The Sunday post-liturgy discussion – amongst the men at least – ranged over several blogs worth of material, but I wanted to throw out a quote applying to one particular aspect. The question at hand was, how is the Church to be incarnate here in the this here culture? How are we to open ourselves up to this change, and not fall into the trap of mistaking certain things of a certain culture as prone to holiness in a way that we are not? (Part of this I hope to argue later by suggesting that we hold the terms “Western” and “Eastern” as essentially insufficient, and we must always introduce them into a discussion to the end of discarding it.)
On a personal and a cultural level, I think that St. Peter of Damascus speaks to us:
“It is now (that) the devil, having failed in all his other schemes, tempts us with thoughts of despair: he tries to persuade us that in the past things were different and that the men through whom God performed wonders for the strengthening of the faith were not like us. He also tell us that there is now no need for exertion…” (Philokalia III).
There is no methodology here that guarantees the proper development and maintenence of an Christ-seeking and Christ-seeing attitude. The secret to maintenence is continued acts of maintaininence. The solution to distinguishing that which is more Christian from that which is less Christian (for nothing is entirely secular) is to know Christ. There is no sort of thing to avoid, unless it is sin; and the only real ground of knowledge and Truth is Christ, any other answer can at best be hopeful but incomplete.