‘Government as a human act of governing oneself and one’s responsibilities and one’s dependents is very different from the modern institution of the State.’ — Alana Roberts, from her film review of The Dark Knight Rises

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Romanos Frank Gorny - Feb 8, 1951 - October 27, 2016

Romanos Frank Gorny - Feb 8, 1951 - October 27, 2016

Dear readers of Orthodox Anarchist,

My name is Jacob Gorny, and I am Romanos' eldest son. I am afraid I have an awful bit of news to share with all of you.

Last Thursday, when I returned from my business trip in San Antonio, I returned to my dad's house to find he had taken a mid-morning nap and never awoke.

I am sure you understand the shock that our family is experiencing - he was in great physical and spiritual health, and having lost his wife and my mother on July 8, 2016, his passing into sleep has been a tremendous tragedy for his four sons.

While I'm sure many of you cannot attend his funeral, I wanted to share the announcement with you:

My brother John Gorny, who is serving as executor for my dad's estate, has included a donation link for those who are willing and able to do so.


Every contributor (whether via his blogs, facebook, etc.) will receive a printed copy of my father's writing that I am personally going to edit and prepare from the source materials I have been able to recover from his archives. I would expect this to be available in Summer 2017 (he had a lot of writing).

Again, I am truly sorry to have to share this news with all of you. He was a very dear man to me throughout the years - he had many great plans and things he hoped to do in his life - but the Lord designates a time and season for all things. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Yet that which is true is permanent, that which is false can never be permanent. Sky and earth may pass away, but the word of the Lord endures forever, and the promise of resurrection and ascension is ahead of all of us waiting to be experienced.

It is my prayer that you will take five minutes of silence on November 4th - wherever you may be - and direct your attention/meditation to the memory you have of this man, and offer a prayer to the Lord on his behalf. May he pray for all of us here in this plane of existence. May he enjoy reunion with his wife Anastasia in the ascended life. May his memory be eternal. Amen

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The second coming

I hope C. S. Lewis was right when he wrote that we are still the early Christians. That is, to be sure, a loaded statement, and enigmatic as well, because on the face of it, it sounds simple, and we think—I think—we know what he meant. But I wonder.

In context, Lewis was writing about the denominational squabbles that Christians get into, and he was hinting that maybe someday we can all return to unity in a simple confession of faith. That would perhaps be a sign to the world that it’s worth it being a Christian. Again, I wonder.

It seems to me that if we mean by ‘early Christians’ that we have not yet understood Jesus Christ and the good news, and that we have barely begun to follow Him and be transformed, then I’d have to agree. Religion, being an early phase in humanity’s encounter with God, is long overdue to be discarded. Of course, it can’t be, because it’s still needed.

And why is it still needed? Because after two thousand years, we Christians are, corporately, still children, but not in the sense that Christ means when He says, ‘for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’

Well, wake up, kids! The modern, unbelieving world has taken what it can of Jesus Christ and the gospel, along with many other good ideas from a number of sources, and moved on ahead of you into a world idea that leaves you—I mean, us—out in the cold, standing here empty-handed, confused, feeling powerless and betrayed, but still ready to lash out at the world and each other.

How long does Christ have to wait for the son who says, ‘Yes, Dad, I’ll go to work now’ to go? The other son who says, ‘No’ to His face has been out there working for hours—no years, maybe even centuries—while we continue to just pretend, to play games and, what’s far worse, even fight with each other over trifles.

                The best lack all conviction, while the worst
                Are full of passionate intensity.
                Surely some revelation is at hand;
                Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The second coming! Yes, it is at hand, in fact it’s rather long overdue. It’s late because we have done everything in our power to delay it, and then console ourselves by begging for mercy in our rounds of religious services. Christ is literally dying to come again, but as usual, the Jews are correct in this as they are correct in almost everything else.

The Messiah cannot come until the holy nation really wants Him to. And how do they, how do we, show it? The Jews say, ‘by Torah study,’ so that as prophet Habakkuk tells, ‘The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.’ But the King of the Jews, who is the Torah personified, qualifies this for us, saying, ‘everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice…’

But instead of entering the land of promise—that is Paradise, you know, which exists even now but is invisible to us until we truly follow Jesus—we stay in our camps and grumble. We continue to legislate, interrogate, pontificate and separate. Like idol worshipers who must feed, clothe and protect their man-made gods, even being willing to kill to avenge insults to them, we follow blind guides instead of Jesus. We honor dead men’s bones instead of the Living One.

This is not true only of Christians, but of Muslims and Jews as well, indeed, of the believers of any religion: If we feel we must defend our ‘god’ and punish ‘blasphemy,’ then it cannot be the real God we worship, but a man-made deity, a mere imitation, an idol. This is what we call ‘religion,’ and the world looking back at us languishing in our unspiritual stupor, has every right and reason to reject what it knows, instinctively, to be no better, and often far worse, than what it already has.

The second coming of Jesus Christ begins with the parousía of His Bride on earth, arrayed in truth, faithfulness and love, living not in the flesh, not as spirits in bondage to bodies, but as bodies animated by and obedient to the Spirit.

Two thousand years ago the God-man appears. He is Himself the New Adam, He is Paradise in human form, but only half of it. The human race, yes, all of the sons and daughters of Adam, are the New Eve, formerly hidden in His side, and revealed when His side was torn open by a lance as He died on the Cross.

With His death the fate of the whole human race was sealed. It must, we must, die. Die to what we have been for countless thousands of years. What we call ‘civilisation’ is but the final stage in a process of evolution that culminates in the appearance of the God-man. When He died, He dies for all. When He rose from the dead, He rises for all.

His work complete, ‘it is finished,’ He is with us, He gives us Himself ‘until the end of the age,’ that we too may live as He lives. This is the inevitable step. This, the true beginning of ‘the new order of the ages.’ This is what He is waiting for.

Why must we hold Him back?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The end of myth

From the creation of the world to the birthing of a child, from the work of fire transforming wood into ash to the alternation of day and night, from considering all appearances and all disappearances, the mind of man from unwritten times till now has evolved explanations of how and often why everything happens in the world around him.

Modern man puts on an air of superiority and treats with patronizing indulgence, and often overt contempt, the cosmologies and the pseudo-sciences of ancient and primitive men. The world tree, the cosmic egg, mythic images for the unenlightened to help them feel less afraid in a universe which, when they confront it without them, is too terrifying.

So the mind of man thinks, and his thought fits everything he sees, hears, tastes, smells and touches into a complex, ever-increasing pattern of perceived relationships that gives meaning to the universe. The more primitive the tools of analysis at his disposal, the more primitive (we think) his body of explanations, and we call them ‘myths’.

