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

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Reply


Sometimes the best way to post something new is merely to reply to a comment. This is in reply to this comment:
It's "whack"! Whack! "Whacked" means something else!

Anyway, the answer is, no, I can't. I can't tie any of this together, and I would like to keep it that way. Some thoughts:

1. I am beginning to think that the Marxist thing was an aesthetic decision as well. Having been rather angry at God as a teenager, I decided to go for the most beautiful system a Godless universe can have: dialectical materialism. One can be very consumed with indignation and a thirst for justice as the only way to justify an absurd existence. Unfortunately in our time, Nietzsche is more a paradigm to be followed by godless intellectuals, not Marx. I find this most unfortunate, since at least Marxist intellectuals are engaged and committed, and not too busy staring at their protruding navel to care about anyone else.

2. I have been to a Coptic monastery since I used to go there as a monk. In the Mojave Desert, we were virtually neighbors. I have a great admiration for Copts, in spite of their Christology.
3. Anglicanism was something I stumbled on while I was working out some issues in my life. To tell the truth, I was angry at the Roman Catholic Church, so maybe being an Anglican provided a bit of a breather for me while I worked some stuff out. I was never in communion with the C of E or the Anglican Communion; my time was spent among the mavericks of the Anglican Continuum that don't ordain women and don't do any of those other silly things.

I found in Anglicanism a beauty in simplicity and an orthodoxy in freedom that I thought I could never have as a Catholic or Orthodox Christian. In truth, though, I found a lot of it artificial. I think Christianity must be more "constricting" than what Orthodoxy and Anglicanism say it should be; that is, you must struggle in your mind and heart with the rest of the Body of Christ. And that means having a Pope, a Magisterium, etc. I just think that we know more than Anglicans or Orthodox would like to concede, that in the end, the authority of Christ is more present.

4. We all have to go through life the best we can. I have hoped to be honest with what I believe and what I have difficulty with. I think we live in a world of such plurality that we can't give a smug answer as to what is the truth and what is a lie. We can stake our lives on it and our own consciences, but to go throwing your intellectual weight around in order to convince people of what YOU believe is a tiresome exercise in my opinion. You should be able to formulate and defend the Truth, but you should not use it as a bludgeoning device that will probably end up boosting your own ego and not augmenting your virtue. I can say this because I am one of the worst offenders, and those closest to me know this. The best way to convince is by example and love; that will bring people to you in a receptive and fertile spirit. To go around trying to pick fights, even under the guise of dialogue, is for me is a waste of time.

I am going to post a poem tomorrow. That is far more important than anything I can write.

7 Comments:

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a very interesting person.

I thought the Copts thought that they do not have a Christological problem (from their perspective) and are not Monosphytes but were called this for political reasons in the Byzantine Empire.
My understanding is that they accept the Council of Nicea and believe Jesus is True God and True Man but did not accept or attend the Council of Chalcedon and the disagreement is more semantics and political??
I could be wrong my understanding.

Do these Cristological disagreements still mean anything?
If they have apostolic succession, devotion to the Blessed Mother, believe in the Real Presence of the Eucharist, have a sacrificial priesthood, have a monastic life, utilize icons, have a spiritual and devotional and moral life--is there a big deal?
The Byzantine empire was heavy handed at times.

Also, don't at least some Copts (some are in union with Rome? No?)
(and wasn't there an experiment of becoming Latin Catholics in Ethiopia with Portuguese and Jesuit influence that greatly backfired) believe that the Petrine Doctrine really carries through St. Mark and that Alexanria is Rome and Mark is how Catholics perceive Peter?

The Coptic chant is an acquired taste but can be very introspective and while foreign and even obtuse to the Western ear--even beautiful.

They have a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother and believe in the Assumption even though along different historical lines than the dogma of Pope Pius XII.

Egypt and Ethiopia have become very difficult places to live.
Much persecution from what I understand.

One last note (and I did see this on the history channel) is that the Copts believe that the Ark of the Covenant is in Axum Ethiopia in a Coptic Church or Monastery and guarded by monks. Interesting, exotic, I don't know how historical accurate. I have liked the Ark since Raiders of the Lost Ark as a kid.

I still don't get the Anglican thing. Although I can understand problems with the Catholic church including modernism on the left and legalism on the right and the pedophilia and homosexuality crisis and lots of bureacracy.

You were a Byzantine monk?

Did one of your posts criticize the monks at Papa Strosnay--I am not a big fan of SSPX for some of the same reasons you are--don't like to justify dropping people even commies out of planes in the atlantic nor do I see any justification in kidnapping someone's baby nor are all right wing dictators good and I have been in the US too long to want a return of the Hapsburg Dynasty or a restoration of any monarchy but do have some historical sympathies to Napolean Bonaparte and more so from a Catholic perspective to Charlemange. Maximillian, the Emporer of your ancestors people briefly wasn't as bad as history makes him--however whatever critiques of SSPX--I am impressed with the Trans Monks at Papa Stosnay and really liked the video.

I heard of some monks in Cheyenne Wyoming that sound good.

I am unrealistic though, part of me wants monks but the other parts wants to be a monk chanting during the day and meditating with the Tridentine Mass but another side of me wants to go out after monk hours and eat Brazilian style steaks, Russian vodka, Argentinian wines, French pastries,and be like a rock (or I am dating myself as now it is a rap star) with beautiful women and even like incredible Catholic director John Ford have affairs with women like Katherine Hepburn, or like Hernan Cortez and La Malinche, (but not like Sir Alec Guiness although a great actor and a devote Catholic his indulgences outside marriage did not reflect beauty), or affairs with Madeline Stowe or Faye Dunaway.

However, if I cannot find a way of justifying sin, I want to be at a monastery that the monks
smell like roses
that they levitate during prayer
that there is bilocation
(bilocation can save time and be efficient)
that there are dreams of premonitions and prophecy
that I would start to levitate in front of the Blessed Sacrament
skip the stigmata as it may be painful
Alas, I don't know if one like this exists
or perhaps a Byzantine Catholic or even Orthodox one were there is reading of souls or icons mystically vanish and reappear
and I never even read Harry Potter

 
At 4:08 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Yeah on #4. I do not at all minimize intellectual engagement, or the resolution of doctrinal disputes.

Still, when people want to know about Jesus, the first thing I tell them is, "Come into prison with me. You'll meet him there."

Obviously this cannot be entirely unhinged from the Word. But it seems to me that people (including me) see something real in there -- or, perhaps better, meet someone real in there -- unlike what they receive when we have just another intellectual give and take about . . . whatever.

And, again, I'm not at all one to sneer at the importance of doctrine. But disputes about it so often seem so vain.

 
At 6:42 PM, Blogger matt said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous #1: Did you learn to write from James Joyce himself?!

 
At 11:21 PM, Anonymous Jimmy Page said...

Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run there is still time to change the road you are on.

 
At 8:56 AM, Blogger The Scylding said...

You're a better person than what I am. The reason for going marxist (doing something with an outwards focus) is telling - I would have wallowed in an inwards looking mysticism, I guess. But then again, I have never been attracted to "pure" atheism - its to damn ugly and clinical.

But thanks to God who never abandoned you (and me), even in our follies!

 
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