You've been fooling us and yourself.  You only purport to be Orthodox....for your views of late are far from being Orthodox.

How can you say Orthodoxy is fake?  I am still incredulous that I am hearing this from you.

I never took you for a hypocrite.  I always thought of you as a rock solid Orthodox individual.  I am heart broken.

Man, am I gullible!  


To his credit, I don't think Heorhij has demonstrated any hypocrisy on this forum.  He's been so consistently genuine and sincere about how he sees the Orthodox faith and Orthodox Christians that one shouldn't be at all surprised by what he just said.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2010, 12:28:29 AM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2010, 05:29:50 AM »

And, sorry, the more I am on this list, the less I believe in things "Orthodox." They're fake.

Worldly ideas are fake.  Orthodoxy is real.

I believe in one real WORLD. The beautiful one. Ill, yes, and yet beautiful. What people call "Orthodoxy" as opposed to THIS world is escapism, a very, very fake thing.

Do you mean that you think some people have the wrong idea of Orthodoxy, or that you're becoming less convinced of Orthodoxy as a whole?

Sorry, I'm confused.
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« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2010, 05:33:43 AM »

How can you say Orthodoxy is fake?
I have to somewhat agree with Heorhij. Fake orthodoxy is fake while real Orthodoxy is real.

The ideal to escape this world, a thought present in Orthodoxy, implicitly means that we are to escape the evils of this world. The world itself is created by God and, while fallen and ill, it cannot to its "nature" or core be evil.
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« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2010, 10:21:33 AM »

I believe in love, in craziness, "romance," excitement, whatever.

In marriage. In lifelong commitment.


I believe in love, in craziness (you should meet my in-laws!) and all the rest also. And have actually experienced it.
But life is not always romance and excitement for me, and for many, if not most, folks either.
I've also experienced heartbreak, loneliness, betrayal, hard times, illness and death of dear loved ones. That's life too.
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« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2010, 01:19:40 PM »

So since I saw this on another thread, would someone care to explain to me what is fake about Orthodoxy? Because the term Orthodoxy itself is the exact opposite of "fake".

-Nick
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« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2010, 03:29:11 PM »

You've got to feel it when "things Orthodox" are fake. It's hard to explain, but pretty easy to recognize when you see it.
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« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2010, 03:53:31 PM »

So since I saw this on another thread, would someone care to explain to me what is fake about Orthodoxy? Because the term Orthodoxy itself is the exact opposite of "fake".

-Nick
I just merged the "other" thread into this one as part of a bigger thread split.
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« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2010, 06:21:43 PM »

So what does it take for an Orthodox Christian to be 'keepin it real'?
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« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2010, 06:51:12 PM »

And, sorry, the more I am on this list, the less I believe in things "Orthodox." They're fake.

Worldly ideas are fake.  Orthodoxy is real.

I believe in one real WORLD. The beautiful one. Ill, yes, and yet beautiful. What people call "Orthodoxy" as opposed to THIS world is escapism, a very, very fake thing.
We as Orthodox often speak of our faith in terms that echo Christ's statement that we are not of this world (a teaching St. Paul repeated in Romans 12:1).  Many Orthodox are capable of living with their minds in the heavenly kingdom not of this world while they continue to apply the Gospel of Christ to the practical realities of life in this fallen world.  For some of us, however, life in the kingdom of the age to come is merely a way to escape the troubles of this world.  I think this is what Heorhij is criticizing, though he seems to not be making the clear distinctions I see.  (ISTM that he sees the escapism of some who call themselves Orthodox and makes the generalization that Orthodoxy itself is fundamentally escapist.  Heorhij also appears to be somewhat steeped in a more materialist view of the world that allows for less "intrusion" of the supernatural, a view of the world with which Orthodoxy itself may find disagreement.)
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« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2010, 07:01:48 PM »

To his credit, I don't think Heorhij has demonstrated any hypocrisy on this forum.  He's been so consistently genuine and sincere about how he sees the Orthodox faith and Orthodox Christians

Good point. Sincerity is important, and I assume most people go through ups and downs in spiritual life.

I think Georgij might have been reacting in part to the conversation on the Orthodoxy and Contraceptive thread, where our Metr. Jonah thought it would be better to have as many kids as possible without contraceptives and after maybe 5 you could ask your priest to start using contraceptives. I egged Heorhij on alittle bit, but not much.

By the way, I want to be somewhat careful when presenting Orthodoxy. If I might talk about a subject like Protestantism, our status as the True Church, our social justice teachings, and then would lay things on too hard, picking out the strongest wording without explanation, rather than try to conform themselves to the church's teaching, an inquirier might spurn Orthodoxy altogether.

(Of course, it would be also be "fake" to say Orthodoxy is basically Protestantism with a few minor differences, and only when the person joins does he realize that we consider our church to be the correct one.)

What I mean is that while a person, even me, might list themselves as Orthodox, say they are Orthodox, we are all people. If the faith, even a correct part, is presented to us in too strong and hostile a way, with no friendship, and the threat of some excessive punishment if we disagree (like in a Calvinist sect, BTW), then we might look elsewhere. It would be natural that our faith would seem to someone else as only in name because we "fell away," but in fact we might actually have a certain real faith that others don't perceive.

If a faitful person of authority in our church came to me 200 years ago and said the Old Testament describes scientific truths like 144 hour creationism, and John Chrysostom says God hates the Jews, and goes on a rant listing many saints, and very poor tenant farmers worked on big church estates, then I would be put off and say I think those things probably didn't happen, and I would be put into some confusion about relations with Jews and peasants. The person might conclude that my faith is fake.

How to deal with this? Times are not completely different on all matters in some discussions.
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« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2010, 07:22:26 PM »

A lot of what I read in Fathers strikes me as fake, un-human, and makes me, quite honestly, want to puke.

For example, the monotonous assertion that the most important thing in marriage is abstinence. Sexual act is viewed as a weakness, as "giving in to the flesh," while a refusal to engage in it (even unilateral - who cares about what these women think, no one asks them!) is viewed as a spiritual accomplishment. I can find quotes of this kind in St. John Chrysostomos - overall a rational and nice man.

The idea that one should hate the world. There is no other world - God created only one world; there will be no other world, we aren't gonna "travel" into that "other" world - this, our world will be saved, transfigured, transformed by Christ; actually is IS already being saved and transfigured, and there are miriads of these "epiphanies," which witness this transfiguration - a smile of a child, a song of a mother caressing her baby, a whisper of newlyweds, great books, Shakespeare, Bach, the Beatles and what not. Digging yourself into a spiritual cave, again, strikes me as merely stupid.

Those are just two quick thoughts on my mind - I might pull up some more.
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« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2010, 07:38:31 PM »

And, sorry, the more I am on this list, the less I believe in things "Orthodox." They're fake.