But as I see it, having better analytical devices, having what we call a scientific basis for interpreting and understanding the world around us does not deliver our thought from one intrinsic and inevitable characteristic: Everything we analyse, and our very conclusions and body of knowledge, we are still cutting down to fit into a very limited frame, our mind.

Our thought, with all our sophistications, even now still has the nature of myth, no less than what we consider the childish fancies of the ancients and the primitives. We all still deal in myths, man’s explanation—from miniscule observations—of the meaning, purpose and nature of the universe. We simply replace the older anthropomorphics with new, ‘new lamps for old.’

So then, human thought itself is a myth, that is, in the sense that it is a generator of explanations of what is inexplicable. Religion, then, becomes no less rational than science, and science is no more than a religion. Experimental evidence is still siphoned through a conduit too narrow for it, and so experiments, whether scientific or magical, lead to the same conclusion: the universe as a subset of man’s mind.

But along comes a Man, from all appearances at first, an ordinary man, not prominent, not wealthy, not intellectually trained, from a primitive people, living in an ancient and tradition encrusted culture, one of those less attractive to most moderns and even to most of His contemporaries, the road-building Romans and the philosophical Greeks.

He is trained in the family profession, woodworking, and in the national religion, synagogue Judaism. He has very little to make anyone think Him special, except an incident in His adolescence, when He was found engrossed with some members of the educated elite in prodigious discussions (and then whisked quietly away by his embarrassed parents).

Surprising them all, and us as well, this boy in the fullness of His manhood becomes an itinerant preacher (though not of His ancestral religion) and even a miracle-worker. Oddly enough, though He seems quite capable of it, He does not waste a thought to giving answers to most of the questions that His contemporaries, and us, have about the universe.

He passes them over in silence. He does not contribute to the growing body of myth that we now hold up as our claim to be rational beings. Instead, when He teaches at all, it is on practical matters, and even His miracle-working, from supplying a shortage of wine at a wedding party, to healing the sick and (gulp!) raising the dead, is all very practical. Myth has no place in Him.

If this man lived, taught, worked wonders, and passed into history, we might have thought Him a great teacher, perhaps, or at least someone worth studying, analyzing, writing books about, and adding to our ever-increasing matrix of myths, but not only did He not contribute to the myth, He shattered it. He is an embarrassment now, as He was then, to the myth-makers.

He gives us plenty to think about, but that is not His intention. He did not come to increase our thought but to coax us over the imaginary lines that our thought produces in us. He comes now not to refine our thought, which is no more than myth, but to call forth our faith, which paradoxically carries us over imaginary lines and delivers us from myth.

If we could show the location of His tomb, or better yet, find His bones, then the universe would still be safe inside the reliquary of our science and religion. We could still say with confidence that we know the universe to be rational, and this is how it works, from greatest to smallest detail. Yes, and there are the bones of the great Teacher. We have an explanation even of Him.

But no, He has not left us that option, He has not spared our thought or our myths, He has not deposited His soul in She’ol or His bones in a grave, He has not experienced corruption, but instead He has emptied Hades of its inhabitants, dissolved the imbecility of dark, partial human reason in the bright lightning flash of His divinity.

He has made the end of myth.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

True man

True man is he who doesn’t want to live long in this world. He wants to give his testimony and return as soon as possible, return home to Christ. He isn’t concerned about living a long life; he only wants to live on earth as long as his Lord wants him to live. Why? Because he is already living with Christ in His kingdom. He knows it with perfect certainty. He is redeemed, delivered from every desire and ambition that snares men and chains them to this world, and he is impatient to be free of this body of death, because he no longer lets it use him to sin. He is already living in heaven with Christ; all he wants is to be living there completely. If he must continue living in this world, he knows it’s only to do here what Christ wants him to do, to do what he sees Jesus doing in this world. He wants only to follow Jesus who, though living visibly in heaven, is alive invisibly on earth. And so, true man lives invisibly in heaven while he is living visibly on earth, following Jesus.

True man lives in the Word of God, and that Word is everything to him, and it makes him a child of the Kingdom, it makes him a disciple of Jesus. And Jesus and the Father come and live with him there, making him one of them by giving him the Spirit to live inside him. The Word of God is everything to him, it is his home, his food, his covering, his companion, his teacher, his protection, his inheritance. He is never without it, whether the Book is in his hand or not. The Word of God becomes his words, becomes his thoughts, becomes his actions. It is his strength, it guards his purity, it is his defense against all the lures and snares of the enemy. The Word of God proves His unalterable faithfulness to him and in him, and makes him faithful to God. The Word of God never leaves him, never leaves him alone, becomes a hedge around him, and makes him a hedge around the Kingdom in which he lives with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

True man is the implacable foe of the evil one, and doesn’t yield for a moment even an inch of territory, because the Word of God lives in him, and he lives in the Word. That is his world, and that world is the Kingdom. His citizenship is there while in the body he lives here. He is an unregistered alien in this world, which either shuns him as it goes along with its trifling affairs, pretending not to see him, or when it can’t help but see him, he is seen as a threat, he is seen as dangerous, and he is opposed with every injustice that can be brought against him in the name of the world’s justice. Because he obeys another Law, fulfills another commandment, that of His Lord, he falls under the condemnation of the laws of men and suffers with His Lord, who is put to death every day by the world. This too is an earthly evidence of his heavenly citizenship. He has nowhere to lay his head, no place in this world where he is comfortable, seeing that everywhere is under the dominion of the evil one, and with Jesus he is turned away at every inn, turned away because he is a God-bearer.

True man is too strong for the men who seek their home and their security on earth, and so he finds no friends among them. His strength is not from himself. He seems to wear his strength effortlessly, while others who claim to be strong or who try to be, make excuses for their weakness. But his strength is not from himself, it is from Christ who lives with him and who supplies him from His armory. His eye looks stern and unfriendly to men who have eyes only for the world, because his eye is single, and it looks always upon heaven, and from heaven where he already is living with Christ. His strength is from his Lord, and it shows in his walk and in his stance, in his speech and in his silence, in what he does and in what he does not do. All of this is a threat to other men who seek their strength only in things of this world, in things man-made, in what will not endure.

True man is in the world, but not of it. Why? Because he lives already in the Kingdom of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. He lives there and he knows it. He has his proof of citizenship in the Word that never leaves him. He has his passport ready and can come and go through a door that to him is never shut between worlds, a door which, if he chooses to shut it, no one can open, and if he chooses to open, no one can close. He has been given this kind of authority because he can be trusted. Why can he be trusted? Because he has proven himself faithful to his charge, because he renews his faithfulness every day in the presence of his Father, by following the Son of God, by doing only what he sees Him doing. He has already been given the crown of life, because he is willing to lay down his life in this world, because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

Brothers, this is our call in Jesus Christ. This is the guarantee of our salvation. This is the life that has no end. This is the treasure hidden in the field that a man finds and then sells all that he has to purchase the field. This is the true man that has been recreated in the image of the Holy Triad who said, “Let us make man in Our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters…”

Brothers, this is true man.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Until we follow Him

‘Cover the earth’ evangelism. I imagine that many Christians still believe that it is their duty to convert others, their near neighbors, and those far away, to Christianity. I used to feel this way too, once. But long ago I noticed that ‘conversion’ to Christianity often meant exactly that—joining a religious society, church, mission, or whatever. Somehow, despite the prayers and pious rhetoric, conversion to Christ was glossed over, almost as if those who gained the converts did not even have an idea of what conversion really means. This happens in every form of Christianity. It bothers me the most when it happens in my own community, the Orthodox Church. Why? Because we've been around the longest. We should know better. The fearful part is when I come upon Christ's indictment of the Pharisees in His own culture, ‘You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.’

‘Wholesale evangelists’ may reach the masses, but what really is happening? Yes, Jesus spoke to crowds, and what did those crowds do? Where were they when He was crucified? And even later, where were these crowds when at most, a hundred twenty people were gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost? The three thousand who accepted Christ on that day came from the preaching of the apostles filled with the Holy Spirit, and it was not at a revival—revivals are tent meetings to re-evangelize and revive Christian life in people who already know that there is a Jesus. No one in scripture, no one in the history of the Church, ever went ‘door to door’ evangelizing. That's man's plan based on man's expectations. The plan that God has for the evangelization and salvation of the world is much simpler than that. It is just ‘go, and make disciples,’ a naked commandment followed by only a brief instruction. It's all found in Matthew's gospel. So, where does that leave us?

All Christians are, simply put, witnesses. We can testify only to that which we know. This is not about which church does it better, or which is more valid than another. These are not the kind of questions that interest Jesus, and they shouldn't interest us either. What this is about, is realising that the human constructs are unworthy of us: only Christ is worthy. The nets we fashion to catch the fish must not become ends in themselves, for the fish were not made for the nets, but the nets for the fish. And when caught, fish will only spoil and rot if they stay in the nets. This is about not settling for anything less than Jesus. The Orthodox have a saying, ‘We know where the Church is, but we don't necessarily know where she is not.’ I have a saying of my own, that mirrors it, sort of its flip-side, ‘We know where Jesus is, but we don't necessarily know where He is not.’

Why can both these sayings be true?
And if they are true, who or what is being excluded, and by whom?
We will never know where Jesus is walking, until we follow Him.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When He returns

Anyone who has been the victim of a miscarriage of justice knows what I’m talking about. In spite of all the evidence, or the lack of it, one has been judged guilty of the crime. Tragedy is sown in the mindless inattention to facts, as scarecrows in a melon patch hang uselessly defending nothing from no one. We are satisfied to have reached a verdict that confirms our every suspicion, glad that what we believed all along was proven right. Self-vindication conquers even the mightiest facts. We have won our case.

This is what happens all around us and every day. Sometimes we are the perpetrators, sometimes the victims. It doesn’t matter because it’s usually over trifles. No one is actually sent to the block, nobody is incarcerated. Injustice is unimportant because it is so small, accusation merely a ruse to satisfy our need for self-validation at the expense of another. We think it doesn’t matter. We’ve just trampled someone else’s self image, so that our own can be hoisted higher. We are wise in our own eyes, as we live a lie.

This is what comes of the dictatorship of self. We put kings and queens to death for their alleged vainglory, ourselves presumed innocent, no questions asked. Others are not what they are but what we make them. Light has become darkness, or darkness light, not according to what our eyes tell us, but our hearts. Not the world as it is, but our inner world, is where we choose to live. This can be anything but the truth, but we call the cards. Proud of our personal divine right, we call it the kingdom of heaven.

Every human struggle from day one has been the ceaseless recycling of the same theme. Not what things really are, nothing and no one for its own, their own, sake. All that is outside us is only there for us. ‘All I have is yours, all you see is mine,’ we prefer to remember our personal divine mandate, given by the only god we really believe in, ourselves. This is the state of nature. We are the noble savage. We put kings and priests to death. We always have, and we always will. This is our divine right.

But one day He came from That Other Place, bringing the Message we did not want to hear from One we cannot overcome. We could not paint Him with the colors of our minds, so we ignored Him when, after putting Him to death, He would not go away. We don’t believe in ghosts, nor in mortal men, nor immortal gods, only in ourselves, not yourselves, not themselves, but myself. There is only one piece of evidence that we cannot admit, else our kingdom crashes. He places it before us, yet we will not see.

Sin is not what it is, but what we make it. We snatch the truth out of His hands almost before He lays it down. We hide it quickly somewhere inside the folds of our regal robes or, better yet, we mount it as a jewel in our crown, confirming our authority. Peace at last, the whole world at peace, one world, under us, just as we always dreamed, just as it always seemed. We were right after all. We breathe a sigh of relief. It was a close call. He came, He saw, we conquered. Not who He is, but what we made Him.

Everything goes on as it always has since the beginning of the world. We are still in charge. Nothing and no one can come into our courtroom without our permission. We have won our case, judged aright, vindicated ourselves. He was, He is, and He will be—that man—we are safe from Him. We made even Him do our bidding, be what we said He is. Yes, we even celebrate His birth and capitalize all that pertains to Him. We brand ourselves with His name. But what will we do, if and when He returns?


Friday, October 19, 2012

Nothing would be impossible

It’s no wonder that the world does not follow the teachings of the Church. Except for when the world is masquerading as the Church for its own reasons, it is happy to ignore what the Church has to say at best, and at worst, it likes to entertain itself by mocking it.

The Church, however, has no teachings, even when it says it does because it’s full of its own authority, and it’s that false authority that the world loves to mock. The world incites the Church to claim an authority it does not have, so that the world can mock it, ‘See, you’re no better than us!’

The Church has no teachings and no authority of its own: it has only what Christ has given it, what Christ has handed over to it, as a steward receives from his Lord what is not his, but what is entrusted to him. What has been entrusted to the Church is teachings and authority, from Christ the Only Teacher of mankind, the Only Authority, of whom God the Father says, ‘You are My Son’

There is a difference between the perceived truth and the actual truth which even members and leaders of the Church sometimes fail to discern. Discernment is here the key word. So often what the Church has is not discernment, but judgment. When the Church exercises the former, the world fears and respects her, when the latter, she is made a laughingstock.

