Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Marriage and Monasticism in the South

St John Chrysostom wrote something very noteworthy about the monastic life that most Christians in the West, including those in Dixie, may be surprised by:

You greatly delude yourself and err if you think that one thing is demanded from the layman and another from the monk; since the difference between them is in that whether one is married or not, while in everything else they have the same responsibilities … Because all must rise to the same height; and what has turned the world upside down is that we think only the monk must live rigorously, while the rest are allowed to live a life of indolence.

Prof Georgios Mantzarides says elsewhere,

Christ's commandments demand strictness of life that we often expect only from monks. The requirements of decent and sober behaviour, the condemnation of wealth and adoption of frugality, the avoidance of idle talk and the call to show selfless love are not given only for monks, but for all the faithful.

Therefore, the rejection of worldly thinking is the duty not only of monks, but of all Christians.

Source:  ‘Monasticism’, http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/monasticism.php, accessed 28 Oct. 2015

For many Southerners, influenced so greatly by evangelical Protestantism, the monastic calling is looked upon with suspicion, seeing in it still the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church.  This is quite evident in the dearth of monasteries across the South (see Appendix C1, p. 125, of this report http://www.assemblyofbishops.org/assets/files/docs/research/StudyOfUSMonasteriesReportFinal.pdf for Orthodox monasteries, or the list of Catholic monasteries by State here http://www.catholiclinks.org/monasteriosestadosunidos.htm). 

Southerners have largely rejected the idea that a single man or woman may consecrate their lives to God, remaining unmarried for life, and by so doing, live a life of the fullest, most fervent love for God and man and the creation, and develop fully all the gifts and virtues lying asleep within them.  Rather, they look to the family as the arena in which the fulness of virtue for man or woman may be best developed.  

Dixie’s great poet Henry Timrod left us a poem, ‘Two Portraits’, that bears this out.  Following are some of the key passages from it on this subject:

                         . . .

                        A loveless heart is seldom stirred;
                        And sorrow shuns the mateless bird;

                        But ah! through cares alone we reach
                        The happiness which mocketh speech;

                        In the white courts beyond the stars
                        The noblest brow is seamed with scars;

                        And they on earth who've wept the most
                        Sit highest of the heavenly host.

                         . . .

                        You have had all a maid could hope
                        In the most cloudless horoscope:

                         The strength that cometh from above;
                        A Christian mother's holy love;

                        And always at your soul's demand
                        A brother's, sister's heart and hand.

                        Small need your heart hath had to roam
                        Beyond the circle of your home;

                        And yet upon your wish attends
                        A loving throng of genial friends.

                        What, in a lot so sweet as this,
                        Is wanting to complete your bliss?

                        And to what secret shall I trace
                        The clouds that sometimes cross your face,

                        And that sad look which now and then
                        Comes, disappears, and comes again,

                        And dies reluctantly away
                        In those clear eyes of azure gray?

                         . . .

                        How then, O weary one! explain
                        The sources of that hidden pain?

                        Alas! you have divined at length
                        How little you have used your strength,

                        Which, with who knows what human good,
                        Lies buried in that maidenhood,

                        Where, as amid a field of flowers,
                        You have but played with April showers.

                        Ah! we would wish the world less fair,
                        If Spring alone adorned the year,

                        And Autumn came not with its fruit,
                        And Autumn hymns were ever mute.

                        So I remark without surprise
                        That, as the unvarying season flies,

                        From day to night, and night to day,
                        You sicken of your endless May.

                        In this poor life we may not cross
                        One virtuous instinct without loss,

                        And the soul grows not to its height
                        Till love calls forth its utmost might.

                        Not blind to all you might have been,
                        And with some consciousness of sin -

                        Because with love you sometimes played,
                        And choice, not fate, hath kept you maid -

                        You feel that you must pass from earth
                        But half-acquainted with its worth,

                        And that within your heart are deeps
                        In which a nobler woman sleeps;

                        That not the maiden, but the wife
                        Grasps the whole lesson of a life,

                        While such as you but sit and dream
                        Along the surface of its stream.

