The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Sunday, June 24, 2007

From Recent Correspondence

...I am a very orthodox Roman Catholic, with all of doctrinal force that this entails. I studied for the priesthood for two years with the ultra-traditionalist Roman Catholic order called the Society of St. Pius X. (The doctrine was hyper-"traditional" and the liturgy was all in Latin from before the 1960's.) I then became a monk in an Eastern-rite Catholic monastery (essentially the same as the Eastern Orthodox except for its affiliation with Rome) for another two years. I returned to Berkeley to finish my B.A. last August, and I hope to complete it by December.

The Sarabite is a pure labor of love that I started while still a monk. (Indeed, "Sarabite" means "monk without a rule".) It is an attempt to make the traditional new and the new traditional. To the extent that I succeed or fail is up to my readers. For me, it really is a struggle for the meaning of what it means to be a human being. Indeed, I believe that this is the core of Christianity. As an Orthodox priest friend of mine once said: "No man equals no God". We are made in His image and likeness, and therefore to know ourselves in Christ is to know God.

As for Iamblichus, my interest in him comes from studying ancient Greek philosophy as a way of life and not a system of doctrines. In this, the French scholar Pierre Hadot is key in my formation. Knowledge is a means to an end, and not an end unto itself. In Iamblichus, I find the role of ritual and the use of matter as particularily fascinating, and have used it in my own thinking to try to derive a greater role for Christian liturgy in approaching the Faith. For Iamblichus, man becomes united with God through the use of material objects and ceremonies in order to climb the cosmic ladder, not just leap over it. That emphasis of knowing your place in the cosmos is very similar at least for me to Christian kenosis or self-emptying.

The greater issue, however, is the issue of thought as tradition. I think we postmodern people are too obsessed with thought as originality when other cultures may have conceived right thinking as something passed down. We do not arrive at God through our own individual efforts, but as a link in a chain of a broader body of history, society, and culture. The efforts to belittle this fact may be the cause of much of our malaise. Anyway, that is it in a nutshell. My regards to your family.

God bless,

(I hope to develop many of these themes in the near future.)


At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arturo writes:

"I hope to develop many of these themes in the near future."

Please do.

At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I'll second that Father.

At 9:58 PM, Blogger Bijoy said...

Hi, i just surfed in searching for interesting blogs on Spirituality, you have a cool blog. Do keep up the good work. I'll be back even though i live far from where you live. its nice to be able to see what people from across the world thinks.

Warm Regards from the Other Side of the Moon.

On a related note perhaps you might find the following link interesting. Its propossing a theory and i'll like to hear your take on the subject via comments. See ya...

Jesus an Essenes ?


Kerala, India


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