An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
An article regarding /interview with (in part) Clint Eastwood who's newest movie apparently will be a theological treatise of sorts. Here's the trailer:
Anytime Hollywood puts out something that addresses in any capacity the numinous, I tend to cringe. Of course, not having seen the film I cannot say anything about it, but a couple of things Eastwood says (directly or otherwise from the article) caught my attention.
"Eastwood was attracted to "Hereafter" because it deals with the afterlife in a spiritual manner without turning religious."
Blech! Give me a break. Am I the only person sick of the "spiritual but not religious" mantra? I'm sorry but it's a steaming pile of BS. Let me spell it out to all "spiritual" people: YOU ARE RELIGIOUS! And odds are you also have all manner of doctrines and dogmas you cling to, the only difference is that YOU made them up. You reject (much like a fundamentalist) aspects of what you call religion with no less vehemence (even if more calmly) than a Bible-Thumper might employ in their rejection of something. And, I might add, perhaps with no less arrogance.
Ok, rant on that point over.
And then this: "I couldn't believe that God would be a great sadist in the sky, getting pleasure out of, 'If you screw up, I'm going to bust you, boy,'" Eastwood said. "That's a way of keeping people in line, I guess."
He does find Buddhism attractive, "because they don't seem to be as mean-spirited, and their idea of God is sort of a heavyset guy who's got a smile on his face, and I thought, hey, that's nice," Eastwood said.
Some of you have likely read "The River of Fire" and how it lays the blame for attitudes such as expressed by Eastwood here squarely at the feet of "western theology." I do not doubt there is truth to that. Would that I could invite Eastwood to consider the Eastern Christian approach, perhaps he might see God as less a sadist. But then again, if Eastwood is looking for a jolly obese man he may well stick with Santa or Buddha (actually the Buddha rather demands some pretty strict asceticism so maybe Santa is the better choice) rather than any conception of a Holy and Loving God.
Western theology may indeed play a role, but I also do not want to erase people's need to "make religion in their own image." They will often take the title of "spiritual."
Amidst such criticism I will bring this home to ME and consider all the ways I try and make Orthodoxy in my own image. But I'll still not take too seriously the theologian Clint Eastwood of that God-protected city Hollywood.
I've been tidying up my preparations for the 3rd semester DVP exam and as such it's been all about "Creation" this week starring Lossky, Meyendorff, and Florovsky. Ships of the Line I should think. Anyway, a few ragged (and uncorrected) thoughts while on the boat.
One might be tempted to cruise quickly through the idea of creation - as an evangelical I certainly did - for too many it is a simple tale: God made it, that's the end of it. But, really, that's the milk. There's rich, red fleshy meat to be had therein and I won't hesitate to add that my servings must be cut into safe bite-size pieces. Details of creation speak to the nature (and more importantly the nature vs. will) of God, the essence of mankind, the Fall, and Redemption. It also helps us to come to a proper perception of the created world around us here and now, in everyday life.
I find myself presently pondering this particular thought this AM: There is no eternal reality outside God. "Well Duh!" you may say...but for me I guess I never really gave this much more than a "well duh!" sort of passing thought.
I think this is really a very difficult concept to consider. In my aforementioned readings we are told that Patristic thought really wrestled with the Platonic idea of an eternally existing universe (or perhaps more specifically a sort of cyclical eternally existing universe - coming and going) because that was really fairly hardwired into popular belief. Origen apparently caved to it and mistakenly attributed creation to God's nature and this, Meyendorff tells us, ultimately renders indistinguishable the eternal universe and the eternal Logos. The Fathers would conceive of the idea of creation such that God's will and His nature are not one and the same. Thus God's nature eternally begets the Son and from God's nature eternally proceeds the Holy Spirit, but it is by God's will that the universe is created and along with it time. Quite distinct from begetting and processing.
Platonic notions of creation, I think, still abide in popular perception. I'm not entirely sure why, but I myself often struggle with NOT comprehending something in which God exists. Think about that for a moment (some of you will no doubt smile at my baby steps philosophy here, but bear with me). To no small degree I think modern christian apologetics tends to grant that God does in fact exist (and has always existed) amidst something other than Himself. Maybe you might, in juvenile fashion, perceive it to be a great throne room or if you are more astute maybe a vast realm of darkness pierced only by His light. But to consider that there is NOTHING other than God I think tends to render arguing through human reason for His existence an altogether absurd endeavor.
Atheists demand PROOF. Evidence! As if some external criteria can possibly or definitively identify He who is. (period). To engage such need for evidence with some notion that it can be provided seems to me almost crazy if indeed there is nothing outside of God (save creation). He IS the Absolute. We are like protozoa trying to prove that there is a man far above us staring at us with a giant microscope. We simply do not have the intellectual capacity or tools to prove any such thing. The question of God's existence itself becomes an absurd question. We cannot study God as if there were some context outside of Him to do so. As if He were an antelope on the plains of Africa which we might tag with a radio collar.
Now, that said, there IS of course something other than God. Creation. We do not confuse God and creation, nor do we make the mistake of Origen and perceive nature/creation to be an outpouring of God's nature. Creation exists as an act of God's will. And while there may be some degree of evidence for God's existence in the study of creation, we must I think, be extremely aware of the folly of putting too much faith in proof for God by scientific criteria. God is absolutely OTHER than creation and I'm inclined (strongly) to think that studying the "laws of nature" or employing the scientific method are not proper means of meeting Him.
The additional paradox to this idea of God as Absolute is that unlike some concepts found in eastern religions wherein such an Absolute is more a force or energy, our God is PERSONAL. He LOVES. And of course the most astonishing thing is that He unites Himself with His creation in order to restore and save it.
In any event...from my perspective it is an AWE-full (it really is a shame the word came to mean only negative and thus I clarify) thing to try and contemplate God with no context. The Great I am. God as God...beyond any setting...Absolute. Nothing other. Until He speaks. And even then, He remains completely transcendent. And yet very near.