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Author Topic: The Mystical as Political  (Read 4067 times) Average Rating: 0
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Fabio Leite
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« on: September 24, 2012, 09:13:56 AM »

I have just started reading "The Mystical as Political - Democracy and Non-Radical Orthodoxy" by Aristotle Papanikolaou.

Has anyone read it? It seems to me a thorough study of political theology in Orthodoxy and a much necessary work to counter fascistic uses of Orthodoxy.

Quote
http://undpress.nd.edu/book/P03011
Theosis, or the principle of divine-human communion, sparks the theological imagination of Orthodox Christians and has been historically important to questions of political theology. In The Mystical as Political: Democracy and Non-Radical Orthodoxy, Aristotle Papanikolaou argues that a political theology grounded in the principle of divine-human communion must be one that unequivocally endorses a political community that is democratic in a way that structures itself around the modern liberal principles of freedom of religion, the protection of human rights, and church-state separation.
Papanikolaou hopes to forge a non-radical Orthodox political theology that extends beyond a reflexive opposition to the West and a nostalgic return to a Byzantine-like unified political-religious culture. His exploration is prompted by two trends: the fall of communism in traditionally Orthodox countries has revealed an unpreparedness on the part of Orthodox Christianity to address the question of political theology in a way that is consistent with its core axiom of theosis; and recent Christian political theology, some of it evoking the notion of “deification,” has been critical of liberal democracy, implying a mutual incompatibility between a Christian worldview and that of modern liberal democracy.
The first comprehensive treatment from an Orthodox theological perspective of the issue of the compatibility between Orthodoxy and liberal democracy, Papanikolaou’s is an affirmation that Orthodox support for liberal forms of democracy is justified within the framework of Orthodox understandings of God and the human person. His overtly theological approach shows that the basic principles of liberal democracy are not tied exclusively to the language and categories of Enlightenment philosophy and, so, are not inherently secular.

Aristotle Papanikolaou is professor of theology at Fordham University.

“Aristotle Papanikolaou’s The Mystical as Political will be the standard Eastern Orthodox text in classes on theology and politics. It evinces a thorough engagement with the current debates in theology and politics, a rich awareness of the theological issues at stake, and a crisply distinctive position of its own. It will be enormously educational for classroom use, as well as being an immense contribution to the scholarly conversations on these matters.” — Charles Mathewes, University of Virginia
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2012, 11:38:00 AM »

I have met the good doctor.  he is a fantastic professor & grade A academic. 

How do you like the book so far?  Have you learned anything (i know that's a broad & possibly stupid question, but I find that when I read politics...I always am looking for something outside of the box, that teaches me how to process political information.  hence...learning something). 
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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2012, 12:08:44 PM »

It's telling that whenever, in the twentieth century, the various orthodox countries were trying to do "orthodox politics" the result was a stronger or weaker form of fascism.
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Fabio Leite
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« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2012, 02:06:12 PM »

I've read the first chapter only so far. The author makes an all encompassing assesment of Orthodox political practice since neo-testamentary times. I'll try to summarize from what I remember:

1) Neo-testamentary time - Tension between two concepts: We must flee the world (including politics) and not get involved - We must acknowledge mundane politics in what it is not anti-Christian (Paul's take on the issue);

2) Imperial Time (Constantinople's foundation to fall) - Tension between Eusebius' and Chrysostom's views, respectively: The state must actually enforce Christianity vs Christianity cannot be enforced, but the state must educate toward a Christian life. Neither have tolerance for heterodox or non-Christian views. Justinian laws consolidate the concept of symphonia, which, despite all, remains more or less balanced.

3) Post-Imperial Times: For Greeks it means a long night for political theology, since they had much stronger and immediate concern under Ottoman rule. Some political theology is developed in Russia, which tries to emulate symphonia for some time but eventually the emperor dethrone the partriarch and instrumentalize the Synod as a department of state (that in the 17th century, so Russia's tradition of organic clergy is rather ancient);

4) 19th century - In reaction to the ascension of revolutionary and materialistic ideas in Russia, some theologians contemplate for the first time a positive approach towards classical liberalism and democracy, as well as trying to rescue some of the social issues marxists had stolen. This initiative is aborted by the revolution.