                         And doubtless sometimes, all unsought,
                        There comes upon your hour of thought,

                        Despite the struggles of your will,
                        A sense of something absent still;

                        And then you cannot help but yearn
                        To love and be beloved in turn,

                        As they are loved, and love, who live
                        As love were all that life could give;

                        And in a transient clasp or kiss
                        Crowd an eternity of bliss;

                        They who of every mortal joy
                        Taste always twice, nor feel them cloy,

                        Or, if woes come, in Sorrow's hour
                        Are strengthened by a double power.

                         . . .

                         I know not when or whence indeed
                        Shall fall and burst the burning seed,

                        But oh! once kindled, it will blaze,
                        I know, for ever! By its rays

                        You will perceive, with subtler eyes,
                        The meaning in the earth and skies,

                        Which, with their animated chain
                        Of grass and flowers, and sun and rain,

                        Of green below, and blue above,
                        Are but a type of married love.

                        You will perceive that in the breast
                        The germs of many virtues rest,

                        Which, ere they feel a lover's breath,
                        Lie in a temporary death;

                        And till the heart is wooed and won
                        It is an earth without a sun.

                         . . .

                        And that one love which on this earth
                        Can wake the heart to all its worth,

                        And to their height can lift and bind
                        The powers of soul, and sense, and mind,

                         . . .

                        While the kind eyes betray no less,
                        In their blue depths of tenderness,

                        That you have learned the truths which lie
                        Behind that holy mystery,

                        Which, with its blisses and its woes,
                        Nor man nor maiden ever knows.

                        If now, as to the eyes of one
                        Whose glance not even thought can shun,

                        Your soul lay open to my view,
                        I, looking all its nature through,

                        Could see no incompleted part,
                        For the whole woman warms your heart.

                         . . .

Source:  The Poems of Henry Timrod, 1872, http://docsouth.unc.edu/southlit/timrod/timrod.html#timr87, © Copyright 2004 by the University Library, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, all rights reserved (updated 27 Oct. 2015), accessed 28 Oct. 2015.

There are many truths spoken in those lines, but two very important ones are missing.  First, the mystery of marriage as a means of entering the Kingdom of God - that is, as a means of true union with God and one another (a sacrament):

 . . .

The mystery of marriage was established by God in Paradise. Having created Adam and Eve, God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ (Gen.1:28). This multiplication of the human race was to be achieved through marriage: ‘Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh’ (Gen.2:24). Marital union is therefore not a consequence of the Fall but something inherent to the primordial nature of human beings. The mystery of marriage was further blessed by the Incarnate Lord when He changed water into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee. ‘We state’, St Cyril of Alexandria writes, ‘that He (Christ) blessed marriage in accordance with the economy (oikonomia) by which He became man and went… to the wedding in Cana of Galilee’.

There are two misunderstandings about marriage which should be rejected in Orthodox dogmatic theology. One is that marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation. What, then, is the meaning of marriage for those couples who have no children? Are they advised to divorce and remarry? Even in the case of those who have children: are they actually supposed to have relations once a year for the sole purpose of ‘procreation’? This has never been a teaching of the Church. On the contrary, according to St John Chrysostom, among the two reasons for which marriage was instituted, namely ‘to bring man to be content with one woman and to have children’, it is the first reason which is the most important: ‘as for procreation, it is not required absolutely by marriage…’ In fact, in Orthodox understanding, the goal of marriage is that man and woman should become one, in the image of the Holy Trinity, Whose three Persons are essentially united in love. To quote St John Chrysostom again, ‘when husband and wife are united in marriage, they are no longer seen as something earthly, but as the image of God Himself’. The mutual love of the two partners in marriage becomes life-giving and creative when a child is born as its fruit. Every human being is therefore to be a fruit of love, and everyone’s birth is a result of love between his parents.

Another misunderstanding about marriage is that it should be regarded as a ‘concession’ to human ‘infirmity’: it is better to be married than to commit adultery (this understanding is based on a wrong interpretation of 1 Cor.7:2-9). Some early Christian sectarian movements (such as Montanism and Manicheanism) held the view that sexuality in general is something that is unclean and evil, while virginity is the only proper state for Christians. The Orthodox tradition opposed this distortion of Christian asceticism and morality very strongly.

In the Orthodox Church, there is no understanding of sexual union as something unclean or unholy. This becomes clear when one reads the following prayers from the Orthodox rite of Marriage: ‘Bless their marriage, and vouchsafe unto these Thy servants… chastity, mutual love in the bond of peace… Preserve their bed unassailed… Cause their marriage to be honorable. Preserve their bed blameless. Mercifully grant that they may live together in purity…’ Sexual life is therefore considered compatible with ‘purity’ and ‘chastity’, the latter being, of course, not an abstinence from intercourse but rather a sexual life that is liberated from what became its characteristic after the fall of Adam. As Paul Evdokimov says, ‘in harmonious unions… sexuality undergoes a progressive spiritualization in order to reach conjugal chastity’. The mutual love of man and woman in marriage becomes less and less dependent on sexual life and develops into a deep unity and union which integrates the whole of the human person: the two must become not only ‘one flesh’, but also one soul and one spirit. In Christian marriage, it is not selfish ‘pleasure’ or search for ‘fun’ which is the main driving force: it is rather a quest for mutual sacrifice, for readiness to take the partner’s cross as one’s own, to share one’s whole life with one’s partner. The ultimate goal of marriage is the same as that of every other sacrament, deification of the human nature and union with Christ. This becomes possible only when marriage itself is transfigured and deified.

In marriage, the human person is transfigured; he overcomes his loneliness and egocentricism; his personality is completed and perfected. In this light Fr Alexander Elchaninov, a notable contemporary Orthodox priest and theologian, describes marriage in terms of ‘initiation’ and ‘mystery’, in which ‘a full transformation of the human person’ takes place, ‘the enlargement of his personality, new eyes, new perception of life, birth into the world, by means of it, in new fullness’. In the marital union of two individuals there is both the completion of their personalities and the appearance of the fruit of their love, a child, who makes their dyad into a triad: ‘…An integral knowledge of another person is possible in marriage, a miracle of sensation, intimacy, of the vision of another person… Before marriage, the human person glides above life, seeing it from outside. Only in marriage is he fully immersed into it, and enters it through another person. This enjoyment of true knowledge and true life gives us that feeling of complete fulness and satisfaction which renders us richer and wiser. And this fulness is even deepened when out of the two of us, united and reconciled, a third appears, our child’.

Christ is the One Who is present at every Christian marriage and Who conducts the marriage ceremony in the Church: the priest’s role is not even to represent, but rather to present Christ and to reveal His presence, as it is also in other sacraments. The story of the wedding in Cana of Galilee is read at the Christian wedding ceremony in order to show that marriage is the miracle of the transformation of water into wine, that is, of daily routine into an unceasing and everyday feast, a perpetual celebration of the love of one person for the other.

Source:  Metropolitan Hilarion, ‘Orthodox Marriage & Its Misunderstanding’, http://www.pravmir.com/orthodox-marriage-its-misunderstanding/ , posted 31 July 2015, accessed 21 Aug. 2015

The second truth is what we have mentioned above only briefly, that a man or woman may become fully human (and then Divine-human) through the single life lived in the Orthodox monastic way.  Again we turn to Prof Mantzarides:

With the development of monasticism in the Church there appeared a peculiar way of life, which however did not proclaim a new morality. The Church does not have one set of moral rules for the laity and another for monks, nor does it divide the faithful into classes according to their obligations towards God. The Christian life is the same for everyone. All Christians have in common that "their being and name is from Christ". This means that the true Christian must ground his life and conduct in Christ, something which is hard to achieve in the world.

What is difficult in the world is approached with dedication in the monastic life. In his spiritual life the monk simply tries to do what every Christian should try to do: to live according to God's commandments. The fundamental principles of monasticism are not different from those of the lives of all the faithful. This is especially apparent in the history of the early Church, before monasticism appeared.

In the tradition of the Church there is a clear preference for celibacy as opposed to the married state. This stance is not of course hostile to marriage, which is recognized as a profound mystery, but simply indicates the practical obstacles marriage puts in the way of the pursuit of the spiritual life. For this reason, from the earliest days of Christianity many of the faithful chose celibacy. Thus Athenagoras the Confessor in the second century wrote: "You can find many men and women who remain unmarried all their lives in the hope of coming closer to God".

 . . .

Monks are the "guardians". They choose to constrain their bodily needs in order to attain the spiritual freedom offered by Christ. They tie themselves down in death's realm in order to experience more intensely the hope of the life to come. They reconcile themselves with space, where man is worn down and annihilated, feel it as their body, transform it into the Church and orientate it towards the kingdom of God.

The monk's journey to perfection is gradual and is connected with successive renunciations, which can be summarised in three. The first renunciation involves completely abandoning the world. This is not limited to things, but includes people and parents. The second is renunciation of the individual will, and the third is freedom from pride, which is identified with liberation from the sway of the world.

These successive renunciations have a positive, not a negative meaning. They permit a man to fully open up and be perfected "in the image and likeness" of God. When man is freed from the world and from himself, he expands without limits. He becomes a true person, which "encloses" within himself the whole of humanity as Christ himself does. That is why, on the moral plane, the Christian is called upon to love all human beings, even his enemies. Then God Himself comes and dwells within him, and the man arrives to the fullness of his theanthropic being. Here we can see the greatness of the human person, and can understand the superhuman struggles needed for his perfection.

The life of monasticism is the life of perpetual spiritual ascent. While the world goes on its earthbound way, and the faithful with their obligations and distractions of the world try to stay within the institutional limits of the church tradition, monasticism goes the other direction and soars. It rejects any kind of compromise and seeks the absolute. It launches itself from this world and heads for the kingdom of God. This is in essence the goal of the Church itself.

 . . .

A man we know once had a conversation with a kithman of his.  The friend asked, ‘Are you married yet?’  ‘No sir,’ said the man.  ‘You better get that way,’ the friend answered him.  This is the Southern mindset toward man and marriage in short:  Þæt (That) it is best for a man or woman to marry instead of staying single. 

Now, it is perfectly fine to marry - indeed, a wonderful blessing for man and woman - as we have tried to show above, but how much better would it be for Dixie and all Western leods (peoples) if the monastic vocation were once more encouraged for those men and women who yearn to be wedded to Christ alone but have no guidance for how to live such a life; to have their ensamples of striving for holy living and their prayers for the Souð and for the whole world?

Friday, October 23, 2015

The End of Dispensationalism?

One may hope so.  Jason Charles has written a practical article on why this false teaching ought to be rejected by Christians.  Here are a couple of outtakes from it:

In 1971 speaking to state legislators, then Governor Ronald Reagan regurgitated a widely held view of prophecy when he stated,

“Ezekiel tells us that Gog, the nation that will lead all of the other powers against Israel, will come out of the north. Biblical scholars have been saying for generations that Gog must be Russia. What other powerful nation is to the north of Israel? None."

This idea of Russia being the great Beast, that would rise up in the End Times to make war with Israel is one of many false interpretations of prophecy that can now FINALLY be laid to rest. This dispensationalist view of end times prophecy was made over a century ago via the Scofield Reference Bible. The controversy surrounding Russia as being the initiator and aggressor in this war against Israel is detailed out in this commentary taken directly from the Scofield Bible which was originally published in 1909.

"Gog - That the primary reference is to the northern (European) powers, headed up by Russia, all agree. The whole passage should be read in connection with Zechariah 12:1-4 ; 14:1-9 ; Matthew 24:14-30 ; Revelation 14:14-20 ; 19:17-21, "gog" is the prince, "Magog," his land. The reference to Meshech and Tubal (Moscow and Tobolsk) is a clear mark of identification. Russia and the northern powers have been the latest persecutors of dispersed Israel, and it is congruous both with divine justice and with the covenants (e.g. (See Scofield "Genesis 15:18") See Scofield " Deuteronomy 30:3 " that destruction should fall at the climax of the last mad attempt to exterminate the remnant of Israel in Jerusalem. The whole prophecy belongs to the yet future "day of Jehovah" ; Isaiah 2:10-22 ; Revelation 19:11-21 and to the battle of Armageddon Revelation 16:14 See Scofield " Revelation 19:19 " but includes also the final revolt of the nations at the close of the kingdom-age. Revelation 20:7-9 ."

As you can see this viewpoint at that time was so widespread, that even Ronald Reagan was caught spouting off this particular prophecy "theory" as if it was the end all, be all of prophetic interpretation. Sadly, almost all of the prophetic books, timelines, and seminary eschatological teachings are built off of this model of interpretation. If you have been around the church for any period of time, no question you have run across people that emphatically finger Russia as the aggressor in end times events.

 . . .

Hal Lindsey wrote a second book entitled The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon, where he predicted that "the decade of the 1980s could very well be the last decade of history as we know it". This prediction was based off the fallacious thinking that Matthew 24: 32-34 predicted the generation that saw Israel's return would be the last generation before Christ came back to Earth. You can bet that this statement had a dramatic impact on how Ronald Reagan viewed his presidency given the above quote. The Cold War could easily been seen as a fulfillment of everything laid out in these books during that time. Unfortunately for Hal Lindsey none of this came true. The Soviet Empire pathetically collapsed, communism was shown to be a total failure, and Russia never invaded Israel nor attempted to draw in other allies to destroy Israel.

Instead, America has now fallen to communistic philosophies, we are totally lost morally, we have legislated every Constitutional Right we have away, and our foreign policy is as aggressive and destructive as any empire in history, if not the most destructive. And who is our allies in all of this aggressive unilateral action? Israel, Saudi Arabia and other NATO actors, that's who.

Instead of rising up against Israel as some aggressive communist state, Vladimir Putin has decried the West's  promotion of communist ideologies and Godlessness. In a speech he made this last July he said,

“Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values. Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation.”
This is what you didn't read in all of these prophecy books that flooded the market place over the years. America has become more Beast-like in the past 30 years than Russia had been in the last 100, we aren't just a minor component of Global Government we are THE engine of Global Government. We are the aggressors in almost all wars abroad globally. It is our political leaders that are the culprits who have been utilizing American backed, Saudi supplied and Israel trained rebel/ISIS fighters to take out democratically elected leaders and countries all over the middle east. This agenda started with the Bush administration and has only expanded under the Obama administration. This is the honest to God truth, it is time we start rethinking everything we know about end times. Every bit of past prophetic thought has collapsed in light of who the real global aggressors and players are. These false prophets have all turned out to be horribly wrong, and they make Christians who still buy into this satanic deception and chess game look like hypocritical dupes as they back warmongering nations. No wonder to the unsaved world Christians are perceived as bigoted warmongers that reflect nothing of the peaceful teachings of Christ. Their beliefs on end times are filled with preconceptions, all based on misinterpretations of scripture. They defend evil actions by their own nations because of these preconceived notions of prophecy.

 . . .

Source:  ‘Vladimir Putin Just Destroyed 100 Years Worth of Prophetic Speculation’, http://wakethechurch.org/Articles/tabid/410/ID/10847/Vladimir-Putin-Just-Destroyed-100-Years-Worth-of-Prophetic-Speculation.aspx#.Vh0BNMv2Ji9.twitter, posted 6 Oct. 2015, accessed 22 Oct. 2015 (Thanks to Fr Andrew Phillips for posting the path at his blog: http://www.events.orthodoxengland.org.uk/)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

America: Sealing the World in the Fall

Salvation involves ridding ourselves of the effects of the Fall, undoing the Fall within ourselves.  This being so, the general culture of America - pleasure-seeking, purely materialistic, etc. - presents a grave threat to those who wish to save their souls and bodies.  Fr Zacharias said once in an address,

In paradise man was in communion with God, and God was life and security for him.  Disobedience and the fall into sin disrupted this life-giving unity with God, and death entered man’s life with all its devastating consequences.  Thus, man lost the security and support he had from God, the Giver of life, and out of fear and the struggle for survival, he conceived his own way of life, based thenceforward on his natural, created, powers.  Previously, he had kept the commandments of God and enjoyed every good thing, and lived in incorruption.  After the transgression, though, seeking protection from the threat of death, he took refuge in the following three substitutes or pseudo-supports, which were to alienate him from the life of God (cf. Eph. 4:18).  The first pseudo-support is his self-will and the persuasiveness of his logical reasoning.  The second is the pleasure (hedoné) of the senses and the desires naturally associated with reproduction; and the third pseudo-support is the possession of material goods.  These are the three substitutes that man turned to for survival, having lost the true security and life of God. 

By relying on the persuasiveness of his own logical judgement and will, man undergoes the first alienation and falls into the Luciferian delusion of self deification, raising a wall between himself and God.  In succumbing to the lure of progeny and the pleasure of the senses, he puts on the “garments of skin” (Gen. 3:21), and undergoes the second alienation.  The first alienation occurred through the arrogance of his mind, the second took place by putting his trust in the pleasure of the senses, and in the desire for progeny.  His life is thus preserved, but it is changed into a “living death”, that is, into a life of self-love combined with spiritual death – a prolongation of life in death.  Finally, so as to feel secure he makes efforts to acquire “much goods for many years” (cf. Luke 12:19), as “the fool hath said in his heart” (Ps. 14:1), and so he brings upon himself and the third alienation, which completely darkens his intellect and hardens his heart.  He is now given over to the vanities of this world and the folly of idolatry.

The fall into the whirlpool of these three alienations disposes the conscience of man negatively with regard to God, to his neighbour, and to the material world.  In his relationship with God, he gives preference to himself; in his relationship with his neighbour, he is led by the passionate desire to dominate – lust for power; in his relationship to the material world, he is given over to the frenzy of acquisitiveness.

Monasticism aims to remove these three alienations, and to restore man to a genuine hypostatic form of existence.  Aside:  To the true universality, which is the fulfilment of the purpose of man’s creation.  End of aside.  The aim is realized by the accomplishment of the three monastic vows:  obedience, virginity or chastity, and poverty or non-acquisitiveness.  Obedience, however, is of particular importance, because the other two vows draw their power from it, as a natural corollary (‘On Monasticism II’, The Enlargement of the Heart, ed. Veniamin, 2nd edition, Mount Thabor Publishing, 2012, pgs. 222-4).

Sadly, in trying to live the so-called ‘American Dream’, which glorifies each of the three alienations spoken of by Fr Zacharias, many not just in the States but around the world have fallen away from God.  Fr Andrew Phillips spoke well when he called America and Western culture in general ‘an anti-St John the Baptist . . . preparing the way for the coming of Antichrist’.

So then, ræther than saving the world and bettering it, the American way of life is in a very real sense condemning it to a bitter hell, though pride will often blind Americans to this truth.

The South’s kinship to the þree (three) alienations is a bit more complex than the rest of the Union’s.  Certainly there is a strong streak of rationalism within her, holding as she does to a Calvinist form of Christianity.  But her life lived down through the years so close to the soil has kept within her something of the pre-modern mindset, as Dr Clark Carlton has said in one of his lectures:  It has kept her from completely throwing away all sense of reverence for mystery, Providence, revelation, and other non-logical, paradoxical ideas.

Her life on the land has likewise taught her to be content with fewer material things (though as we have seen before, this lesson has not been taken fully to heart).  But as she succumbs to the New England-Yankee (i.e., American) mode of living, these Southern traits are fading away.

