Saturday, March 21, 2009

For Consideration

My dear friends, readers and commentators,

For all that I love theology and philosophy--indeed the humanities in general--I also have a great respect for empirical, quantitative research. Granted, statistical analysis is often a blunt instrument--but sometime we simply need a hammer.

Over the last several days we have had--at my instigation to be sure--a conversation about a recent talk given at Holy Cross School of Theology. In that time this blog has lost some 20% of its subscribers.

I will not close down the debate about the issues raised by the good Archimandrite's presentation but I would pose a question: Does our debate serve the Gospel? If the statistics here are any indication, it seems that (at least in the short term) the answer is "No."

Our debates, I would suggest, about ethnicity and the role of "foreign" bishops in America not only do not serve the Gospel, the serve to alienate people--both those inside the Church and those outside of her visible boundaries.

What value are our discussions if they serve to alienate not only our own faithful and people of good will but even us from each other? Is this Gospel of peace? Is this what we really mean when, with the Church fathers, we say God became as we are that we might become as He is? Again, I think not.

What then are we to do? Shall we give up the pursuit of truth? Again, I think not. But much do our debates reflect the self-emptying compassion of Christ? Very little I think.

Like many who read this blog, I have always been impressed by the words of the later Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his 1978 address at Harvard. In his address, Solzhenitsyn observes a simple anthropological and sociological truth:

The split in today's world is perceptible even to a hasty glance. Any of our contemporaries readily identifies two world powers, each of them already capable of entirely destroying the other. However, understanding of the split often is limited to this political conception, to the illusion that danger may be abolished through successful diplomatic negotiations or by achieving a balance of armed forces. The truth is that the split is a much profounder and a more alienating one, that the rifts are more than one can see at first glance. This deep manifold split bears the danger of manifold disaster for all of us, in accordance with the ancient truth that a Kingdom -- in this case, our Earth -- divided against itself cannot stand.

Our his words then about the political order any less true today for us in the Church?

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory