Thursday, March 21, 2013

iPhones vs Icons

...And this will result from the fact that the antichrist wants to be lord over everything and become the ruler of the whole universe, and he will produce miracles and fantastic signs. He will also give depraved wisdom to an unhappy man so that he will discover a way by which one man can carry on a conversation from one end of the earth to the other. At that time, men will also fly through the air like birds and descend to the bottom of the sea like fish. And when they have achieved all this, these unhappy people will spend their lives in comfort without knowing, poor souls, that it is the deceit of the antichrist. And the impious one! - he will so complete science with vanity, that it will go off the right path and lead people to lose faith in the existence in God. - St. Nilus the Myrrhgusher (+16th century)

Before, a table used to stand in the corner wherein the holy icons were. Then, however, that space will be occupied by seductive instruments for the deception of men. Many who have departed away from the Truth will say, `we need to watch and hear the news.' And it is in the news that the Antichrist will appear; and they will accept him. - Elder Laurence of Chernigov (+1950)

(Quotations from an unpublished work by Dr Vladimir Moss, ‘Prophecies about the Future of Russia and the World’.)

It bodes ill that so many inside the South and out would rather spend their time looking at iPhones than icons.  For while one places us near to Heaven itself, the other (mostly) buries us in the earthly mundane, or, just as dangerously, drowns us in silly fantasy - neither of which helps us to see reality clearly.

We must be very careful with technology.  Without the proper safeguards it can be quite harmful.  Indeed the natural sciences themselves are a result of the Fall:

‘The holy Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov, who had a thorough training in physics, mathematics and engineering, writes: “You ask what is my opinion of the human sciences? After the fall men began to need clothing and numerous other things that accompany our earthly wanderings; in a word, they began to need material development, the striving for which has become the distinguishing feature of our age. The sciences are the fruit of our fall, the production of our damaged fallen reason. Scholarship is the acquisition and retention of impressions and knowledge that have been stored up by men during the time of the life of the fallen world. Scholarship is a lamp by which ‘the gloom of darkness is guarded to the ages’. The Redeemer returned to men that lamp which was given to them at creation by the Creator, of which they were deprived because of their sinfulness. This lamp is the Holy Spirit, He is the Spirit of Truth, who teaches every truth, searches out the deep things of God, opens and explains mysteries, and also bestows material knowledge when that is necessary for the spiritual benefit of man. Scholarship is not properly speaking wisdom, but an opinion about wisdom. The knowledge of the Truth that was revealed to men by the Lord, access to which is only by faith, which is inaccessible for the fallen mind of man, is replaced in scholarship by guesses and presuppositions’ (Dr Vladimir Moss, ‘Quo Vadis, Science?’, revised ed., 10 June 2010).

Where could this desire for earthly knowledge and power lead us?  Perhaps, ultimately, to the last stage of Hell on earth:  These ideas indicate how Genesis 6.1-5, modern experiments on human sexuality and reproduction (by both humans and demons) and the doctrine of the Antichrist, may come together in a fantastic, nightmarish scenario that nevertheless has the stamp of reality. Moved by envy, lust and jealousy, the devil, the enemy of mankind, has from primordial times tried to interfere with, corrupt, abuse and radically subvert human nature. And just as Christ recreated human nature in the image and likeness of God by becoming incarnate of the Virgin Mother of God, so the devil wishes to recreate it in his image and likeness by becoming incarnate of a pseudo-virgin, the mother of the Antichrist.

‘However, real demonic incarnation, the creation of a true demon-man, is impossible because of the bounds between species and kinds of rational beings created by God. So Satan resorts to as close an imitation as possible: through the demonic possession of human seed even before conception, and its genetic manipulation to accentuate the worst qualities in fallen human nature, he plans to create, if not a true demon-man, at any rate the demonic man par excellence. But since, unlike God, he cannot create out of nothing or at once, he requires time and experimentation, in order gradually, by trial and error, to “work out” his perverted masterpiece’ (Dr Vladimir Moss, ‘
Genetics, UFOs and the Birth of the Antichrist’, 24 April 2004).

While it is not a certainty that the Antichrist will appear as a result of scientific research, it is known that some scientific ‘advances’ are turning out to be quite harmful:  genetically modified crops, conventional cancer treatments, radiation from cordless devices, etc. 

So again we say, be wary of technology.  Make sure, as St Ignatius Brianchaninov said above, that it helps the body and the spirit to flourish before you decide to make use of it.

Dr Vladimir continues later in ‘Quo Vadis, Science?’, ‘To understand the first and last things we have to resort to another method, that of faith; for, as St. Paul says, "we walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5.7). In this sphere we cannot walk by sight, because, as Fr. Seraphim Rose writes, “the state of Adam and the first-created world has been placed forever beyond the knowledge of science by the barrier of Adam’s transgression, which changed the very nature of Adam and creation, and indeed the very nature of knowledge itself. Modern science knows only what it observes and what can be reasonably inferred from observation… The true knowledge of Adam and the first-created world – as much as is useful for us to know – is accessible only in God’s revelation and in the Divine vision of the saints.”’

And so we return to the humble icon, that quiet teacher of divine truth.  Through icons, as also through the Holy Scriptures, we receive God’s revelation, and may experience the blessed presence of Our Lord, Our Lady, the saints, and the angels.  They allow us to see the glories and the terrors of the spiritual world, to which the Fall has made us blind.  They allow us to see man and nature transfigured, clothed in the beauty of holiness - which is to say, clothed in the Holy Spirit. 

Science and technology apart from God have tried to take man to a higher plane of existence, but they have failed and always will.  Only through the grace of the Most Holy Trinity, poured out upon us through the Sacraments, the Scriptures, prayer, fasting, and so on, will we ever rise above our fallen nature. 

The lowly icon, quiet, untechnological, ascetic - not the iPhone or any other piece of technology - is a means of receiving such uplifting, all-changing grace.  Place such holy things ever before the eyes.

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