On the subject of marriage vs. monasticism in the South we hope to say more soon.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Sparks Still A-Glowin’

Thankfully there are still a few embers of Souðern culture that have not been snuffed out completely by Modernity.  Music is one of them.  Enjoy a good Southern ballad by the 2nd South Carolina String Band, ‘Southern Soldier’, that recalls the days of the War.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

False Reality

The Devil in his madness tries to imitate God in all things.  He is certainly at work in man’s prideful attempt to remake himself and all the creation through technology.  Modern man has made great strides towards this end, and to many it looks like a good thing.  But we must remember where this ‘progress’ is intended to get us:

The true conspiratorial and most insidious aspect of this book – far more so than teasers about weather weapons, global consciousness and mind control – is the quest to demonstrate – and explicitly so – that the technetronic era is an age of eradication of inner man. What Brzezinski calls an “increase in knowledge” as an essence of technetronic era is denoted as a sort of ‘outing’ of inner man, because accumulation of knowledge ever expands into infinity, pressuring man to subject himself to infinite forms of tests, trainings, improvements, life-long learning, etc. It is knowledge without an inner principle of unity, and therefore something rather akin to ‘ignorance’ or, better still, a re-imagining of oneself. Man becomes not a subject of knowledge, but its object. Who is the subject, then? Only his reflection in an infinite, splintered mirror of Faustian technology.

If we approach reality as Brzezinski does, with the implicit intention to re-cast it, then it really doesn’t matter what is real and what is image. The image of inner man is the inner man; an image can be made more or less ‘real.’ In this sense, technology, which in the technetronic era is to finally become our environment – including the nature itself observed as a system – represents a perfected mirror of matter. While reflections in matter are crude and thus retain some semblance of its models, technology is a kind of refinement of this mirror, and not by polishing, but by making it more fluid – like dark water or molten, yet cold, steel. In the mirror of the will all kinds of things can be reflected as reality, and everything is external to it.

Source:  Branko Malic, ‘Brzezinski’s Final Solution’, http://souloftheeast.org/2015/06/26/brzezinski-technocracy/, posted 26 June 2015, accessed 30 June 2015

The true Southerner has never accepted such a false reality, and if we would only remember who we really are, we would reject it still - whether one be creeping about in the innermost alleys of our Gnostic cities or enjoying the stillness of a fishing pond deep in the woods.  William Gilmore Simms bespeaks the Old Southern tradition:

Let us turn from these melancholy specimens to nobler types.
It is grateful to know that all is not barren of culture, whether
of home or self, among us. We possess many model cottages
and farmsteads, though they occupy few acres. Ten acres of
land in our country, with one good mule, one honest plough-
boy, and judicious cultivation, are quite enough for the ample
support of a thrifty family of ten persons. But here, the pater
familial must be a man ! His help-meet, a woman.
These are noble titles. Man and woman none nobler in
the world ; nothing more noble, in all God's creation, than a
perfect man and woman, working together, lovingly, harmoni-
ously. He in his walks of courage, energy, industry and
intelligence. She in hers, of grace, domestic duty, motherly
watch over dutiful children, and that cheery and elastic spirit
which ever welcomes with smiles, conciliation and tenderness.
They may be poor together in worldly goods; but rich in all
the essentials which make life a permanent pleasure while it
lasts. Look at their homestead. See how the cottage gleams
through the green woods, white and glossy. It is whitewash,
not paint, and put on by the good man himself. The garden
blooms beside it. There are flowers, there are fruits ; and the
little fields thicken with luxuriance. His horn is sounded with
the dawn, when he drives afield his mule or oxen. He will
waste no hours abroad or in idleness, and the honest sweat of
his industry will be as so much dew in nurturing his humble
fortunes. Healthy with toil, and cheerful with hope, the cot-
tage receives him at night, unexhausted and ready for romp or
lesson with the happy children. While he drives afield at
dawn, you see the cottage windows open. There is a tall
damsel hanging out her bird-cages. She has mocking-bird and
canary. She sings, and they sing together, the song of the
happy roof-tree. You see her as she comes forth into the little
veranda. There she waters her geraniums, her shrubs and
flowers. What a collection that young girl has made. What
a property iii beauty and use, simply from having forgotten
herself. She hath had no vanities to afflict and make her
worthless. Tier upon tier of common shelves of pine, not a foot
of which is vacant, support her numerous boxes of shrub and
flower. The little piazza gleams with them ; the air is saturated
with their sweetness. These are all acquisitions of love and
maiden taste, under that Sense of the Beautiful, which glows
within her, but which she herself could never define. Anon,
that girl of sixteen has the breakfast table ready ; when she
goes forth for what ? to milk Brindle. Jackey, her brother,
brings up the cow ! The chickens next are seen to, the poultry
let forth, and while Chanticleer is straining his throat proclaim-
ing the sunrise, she finds her way to the garden. There are
strawberries and radishes to be gathered for breakfast, and she
must look around the garden to see that the rabbits have not
broken somewhere through the pale, to the great danger of her
young green peas.