In 1983 the Sunday in January that falls closest to the day on which the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions were handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court, January 22, 1973—was declared national ‘Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.’ Over the past 39 years, more than 51 million lives have been taken through abortion.

For some, this data is hard to take in, and they ask, ‘How long will God forbear with our generation?’ Declarations are human things, the works of those who take on their shoulders the mantle of the King of kings of kings, relying on His promises to be with them, but as rulers not as servants. The world knows when we are playing the game that it plays, even when we are dressed up in that robe.

Only Christ can wear that robe, and when He reigns from the tree, He has already taken it off, and reigns naked, not only mocked but also rejected by the world which does not know what it is doing, does not know what He has accomplished from that throne of suffering, on which as King of Glory, He reigns.

Reigns, not rules. Discerns, not judges.

There is a Kingdom that, as Christ says, is not of this world. That Kingdom in time claims no rights, no power, not even the power to save from death. Christ says, ‘Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father who would promptly send more than twelve legions of angels to My defense?’

The scourge and crime of abortion is to be opposed, to be sure, but how? With what weapon that the world cannot turn against us, or that we will not snap in two on a rock?

The world brings its epileptic son to the disciples for healing, and they cannot heal him. Yet Jesus shrives the boy with a word. ‘Faithless and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to Me!’

Christ is speaking not only to the wounded and demon-infested world, but to the disciples as well, who come to Him privately and ask, ‘Why were we unable to cast it out?’ He answered, ‘Because you have little faith. I tell you solemnly, if your faith were the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it would move; nothing would be impossible to you.’

And some manuscripts add, ‘As for this kind [of devil], it is cast out only by prayer and fasting.’


Monday, July 16, 2012

Rubrics of love

Salvation is not about doctrine, but about love. There is, in fact, no salvation outside of love, because God is love, proven by His becoming one of us, and everything that follows from it.

We approach God always through love and never through doctrine. Does this mean that doctrine is pointless or of no importance? Not at all. But it is always love that gives doctrine its true meaning and value.

Loving God will always bring you to Him, but thinking about God at best brings you to the threshold of love, at worst locks you into a mental prison.

The invisible God becomes visible through love, but the visible God, our brother and sister, can become invisible through doctrine.

What is ‘the first and great commandment’? And what is ‘the second, that is like unto it’? And on what ‘hang all the Law and the Prophets’?

‘With the fear of God, with faith and love, draw near!’ intones the priest or deacon, announcing the readiness of God to receive us unto Himself in the Holy Mystery of His divine and life-giving Passion, fed to us spiritual infants on golden spoons.

‘You have only to open your mouth, for Me to fill it,’ says the Lord Almighty through His holy prophet, the psalmist. And, ‘precious in the eyes of God is the death of His saints.’

Yes, with fear, that is, utmost respect, even awe, approach God in your brother and sister.

Yes, with faith and love, trusting in the One who upholds all faithfully and who loves both you and them with an unconditional mercy.

We can do no more, and no less, than what we see our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ doing every moment of every day, not just in His ‘little Book’ the written scripture, but also in His ‘great Book’ the world.


Friday, July 13, 2012

The art of defiance

What do you do when you need to demonstrate to false authority that in you, no false conscience resonates to its shrieks? What do you do when you need to whistle in the dark, even when something in you does resonate to the claims of false authority, but you have recognized it and decided to sacrifice not a single good to it?

Welcome to the art of defiance.

Gaiety is never out of place in this situation. Arguments are.

Insults should be veiled. Make your opponent work to be offended and you will be one up on him, since he gave you mountains of offense for free. With luck you will be able to avoid engaging him in an actual battle and you will have nothing to regret.

Always tell the truth as simply as possible. False authority is built on lies; the more relevant truth you are able to pack into a sentence the more baffled your liberty-killing opponent will be since he has relinquished his relationship with truth.

Do not try to make your genuine claims clear to false authority. Like trying to cut tiny pellet with a pocketknife, your opponent will always slip out from under from the point. Rather, try your best to confuse him. As long as you consider him your brother, you will not want to confuse him – you will want to save him by altering what you perceive to be his honestly mistaken beliefs. When you realize that he is a devil-puppet and a soul-killer, you will simply want to stop him, leaving his salvation to God. Confusing him while making your genuine claims clear for thoughtful observers is the best way but requires skill. I recommend practicing on other people’s blogs.

I’m not good with people. Never have been. Since I don’t have that knack, I have to take the long way around and learn either through mistakes or through trying out the precepts in this book.

Defying false authority is fun unless it has real power over you and your loved ones. Then circumspection is called for. I’ve been in both situations.

— Alana Roberts, Curmudgeon in Training

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

We can now be men

Polytheism is man’s guess at God. It’s not so much the plurality that is the problem, but the fact that it’s man making God in his image. A manufactured God is still only an idea, and regardless of how beautiful or how true the stories about the gods are, they don’t lead anywhere, they only entertain.

That’s why even a monotheism that is man’s guess at God is no good, cannot raise us to a higher state of being, cannot save us or bestow life to those in the tombs. All it can do is incite us to efface and destroy the evidences of the common lie, that man can and does make up God or gods in our image.

If it buries every polytheism or monotheism that is not itself, perhaps it will not be noticed that it too is a lie. Since human freedom results in abuse of freedom, it seeks to eliminate freedom because it has no power to grant true freedom. Then, we are right to be atheists, if it is these gods or that God that we refuse to believe in.

Until the revelation of the true and only God, an honest man must be an atheist. If God does not reveal Himself, we have nothing to go on, only speculation. When God does reveal Himself, we find that all our ideas about Him fall short. We finally see that we have been wrong all along about Him, except for our guess that He must be.

When God reveals Himself, we discover that He is One after all, because His love, His will, and all His acts are one. When God reveals Himself, we experience that He is more than one because He is among us.

Our guesses about Him no longer must be judged as right or wrong, because now we know they were only stories, only ideas that we had made, without power to help or hinder us, to free or enslave us.

The games we played when we were children are finally over. The real life has begun, we can now be men, we can think and speak and act, as men. The Real Life has come, the desired of the ages has arrived.