Worldly ideas are fake.  Orthodoxy is real.

I believe in one real WORLD. The beautiful one. Ill, yes, and yet beautiful. What people call "Orthodoxy" as opposed to THIS world is escapism, a very, very fake thing.

I read on the Liberation Theology thread someone's post about Seraphim Rose that sounded what you might be labeling "escapism," where Rose promoted withdrawing from society, and saw social idealism as unfulfilling. The quote didn't discuss whether any charity was worthless, but I think the sense was away from it. As such I think it missed out on Christ's commandment to make disciples of all nations, and I could be tempted to question how devoted Rose was to charity. Perhaps some Calvinist libertarians would question the faith of some proponents of "Liberation Theology" along opposite lines.

I do not doubt Seraphim Rose's faith or authenticity, or the faith of proponents of "Liberation Theology".

So even if Rose was promoting escapism, or a Christian doesn't devote himself enough to charity in the outside world (and I am a huge hypocrite in this regard), I don't doubt that they have Orthodox faith, and that they are true.

One saint in our church, perhaps it was Gregory of Palamas, would hardly talk to anyone, simply praying in his cell the Jesus prayer. A bishop went to see him and he turned the bishop away, never speaking to him. Another saint, who lived in Rome, would invite many Christian guests and treat them to big banquets. Then in secret he would fast twice as hard the next day to compensate. People would tell his guests "don't eat much" there for that reason.

Both are saints in our church.

Regards.
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« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2010, 07:50:38 PM »

There is no other world - God created only one world; there will be no other world, we aren't gonna "travel" into that "other" world....
Is it possible that there is one World, with many dimensions, not all of which are readily visible to most people who live on earth?
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« Reply #20 on: August 18, 2010, 08:48:14 PM »

The idea that one should hate the world. There is no other world - God created only one world; there will be no other world, we aren't gonna "travel" into that "other" world - this, our world will be saved, transfigured, transformed by Christ; actually is IS already being saved and transfigured, and there are miriads of these "epiphanies," which witness this transfiguration - a smile of a child, a song of a mother caressing her baby, a whisper of newlyweds, great books, Shakespeare, Bach, the Beatles and what not. Digging yourself into a spiritual cave, again, strikes me as merely stupid.
I actually share this sentiment with all my heart.  I've never understood why so many Orthodox see the call to not be of this world as reason to oppose all manifestations of culture and not make any attempt to Christianize and sanctify it.  Sure, this may be the monastic ideal, which I recognize as totally necessary for those living the monastic life.  But is this type of asceticism necessary for those not called specifically to be monks and nuns (and outside of the fasting seasons when the Church calls ALL of us to live as monks and nuns to the best of the ability God has given us to do so in the circumstances God has given us)?  We live in the world, and it is up to us, the Body of Christ, to make Christ incarnate in the world, but this work of Christianizing our culture doesn't mean that we make it wholly ascetic.  Rather, it means that we recognize what truth is there to be recognized in it and glorify this while we purge off that of our culture which is opposed to Christ.
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« Reply #21 on: August 18, 2010, 09:11:02 PM »

I credit the works of Fr. Alexander Men for helping shape my understanding of the ascetic/incarnational dialectic in Orthodoxy, particularly his lecture "Two Understandings of Christianity", the text of which can be read here:  http://www.alexandermen.com/Two_Understandings_of_Christianity.

An excerpt I think expresses the crux of the matter most clearly:
Quote
Orthodox culture derives from two sources. The first source is the fundamental and most important one, namely the Gospels. That source is the teaching and proclamation about God-manhood, in other words, about the mystery of the eternal and the mystery of the human. It is the teaching that humanity is exceptionally important and valuable for the Creator. It is the teaching that humanity is raised above all creation because the Eternal itself made contact with it, because human beings are created in the image and likeness of the Creator and in them lives a kind of programme for the future: to develop from beings akin to the animals to beings akin to heaven.

But there was another tradition too, born long before Christianity, and that is the tradition of ascetic practice. It is an exceptionally important tradition. It contains some of the richest experience of self-observation and the richest experience of inner practice, that is, of spiritual work designed to make the human personality grow. But this ascetic tradition, which came mainly from India and Greece and which was adopted by the church several centuries after the appearance of Christ, came to regard the surrounding world as something alien and external to it, something which had to be recoiled from and shunned.

Were there good grounds for this tendency? Of course there were. Every one of us can readily understand how energetically a person seeking depth, stillness, contemplation and eternal wisdom must push away the cares and noise, the superficiality and futility of life which surrounds them, if they are to find themselves. And then by picking out a few words from the Gospels (true, taken out of context) such as 'He who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life' [John 12.25], this tendency began to predominate, firstly in monastic circles and in certain strands of the church, but then, gathering ever greater strength thanks to its inner spiritual energy, this tendency began imperceptibly to be the dominant one, and almost overshadowed the other source, the principle of the God-man. If in the Gospel it says, ' He who hates the world', it also says in the same Gospel of St John that God so loved the world that he gave his own Son to save it. This is the contradiction, and this is the dialectic in which we have to distinguish the two understandings of the world.
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« Reply #22 on: August 18, 2010, 09:19:28 PM »

I just watched "Cocktail" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocktail_(film)), and thought, well, with many things that were not exactly the same (like, I was never a bartender...Smiley)), it's exactly about me, about my marriage...

Imagine Tom Cruise asking Elisabeth Shue, "wait, are you really Orthodox? Shall we raise our children in the Orthodox faith?"

Nonsense. I believe in love, in craziness, "romance," excitement, whatever.

In marriage. In lifelong commitment.

And, sorry, the more I am on this list, the less I believe in things "Orthodox." They're fake.

I realize you are writing off the cuff, but I think this post is not internally consistent, and that might be contributing to a problem of understanding, especially in its assumption of a dichotomy that I don't believe really exists.

You say you believe in marriage, in lifelong commitment.  Very good. And you are one of the fortunate people who has a spouse that supports you and who shares this commitment.  Just based off what you write on this forum, it's obvious that while there are some disagreements, your wife and you seem to share a lot together. And, if I recall correctly, a lot of your arguments stem from your difference in religious views, which developed in you only comparatively recently.

Now, besides this lifelong commitment, you also believe in romanticism, something exciting, craziness, etc. You state that Orthodox concepts like someone caring enough to ask a romantic partner if they are Orthodox or whether they will raise their children Orthodox encroaches on this romance, on this craziness, excitement, and is nonsense.

The fact of the matter is, I believe that doing things "exciting" and avoiding doing sober things that cut in to that excitement (like discussing how one plans to raise one's children and picking a partner based on things held in common) does not lead to marriage and lifelong commitment, but rather painful divorces and disenchantment more often than not.  Judging by the divorce statistics in this country, I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that people making decisions based more on emotion than reason leads to this. And I don't think this "freedom" to divorce makes most people happier, either.