And so, passing from one little office to another, singing as
she goes some cheerful ditty, that one young girl, with only one
little brother for her ally, will pass through all the morning
duties of garden, house, pantry, poultry and dairy with ease,
without any real effort, having learned to rise early, being
economical of time, having a mind trained to method, happy
that she is doing and capable to do. There may be an hour's
hoeing daily to be done in the garden, quite enough for a single
acre, and she and Jackey will do it ere the sun grows hot. The
dinner table that day will give you the earliest varieties of the
season. The head of the family will have lone his work ere
the day closes, and has no doubt that Sally has done hers.
How cheery is the supper table that night. All is neat and
clean ; all is abundant. The invalid mother smiles languidly,
but happily upon the scene, and thanks God that she is in such
loving keeping. Then there will be, music why not ? The
farmer takes down his violin, and Sally has her accordion.
Nay, she has her guitar also, and with no master, has taught
herself the use of both. The scene varies according to the
humors of the household. Perhaps Sally will read to her
mother. Perhaps the father takes down his Shakespeare why
not? and gives a scene, well read, from " As you Like it,"
possibly rising to sublimer aims, will, from " Coleus," give to
the dawning spirituelle in the girl's mind, her loveliest concep-
tion of the Sense of the Beautiful. This portrait is no fancy
sketch. Our model farmer is the son of a Scotchman, and from
Burns he has passed to the grand domains of Shakespeare and
Milton. " The Cotter's Saturday Night " is always read, as a
sort of closing service of the week. No matter how small the
cottage, how limited the resources, how humble the aims in life,
the absolute necessities of life being once made sure, the good
farmer, here and everywhere, may realize this exquisite ideal of
a Golden Age.

Source:  W. G. Simms, The Sense of the Beautiful, http://simms.library.sc.edu/view_item.php?item=100856&tab=contents, 1870, pgs. 12-14, accessed 23 July 2015, Copyright © 2011, the University of South Carolina

The Southern view itself, however, is a memory of how our holy Celtic forefathers and mothers thought and lived (and all Orthodox saints, really).  As Fr Seraphim Aldea of the Isle of Mull has said of late, the Celtic saints saw themselves as undeniably a part of the creation.  And that, as such, they were not meant to live apart from it by spending so much time in the artificial environment of a house (how much less so the modern carnival techno-house).  So they built for themselves crude shelters like the beehive cells shown below as a haven from bad weather and other dangers, but elsewise they walked amongst God’s creatures during the day or the night praying, singing, reading, preaching, gardening, and so on.  Like our Southern forebears, they delighted in the beauty of the creation, undoubtedly knowing it to be a reflection of the Beauty of its Creator, the All-Holy Trinity.

May we, like all of them, be granted the Grace to reject false beauty and embrace the true, and live joyfully in it.

Beehive cells - and the wonderful view from them - on Skellig Michael (photo by Towel401; from Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Skellig_hives.jpg).

For more from Fr Seraphim and his work on the Isle of Mull in the Hebrides, the reader is invited to view his monastery’s web site: