Sunday, 7/24/16

  1. Is God basically just the baddest badass?
  2. Sanity: Getting out of your mind.
  3. What should enchanted bread/body look like?

1

For the contemporary person, the world is the kind of place that is made up of empty objects. We may have feelings and beliefs about them in our heads, but things are simply things and nothing more. If they are treated in a special way, it is only because we have decided to do so.

This secularized thought lies at the heart of most Christianity in the modern world. If I point to the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament, an object that was surrounded with careful directions on how it was to be treated and carried, and by whom, as well as being surrounded with the caveat that failure to do so would result in death, those Christians would assert that the consequences of mishandling the Ark were not in the Ark itself, but in the actions of God. It is the belief that if we touch the Ark incorrectly, God will kill us. Thus “holy” only means what God thinks about something, and what He is willing to do in order to make us agree.

This makes the secularized, nominalistic world an inherently violent place. Meaning, value, purpose, holiness, etc., exist only as thoughts, feelings and decisions. We believe we can make them “real” (effective), only by being willing to do violence to make someone else agree. This applies to God as well. The moral universe of Divine reward and punishment places God into the position of merely another player on the field, though the largest. God’s “will” is nothing more than His ability to enforce His choices on another. No matter how we might justify such actions (God is just, therefore even His violence is just), we have still reduced Him to one among many violent actors in the world.

(Fr. Stephen Freeman, The Hand in the Gospel)

2

Modern Christianity (which has been around for some few hundreds of years) views the death of Christ primarily in terms of the ideas associated with it. Human beings, through their breaking of God’s commandments (ideas), incurred an infinite debt (ideas), requiring their punishment (oops! This is eternal torment in hell). Note that this is purely an idea. Christ becomes man, and on the Cross suffers and pays the debt (again an idea). Those who now trust in Him (again an idea), are forgiven (another idea).

The only value placed on the Crucifixion of Christ is an abstraction. The action itself gains value only through how it is considered by God …

Modern memorialism is the teaching that the Eucharist is simply a memorial meal, an event in which we have certain ideas about the death of Christ. But Christ says, “Take, eat!” and “Drink ye, all of this!” The “remembrance of Him” is not in our minds – it’s in our bodies and our blood. We become one flesh with Him.

… Orthodox liturgy, on the other hand, is pointedly sensual. It smells and tastes. It is physically exhausting. It engages the whole of our being. Of course, moderns are particularly troubled and report (as sin) that their “minds wander.” They will even declare that this makes them “not present” in the service. I was asked a while back about how “to be present.” I responded that you actually have no choice. Present is what you are. I have yet to have anyone confess as sin that one of their feet “fell asleep” during Liturgy. It’s much the same thing, only we have a strange perception that it’s different.

I tell newcomers to the Church that they should be prepared to be bored in services. It is not designed for the entertainment of the false consciousness, unlike so much else. It is an encounter with God, not an encounter with thinking or emoting about God.

(Fr. Stephen Freeman, The Secular Mind versus the Whole Heart)

3

I often think that the disenchanted perceptions of modern man have nothing to do with what he sees and everything to do with the myth of disenchantment. Modern man sees the Bread just as well as the enchanted Apostles themselves. Only the Apostles were told about the enchantment of bread and believed. The modern man sees the enchanted bread and doubts – because he thinks that surely – enchanted bread would look somehow different. As it is, it looks like – bread.

What should enchanted bread/body look like? Should it hover in mid-air or shimmer with some ethereal effervescence? Should it’s taste suddenly bring a warmth of divine strength flooding every fiber of a disenchanted body?

Every existing element of creation shimmers with being, standing as sheer miracle in its very existence. And if the Truly Existing One declares, “This bread is my Body,” then it cannot be otherwise. The disenchantment of the world is a spiritual failure to see the truth of existence. Wonder has been exchanged for weariness and the mystical metamorphosed into the mundane.

(Fr. Stephen Freeman, The Disenchanted World)

* * * * *

“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.