IV. Ruin or Renewal
So it is not just the might to withstand and triumph over the gates of Hell that flows from the Orthodox Church but the ability to raise all the world to a higher plane of being, filling it with new content from Heaven (which is to say, the fulfillment of man’s calling by God to be the priest of His creation). And no man-made ideologies - whether capitalism or scientism or constitutionalism - nor man-made Christian denominations will bring this new life into the world. Only union with God through the grace found within the Orthodox Church: ‘Baptism is the personal Pentecost of each person who enters the Church, and through baptism each can begin a new road and has become a “new creature” in a movement of continuous growth: “After Pentecost the time of the Church is oriented towards the novissima, the new things of the Kingdom . . . Christianity, in the radiant witness of its confessors, martyrs and saints is messianic, revolutionary, explosive. The Gospel calls for the violence which seizes the Kingdom, tears open the heavens and transforms the old image of the world into the new creation . . . The salt of the earth and the light of the world, the saints appear as the obvious and hidden leaders of humanity, those who will assume responsibility for history and accomplish it . . . The saints take the torch from the martyrs and continue to illumine the world.”
‘With Pentecost a new era has begun in the collective life of the world. The members of the Church in general concern themselves with the forgiveness of sins, the elimination of divisions and differences among people, and the increasing of love, and they press forward toward the Kingdom of Heaven’ (Staniloae, The Church, p. 77)
‘In regard to grace, we should equally emphasize its quality as inexhaustible power that comes to us from the infinite Godhead that dwells in Christ’s humanity, as well as from the luminous perspective that grace opens to us in the infinity of communion with the Person of Christ or with the Holy Trinity—a perspective that was opened for us in Christ out of love. Grace is the open window toward the infinity of God as Person, or as a Triune communion of Persons, once God has placed us in relationship with Him through grace. Grace removes life’s limitations from our existence and thereby satisfies in a real way its thirst for the transcendent personal infinitude. As such grace gives us the possibility for our fulfillment as the “image of God,” or helps us to advance in the likeness of Him, in the infinity of our loving relationship with Him’ (p. 96).
‘The incarnate Son’s Sitting “at the Right Hand of the Father” shows that the Father gives Him the first place in leading the world to deification, in the work of bringing it into union with God, to its filling with divine infinity in a relationship of unending love with God. . . . The ultimate goal of Christ’s work is to destroy the universal death, that is, to raise creation from the extreme state of weakness produced by its separation from the source of life, which is God; this means the strengthening of our spirit from the divine Spirit irradiating from Him to such an extent that it might overcome the supremacy of the automatism of a hardened nature that leads to death. And this is accomplished by raising human beings into the perfect communion with the personal God, who is infinite in His spiritual might.
‘God wants the world to be brought to Him through a man, through the human body become a medium fully transparent of His infinite power of life and love; He wants to bring it through His most beloved Son whom He made man for this purpose, so that through Him His infinite love for Him may be extended to all human beings and to the world with which they are in solidarity through creation’ (The Person of Jesus Christ, p. 151).
Or, to use Tolkien’s image from The Silmarillion of the building of Menegroth, the South must be fellow-workers with Christ, using the new content pouring forth from Him in the Orthodox Church out of Heaven if she wishes to join the great work of renewing the face of the earth in the beauty of holiness that the Orthodox peoples of the world have been engaged in for 2,000 years, from pre-Schism Ireland and England and Gaul to Egypt and Syria, to Greece, Romania, Georgia, and the rest: ‘Therefore the Naugrim laboured long and gladly for Thingol, and devised for him mansions after the fashion of their people, delved deep in the earth. Where the Esgalduin flowed down, and parted Neldoreth from Region, there rose in the midst of the forest a rocky hill, and the river ran at its feet. There they made the gates of the hall of Thingol, and they built a bridge of stone over the river, by which alone the gates could be entered. Beyond the gates wide passages ran down to high halls and chambers far below that were hewn in the living stone, so many and so great that that dwelling was named Menegroth, the Thousand Caves.
‘But the Elves also had part in that labour, and Elves and Dwarves together, each with their own skill, there wrought out the visions of Melian, images of the wonder and beauty of Valinor beyond the Sea. The pillars of Menegroth were hewn in the likeness of the beeches of Oromë, stock, bough, and leaf, and they were lit with lanterns of gold. The nightingales sang there as in the gardens of Lórien; and there were fountains of silver, and basins of marble, and floors of many-coloured stones. Carven figures of beasts and birds there ran upon the walls, or climbed upon the pillars, or peered among the branches entwined with many flowers. And as the years passed Melian and her maidens filled the halls with woven hangings wherein could be read the deeds of the Valar, and many things that had befallen in Arda since its beginning, and shadows of things that were yet to be. That was the fairest dwelling of any king that has ever been east of the Sea’ (pgs. 102-3).