No, what I think is fake is most movies that show people in impossibly silly situations magically surmounting all obstacles just because they are "in love."  Does that happen in some cases? Yes, of course. But chances are, it takes more than just some excitement.  You know this, because you have stayed married for a long time.  I think you are caught up in the moment after watching something that speaks to part of who you are, but you are blocking out a lot of the backstory that doesn't make it in to the big screen, and are judging Orthodoxy (or what you perceive Orthodoxy is) based on its insistence on stating a lot of plain facts (and being more in tune with supporting "marriage and lifelong commitment") rather than emotion, fun, craziness.

The fact of the matter is, though, that the two are not mutually exclusive (which you yourself know), and I think discounting the sober aspects highlighted by Orthodoxy authorities (labeling them fake) while highlighting essentially fleeting emotional aspects as part of "the human condition", exciting, fun, etc, is creating a dichotomy that is, well, rather fake.  The Orthodox Church doesn't teach you that you can't love your spouse, have great emotional attachment to him or her, have fun, be spontaneous, or whatever. But it does teach boundaries, it does emphasize that certain behaviors have consequences, etc.  Movies are great for the hour and a half they are with you, but Orthodoxy is with you all the time, even when life isn't crazy, spontaneous, exciting, or whatever.
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« Reply #23 on: August 18, 2010, 09:26:41 PM »

I actually share this sentiment with all my heart.  I've never understood why so many Orthodox see the call to not be of this world as reason to oppose all manifestations of culture and not make any attempt to Christianize and sanctify it.  Sure, this may be the monastic ideal, which I recognize as totally necessary for those living the monastic life.  But is this type of asceticism necessary for those not called specifically to be monks and nuns (and outside of the fasting seasons when the Church calls ALL of us to live as monks and nuns to the best of the ability God has given us to do so in the circumstances God has given us)?  We live in the world, and it is up to us, the Body of Christ, to make Christ incarnate in the world, but this work of Christianizing our culture doesn't mean that we make it wholly ascetic.  Rather, it means that we recognize what truth there is to be recognized in it and glorify this while we purge off that of our culture which is opposed to Christ.

Peter, I agree with you on this.  How often do Orthodox here in the US complain that this culture can never become an Orthodox culture?  So often, we are not willing to make any effort to do this.  We would much rather try to change it into one of the traditionally Orthodox cultures.  However, that is not what our mission is.  Our mission is to change this culture into an Orthodox culture.  There are many qualities in this culture that are Orthodox and things that could well be adapted into Orthodox.  Are there many things that are going to have to be eliminated?  Of course, however, it is not as hopeless as many Orthodox in this culture like to think.  I am sure that those who had the responsibility to transform the cultures in the traditionally Orthodox cultures thought their task was just as huge and despaired that it would ever become a reality, and yet it did.  The task that the Church has given us is to transform this culture.  
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« Reply #24 on: August 18, 2010, 09:35:04 PM »

A lot of what I read in Fathers strikes me as fake, un-human, and makes me, quite honestly, want to puke.

For example, the monotonous assertion that the most important thing in marriage is abstinence. Sexual act is viewed as a weakness, as "giving in to the flesh," while a refusal to engage in it (even unilateral - who cares about what these women think, no one asks them!) is viewed as a spiritual accomplishment. I can find quotes of this kind in St. John Chrysostomos - overall a rational and nice man.

The idea that one should hate the world. There is no other world - God created only one world; there will be no other world, we aren't gonna "travel" into that "other" world - this, our world will be saved, transfigured, transformed by Christ; actually is IS already being saved and transfigured, and there are miriads of these "epiphanies," which witness this transfiguration - a smile of a child, a song of a mother caressing her baby, a whisper of newlyweds, great books, Shakespeare, Bach, the Beatles and what not. Digging yourself into a spiritual cave, again, strikes me as merely stupid.

Those are just two quick thoughts on my mind - I might pull up some more.

Part of the problem is that you are taking things out of context.  While those Fathers were writing those things, in many cases people were living it up a few miles away. People don't need someone to write treatises on how they should have fun and enjoy life, or how they need to have more sex in marriage. People know how to do this without something telling them how to.  But people don't naturally know how to pray, fast, be abstinent, or sacrifice to a great extent, because they are fallen.  The Fathers set a firm ideal, and many times you realize by reading between the lines that they are writing a hortatory address (an exhortation) and not describing a situation that actually exists in most places.  Or that even should exist everywhere. But by holding the bar VERY high, the hope is that people will inch a long a bit at a time.

As an example, it's like when I read one passage in the Ladder of Divine Ascent about sham asceticism of laypeople...well what do you expect, that the abbot is going to write to his novices something like: "anyone can become saved and holy in any place in life. So you really don't need to be here, you could take off and go get married and still make it to heaven."  Obviously this is a particular context, and is not universally applicable.  Other patristic writings make it clear that some laypeople make it to the same height as monks.  And we can examine it by still yet another angle, and realize that it's more likely that someone will become a saint living as a monk than as a layperson, without feeling this insults laypeople in any way. There are many facets to all of this, and reductionism and dichotomizing doesn't help.

Sometimes, individual fathers are wrong.

Other times, it's a cultural disconnect and we would do well not to judge anachronistically.

Finally still other times, what the Fathers write is absolutely and immediately attainable, but we revolt at it because deep inside we want to live the way they are writing against. I have to throw that out there for completeness, while not assuming you are guilty of such.

Now, all that being said, there are some malcontents and escapists out there...people who don't see God's creation as good in any way, but I usually don't engage with them very much. I don't think that that is what is going on here in most cases, though.
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« Reply #25 on: August 18, 2010, 11:11:15 PM »

For example, the monotonous assertion that the most important thing in marriage is abstinence. Sexual act is viewed as a weakness, as "giving in to the flesh," while a refusal to engage in it (even unilateral - who cares about what these women think, no one asks them!) is viewed as a spiritual accomplishment. I can find quotes of this kind in St. John Chrysostomos - overall a rational and nice man.

This isn't dogma. And generally, I agree that it is erroneous, whether or not it was a legitimate Patristic opinion to begin with.

The idea that one should hate the world. There is no other world - God created only one world; there will be no other world, we aren't gonna "travel" into that "other" world - this, our world will be saved, transfigured, transformed by Christ; actually is IS already being saved and transfigured, and there are miriads of these "epiphanies," which witness this transfiguration - a smile of a child, a song of a mother caressing her baby, a whisper of newlyweds, great books, Shakespeare, Bach, the Beatles and what not. Digging yourself into a spiritual cave, again, strikes me as merely stupid.

The major problem with this one is how different our conceptions are of "the world" between biblical times and now. In biblical times, when it was spoke of Christ "overcoming the world", speaking of the devil as "the ruler of this world", and speaking of believers in Christ as "not of this world", the basic understanding was that because of the Fall, the allegiance of the world of men has gone to the devil, and that this "world" must be overcome. As a matter of fact, the only way to restore God's Creation is to overcome this "world". Today, when we use the same term, we mean it in a much more scientific sense, rather than a sociological one. In this sense, you are very right that this world is good, it ought not be escaped, and rather it should be loved, cherished, and restored. But this notions aren't even inconsistent with each other. For the underlying substance of God's Creation is good and lovable either way; the former is simply addressing the fact that the powers of this world have their allegiance with the devil and must be overthrown to restore God as the power of the cosmos.

Those are just two quick thoughts on my mind - I might pull up some more.

Please do! I am rather curious.
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« Reply #26 on: August 18, 2010, 11:43:25 PM »

Thank you, Father Anastasios! 
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« Reply #27 on: August 19, 2010, 08:33:26 AM »

The idea that one should hate the world. There is no other world - God created only one world; there will be no other world, we aren't gonna "travel" into that "other" world - this, our world will be saved, transfigured, transformed by Christ; actually is IS already being saved and transfigured, and there are miriads of these "epiphanies," which witness this transfiguration - a smile of a child, a song of a mother caressing her baby, a whisper of newlyweds, great books, Shakespeare, Bach, the Beatles and what not. Digging yourself into a spiritual cave, again, strikes me as merely stupid.
I actually share this sentiment with all my heart.  I've never understood why so many Orthodox see the call to not be of this world as reason to oppose all manifestations of culture and not make any attempt to Christianize and sanctify it.  Sure, this may be the monastic ideal, which I recognize as totally necessary for those living the monastic life.  But is this type of asceticism necessary for those not called specifically to be monks and nuns (and outside of the fasting seasons when the Church calls ALL of us to live as monks and nuns to the best of the ability God has given us to do so in the circumstances God has given us)?  We live in the world, and it is up to us, the Body of Christ, to make Christ incarnate in the world, but this work of Christianizing our culture doesn't mean that we make it wholly ascetic.  Rather, it means that we recognize what truth is there to be recognized in it and glorify this while we purge off that of our culture which is opposed to Christ.

Peter, dear friend, thank you for this. Unfortunately, however, the monastics are our church leaders. All bishops are monks. They seem to be the "ringleaders" of the dehumanizing conspiracy in the Church, which is, I believe, very Platonian (i.e. essentially Pagan!) - the conspiracy that opposes the evils of "body" and "world" to the "goods" of "supernatural," bodyless, culture-less life in spiritual caves. Maybe in the USA it's less obvious, but I just returned from Ukraine and saw that over there, as it has always been the case, human body, human culture ("world") are the objects of relentless assault from those in charge of the Church (monastics-bishops). I see an increasing opposition to science, and suport of the most stupid prejudices like manipulation with "the energies of the thin world," "extrasensory activities" etc. The Ukrainian TV shows priests who very seriously claim that Holy Water consists of atoms with changed electron orbitals, of course only in the case the water was sanctified in a canonical parish because the frequency of "thin energy waves" in that parish is the right one (they even say what is it in Hz). I see systematic attempts to push non-scientific agenda into Ukrainian (and all post-Soviet) school science curricula. As the educational standards plummet, the pushing of plain stupidity by the Church, the "zombifying" of the population with Her help increases more and more. And there are these immensely stupid and angry debates about contraception, again, provoked and led by bishops-monastics, where the public is told that everything in family planning except (maybe) the "natural" method is sinful and hated by God.

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« Reply #28 on: August 19, 2010, 09:05:01 AM »

A lot of what I read in Fathers strikes me as fake, un-human, and makes me, quite honestly, want to puke.

For example, the monotonous assertion that the most important thing in marriage is abstinence. Sexual act is viewed as a weakness, as "giving in to the flesh," while a refusal to engage in it (even unilateral - who cares about what these women think, no one asks them!) is viewed as a spiritual accomplishment. I can find quotes of this kind in St. John Chrysostomos - overall a rational and nice man.

The idea that one should hate the world. There is no other world - God created only one world; there will be no other world, we aren't gonna "travel" into that "other" world - this, our world will be saved, transfigured, transformed by Christ; actually is IS already being saved and transfigured, and there are miriads of these "epiphanies," which witness this transfiguration - a smile of a child, a song of a mother caressing her baby, a whisper of newlyweds, great books, Shakespeare, Bach, the Beatles and what not. Digging yourself into a spiritual cave, again, strikes me as merely stupid.

Those are just two quick thoughts on my mind - I might pull up some more.

Part of the problem is that you are taking things out of context.  While those Fathers were writing those things, in many cases people were living it up a few miles away. People don't need someone to write treatises on how they should have fun and enjoy life, or how they need to have more sex in marriage. People know how to do this without something telling them how to.

Father, this is not necessarily true. There are people who are confused, neurotic (BTW, yours truly has been one of them from my childhood on). They do not necessarily "know how to enjoy life and have fun" in marriage, in marital relationships. For some of us, a sermon that claims that abstinence in marriage is a good thing, it can absolutely spoil our whole lives.


But people don't naturally know how to pray, fast, be abstinent, or sacrifice to a great extent, because they are fallen.  The Fathers set a firm ideal, and many times you realize by reading between the lines that they are writing a hortatory address (an exhortation) and not describing a situation that actually exists in most places.  Or that even should exist everywhere. But by holding the bar VERY high, the hope is that people will inch a long a bit at a time.

I don't know. Maybe this bar itself is completely wrong? It is, again, obviously Platonian "soma sima," i.e. Pagan.
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« Reply #29 on: August 19, 2010, 09:21:31 AM »

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Peter, dear friend, thank you for this. Unfortunately, however, the monastics are our church leaders. All bishops are monks. They seem to be the "ringleaders" of the dehumanizing conspiracy in the Church, which is, I believe, very Platonian (i.e. essentially Pagan!) - the conspiracy that opposes the evils of "body" and "world" to the "goods" of "supernatural," bodyless, culture-less life in spiritual caves.