5) Post WW II and Post-Communist Period - For the first time in the last 600 years, most of the Orthodox world is not under a dictatorship or empire of some sort. Orthodox theologians and philosophers know they cannot go back to any of their previous ideas for they know the result, but are hesitant to adopt Western-type liberal-democracy models. The standard is a half-heartened acceptance of democracy, full of condintions, and an insistance on favouring Orthodoxy over other religions and philosophies. This is the present situation, which he will analyze and present alternatives.
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2012, 12:36:42 AM »

Have you read more? This topic interests me greatly.
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« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2012, 02:19:48 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Synergy is to manifest God's Grace into our material, social, and political realities day by day, moment by moment, situation by situation.  We are not guided by Church principles in our interactions with society and politics, we must be guided by the Holy Spirit directly in prayer.  Canons are there to assist us in prayer, not guide us as an intellectual template.

I am deeply interesting in this book.  I came into the Church from an extremely radicalized background, and I am a political nihilist.  Politics is a scam, plain and simple.  Dealing with political realities is our adult life, but to believe in them is self-defeating. I came into Rastafari because those brothers and sisters were the first to help teach me pragmatic spiritual practices to overcome political radicalization and also to deal with issues of street violence.  Politics and violence tend to provoke political and violent responses contrary to the Spirit of the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25.  When we have one political idea or another, we are essentially negating the reality of those who may disagree with us.  The fundamental premise of democracy is to in some way respect the beliefs, opinions, and feelings of each other mutually.  That is where the impossibility of harmony finds its manifestation.  In our broken world of self-service too  many folks assert democracy to mean, "Everything I want for myself."  I prefer the manifesto of the EZLN in southern Mexico which says, "Everything for everyone, nothing for ourselves."

This is the most Christian of political philosophies I've seen, which in practice has become quite an example of Acts 5/Matthew 25 in practice in the rural communities of southern Mexico.  But I digress into political idealism, mods please forgive me.  

I am intrigued by this book because in particular, I evolved from Rastafari to Orthodox Church still in this search for balance, for harmony, for the strength to live to my convictions.  I believe in true spiritual democracy, it is not my right to force or coerce my beliefs on anyone.  God does not Himself do this to us, how can we do it to each other pretending to be following His authority when He Himself exercises restraint in this regard?  Theosis was the answer.  Salvation through the Mysteries is the way to find Grace to live the Gospels, to live the Apostles' creeds, to live the EZLN aspirations of a true community.  We learn to love and tolerate each other by God's help, when we submit to Him, when we submit to each other, when we reject and abandon ourselves to community.  Grace helps us.  When we are weak, we are made strong.  When we try to make ourselves strong, we hurt other people and therefore are truly weak.  Strength is to stand in prayer, not to necessarily stand up.  Sometimes God does indeed empower folks to make moves for the greater good of the community.  Slaver was evil.  Racism is a curse.  The Church took thousands of years to deal with this reality, but that is because the Church operates at an individual level.  The Church seeks to convert the hearts of individuals towards sincere repentance, towards building a truer community on substantive love by God's Grace.  In our rush for political idealism, we hurt those we disagree with. We need Grace to push us in the right direction.  It is not the strength of arguments nor the historicity of our facts which convinces people to harmonize or agree on anything in this life, it is the Holy Spirit, it is God alone who can sincerely pursuade the human heart towards mutuality, towards agreement.  

Theosis doesn't push us away from politics, but rather closer towards our fellow human brothers and sisters.  God tolerates evil in our lives out of His compassion for the evildoer, that they might in time come to repentance, we need Grace to assist us in this same direction.  We use prayer and not just Canons to guide our daily political lives.  We have to have discernment to know which battle to fight, and which battle to flee for cover and regroup.  God fights the War, we are just part of the scenery.

That being said, I very much want this book Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2012, 02:29:20 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

...

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2012, 07:58:49 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

...

stay blessed,
habte selassie

yes...?  Was this left blank on purpose?
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HabteSelassie
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2012, 08:22:05 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!



...



yes...?  Was this left blank on purpose?

edited misplaced post Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie
« Last Edit: October 24, 2012, 08:22:20 PM by HabteSelassie » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2012, 08:30:02 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!



...



yes...?  Was this left blank on purpose?

edited misplaced post Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie

Figured, but just checking! 
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Fabio Leite
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« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2012, 07:35:28 AM »

Have you read more? This topic interests me greatly.

Been through the second chapter but had to slow it down due to work. I will review it in the next days.
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