It is only Jesus.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Start with the absolutes

Witnessing Christ to the world is a major goal of the Christian. Wonderful is the testimony of the second mile. The first mile may be obligatory, and often a matter of formality as it restrains us to travel its path. However, to go the second mile displays assurance of love and likeness. Going the first mile is compulsion; going the second mile is dedication and loyalty. Christ went the second mile: He emptied Hades.

I don’t wish to inaugurate a dialog or try to convince anyone that leaving Christianity (because it doesn’t satisfy one’s idea of fairness towards non-Christians) is a bad idea; but I think it’s a move that most people make with insufficient (actually, irrelevant) evidence.

Some realities are absolutes, and if you started with them and worked your way backwards, the outcome would be different.

Start with Christ’s own words. He is pretty specific, and He doesn’t throw curses and threats around. His language to us is reasonable but demands personal (1) obedience and (2) faith (or trust). If you want to be a Christian at all, you have to accept what He says. Watch His actions, too, in the Gospels. This is what I would call the first absolute.

The second absolute, again working backwards from Christ Himself, is what the holy apostles wrote, and how the Church lived right from the beginning. Again, you must return to the New Testament as primary source book, but again, you do not find curses and threats being thrown around (though you do find some specific exclusions in some of the language). I would call the apostles (what they wrote, not what later authorities have said about what they wrote) the second absolute.

We are still very far from having to believe that four-fifths of humanity is going to hell because they haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

The third absolute, I’m afraid, would have to be something you’re not prepared to accept: the faith of the Orthodox which, following the first two absolutes, also does not lump humanity into the saved minority (only themselves) and the wicked and lost majority (everyone else). It’s not quite so easy to get at this third absolute: it’s nothing so easy as reading the Bible; it’s using the first two absolutes as the raw data for producing the third absolute. How? By living according to those first two absolutes. Where is that possible? In the Orthodox community. Why there? Because it hasn’t compromised those first two absolutes. It hasn’t attached human speculation and guesswork to them, or erected systems of anti-contamination and quarantine to them, making it all but impossible to even hear, let alone believe and practice, authentic Christianity.

You have left Christianity, but what if what you thought was Christianity was just a mirage? What if Christianity from Christ’s point of view were absolutely different from what you rejected? What if you found out that you agreed with ‘the unknown God’ and that history really did have a surprise ending, that the Christians you heard tell of an unhappy ending (as if they knew all about it) didn’t really know what they were talking about?

These are just some thoughts I wanted to share with you.
What have you rejected, the real or the counterfeit?
If the former, so be it, but what if it’s the latter?
Even one person was worth dying for, so
maybe even one person is
worth waiting for.

He wasn’t kidding when He said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,’ and if He is who He said He was, then His Father will grant His prayer, not just this one, but all of them.
Start with the absolutes, and think again.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

No matter where it takes us

Orthodoxy is knowing that love has entered the world in the man Jesus Christ, and living in that love
no matter where it takes us.

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.
And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
He who finds his life will lose it,
and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Orthodoxy is knowing that faith is not belief, but trust so certain that we know there is no loss with Jesus, and are fearless to do whatever He asks. It is knowing that obedience is love and draws us into the very life of God, where Father, Son and Holy Spirit all live together with us in one house. It is seeing with unveiled faces Him whom the world cannot see even through a veil. Yes, Orthodoxy is knowing that Love has entered the world and remains here among us, as long as we obey His teaching, no matter where it takes us.

I tell you the truth,
anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.
He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

And I will do whatever you ask in my name,
so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

If you love me, you will obey what I command.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor
to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.
The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.
But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

I will not leave you as orphans;
I will come to you.
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.
Because I live, you also will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father,
and you are in me,
and I am in you.

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.
He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said,
But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?

Jesus replied,
If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.
My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The great inversion

You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

It's curious how we have found so many ways to get around this saying of Jesus. One hierarch who otherwise declares himself the bridge-builder and the vicar of Christ on earth, humbly adds the epithet servant of the servants of God to the other titles by which he is known, and though protocol demands he be referred to as ‘his Holiness,’ we are advised that this form of address pertains not to him personally, but to what Christ has made him. That may be so; I don't know. But I ask myself, how does this differ from referring to the Queen as ‘her Majesty’?

Like all other human societies, the Church organizes itself in tiers according to rules of order. Is this not to be avoided? After all, even Christ had His inner ring of disciples, Peter, James and John, and even there we find an ambition for preeminence among its members which gave Him occasion to speak the words cited above, ‘anyone who wants to be great…’

Though Holy Church has institutions like the offices of bishop, presbyter and deacon, and has even added more classifications to these simple New Testament ones, the fact remains that within her we find strange inversions happening, even from the earliest times, that prove the saying of Jesus fulfilled and write a spiritual history of mankind that remains almost impossible of documentation.

In the ancient Church, we have figures like elders Barsanouphios and John in Gaza, simple men who from their desert cells guided countless lives both during their time and up to the present day. Bishops even feared them for their God-bestowed authority, and heeded their instructions, yet they considered themselves the worst of sinners.

Holy Church is both the most merciful refuge for the afflicted and at the same time the most dangerous place for souls who still seek the world. Her structures and order can both relieve the afflicted and afflict the pious. The lowlier you are in spirit, the less you are jolted by the cataracts in the flow of churchly life, whether you are positioned at the top, as a chief shepherd, or just one of the lesser sheep. The stronger is your hold on the control of life, your own or that of others, the greater is your danger, to yourself and to others. A ride over the cataracts might throw you out of the boat, your stiff stance working ironically against you.

Spiritual freedom—ultimately, this is what it all boils down to. As the apostle writes, ‘When Christ freed us, He meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.’ All worldly systems of social organization lead to slavery and preserve it among men. Only Christ Jesus, in His divine teaching and holy example, has set us free from this when He turned the world upside down, as His disciples continue to do, for which the world blames them.

These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Start fresh

‘Look at all the trouble and all the suffering in the world. There is no god. How could a god allow this to happen? Despite all your pie-in-the-sky and wishful thinking, when the worst suddenly happens, you’re no better able to deal with it than anyone else. Face facts. There is no god,’ says the atheist.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.’ The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’ There was a written notice above him, which read: ‘This is the King of the Jews’. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’

Here we have it. Both the atheist and those who believe in God or in ‘the gods’ have the same attitude. When the worst suddenly happens, both are at a loss. Irreligious or religious, there’s no help for us. Looking at the universe in the bare nakedness of our souls, we see both the beauty, and the terror, of it. ‘Why have they left me alone here without a pass key?’

Those who believe in no supernatural power sneer at faith. To them, faith is just a blind belief in spite of what really happens in the world. To many who believe in a supernatural power, whether or not they are religious, their belief is a vague mental consent to a proposition they don’t fully grasp.