Heorhij, of late I've read a great deal about Paganism, and, if I understand correctly, this dualism of which you speak is not actually part of Paganism. Paganism does not teach dualism, but believes in the interconnectedness of all things. Paganism does not teach that the material world is "evil" and the that the spiritual world is superior. Apparently, the roots of dualism are to be found in Zoroastrianism, to which the ancient Jews were exposed during one of their exiles. This was one of the first brushes with dualism amongst the monotheistic religions. Somebody who is more educated on the matter can correct me if I'm wrong, but the books I've read have all been most emphatic on this point.
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« Reply #30 on: August 19, 2010, 09:24:24 AM »

Quote
Peter, dear friend, thank you for this. Unfortunately, however, the monastics are our church leaders. All bishops are monks. They seem to be the "ringleaders" of the dehumanizing conspiracy in the Church, which is, I believe, very Platonian (i.e. essentially Pagan!) - the conspiracy that opposes the evils of "body" and "world" to the "goods" of "supernatural," bodyless, culture-less life in spiritual caves.


Heorhij, of late I've read a great deal about Paganism, and, if I understand correctly, this dualism of which you speak is not actually part of Paganism. Paganism does not teach dualism, but believes in the interconnectedness of all things. Paganism does not teach that the material world is "evil" and the that the spiritual world is superior. Apparently, the roots of dualism are to be found in Zoroastrianism, to which the ancient Jews were exposed during one of their exiles. This was one of the first brushes with dualism amongst the monotheistic religions. Somebody who is more educated on the matter can correct me if I'm wrong, but the books I've read have all been most emphatic on this point.

Well, this may be true, but Plato was Pagan anyway, so at least some Pagans taught dualism, no?
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« Reply #31 on: August 19, 2010, 09:32:52 AM »


Refreshing?

On the contrary!  It's sad!  ...no, it's worse than sad.

All it means is that your faith is not real.  You've been fooling us and yourself.  You only purport to be Orthodox....for your views of late are far from being Orthodox.

How can you say Orthodoxy is fake?  I am still incredulous that I am hearing this from you.

I never took you for a hypocrite.  I always thought of you as a rock solid Orthodox individual.  I am heart broken.

Man, am I gullible!  



This is a very good example of the sort of thiing that makes it very difficult for people who have crises of faith to do anything but simply leave.  The people who ought to be supportive and try to find out why they think/feel/believe the way they do, what has driven them to that point, and how they can help instead are the people who are often so ready to express their disappointment and condemnation at the first sign of wavering.

We have probably all known somebody who has shared beliefs with us, whether they be religious beliefs or political beliefs, and we have felt a sense of affinity and kinship with the person because of this, or we may admire the person as somebody whose fervent holding to these beliefs we see as a model to which to aspire.  Then the person's beliefs change, he may apostasize from the faith or change political views to something we find distasteful.  You may feel that the person has turned his back on what you once shared and you may feel a sense of abandonment and betrayal.  But guess what?  It isn't about you!  What people in those situations need to do is swallow their own self-pity and get over themselves, and try to find in their hearts some openness and love for the person who is struggling.  And when I say love, I don't mean paying lipservice to love while at the same time doing their best through actions and words to make the person feel as worthless as possible for being a disappointment.  I mean real love, that sacrifices of itself in order to draw the person back to the love of Christ.

Perhaps there are people whose faith has never wavered, whose hope in God and assurance of God's love for them has never faded.  May they ever increase.  However, perhaps in their firm grounding, they should spare a thought and a prayer for those who endure the truly horrific experience of reaching the point where they find it truly difficult to believe that they are loved by God, where no matter how much they may want to believe, the fact of the matter is that it is truly difficult, and where God's very existence may be something of which they no longer find themselves able to convince themselves.  For a person whose entire life is grounded in God to suddenly lose that is indescribable in words, and it is a time when the person may be tossed from belief to unbelief as the wind blows, and may say things that are contrary to what he has always believed.  This, of course, is all of the evil one, but what is needed most at that time is sometimes a sympathetic ear, or even just the presence of those who continue in this faith.  However, this is sometimes never found because the person is afraid to say anything to anybody for fear of being told such things as "It's sad!  ...no, it's worse than sad.  All it means is that your faith is not real.  You've been fooling us and yourself.  You only purport to be Orthodox".

I don't know Heorhij's background or situation, and I do not claim to speak of his feelings, but all I can say is that I truly hope and pray that if ever people who are so ready to condemn others ever find their faith challenged, they will find more love than they have been willing to give.

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« Reply #32 on: August 19, 2010, 09:34:39 AM »

Quote
Well, this may be true, but Plato was Pagan anyway, so at least some Pagans taught dualism, no?


I agree. It seems the early Christian writers were quite influenced by the Greek philosophers and I wonder how much of the famous philosophers' ideas were shared by the ordinary, rural pagans, and how much of it was very esoteric thought?  So, I wonder why these books claimed that Paganism rejects Dualism?  Undecided Perhaps the Paganism they are touting is of a very modern construction, or a more "nature-based" sort?
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« Reply #33 on: August 19, 2010, 10:24:21 AM »

The idea that one should hate the world. There is no other world - God created only one world; there will be no other world, we aren't gonna "travel" into that "other" world - this, our world will be saved, transfigured, transformed by Christ; actually is IS already being saved and transfigured, and there are miriads of these "epiphanies," which witness this transfiguration - a smile of a child, a song of a mother caressing her baby, a whisper of newlyweds, great books, Shakespeare, Bach, the Beatles and what not. Digging yourself into a spiritual cave, again, strikes me as merely stupid.
I actually share this sentiment with all my heart.  I've never understood why so many Orthodox see the call to not be of this world as reason to oppose all manifestations of culture and not make any attempt to Christianize and sanctify it.  Sure, this may be the monastic ideal, which I recognize as totally necessary for those living the monastic life.  But is this type of asceticism necessary for those not called specifically to be monks and nuns (and outside of the fasting seasons when the Church calls ALL of us to live as monks and nuns to the best of the ability God has given us to do so in the circumstances God has given us)?  We live in the world, and it is up to us, the Body of Christ, to make Christ incarnate in the world, but this work of Christianizing our culture doesn't mean that we make it wholly ascetic.  Rather, it means that we recognize what truth is there to be recognized in it and glorify this while we purge off that of our culture which is opposed to Christ.

Peter, dear friend, thank you for this. Unfortunately, however, the monastics are our church leaders. All bishops are monks. They seem to be the "ringleaders" of the dehumanizing conspiracy in the Church, which is, I believe, very Platonian (i.e. essentially Pagan!) - the conspiracy that opposes the evils of "body" and "world" to the "goods" of "supernatural," bodyless, culture-less life in spiritual caves. Maybe in the USA it's less obvious, but I just returned from Ukraine and saw that over there, as it has always been the case, human body, human culture ("world") are the objects of relentless assault from those in charge of the Church (monastics-bishops). I see an increasing opposition to science, and suport of the most stupid prejudices like manipulation with "the energies of the thin world," "extrasensory activities" etc. The Ukrainian TV shows priests who very seriously claim that Holy Water consists of atoms with changed electron orbitals, of course only in the case the water was sanctified in a canonical parish because the frequency of "thin energy waves" in that parish is the right one (they even say what is it in Hz). I see systematic attempts to push non-scientific agenda into Ukrainian (and all post-Soviet) school science curricula. As the educational standards plummet, the pushing of plain stupidity by the Church, the "zombifying" of the population with Her help increases more and more. And there are these immensely stupid and angry debates about contraception, again, provoked and led by bishops-monastics, where the public is told that everything in family planning except (maybe) the "natural" method is sinful and hated by God.

I KNEW that's where you were heading!  

The Church is not meant to embrace every human caprice.

Those who's aim is only self pleasure, indulgence and satisfaction are not following Church teaching...because these pleasures are temporal!  The Church teaches us the things which are eternal.

The Church teaches fasting, self control, less is more....The world teaches:  Eat all you want.  Super Size it!  Die of a heart attack!  Whooo hoooo!
The Church teaches abstinence, self control, less is more....The world teaches: It feels good, so lets just do it!  STD's, unwanted pregnancies...  Whooo hoooo!
The Church teaches praying, self control, less is more....The world teaches:  Who needs God, why waste time in church/organized religion....so we get people who have no respect for others, don't fear anything, and are ruthless and self centered.  Whooo hooo!

Oh yeah!  The Church has it all wrong!

You cannot purport to be an adherent to a Faith and then cherry pick what you like from it and badmouth what you don't.  It's a package deal.
Take it or leave...but, do NOT try to change to your own liking!

‎"Blessed is the mind that passes the time of its pilgrimage in chaste sobriety, and loiters not in the things through which it has to walk,
so that, as a stranger rather than the possessor of its earthly abode,
it may not... be wanting in human affections, and yet rest on the Divine promises."
Saint Leo the Great

I love Orthodoxy just the way it is!  

I may not be the perfect Orthodox, however, that is my own personal shortcoming...and something I need to work at.  However, I would never say the Church needs to change because I cannot muster the self control that it asks of me, and which is for my own good in this world, as well as the next.  

It is MY shortcoming, not the Church's.


Edited for moratorium violation - mike.
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« Reply #34 on: August 19, 2010, 10:40:06 AM »

I credit the works of Fr. Alexander Men for helping shape my understanding of the ascetic/incarnational dialectic in Orthodoxy, particularly his lecture "Two Understandings of Christianity", the text of which can be read here:  http://www.alexandermen.com/Two_Understandings_of_Christianity.

An excerpt I think expresses the crux of the matter most clearly:
Quote
Orthodox culture derives from two sources. The first source is the fundamental and most important one, namely the Gospels. That source is the teaching and proclamation about God-manhood, in other words, about the mystery of the eternal and the mystery of the human. It is the teaching that humanity is exceptionally important and valuable for the Creator. It is the teaching that humanity is raised above all creation because the Eternal itself made contact with it, because human beings are created in the image and likeness of the Creator and in them lives a kind of programme for the future: to develop from beings akin to the animals to beings akin to heaven.

But there was another tradition too, born long before Christianity, and that is the tradition of ascetic practice. It is an exceptionally important tradition. It contains some of the richest experience of self-observation and the richest experience of inner practice, that is, of spiritual work designed to make the human personality grow. But this ascetic tradition, which came mainly from India and Greece and which was adopted by the church several centuries after the appearance of Christ, came to regard the surrounding world as something alien and external to it, something which had to be recoiled from and shunned.

Were there good grounds for this tendency? Of course there were. Every one of us can readily understand how energetically a person seeking depth, stillness, contemplation and eternal wisdom must push away the cares and noise, the superficiality and futility of life which surrounds them, if they are to find themselves. And then by picking out a few words from the Gospels (true, taken out of context) such as 'He who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life' [John 12.25], this tendency began to predominate, firstly in monastic circles and in certain strands of the church, but then, gathering ever greater strength thanks to its inner spiritual energy, this tendency began imperceptibly to be the dominant one, and almost overshadowed the other source, the principle of the God-man. If in the Gospel it says, ' He who hates the world', it also says in the same Gospel of St John that God so loved the world that he gave his own Son to save it. This is the contradiction, and this is the dialectic in which we have to distinguish the two understandings of the world.

Heorhij--I think that Peter has found a most reasonable explanation for your issue--the remarks by the blessed Father Alexander above. I hope that you consider them and am looking forward to your reaction.
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« Reply #35 on: August 19, 2010, 11:07:22 AM »

The Church teaches fasting, self control, less is more....The world teaches:  Eat all you want.  Super Size it!  Die of a heart attack!  Whooo hoooo!
The Church teaches abstinence, self control, less is more....The world teaches: It feels good, so lets just do it!  STD's, unwanted pregnancies...  Whooo hoooo!

Not really, pani Lizo. A more clever and kind part of the "world" teaches to eat rationally, limit calorie intake to <2,000 Cal a day, limit sodium intake to 2.5 grams a day etc. A more responsible part of the "world" teaches to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STDs by proper contaception and vaccination.

The Church teaches praying, self control, less is more....The world teaches:  Who needs God, why waste time in church/organized religion....so we get people who have no respect for others, don't fear anything, and are ruthless and self centered.  Whooo hooo!

Again not quite true. A huge part of the "world" teaches the Way of Tao, or Buddhism, where the whole point is to deny desire, to curb self-indulgence and to have respect for all living creatures, including even flies...

Oh yeah!  The Church has it all wrong!

Perhaps not all, but She most definitely has it very wrong when She teaches, for example, that St. John of Kronshtadt should be my ideal because he decided to marry and then not to sleep with his wife.
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« Reply #36 on: August 19, 2010, 11:14:05 AM »

I credit the works of Fr. Alexander Men for helping shape my understanding of the ascetic/incarnational dialectic in Orthodoxy, particularly his lecture "Two Understandings of Christianity", the text of which can be read here:  http://www.alexandermen.com/Two_Understandings_of_Christianity.

An excerpt I think expresses the crux of the matter most clearly:
Quote
Orthodox culture derives from two sources. The first source is the fundamental and most important one, namely the Gospels. That source is the teaching and proclamation about God-manhood, in other words, about the mystery of the eternal and the mystery of the human. It is the teaching that humanity is exceptionally important and valuable for the Creator. It is the teaching that humanity is raised above all creation because the Eternal itself made contact with it, because human beings are created in the image and likeness of the Creator and in them lives a kind of programme for the future: to develop from beings akin to the animals to beings akin to heaven.

But there was another tradition too, born long before Christianity, and that is the tradition of ascetic practice. It is an exceptionally important tradition. It contains some of the richest experience of self-observation and the richest experience of inner practice, that is, of spiritual work designed to make the human personality grow. But this ascetic tradition, which came mainly from India and Greece and which was adopted by the church several centuries after the appearance of Christ, came to regard the surrounding world as something alien and external to it, something which had to be recoiled from and shunned.

Were there good grounds for this tendency? Of course there were. Every one of us can readily understand how energetically a person seeking depth, stillness, contemplation and eternal wisdom must push away the cares and noise, the superficiality and futility of life which surrounds them, if they are to find themselves. And then by picking out a few words from the Gospels (true, taken out of context) such as 'He who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life' [John 12.25], this tendency began to predominate, firstly in monastic circles and in certain strands of the church, but then, gathering ever greater strength thanks to its inner spiritual energy, this tendency began imperceptibly to be the dominant one, and almost overshadowed the other source, the principle of the God-man. If in the Gospel it says, ' He who hates the world', it also says in the same Gospel of St John that God so loved the world that he gave his own Son to save it. This is the contradiction, and this is the dialectic in which we have to distinguish the two understandings of the world.

Heorhij--I think that Peter has found a most reasonable explanation for your issue--the remarks by the blessed Father Alexander above. I hope that you consider them and am looking forward to your reaction.

Well, it's hard to disagree with this, but it is a mere constatation of the fact. Like I said, I believe there is a monastic-bishopial conspiracy within the Church, which is essentially Pagan and dehumanizing. It promotes views like "condoms are evil because the sexual act must be the way God ordained it" (in what verse of Scripture, one wonders...), or "evil men hunt for other men's wives, while holy men refuse to touch even their own wives" (St. John Chrysostomos). Four legs good, two legs bad. "Spiritual"=disembodied and void of wordly culture (which, a priori, opposes Christ) = good, "carnal" and "of the worldly culture" = bad.
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« Reply #37 on: August 19, 2010, 12:05:30 PM »

"evil men hunt for other men's wives, while holy men refuse to touch even their own wives" (St. John Chrysostomos).

Google can't locate that quote.  Would you provide a reference?
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« Reply #38 on: August 19, 2010, 12:10:03 PM »

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Well, this may be true, but Plato was Pagan anyway, so at least some Pagans taught dualism, no?


I agree. It seems the early Christian writers were quite influenced by the Greek philosophers and I wonder how much of the famous philosophers' ideas were shared by the ordinary, rural pagans, and how much of it was very esoteric thought?  So, I wonder why these books claimed that Paganism rejects Dualism?  Undecided Perhaps the Paganism they are touting is of a very modern construction, or a more "nature-based" sort?
If by "Paganism" you mean anything not Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, then such a definition includes both dualist and non-dualist spiritual traditions.

Zoroastrianism does not say that matter is evil. What Zarathustra taught is debated: some say he taught that there are two eternal principles, Evil and Good. Others (and I think this is more likely) say that Zarathustra taught that Man has two options: to choose the evil or to choose the good, and that eventually, the Good will defeat Evil.

I'm not even sure if Plato argued that matter was evil, just that matter was imperfect, changing, and inconstant.

The "evilness" of matter seems to pop up among some of the early Gnostics.
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« Reply #39 on: August 19, 2010, 12:20:23 PM »

"evil men hunt for other men's wives, while holy men refuse to touch even their own wives" (St. John Chrysostomos).

Google can't locate that quote.  Would you provide a reference?

Will do. I quoted from memory, but I do remember reading this, maybe in a somewhat different wording.
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« Reply #40 on: August 19, 2010, 12:49:34 PM »


But people don't naturally know how to pray, fast, be abstinent, or sacrifice to a great extent, because they are fallen.  The Fathers set a firm ideal, and many times you realize by reading between the lines that they are writing a hortatory address (an exhortation) and not describing a situation that actually exists in most places.  Or that even should exist everywhere. But by holding the bar VERY high, the hope is that people will inch a long a bit at a time.

I don't know. Maybe this bar itself is completely wrong? It is, again, obviously Platonian "soma sima," i.e. Pagan.

It's not "pagan" in some philosophical way; it's merely reality to a pre-modern human being. For you especially, Heorhij, you have to be a bit more of an ethnographer when reading the Fathers, since your background in modern science and your social experience as a middle class person in 21st century America has led you to conceive of "reality" and the "body" in ways that are simply inconceivable to an ancient person. You have to imagine what it was like for them, understand it in that context, and then see how it might apply to you today in a different context.

Consider this: Before the advent of modern medicine and reliable contraceptives, sex and marriage were undeniably linked to (a) childbirth and (b) death. That's not a result of Platonic dualism -- it's reality. Nowadays, we have the option to practice sex as something that is purely enjoyable without concern for its consequences -- that's simple not a physical possibility in pre-modern cultures. In the early Christian period, the average woman would start having children at about age 14 and would give birth between 4 and 8 times in her life. Most of these children would die before reaching puberty. One or two would be stillbirths and several would die as young children. Sociologists and prosopographers have shown that women in this period would need to give birth to a minimum of five children just to keep the population stable. Even if you didn't care about having one or two children survive -- which you would for your own familial, cultural, and financial reasons -- you simply could not avoid the stark reality: If you were married and having sex, that meant you would experience the disease, pain, and death of children and quite possibly your wife. Period. And you would experience the same many times over for your relatives and neighbors.

In other words, one didn't need to be some kind of weird philosopher to think that the body and this world weren't the greatest thing ever. You just had to look around! Death, disease, hardship, decay, and violence surrounded you every day. Disease was common and no one seemed to be able to cure it. Bodies themselves were usually not pleasant things: They smelled, had splotched skin, rashes, pockmarks from childhood diseases, and shocking signs of malnutrition. Corporal punishment was common, so you would often see bodies that were bruised, torn, with an eye poked out or a nose cut off or a missing hand. These kind of punishments and scenes were totally normal in most human societies throughout history (and even continue today in many places). It was not at all uncommon for whole cities to be destroyed by fire, plague, invasion, earthquake, etc. It happened a number of times to Antioch in this period! When armies or pirates came -- an event that was likely to happen at least once in your life -- that meant death or slavery for the majority. That's life -- not beautiful music, literature, or the wonders of the cosmos. The cosmos abuses you and over it you have no control.

And that doesn't touch on issues of social mobility, education, literacy, law, slavery, and, as we've discussed before, what ancient people actually thought about biology and medicine itself. Advocating sex would actually go against the learned scientific/medical consensus of the time! Now, you may scoff at that because you simply dismiss the science, but people then believed it was real. No educated person could legitimately think otherwise. Just think how crazy you think it is for someone nowadays to deny evolution. That's how your understanding of the body and sex would appear to an educated ancient person in the Mediterranean. As for a common person, see above about the realities of the body.

As modern people living in a stable country, we have the luxury of romanticizing "body" and "matter" and life in general (but even that requires ignoring a lot of what goes on). Compared to the early Christians, we live in unimaginable splendor in huge mansions, in which there is neither frost nor humidity nor bugs. We understand the origins of many diseases, and, in those cases where we can't cure disease entirely, we can at least manage some of its symptoms. We can control when and if we get pregnant, etc. These social, political, and technological realities shape our intellectual imagination. We conceive of things like "body" and "matter" in new, unprecedented ways. In our imagined world, we already control the body and thus have no need to attempt to master it through ascetic practice. That doesn't mean our imagined world is superior: It's equally as shaped and, often, revealed as wrong by an in-breaking of sorrow.

That's the important insight: We may think we understand the world. We may think we have mastered the body. But sorrow and death and sin and decay and tragedy far greater than we can comprehend continues, just as it did in the time of the Fathers. Their message, in the midst of that strife, was to cling to the one thing needful. That's the point of the ascetic endeavor: To reshape the realities of our life into the things of the Kingdom. Asceticism is supposed to help you experience your embodied self as something that belongs entirely to Christ. He is the Lord even of your desires and your flesh, just as He is the Lord of this physical world. So, denying is merely a way of giving and receiving back, in that the thing denied -- even the body itself -- becomes transformed and marked as Christ's in the process.

That's the radical "corporeality" of the Fathers: A vision that sees the body, matter, and the cosmos as something that, despite evident ugliness, is being redeemed by Christ's salvific work. But it's not an easy, pie-in-the-sky, snap-your-fingers-and-praise-the-lord kind of redemption. It is brutally honest about the reality in which we find the world and the reality in which we find our embodied self (as described above). Therefore, we must struggle to bring "into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). That's just reality. And doing so requires training (the literal meaning of asceticism), practice, and sacrifice. In fact, if it didn't involve sacrifice, it wouldn't follow the example of Christ, who denied himself even to the point of bodily death.
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« Reply #41 on: August 19, 2010, 01:09:41 PM »

And, sorry, the more I am on this list, the less I believe in things "Orthodox." They're fake.

Worldly ideas are fake.  Orthodoxy is real.

I believe in one real WORLD. The beautiful one. Ill, yes, and yet beautiful. What people call "Orthodoxy" as opposed to THIS world is escapism, a very, very fake thing.

Do you mean that you think some people have the wrong idea of Orthodoxy, or that you're becoming less convinced of Orthodoxy as a whole?

Sorry, I'm confused.

He always had a hard time accepting some things from the church fathers, scripture, christian morality.......etc.

He was raised in the former Soviet Union and so it's hard for him to make sense of certain things religious.

This isn't the first time he said things like this. When I first heard him talk like this some years ago I was shocked too, but after getting to know him over the years I have gotten use to his anti-religious outbursts.

I disagree with him, but I'm not gonna fight him anymore.


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« Reply #42 on: August 19, 2010, 01:13:57 PM »

Pensateomnia, thank you, what an excellent post, a lot of food for thought. However:

Nowadays, we have the option to practice sex as something that is purely enjoyable without concern for its consequences -- that's simple not a physical possibility in pre-modern cultures.

Right, - but is it a bad thing that we have this option? Again, it's been my impression, especially after visiting Ukraine and also reading Ukrainian Orthodox and Greek Catholic materials on the Internet, that this is viewed by some very (apparently) pious people as a horrible thing, a temptation from Satan. The admirers of Pope John Paul II's encyclic "Humanae Vitae" say, for example, that any method of contraception is intrinsically evil because it allows people to enjoy sex without "suffering the consequences."

That's the important insight: We may think we understand the world. We may think we have mastered the body. But sorrow and death and sin and decay and tragedy far greater than we can comprehend continues, just as it did in the time of the Fathers. Their message, in the midst of that strife, was to cling to the one thing needful. That's the point of the ascetic endeavor: To reshape the realities of our life into the things of the Kingdom. Asceticism is supposed to help you experience your embodied self as something that belongs entirely to Christ. He is the Lord even of your desires and your flesh, just as He is the Lord of this physical world. So, denying is merely a way of giving and receiving back, in that the thing denied -- even the body itself -- becomes transformed and marked as Christ's in the process.

That's the radical "corporeality" of the Fathers: A vision that sees the body, matter, and the cosmos as something that, despite evident ugliness, is being redeemed by Christ's salvific work. But it's not an easy, pie-in-the-sky, snap-your-fingers-and-praise-the-lord kind of redemption. It is brutally honest about the reality in which we find the world and the reality in which we find our embodied self (as described above). Therefore, we must struggle to bring "into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). That's just reality. And doing so requires training (the literal meaning of asceticism), practice, and sacrifice. In fact, if it didn't involve sacrifice, it wouldn't follow the example of Christ, who denied himself even to the point of bodily death.

I agree! But for some of us - and maybe for many of us - the training you mention might actually mean MORE "bodily things," e.g. more sex... And for some it might mean some kind of "un-canonical" sex, because it is the kind of sex they can do wwhile they can't do the "canonical" one. I am speaking about our brothers and sisters fetishists, and other "perverts." Smiley As for sacrifice, it may be, again, doing what the other partner wants you to do, rather than only what you want to do. (Did St. John of Kronshtadt really "sacrifice" much if his wife actually wanted him to have sex with her?"Smiley) Yet, the above questions that I ask will remain purely rhetorical because, again, the monastic-bishopial CONSPIRACY AGAINST BODY AND "WORLD" will not let people think along these lines. Or, like one allegedly Orthodox friend of mine from Ukraine says, "Humanae Vitae is the Divine Wisdom itself, too bad we Orthodox do not have its exact equivalent yet - but just you wait."

Edited for moratorium violation - mike.
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« Reply #43 on: August 19, 2010, 01:16:44 PM »

"evil men hunt for other men's wives, while holy men refuse to touch even their own wives" (St. John Chrysostomos).

Google can't locate that quote.  Would you provide a reference?

Will do. I quoted from memory, but I do remember reading this, maybe in a somewhat different wording.


I do recall similar statements made by early Christians in the pre-nicene era. I forgot the context of it all. I will have to review.

But I think it had more to do with self control and discipline/mastery over the impulses.

But I have to double check to make sure.





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« Reply #44 on: August 19, 2010, 01:27:19 PM »


Bravo, Pensateomnia!  Wonderfully put.

Heorhij, you KNOW that I love and respect you, however, I cannot sit by and have anyone, not even a fellow Ukrainian, disparage the Faith.
I'm truly sorry you are having issues with Orthodoxy.

I pray that with time God will lesson the pain you feel at the injustices you seem to think are found within Orthodoxy.

I for one, find nothing lacking in Orthodoxy....only within myself. 

Peace.
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