But if the South remains stiff-necked and rejects the Orthodox Faith, she will continue down the path of the modern, post-Schism Western Europeans and join them in bringing the ugliness and torment of Hell upon the world: ‘In the north of the world Melkor had in the ages past reared Ered Engrin, the Iron Mountains, as a fence to his citadel of Utumno; . . . Beneath Ered Engrin he made a great tunnel, which issued south of the mountains; and there he made a mighty gate. But above this gate, and behind it even to the mountains, he piled the thunderous towers of Thangorodrim, that were made of the ash and slag of his subterranean furnaces, and the vast refuse of his tunnellings. They were black and desolate and exceedingly lofty; and smoke issued from their tops, dark and foul upon the northern sky. Before the gates of Angband filth and desolation spread southward for many miles over the wide plain of Ard-galen; but after the coming of the Sun rich grass arose there, and while Angband was besieged and its gates shut there were green things even among the pits and broken rocks before the doors of hell (pgs. 135-6).
‘ . . .
‘Then suddenly Morgoth sent forth great rivers of flame that ran down swifter than Balrogs from Thangorodrim, and poured over all the plain; and the Mountains of Iron belched forth fires of many poisonous hues, and the fume of them stank upon the air, and was deadly. Thus Ard-galen perished, and fire devoured its grasses; and it became a burned and desolate waste, full of a choking dust, barren and lifeless. Thereafter, its name was changed, and it was called Anfauglith, the Gasping Dust. Many charred bones had there their roofless grave; for many of the Noldor perished in that burning, who were caught by the running flame and could not fly to the hills. The heights of Dorthonion and Ered Wethrin held back the fiery torrents, but their woods upon the slopes that looked towards Angband were all kindled, and the smoke wrought confusion among the defenders. . . .
‘In the front of that fire came Glaurung the golden, father of dragons, in his full might; and in his train were Balrogs, and behind them came the black armies of the Orcs in multitudes such as the Noldor had never before seen or imagined. And they assaulted the fortresses of the Noldor, and broke the leaguer about Angband, and slew wherever they found them the Noldor and their allies, Grey-elves and Men’ (pgs. 176-7).
* * * * *
‘The Light failed; but the Darkness that followed was more than loss of light. In that hour was made a Darkness that seemed not lack but a thing with being of its own: for it was indeed made by malice out of Light, and it had power to pierce the eye, and to enter heart and mind, and strangle the very will’ (Silmarillion, p. 81). This is the kind of darkness that has devoured Western Europe, the New England States, and their kindred the world over, and which threatens to engulf the South. The light of the distant, distorted Christ of the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches has indeed failed; it is too weak to overcome the ‘Unlight’ (p. 78), for it has not the full radiance of the Godhead within it. Only the rays of Light of the True Christ shining forth in love from the Orthodox Church are bright enough to pierce through and burn away the choking darkness sent forth by Satan, whether by his own hand or through his servants, be they demons, Silicon Valley transhumanists, nihilistic artists and entertainers, power-mad politicians, war-mongering banksters, gene-mutilating scientists, social engineering educators, or some other sort. The Old Time Religion, for all its good achievements, can take the South no further; it has done all it can for her. From now on, if Dixie wishes to defend her life as a Christian people and all her good traditions, she will have to do so from within the only safe haven of the world, the Holy Orthodox Church.
‘Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light’ (Ephesians 5:14 KJV).
‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live’ (John 5:25 KJV).
‘And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely’ (Revelation 22:17 KJV).
The Holy Bible. King James Version. Nashville, Tn.: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1972.
Staniloae, Dumitru. The Experience of God, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 3: The Person of Jesus Christ as God and Savior. Ioan Ionita, trans. and ed. Brookline, Mass.: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2011.
--. The Experience of God, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 4: The Church: Communion in the Holy Spirit. Ioan Ionita, trans. and ed. Brookline, Mass.: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2012.
Tolkien, J. R. R. The Silmarillion, 2nd edition. Christopher Tolkien, ed. Ny.: Ballantine Books, 1999.