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.
It's OUT there somewhere. An indistinct entity that pals around with the devil and his minions. Maybe it's a republican leader who has secret agendas with the military industrial complex combined with visions of a new religious fascism? Or perhaps it is the liberals and their scheme to eliminate religion and establish a socialist utopia? Or, it is the TV and the garbage they pump into our homes. It is pop music and its almost magical power over our children - somehow forcing them to dress and act like retards and whores. It's the school system. It's Hollywood. It's Foxnews. It's reality TV. It's the New York Times.
All this and more, depending on your personal sway, is "the world." It's out to get you and your kids - either to indoctrinate or draft. There may even be a conspiracy. Heck, there probably IS a conspiracy! Hundreds of them. All the very worse of what we may believe about "the world"...well...let it be true. And then what? So what?
The ONLY conspiracy we need to (or likely can) really expose is the one taking place right underneath our chins. Perhaps hidden behind a furry overcoat, but certainly behind a bit of flesh and bone is your heart and believe me, if you are remotely like me, it is full of all manner of conspiracies and inflamed (albeit it secret)desires.
Whether we seek to hide from "the world" or change it, I think we are missing something VERY important. If I may quote a stupid song (my emphasis added): "We are the world" folks. YOU are "the world." Yes, I'm afraid it's true, that evil entity that you think you can change or keep away from your family is in fact YOU. I was reminded of this during an interview of Metropolitan JONAH I heard on AFR's The Illumined Heart, in which they were discussing Monasticism and how some people tend to see it as an irrational "fleeing from 'the world'." Metropolitan Jonah responded:
If anyone’s trying to escape from anything by coming into a monastery, they’re almost immediately hit by it in far greater intensity, and square in the face. You can’t run away from anything. Trying to do so simply undermines any kind of possible spiritual life...Non-engagement with the world means that you don’t live according to your own passions...It doesn’t mean non-engagement with society; it doesn’t mean not to utilize technology. It means learning to control your own passions, which in ascetic terms is the very content of what...the idea of what ‘the world’ is. Anger, lust, pride, greed...all of this stuff. That’s the world, not people and not technology...not things.
It gave me pause to consider that while keeping aspects of the outside world away from ourselves and our kids is a decidedly logical and healthy thing, we absolutely MUST NOT forget how much of "the world" (as Metropolitan JONAH here expresses it) we bring into our homes via our own hearts. I don't believe the outside world is going to ever become a utopia, and by that I mean ANYONE'S vision of utopia. But I do believe that we can change "the world" in us. And that may make a world of difference.
Hiding is no strategy. And engaging with naive enthusiasm is an exercise in futility.
Our HOPE is in Christ and our CHANGE is in DAILY Metanoia. That, I believe is where we can begin to actualize the renewal of "the world"...a labor begun since its foundation, and in which we are honored to cooperate. Whatever we may do with the outside world, if we are not doing something with the inside one, we are (I AM) profoundly wasting our (MY) time.