Despair, Cowardice, and This Generation’s Saints

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.


4 thoughts on “Despair, Cowardice, and This Generation’s Saints

  1. the men and women are separated for discussions? or is it like men’s bible study group and women’s bible study group? can you choose to be in a non-segregated group? is it a part of lent–being separated? of what quality is the women’s group?

    sorry to ask off-topic questions…just curious about that aspect of orthodoxy and also wanting to make sure that Kelly is getting good theological discussion that does not revert to childbearing, wifely duties, and doilies. 😉

    –also personally annoyed at a recent attempt to create theological discussion at a women’s group that…well…*deep sigh*, you just cant even begin a conversation with people who are either too scared to question the Bible or God or have no history and background and believe every annoying “Christian-ease” thing they have ever been taught as gospel without actually thinking about it. Literal answer to my inquiry about the balance of God’s justice and His grace and the cleansing/accounting for sins at judgment, “well, just pray and you won’t care about an answer anymore.” ’cause that is helpful…–

  2. The gender divide happened naturally, and it was at lunch with our friends Katie and Noel, their god-family and some others. And the Unruhs and a Voss. Certainly not the whole church, and not a discussion group or Bible study.

  3. I appreciate what you had to say. I like that quote- it addresses what often irritates me about the two extremes of Christians- those which are taking on sinful cultural values overladed with their “Christianity,” and those who proclaim the imminent doom of our culture, (because they say we are the worst and most sinful culture in world history). I suppose it’s a balance I fight in myself as well. I know I fight it as a mother, trying to allow Rachel to express what she knows of her American teen culture but confused in how to do so in a way that is Godly. I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water, not everything about Myspace, or rap music, or YouTube is bad, but the line becomes fuzzy real quickly. I want my home and standards to reflect something of Christ within a cultural context, but it is a struggle to do this without being black and white about it. Hope this is actually what your blog was about- I kind of took off on a tangent and I can’t remember anymore. Oh well!

  4. Brooke, that’s exactly what I am talking about. There’s a never ending desire to hold onto something that fights the battle for us: some doctrine, some classification, something to condemn. But that’s not what doctine etc. are for. Fr. Alexander Schmemman calls a Christian someone who sees Christ in all things and rejoices – but of course such a person isn’t likely to listen to tons of rap. However, the gospel does go into the vernacular… whence the dilemma.

    It seems that if something is vernacular it will be necessarily so, and it wouldn’t take effort to “translate” the gospel into the language of the people. Yet I here people try really hard, and make a point of aksing us to try too – as if such vernacularizing was what evangelism was about.

    The thing to do is to hold onto Christ, to remain in His presence, to conform our life to His image with His help.

    Lord have mercy.

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