Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Holy Trinity in the North and the South

St Nikolai Velimirovich writes in his Prayers by the Lake (Prayer XXXIV),

Where there is one, there is no love.  Where there are two united there is only a semblance of love.  Where three are united, there is love.  Your name is Love because Your name is trinity in Unity.

If You were solitary, You would not be love but hatred.

If You were a duality, You would be an alternation of love and hatred.  But You are a trinity, and therefore You are love, and in You there is neither darkness nor alternation.

 . . .

Love sacrifices itself, and does not feel that the sacrifice is giving but rather receiving (pgs. 60-1).

There is no love in one, for there is no ‘other’ on behalf of whom he can sacrifice himself, for whom he can completely empty himself.  Two can exchange love in this way, but their love is still incomplete.  A third person is needed (the Holy Ghost), one who can rejoice in the love of the first two (the Father and the Son), while strengthening and perfecting their love with his own.  Thus does the All Holy Trinity become all perfect and radiant and harmonious in the mutual life of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost (Fr Dumitru Stăniloae, The Holy Trinity, pgs. 24-5).

Furthermore, ‘If there were four [or more--W. G.], everything would not be in this direct, uninterrupted relationship.  There would always be a “He” on the outside.  It would be obvious that someone would always be left out’ (p. 58).

The teaching of the Holy Trinity:  Here is a bright separating line between New England and the South.

The Puritans of New England drifted into Unitarianism (and worse) long ago (A. J. Conyers, ‘The Real Old Time Religion’,, pgs. 10-14), the idea of the lonely god.  It is not surprising, then, that New Englanders come across as cold and unfriendly; they partake of the nature of their god.

The South, having kept a stronger sense of the trinitarian nature of God (Thomas Landess, ‘A Note on the Origin of Southern Ways’, Why the South Will Survive, p. 161), reflects this in the warmth, kindness, givingness, and hospitality of her people.

But her moorings were not secure (being severed from the firm ground of Orthodoxy from her beginning), and she was further shaken by the War and Reconstruction that destroyed the plantation system, which had been a bulwark against very much harmful innovation in religion and other areas.

The hearts of her people are now hardening all the more, as New England dogmas of God, man, and the creation seep into them:  Worldly success is the sign of God’s favor; those cursed by God (the poor and ‘undeveloped’ peoples) and all the natural world may be exploited to attain ‘success’, for God is not in these fallen creatures and corrupted matter - only in his chosen ones (gnosticism); wars of aggression may be waged to take resources from the ‘accursed’ peoples or to try to ‘reform’ them (‘exporting democracy’); money, comfort, and things for oneself are the end of life.

And the political leaders of the South are taking us straight down this path of perdition: preaching economic development and growth as the cure for all ills.  Nor do the churches speak much of renunciation, continual repentance, and the like.  Thus do they betray their own people.

‘Little children, keep yourselves from idols’ (I John 5:21).

Works Cited

Landess, Thomas H.  ‘A Note on the Origin of Southern Ways’.  Why the South Will Survive: Fifteen Southerners Look at Their Region a Half Century after I’ll Take My Stand.  Wilson, ed.  Athens, Ga.: U. of Georgia Press, 1981.

Stăniloae, Fr Dumitru.  The Holy Trinity: In the Beginning There Was Love.  Clark, trans.  Brookline, Mass.:  Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2012.

Velimirovich, St Nikolai.  A Treasury of Serbian Orthodox Spirituality, Vol. V:  Prayers by the Lake.  3rd ed.  Mika and Scott, trans.  Grayslake, Il.:  Diocese of New Gracanica and Midwestern America, 2010.

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