Between the atheist and this kind of theist there is little difference. The apostle writes, ‘You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder’.

If God were in fact the kind of god that the atheist rejects, then I too am an atheist. That is the first hurdle, to see that you don’t believe in a god you have made up in your mind, a god who is too small.

The second hurdle is to realize that to believe there is a God is not a mental exercise or a convenient way to integrate into society. This is belief in a god who is too big. If there were ever a case for atheism, it would be to leap these two hurdles.

Can we leap the third hurdle without knocking it, and ourselves, over? without tripping over it? This is the hurdle of faith, not belief, of trust, not mental assent, of honesty, not evasion, of clarity, not unfocused vision. Can we really have faith in the God who is, just as He is, in the goodness of His will for us in the face of all that happens?

This is not a god too small or too big, but the only God there is, who though infinite became finite, who though alive became dead, who faced the irreligious and the religious with the same unblinking eyes, who came answering questions we didn’t even think of asking.

Unbeliever or believer, go back and read the gospels with the same unblinking eyes, unafraid to face the facts, the reality of the world in which we find ourselves, unafraid of all questionings, by others or ourselves.

What He calls us to is not religious belief, but to enter into friendship, even into partnership, with Him. His story is not just another tale. When you read it, forget everything you ever heard or were told about it.

Start fresh, as though reading a book you’d never seen or heard of before. I’m not talking about the bible, that religious book. I’m talking about the gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Read them with a mind that sees through unblinking eyes, and see what you make of them, and of Him. This is not mere history. It is His story. See what happens to your unbelief or your belief. Leap over the third hurdle, and see where your feet take you.


Monday, April 9, 2012

God’s, or the world’s

I am an Orthodox evangelist, but I do not witness for the Church.
I witness for Christ, and He witnesses for the Church.

Everything good and everything bad that can be found in any church of any denomination can also be found in some form or another within the Orthodox Church.
None of the arguments pro and con convince me either way.

The Church is the Church is the Church.
When God the Father looks at the Church the only people He sees there are those whom He has drawn to His Son Jesus, and no others.

Because that is, by definition plain and simple, who and what the Church is.

That being said, I also say, the Church has never been divided, and can never be, because Christ prays for its unity to His Father, and the Father always grants His Son’s request.
If any of us think the Church has been divided, then he’s got a problem.

From Christ’s point of view, Orthodoxy doesn’t even exist.
All He knows about is His precious and faithful Bride whom He has been adorning and perfecting through suffering all these centuries, and He’s getting ready, now, to take her into the Wedding Chamber.

Yes, I am an Orthodox Christian, but all that means is,
I am finally freed from the war of words that absorbs so much of the strength and energy and resources of the Christian community at large.
I am free, literally, to go anywhere, to be all things to all men, because I have found the Door, and I can always get back to my world through that Door, as long as I don’t stray from the Lamppost.

Orthodox Christianity is not a denomination, and it would be better if Christians inside and outside of her would just stop using the name ‘Orthodox’ if it is being used as a knife to slice up the Body of Christ.

Don’t you think that the spirit in me recognizes the spirit in another man whether he even calls himself a Christian or not, as being my brother in Christ?

We all know who it is we have believed in.
We know the voice of the Shepherd when we hear it, whether it comes from the pulpit in our local church, or out there in the unchurched, maybe unchurchable, wilds.
We also know when we hear the words of the hireling, and see his acts, even when they appear in the very same places of churchly ministry or authority.

In Christ we are a meek and faithful bunch, but in the world we are the most anarchistic and uncooperative of mankind.
It’s no wonder the world hates us, whether we are Orthodox or not, Christian or not, religious or not, articulate or not.

The important thing is, whose friend are we? God’s or the world’s.

Once this is decided, all the obstacles to our life in Christ and in the Church disappear.
All the obstacles we’ve put there, I mean.
Yes, once we cross that imaginary line, the devil can be depended on to do his work.

But do not be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased the Father to bestow upon us the Kingdom.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Religion, or the Cross

‘If a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart,’ says the Lord Jesus. However, here is one place where I disagree, I think, with the majority view, that takes this literally in a juridical sense. I don't believe that Jesus meant this in a juridical sense. I mean, what I think Christ was pointing out here is not the fact of sinning on a case by case basis, where like in a Catholic laundry list confession, one ransacks one's memory for every little damnable offense in thought, word and deed so as to speak it aloud and ask for forgiveness, but rather, that the human animal is just that—an animal, a living soul that is tossed this way and that by every form of desire, legitimate and illegitimate.

What Christ is telling us by this kind of statement is that everything we think, speak and do comes forth from the inmost disposition, which has only two stark choices: obedience or disobedience. Like turning on the lights in a room, or turning them off. There's no dimmer switch. Christ is telling us that's how it is, not setting us up for a moment by moment court case where we will be judged for every little thing we did or didn't do but just imagined. That idea is just natural human thought overruling the Lord, whose thoughts are not our thoughts. It's a Christian version of karmic law, which according to human reasoning should exist, therefore does exist. This attitude is the religion mill of the race since we were expelled from Eden.

The flip-side of this mistaken idea that thinking of a sin and yielding to doing it carries the same penalty, is the idea circulating in churchly circles that thinking of a good deed and not being able to do it carries the same reward. Both the positive and the negative versions of this concept have impacted and distorted Christianity, especially in the Catholic/Protestant West, but even in the Orthodox East, since the beginning, framing false theologies and turning the Message into mere religion. ‘If something should be true, it must be true. If something should have happened that way, that's how it happened.’ How do we know that Mary is the Queen of heaven? Well, God is the King, and since He is the Father of Mary's Son, she must be Queen.

The error is not in the essential truth of these things, but in the way the truth is applied at the detail and practical level. Regarding sins that we commit, yes, on all three levels, thought, word and deed, yes, they are part of the 'sin' of the world, which Christ takes away, as well as the 'sins' of the world, which He equally disposes of on our behalf. The West takes these things juridically, being a law-based culture, believing in karma without calling it that. The East, when it is not westernized—and unfortunately it is becoming so more and more—takes these things ontologically, being a humanistic culture, believing that Christ and humanity are a single organism in process of being integrated.

When a desert father or a medieval Catholic saint like Thomas à Kempis says things like ‘I haven't done anything good,’ or when Christ says, ‘If a man looks at a woman lustfully…’ we cannot use these statements as a self-evaluation leading to a self-improvement regimen. The good news, the gospel, has many aspects. One of them is to enlighten us with the knowledge that human life is not all about law, but all about grace. Those who in the Church—and the Orthodox are particularly fond of this—refer to the law of God, or of Christ, and would enroll us in following it by entrenching us in the minutiae of legalism, have just added another layer to humanity's worst nightmare—religion—which Christ came to end.

We cannot climb to heaven by taking a literal view of John's ladder, nor can we return to paradise by following the steps we left it in reverse order. Like Hansel and Gretel dropping breadcrumbs in the forest path so they could find their way back, we find our breadcrumbs have been eaten by the birds. There is no way to climb to heaven except by being carried there in the arms of the only One who came down from heaven. And there is no path to paradise except by being hung on the Tree to die there next to Jesus as a common criminal. Everything that Jesus teaches and does in the gospels is for us to be lifted up with Him just as He is, drawing all men to Himself. Book 2, Chapter 12, of the Imitation of Christ tells it all.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bad news, good news

The word of Jesus is not something He spoke once so that it could be written down and then turned into stone tablets with which we could judge the world. No, the word of Jesus is such a word that it takes what is stone and turns it into something alive. When we go forth to meet men in the world with the word of Jesus, we don’t go forth in judgment, but we meet them, all of them, in the company of Jesus, who walks with us, and who walks among men to save them. It is not the day of judgment yet. It is still the day of mercy.

When Jesus sent them out two by two, He instructed them to go to every town and preach the word, and if they receive it, peace be with them, but if they reject it, then the disciples leave that town and wipe its dust from their soles, and depart. What men reject when they reject the word is not a doctrine but a person, as the Lord says, ‘whoever rejects you rejects Me, and whoever rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.’ It is all about personal encounter, of Life with death, seeking to bring the dead to life, not about standards of right and wrong.

The world is well aware that it is living in sin, that is to say, that it is dying in its sins. It already knows the bad news, which is so well-known that it needs no one to announce it. People are imprisoned in their own wickedness and they know it. Sometimes, even when the Gatekeeper comes with the keys and opens the door for them to escape, they dare not depart from the safety of the cage, despite its stench and filth, because they are afraid of the unknown. Why do their eyes hurt? Because they have never used them before. Light hurts at first.

The people who dwell in darkness have seen a great light, on them who live in the land of shadows a light has shone. Though we have responded to the call and come out from among them, they are part of us and we are part of them, a living Body with dead limbs, that someday will be amputated if they cannot be reinvigorated with the life of the Body. But ours is not the scalple or the ax, but rather the ointment and the bandage gauze, ours is the medicine that quickens souls and brings life to the dying. The Physician is among us, not the Judge.

Come, brethren, and speak the living word to your neighbors, not what can be written with paper and ink, but the word in person, as the beloved apostles write, not words of condemnation, but words of encouragement, not to quench the smoking flax, but to blow on it till it becomes a fire, that same fire of which the Lord Jesus says, ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth. How I wish it were ablaze already!’ He is not dead, brethren, and neither are we, but alive. His ascension has revealed who He is and where He lives, not for thirty-three years and in one body, but for ever, and among us.

The word of Jesus is not living words turned to stone, but words that turn stone statues into real men. Just as He spoke it at the beginning to create all things, He speaks it in us, with us, and through us, to keep renewing the world, even unto its last day. As He told His holy apostles, ‘I am with you until the close of the age.’ Between His first and His second coming, there is nobody here but us, living words.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Can we start today?

What is more important in the Body of Christ than unity? The world does not believe because it sees that the Church is not the abode of peace, unity and love, but only another society much like itself, full of jealousies, usurpations, war and discord. It knows that we have a good Lord and God but that He must not be worth very much, that we do not really believe in Him very strongly and truly, because our belief hasn’t changed us very much. It looks in at our door and sees a house no better than its own. It looks at our family and sees the same dysfunction that afflicts its own family. Why would the world want to enter into the Kingdom of God, if that Kingdom is only the same as its own under another name?

The human world, the human race, is stopped in its tracks, cannot take the next step in its evolution, because the only part of it that has the possibility of taking the first steps has chosen not to. The only new man in the history of the world has appeared. Though we fought against Him with all our might and were able to bodily kill Him, He was not defeated but instead defeated everything in us that keeps us down. What is worse for us is that the Man did not go away but is always present in our midst, and still we, the Church that claims to be His Body, the Body of Christ on earth, His Presence, that people who can of all peoples take the step into the new humanity, the new world, do not take it.

Unity, yes, unity. It does not have to mean what we try to bend it to mean. It is not an ideal that we can say we strive for but are unfortunately unable to achieve. No. Unity in God does not mean administrative unity. We all do not have to be united under one pope or system of Church government. That has been our big mistake, but it stems from another deeper one, the desire to overcome, not ourselves, but others, in the name of God. How senseless, how brutal is our handling of the Message that it no longer has any power in it to transform the world. We are indeed on our last legs, we have indeed reached our next to last day. We have failed to bring new birth to the world.

The Book is there and open to all who can read. The Christians read it and do not follow what it says but only argue about it and talk it to death. The world reads it and picks and chooses what it wants to take in its vain attempt to do without the Spirit what only the Spirit can do. The world and the Church are two disobedient sons, one saying it will do what the Father wills but does not, the other saying it will not do what He says—because there is no Father—and yet does, though without effect. Belief cannot be followed by disobedience. Obedience has no power to transform without faith. Though Christ prefers the obedient faithless to the disobedient believing, neither brings mankind to its destiny.

This talk of mine is no more than idle talk. I am both in the world and in the Church and I share the fate and fault of both. All I know is, I too want to be transformed. I too want to see the uncreated Light of Tabor and seeing it become it. There is no blame or shame that I do not share with all of you, my brothers, all of you, both believers and unbelievers. Nothing about us that divides us matters at all. Nothing. It is only what unites us that matters, and there is only one thing, one Man, that can unite us, and that is Christ. He does not unite us by brute force, by threats, intimidation, or by decree. He unites us by His prayer to the Father, by His life for the world, by His death on the Cross, by His resurrection.

This is what humanity is waiting for, what mankind really desires, what every man and woman, rich and poor, free and slave, really wants. Having this, having the unity that is in Christ, having it not just talking about it, is what dissolves the struggle between man and woman, tears down the wall between rich and poor, and makes of the human race a single family of priests and kings, where none rule but who serve, and where all make progress with not a single one left behind into the new world that Christ has established. He is the new Man, the only One, and what then does that make us? There is no middle ground, though we have made of human history a midden of disappointed hope by our refusal to follow Him.

Can we start today? Is there anything I can do as a single man, you as a single man or woman? If you are a pope, a bishop, a priest, a minister of the gospel, a missionary, a witness, a worker for Christ, whatever you call yourself, if you say you are following Christ, is there anything you can do? Is there anything you can do to make a difference? There is no program to follow, no principle to espouse, no compact to subscribe to. Have you been baptized and believed? Now just go and say and do what you hear Jesus saying and see Him doing in the holy gospels. Step into the shoes of the fishermen, but don’t do what you want, do what He wants. He is alive. He will tell you. I cannot do that. I can only listen for myself.

Humanity is waiting to take the next step in its evolution because those who know that the step has already been taken by Christ have refused to follow, but only squirm in their seats as they watch the Jesus movie and read the lives of the saints. The world will not believe until it sees God among us. Is He really there? Is He really here, with us? Do we believe that? If we do, then what are we doing sitting here like this? No, it isn’t just what we can do. In fact it is nothing at all that we can do that will transform humanity. Only He can do that, but we must first want it, we must first give Him our permission.
We must let Him transform us.
All we need to do is want it.
Want to be one.

…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Start to live

I ask you to consider this question: who is greater, he who dies and rises again or he who does not die at all? Those who extol the latter are deceived, for Christ both died and rose. But he who extols the former urges that for the dying, or rather the falling, there is no cause whatever for despair.
St. John Climacus, Step 15: 32

This is an interesting concept that we find gleaming everywhere under the dark cinders of deception and false piety in the Church, which seems to teach us that human perfection consists in ‘being good’ all the time, something we must strive for.

Be vigilant, for sin is lurking behind every corner to snatch its opportunity with us, like a lion looking for prey. Of course! It's even written in scripture. But we needn't pay too much attention to the mechanics of spiritual warfare as if we needed to know before we do.

Even though scripture and Church tradition is loaded (in the case of the latter, overloaded) with instructions that have kept us looking at ourselves and measuring and weighing our progress and spirituality, Jesus Himself, if you study His words and acts very carefully, would have none of this.

Hence, what I express as the dichotomy between religion and Christ, ‘religion is a sickness, and Christ is the cure.’ This, to me, is the defining momentum of Orthodoxy.

Every so often, though, we find even in print, the Church exasperated with herself crying out things like,
‘O happy fault!’ The Orthodox speculate that even had Adam and Eve not sinned, Christ would have come anyway, only we wouldn't have crucified Him. Maybe so, but we don't deal in ‘what if's.’

What I notice is this persistent theme in my own thought: That our existence as individuals, and as a world, is a single ‘sin event’ that is responded to by a single ‘cure event.’

That the beginning of our ‘perfection’ consists in imitating the Father, which in practice means imitating Jesus, but that the end of our ‘perfection’ is to cease being everything we associate with being merely human at all, not in the details, but in the orientation, in short, to simply forget.

Forget what? Again, it is impossibly simple—impossible because we don't want to do it—we just forget ourselves, as Paul says, ‘don't look back, but only ahead,’ straining for the finish line for all we're worth, not counting our breaths or measuring our pace—just run ‘like hell’ for heaven.

Have I veered too far from the concept under discussion? I hope not. The dichotomy will not go away. We are told ‘be perfect’ everywhere we look, and given a card of rules. On the front it has commandments, but on the back, it is covered with ruses and excuses, ‘If no one saw you do it…’

But Christ, though deathless, underwent—no, undergoes—death for us, so that He could be—no, is—raised to die no more. When and where does He do this? Was it in first century Palestine, where ‘once and for all’ He died to save all men? No, that was just the beginning.

Neither His life, nor His death, nor His resurrection, are events locked in mere moments in the flow of time. This is where religious walls evaporate when we allow ourselves to see the truth. In each human individual, from the first before He came, up to the last before He comes again.

That is where the drama of the pre-eternal Word and Son of God takes place. In each of us. Either it takes place there, or it doesn't take place, for us, at all. Once we grasp that light, which the world cannot grasp, we have already begun walking the road to Calvary.

Once we grasp that truth, we are one day closer to His coming again, for ourselves and for the world.
We join the migration with magi to a birth cave that ends with myrrhbearers looking into an empty tomb.
We start to live a life of death that leads to life, that has no possible end but the wedding feast of the Lamb.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Start with Jesus

The fatal flaw of fundamentalism is its absolute reliance on its interpretation of words which are, in themselves, only translations (usually into archaic English) of what was originally written and spoken in the Hebrew and Greek languages, rarely taking into account the understandings of the ancients, calling them dead traditions.

They claim to be doctors of the Law but they understand neither the arguments they are using nor the opinions they are upholding.

Other forms of Christianity—Orthodoxy, Catholicism, classic Protestantism, even modern expressions not derived from the other three—certainly are also flawed, but not necessarily fatally.

What makes a fatal flaw? Anything which debars us from really hearing the words of Jesus and doing what He commands. We may say we know the Lord. We may say we believe solely in scripture. We may know and accept the four spiritual laws. We may even work miracles. But whose voice do we hear without letting our additions to it or our interpretations of it prevent us from observing it, prevent us from really following Him?

Start with the actual words of Jesus. Then let the apostles show us how to apply them. Do not start with the apostles, or worse yet, modern advocates of their own philosophies, and then add Jesus’ words as occasion requires. Start with Jesus. Join the apostles. Hear Him as they hear Him, and with them do what He does.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Start from here

Until the righteous King arrives, all is anarchy.

What people or nation on earth will take up the call of Jesus Christ? 
Not by exhibiting harmless religious piety or doing condescending works of charity,
but by saying what He says, and doing what He does?

Not a single disciple of Jesus waited till he could decide whether or not he agreed with Christ's words.
Each simply responded to the call, immediately.
Why are we all so incapable of doing this?
Who or what has tied our hands?

Anything can become a cult.
Any man's ideas or teachings can become a cult,
and will become a cult unless reason steps in.
And where does this reason come from?
It comes from Jesus Christ,
because of all the sons of men, His ideas and teachings alone do not become a cult,
that is, when they are followed, not just believed.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock… but everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

So this offends you?
Go ahead, be offended.
It's your choice, but all it does is betray your weakness and self-doubt.
Not God, nor the man who is sure of God, can be offended.
Only those who only believe.

I believe very little, but I trust much.
A little good sometimes comes from belief, but more often a lot of evil.
But from trust, the reverse is true.
A little evil sometimes comes from trust, but more often a lot of good.
And absolutely true, that only good comes from trust
when the One you trust is the only One who can be trusted absolutely.
That is, Jesus Christ.