June 1980 talk, Serial No. 00832

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We might begin with a prayer. Come Holy Spirit of Christ, enlighten our hearts, our minds, the words of our mouths, that we may deepen our understanding of the mystery of Christ's redemption. This we ask through the same Christ our Lord, Amen. So our theme today is sort of the monks' relation to the secular dimension and to the sacred. Or you could reword it, the monks' relation sort of to the modern world, since the secular is kind of characteristic of what's happening in the modern world and in relation to the ancient and the medieval. Or you can give it a kind of a geographical shape and say the monks' relation to the West where the secular emerges, and to the East, we'll be asking if the secular doesn't emerge also in the East. But in any case, it's this kind of... And probably we won't finish today, I have all sorts of stuff, so maybe it'll go on for


years and years, but we'll start today. What I'll be saying comes out of discussions with Don Bruno, with lots of people, also with, you know, Cenzo and Thomas in Italy, it's going back years and years and years. And so every now and then there's an explosion of enthusiasm or anger or something. This isn't just... It didn't come up from yesterday afternoon when I thought of this topic, it's just the things that are repressed. I talked with Don Bruno about this theme, about perhaps better than the one about Marxism, since you might get the Merton tape, and that was the essence of what I wanted to say. And he said, fine, and I'm asking him later to listen to the tape, and then we can carry on our discussion, et cetera. If I say anything really outrageous, I'll just sort of erase it from the tape. Remember the Nixon tapes, there'll be gaps. So, what I'd like to do is kind of approach this, certainly serenely and try openly, but


also a little on one side, kind of take the role of the attorney for the defense, for the West, for the secular, for the modern world sort of thing. Don Bruno mentioned that sometimes we can get more to the truth in its complexity if instead of everyone trying to offer a very balanced, sort of bland synthesis, if one person takes one position, tries to push that right to the extreme, and another takes another position and push that right to an extreme, it's in this kind of arguing a case with enthusiasm, et cetera. This is the function of a lawyer. The function of a defense lawyer, for instance, isn't to present every aspect for and against the client, but to sum up the client's case as strongly as possible. There's a strong Christian heritage for this. Remember St. Thomas More, a great attorney who argued many cases. Remember Augustine, Tertullian.


There's a whole tradition. The earliest fathers were apologists. They were presenting a case. So today, I'm presenting the case of the West, and some might think, well, it could be presented better than that, and good. I hope there'll be other lawyers to carry on this case. One danger of this genre, of this approach, is that it is inherently necessarily one-sided. So I think we always have to correct it by saying, again, this has to be complemented, completed, et cetera. And if pushed to its extreme, it becomes polemic, and it becomes polarization. Now a professional lawyer knows not to get into that trap. My father was a lawyer. You scream at each other in the courtroom, and then you come out and you're the best of friends. So it's a role that you play, kind of in a Jungian sense almost, that's important on the social level, but it's to be taken as simply a means to this deeper integration of all parts, which hopefully will come out of this little exercise.


So we want to integrate what I say today with the wealth from the East. And I've tried to do this in my own life. Back in the very early days here, the Jesus Prayer was coming in and the Philokalia was being read, at least secretly, sort of. And I found great wealth for my own life of prayer there, and I want to continue to integrate. So there's that. I would note, as an attorney for the defense, that we can integrate precisely because we're living in the West, living in the West that has gone through the Renaissance, it is living in the secular age where the whole business of objective studies, of printing presses, of diffusion of books, of careful analysis of texts, all this, which is typically Western, typically modern, makes available to us the wealth of Mount Athos or Sinon in the New Theologian or Hinduism or whatever it be. You can go into our library there and you'll have whole worlds open to you in the way that


if you were to go into the library of Mount Athos, it just wouldn't be there. So even our need to integrate, I think, is itself a sign of one of the happy aspects of living in the modern West. These books are available that require very advanced technology in printing, in distribution of planes and buses and cars and trucks to ship them all over, et cetera. Very, very advanced technology is behind this instrument, this fruit of Mr. Gutenberg's genius, and it's very hard to, it seems to me it's rather contradictory to blast the West and secularism and technology of utilizing the books of the West and of technology, et cetera, as it seems to me some of these people do. This model of defense attorney presupposes that someone's attacking.


So either we've got a problem of paranoia here, we think we're being attacked and we're not really, or there's some attack against the West. So this has to be clarified. My impression, after talking with Erud Schinzel for years and Thomas and reading these people, reading Meyendorff, reading Clamont, reading Schmeymann, it seems to me rather paradoxical, but you start reading these people and what you want is a deeper insight into the mysticism of the East, the spiritual theology of the East, et cetera. You find that to propound this, they have to attack the West. Just last night I was reading an article of Inno Cenzo's where he's summing up all sorts of Eastern theologians, and he's got Lianaris and Meyendorff and Schmeymann and all these people here, and what he wants to do is present the spiritual theology of the East, and I think the predominant theme here is the attack against the West, the spiritual schizophrenia of the West here, and the technological ethos of the West, and the superficiality of the


West, the lack of all these things, the problem of Augustine. I think it's paradoxical and a little sad, and a first sign that not all is right with the East, that the way they propose their own wealth is in attacking the West, and sometimes I think the attacks are a real... Sometimes there's little pictures of the typical Western man here, but I've never met a Western man at all like that, so it's quite curious. Here's for instance Lianaris, who's talking about the religious life in the West, which is typified by this total empiricism, and the only possibility for religious experience is to seek a psychological refuge in a mysticism of allegories and in logical demonstrations of abstract metaphysical truths. Now, this for me just isn't typical of a Western person into spirituality that I know.


You can get into that empiricism and all that, but these abstract metaphysical truths, I don't think we're into a phase of strong metaphysics in the West. In any way, it's a constant attack against the West that is interesting. Now, when the West is attacked, and we are Westerners, you can do one of three things it seems to me. You can submit and say, yes, they're right, and we Americans have a certain temptation to this, a kind of a self-flagellation thing, and we end up more anti-Western than anyone on Mount Athos or in India sort of thing. I've run into much of this in Europe. It's interesting. American émigrés who have to be more violently anti-Western and secular and American than anyone else out of India or wherever it is. So that's one solution. Another solution is to just not face the issue and put it in parentheses and just go after the positive aspects of the East, and that's perhaps the wisest approach.


But it's curious because the East presents its wealth, at least today, precisely through this polemic. So I think it's detaching in a slightly artificial way. And the other is to try to respond and say, well, is it all true? And indeed to say if some questions might indeed be raised about the East, the best defense is sometimes a good attack. So what I'm doing today is take this third track to not let all these accusations simply pass, to not ignore them or not say yes, yes, yes, but to say maybe no. So that's our function today. What are these accusations? One could spend entire conferences just summing up all these accusations. It seems to me, to use the technical terms of debate, I don't know if any of you have gone into high school or college debate. It's sort of fun. But there are techniques in debate. One technique is the so-called shotgun attack.


You open first. What you do is just blast the opponent with tens of thousands of accusations, et cetera. Now the hope is that he'll be so thrown off balance and he'll have to make long lists and try to reply to number one, number two, number three, and he'll never end. And even if he clears himself of three or four of the accusations, the neutral third party will still have this lingering doubt of good heavens. So if you read these people, they're really accusing us of incredible wide range of things from a very serious theological lack that starts, as I understand it, from the Trinitarian theology. We slipped that filioque in, and that was a terrible mistake. From that point on, we've lacked a full spirit in our Western theology and spirituality and ecclesiology, et cetera. We've lacked the pneumatological dimension. So there's this exquisitely theologically very technical business about the filioque and that whole business. Then you get into a kind of sociological business about technology.


One man says that the whole of the West is summed up in technology. And all the sort of sociological implications of that, you have historical accusations. And everything we have has been filtered through the very narrow kind of constricted filter of Augustine and with all the errors that he brought in with an excessive Manicheanism and excessive pessimism, and so that the wealth of the East didn't get through to us. And we've lived this sort of constricted partiality ever since exclusively of psychological rather than ontological and this sort of thing of the fragmentation of the West. You get into the secular, it means that art goes this way, and the state goes this way, and science goes this way. And so you've got schizophrenic man that's divided up, a whole series of accusations. The Western man doesn't live in a level of deep experience, but he lives at the level of simply superficial scientific analysis, et cetera, et cetera.


And it can go on for hours, a kind of a, again, a shotgun attack. And I pondered how to answer without taking years and years. I thought what I might do is just sketch very briefly a whole series of responses to the shotgun attack, then to go on to focus in greater length upon the issue of secularism, which many of them stress is kind of the concrete fruit, the sign that things are not well in the West. The kind of typical fruit that shows that the tree is sick. So to come to grips with that, but first to sketch a whole series of points, and then if some of these points are more meaningful to you, we could bring them up in the discussion period and try to go deeper into them. Against one point is simply this constant attacking. It'd be interesting to hear a psychologist or psychoanalyst on this, but also an attacking in a kind of an arrogant way.


You know, here's these people who are presuming to sum up the Western religious experience and how it's terribly superficial and inadequate, et cetera. How many years have they lived in the West? How much have they tried really sympathetically to get into the Western vision to understand it at its best? How often are they building stereotypes of the West at its worst? How often are they taking the worst of the West today and comparing it maybe with the best of the East of six centuries ago and saying, look, we're right, you're wrong? So I think this could be documented, but a kind of spiritual arrogance that runs quite frequently through the whole thing that I think is sad, and it seems to me raises some questions about the profundity of this mystical wisdom. Because I don't think it's typical of the Christian religious experience at its deepest, a kind of an arrogant superiority complex.


You know, Cenzo sometimes says that what it really is is a kind of an inferiority complex. They know that they haven't come to grips yet with so many things of the modern world. They're somewhat terrified by it, and they react by a kind of a defensive withdrawal into their ghetto that necessarily has to be for them superior and all-sufficient, et cetera, to justify their not coming out and wrestling with these issues that have, for better or worse, been wrestled with in the West, like science, like the autonomy of science, like the Industrial Revolution, like Freud, Jung, like Marx, Darwin, all these things. Modern exegesis, historical sense, all these things are yet to be discovered in the East. This is the thesis of this book of Concilium, dedicated a whole issue to sacralization and secularization, and there's one, unfortunately too brief essay, I think,


of this whole thing in the East. They say the basic problem is they haven't come to grips with it yet, and so they're still in this defensive state, which brings out a kind of an excessive, aggressive style sometimes. They often talk about this perennial orthodox wisdom that is kind of monolithic and unified and all-pervasive in all the centuries, and we know from our historical sense that it ain't so. There's one current in Origen and in Vagrius, there's another current in Pachomius, there's one current in Basil, there's another current in the Aramidical. There's an incredible pluralism, all sorts of debates, all sorts of developments, etc. It's an incredibly complex picture, and they sometimes come up with these kind of mythological, simple—here's Carmeres, a Greek theologian, who says that if you want to understand the Orthodox


Church, you've got to understand that what it is fundamentally is solid and firm permanence in the holy tradition, with a capital H and a capital T. Orthodoxy signifies essentially traditional, tradition, capital T, and this tradition is that which is witness to and interpreted by the holy fathers, capital H, capital F. Fine, but what tradition? The best fathers distinguish very much between the tradition of men and the holy tradition of sacred scriptures, which is the death and resurrection of Christ and which is the Eucharist. St. Paul says, I give you what has been passed on to me, there the word is Tradition. That's Tradition with a capital T, that's salvific tradition. But all the other things that come in later, the filioque or no, the real distinction between divine energies and not, the uncreated light of Tabor, etc., these are beautiful theological


things, but they come in quite later. The Jesus prayer, we always want to take it back right to St. John the Baptist or something. It's rather later development and to say that it's all the sacred tradition defended by the fathers. Well, what fathers and what phase of history, etc.? So there's this simplistic kind of triumphalistic picture that ain't historically so. The whole hesychast thing is, I think, very lovely, very deep. But the question, to what extent can we, as Western moderns, suddenly become an Eastern hesychast or an Eastern fool for Christ or whatever? How much we try to rip out from us all of our cultural and historical roots and try to kind of dive into that entirely different world. It's a question. They seem to


say the only salvation is there, but then what's left for us? I was talking to an Orthodox gal at the GT, the Graduate Theological Union, and her thing is that orthodoxy is a great, unified, organic synthesis. You've got to take the whole thing right from the Jesus prayer and the icons and the beard and a special way of doing the liturgy and the iconostasis and the patriarch and write the whole thing. You take the whole package. You can't pick and choose. And the whole package is it, is the norm for salvation. Now, it seems to me there's a little arrogance in there. There's a little cultural imperialism. You're mixing in there things of very different levels of cultural developments of the 7th century and of the 11th century with gospel elements. It's this real integralism that's sort of ambiguous. Their constant attack against secularism,


the secular technology. Here we've got to make some very important distinctions. The Italian bishops, of all people, they're not too radical. They came out with a lovely document on the secular, and they said the first distinction we have to make is between the secular and secularism. They said the secular is absolutely valid and a positive development of the modern world. What all this means we'll get into deeper, but the secular is simply a relative autonomy for some area, like physics or astronomy or psychology or medicine. Secular means that the theologian and the priest are not presuming to intervene there and say, as astronomer, you must say that the universe has this shape and structure and it's centered on them all. And as a doctor, you have to come up with this cure against cancer. No, you leave the relative autonomy of that field, and you let these people work in that field with total


commitment according to the real rules of that field, and you respect this as a God-given grace of our modern age. This is the secular. And the secularism is an extreme form where it becomes ideology, and the people say, look, we're totally sufficient unto ourselves. The human reason can save us, etc. So what the Italian bishops did say is, basically, as Christians, we must be in favor of the secular and against secularism. And I think this is a very important thing. We're against secularism. How far does rampant secularism characterize the West? This is a sociological question. A very good, stimulating Catholic sociologist, Greeley, says it's all nonsense. We're not anymore in the West today under a kind of a grips of atheistic secularism than they were in the Middle Ages. We're quite as filled with a religious dedication to our churches, etc., as they were in any age. And then he tries to document this sociologically, that a Cardinal Cushing has


quite as much muscle if he wants to organize a pilgrimage to Rome or something as any medieval cardinal ever had, or ancient patriarch, or whatever. There's still quite as much commitment to. So there's that whole issue. Then there's a very interesting issue of where do you find rampant secularism at its worst? And I think you'd have to say you find it in the East. You find it in Marxism. The East is red, according to good old Marxist slogan. The giant seat of secularism today, as a science of atheism, is Marxism, is Russia and China. And this, I think we have to go very carefully into this, because they say, look, Western secularism is the fruit of a whole theological mentality, a whole spirituality. It's the indication that the tree is sick, etc. At some point we have to say, what about your East? Where is this East?


Is it Russia today? Is it the whole Eastern Bloc? Ninety percent of the Orthodox world is behind the Iron Curtain, I think. I don't know. Now, this is interesting. It has to be pondered. I found extremely little about this in the Orthodox writers. If they come up with an answer to this, and it's very rare that they do, it's in terms of a kind of a theory of communicable diseases. They say there was the disease of Marxism, which of course comes from the West and is carried by the West. And then, unfortunately, the poor innocent Easterners catch it. This is the explanation. In a few lines, they just sum it up with, I think, a kind of embarrassment. I think it won't do, because you're just pushing the problem back a step. The question is, why was the East, the Orthodox East, with its full, beautiful, sacred synthesis and full Trinitarian theology and full spirituality, etc., why did it catch this sickness with such facility? And why did the West not catch it? Marx was convinced that


the working class in Germany would be the first to go, and Germany would be the first Marxist state, etc. No, it was Russia that became the seat for rampant secularism today. How did this happen? And I think we can have a rather romantic picture of Russia before it all happened. And then we have this kind of magical, it happened because a couple of Westerners went there and passed the disease around in some miraculous way. If you read the history of Russia in the Middle Ages, right up to the last czar, it's an incredible story of corruption on top, of political tyranny, of misery on the bottom, of suffering, of sicknesses, etc. It's interesting, there's not that much on all this in the library. There's whole shelves on Russia, but it's almost always from the point of view of Orthodox who are writing


how heroically the Orthodox are carrying on the faith in Russia today, or how holy Russia was before the revolution. But nothing that, at least I found there, why this holy, healthy, integral Russia went communist? How did it happen? Anyway, it's interesting, at least getting, for instance, in a little summary of the history of modern Russia in the Encyclopedia Britannica, just read the last czar, Nicholas II. There can hardly be imagined a more tragic contrast than that of the extremely complicated situation inherited by Nicholas II and the complete nullity of the man who had to solve the problem. Then you have this man and all these movements and agitations and strikes of 30,000 workmen and demonstrations and unrest, and instead of opening the doors to reform, he's trying to clamp down with even worse. And his court was this incredible, weird, gothic court of these mystics like Rasputin wandering around, and this kind of neurotic


Alexandra Princess who was convinced she had this predestined, sacred mission to save God's elect. It's all this sort of thing. 1905, just as an example, many thousand workingmen led by a priest, Georgy Gapron, marched with icons singing religious songs to the Winter Palace to speak to their czar, just a kind of last desperate attempt. So what happens? The troops come out and they shoot on them, they kill a thousand, etc. The last phase is this sort of thing. Lourdes has an interesting thing, a great Catholic historian, about how revolutions happen. He says we can't have some sort of magical model of some bad man comes in and makes everything explode. He says revolutions are not made by propaganda. Even the most powerful, most serious appeal of a single great man cannot bring them about. The whole or a great part of the general public


must be thoroughly prepared for them. Revolutions are not simply created, they are released. It's a very powerful image that I think describes Russia these last years, this explosion of wrath, of anger, and it was utter chaos. The liberals try to set up a kind of a parliament in the middle way. They just can't get the act together and there's civil war. The whole bit about the westerners bringing Marxism, the western powers do everything to keep Marxism out of Russia. Remember the civil war? England sends troops into Russia. Germany sends troops. France sends troops. Of all things, America sends troops. We had troops fighting on the Russian mainland to try to wipe out the Bolsheviks on the side of the white Russians during the civil war and we couldn't do it. The thing was too chaotic. Nothing at that point could save Russia


from communism. Well, how, you know, something has to really be worked out there and I think if our eastern brethren want to insist that the real fruit of the western tree is secularism, I think we have to ask, well, how did that fruit come about? Could it possibly be that an excessively spiritualistic mysticism that was excessively unrelated to the gospel, excessively Platonist and sacralist—we'll see something about the sacralism of the eastern synthesis—excessively out of touch with the real suffering of the people? At a certain point, this just collapsed under the wrath of these people. To look at the misery of these people, the last issue of Time is completely dedicated to Russia—it's very interesting—inside the USSR and there's lots of


articles about how things are going bad there because you have to wait in line for hours for a pair of blue jeans, etc. But there's lots of concessions in this issue. The basic theme is the Russians are happier today than they've ever been and they're better off today than they've ever been. And if we insist, well, it's a police state and it's a tyranny, they know that and it's always been that way. The only point is it was worse under Mazar than now. It cites one of the major themes of literature of the 19th century in Russia, his national self-pity. Oh God, how sad our Russia is, cites Aleksandr Pushkin on reading Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls. And I've been reading a little about Gogol, it's a fascinating story, but he writes about this in a humorous light, but about this tragic side of Russia and the misery and the ignorance and the


superstition and the galloping consumption and all that. But he's deeply religious and he has to get more and more religious and he can't get this spiritual experience he's clutching for. He's got all these Dorits advising him and he goes on pilgrimages to the Holy Land. He can't get it. And meanwhile, he's writing these masterpieces and he sets down to write volume two of Dead Souls, but he has these ups and downs and this Dorits, Father Matthew, tells him, no, it's a sin to be creating. No really spiritual man writes. What you've got to do is tear up all your manuscripts. So he does, he tears up volume two of Dead Souls and he has a complete nervous collapse and he dies shortly after, very close to full insanity, etc. But I think we have a very romantic picture of pre-communist Russia as kind of happy peasants


gathered around the icon in their hut after six hours of meaningful work in the fields. You know, pilgrims on the roads praying the Jesus prayer in constant ecstasy in the northern high desert. But it was real. There's an article about medicine in Soviet Russia. A doctor from the U.S. who's been living there 18 months and he's written this book on medicine in Russia and he's really quite astonished with what they've achieved. But he says that Russia before the revolution was 200 years behind the West in the area of medicine. And here we're in the area of the secular, because medicine is a classical secular discipline. And this is just a statistic, but how much suffering and misery does it mean? 200 years and the life expectancy up to the revolution was 30 years. The Russian pilgrim, in the way of the


program, he describes himself as 33 years old, which might be just a mythological age. We don't know kind of the Jesus age. But he was already an old man at that time, for Russia at that time. And the infancy rate, etc. Well, what they've done since the revolution, we'll go into that a little later, but they're at least up to us in many ways. They've got twice as many doctors now as we have. They've got a life expectancy that's at least up to where we're at, etc. But we'll get into that. So all this is just lots of little answering various things. The filioque, this would take entire conferences, but I think the filioque can be resolutely and should be defended also on the level of theology, also on the level of spirituality. It's a very long, complicated question. You have to distinguish all sorts of issues, whether the filioque should be in the


creed or not. This is one whole issue. You can hold it. We could, for ecumenical reasons, take it out of the creed. It's rather a later addition for our Eastern brethren, whereas we can still defend it theologically. There's many things of faith and theology not in the creed. Infallibility of the Pope or the Eucharist, the real presence, the seven sacraments, none of this in the creed. The creed doesn't presume to sum up the whole of Christian theology. So one issue is, should the filioque be in the creed? Don't you some defend even that? There's an article in the latest issue of Diakonia where they say it wasn't all that arbitrary, the Pope putting it in. It was in Spain since the 400s, and it was in the Spanish creed since the 500s, etc. In any way, one could concede to take it out of the creed. Our Eastern rites in the East, in Greece, etc., they don't have to recite it. But it's another question, is there any theological sense and any spiritual sense to it at all? And here you have to distinguish two levels of the Trinity. The interior life of the


Divine Trinity, which is the ultimate mystery, and then the Trinity manifested to us in salvation history. The word, second person of Trinity, becomes flesh. The Spirit is sent to us in Pentecost, etc. So there's this Trinity ad extra, as it's called, or economic Trinity, or Trinity in salvation history, and then there's the inner life of the Trinity. You've got to distinguish these. But I think what the best Western theology says is you don't want to distinguish them too much, and you don't want to have a complete cut off of the one from the other. Rahner, I think, has a beautiful book on the Trinity, and one of his main theses is our road into the mystery of the inner life of the Trinity is precisely the Holy Trinity as revealed in scriptures, as revealed in salvation history. And we don't want any other road. We don't want simply the road of abstract speculation of a few very esoteric theologians. Now, what you've got in scriptures are these startling statements of Jesus saying,


I'm going to send you the Holy Spirit. John 16, 7. If I go, says Jesus, I shall send the Spirit to you. And all sorts of, it's a very long question, but many, many texts of the Spirit of the Father, says Matthew. The Spirit of the Son, says Paul, et cetera, et cetera. So the Fathers of the East will say, well, that's just the Trinity ad extra. But I think the best Western theology says, wait, we're in really muddy waters. If we're saying ad extra, yes, but ad intra, absolutely no. We're bordering, it seems to me, on a kind of what's called doceticism or gnosticism, that is to say, what seems to be revelation in the Word of God, in Jesus, is only apparent. But we've got to get to the real revelation through some very esoteric secret knowledge of very, very advanced mystics or visionaries or theologians. In any case, what can the filioque


give us positively on the spiritual level? It gives us a Spirit that is the Spirit of the Son. And I think this is very important. What they stress is what you got if you have a Spirit that's too subordinate, and then it disappears in the West. Whether the Spirit disappears in the West, I don't think so. I think if you go down the history of Western spirituality, you have an incredible number of saints that are obviously filled with the Holy Spirit. Our own St. Romuald, Blessed Rudolph, St. Francis of Assisi, it seems to me, is a giant of the Spirit. Richard Rowe, Julian of Norwich, Catherine of Siena, Catherine of Genoa, right up to our own times, Charles de Foucault, John XXIII, he himself talks about the inspiration that came to him about Vatican II. It seems to me very hard to stress the case that the Spirit just isn't working in the West. But I think as one sees in St. Francis, it is always clearly the Spirit of our Lord,


the Spirit of Scriptures. And if you want to get polemical, and as a lawyer for the defense then, I would have to ask, you've got the Spirit in the East, but is it always the Spirit of our Lord? You've certainly got some sort of weird Spirit in Rasputin, to come back to our friend. But everyone was amazed by this charismatic type who would sort of stare at you, and you'd sort of wither. Something was there. But what Spirit was it? Or this famous Father Matthew Konstantinowski, who tells Gogol, you must burn all your manuscripts, no spiritual man writes. What Spirit was that? Where does he find this in the Word of God? And you can say this is a rare exception, but my limited reading in the East is that it's not that rare. You have many, many starets and many, many fools for Christ that are doing very, very weird things. And they're certainly in the Spirit, but it doesn't always seem to be the Spirit of our Lord.


So it seems to me the filioque can defend us there. And in St. Francis, it seems clear that you have the Spirit, but it's always the Spirit of Jesus. And the whole bit about the crib and setting up devotion, it's the Spirit of the Incarnate Jesus, even a little baby, et cetera. So a filioque. Augustine. Everything we have has been constricted through this little tiny aperture of St. Augustine. So we're very sort of anemic in the West. We haven't the fullness of the Eastern wisdom sort of thing. Well, I think historically that can, you can really question this. First of all, our font isn't, with all due respect, the Eastern Fathers. Our font is the Word of God. And we had, thank God, the scriptures in the West. And we had people very, very dedicated to the scriptures, like Augustine, like Jerome, like Gregory the Great, et cetera. The main focus is the Word of God. And that's what's salvific. And you even have a lot of the Eastern Fathers around


the West. Just think of Cation, who comes in absolutely independently from Augustine and fights like crazy against Augustine, politely. And then you have the influence of Cation on the rule of St. Benedict and on the whole of the Middle Ages. Cation is clearly very Eastern in his inspiration. Evagrian. And he can't say so explicitly because it's been condemned in the East and origin has been torn up in all this. There's more origin serenely in the West at a certain point than in the East. I was reading John Climacus the other day. John Climacus said it had nothing to do with that dog origin and so forth. And John Climacus himself is completely dependent upon the Evagrian origin current, but he can't say so. And, you know, Cenzo was astonished when he was at Mount Athos. The anger and the hatred for origin there. And he wanted to tell them, well, your whole spirituality is very dependent upon origin. But they didn't know that because they haven't gone this route of serious historical research and study and a kind of a


serene openness to what the truth tells us, etc. So anyway, Cation is an example of the East that comes into the West. The life of St. Anthony, of Athanasius. This is very early in the East. It has a huge influence in Augustine. This is all around. Athanasius. Basil is in the West. Rufinus is at a very early age. It's the same time of Jerome. He's translating all sorts of Eastern things into Latin. Right up to Pseudo-Dionysius, who's tremendously influential in the Middle Ages. And right up to St. Thomas Aquinas. Some argue that he's more influential in the West than in the East. And right up through the Middle Ages, John Duns Scotus dedicates himself to translating either Eastern fathers and defending them of the whole apophatic tradition, the cloud of unknowing, a Nicholas of Cusa, etc. I think one can really defend that there's much more known


about the best of the East in the West than there's known about the best of the West in the East. If there is a very tragic cutting off of the one from the other, I think one could argue that unfortunately it's the East that doesn't know the best of the West. It only knows the worst of a decadent neo-scholasticism in the 14th and 15th and 1700s. And then they react violently against that and they take that to be the West, etc. But that's a whole area that has to be gone into. A kind of a concrete sign of this. If you go into the bookstore up at the Graduate Theological Union, you'll find a whole section on the Eastern Fathers and the whole thing, the Hesychast thing, and the whole bit. And there's much interest up there on that, not to speak of the whole Patrology series and Basil, Doug Gregory of Nissen, Origin. The whole thing is available there.


If you go into the bookstore of Vladimir's Theological Seminary in New York, I was astonished. All you get is the Holy Eastern Fathers and Eastern mysticism and Eastern liturgy and Eastern apologet. I couldn't even find a section on Scripture. It must be there somewhere, but I couldn't find it. And certainly nothing of the Western mystical, spiritual, theological heritage. It seemed really a ghetto. And of course, icons everywhere and the whole bit of Eastern music on records and the whole bit. You walk in there, you walk into the East and you sort of close the door on anything else. In a GTU, you'll find whole sections on Jung, on Freud, all these things. So if they're going to accuse us of being cut off from a whole heritage, I think there again, we can defend ourselves and we must also a little counterattack, as it were.


So I've gone 45 minutes. I could go on happily. We haven't even come up to our hour, but I'll rush through this and you can think about this for a day and then tomorrow we'll take it up again. Now start to focus on what I think might be a kind of a central issue for us is this modern secular world and what we do about it. In many of their attacks, I think there's a kind of implicit equivalency going on between various polarities. I think the basic polarity that we're all in agreement about is the polarity between belief and unbelief. It's a great polarity of St. John and the gospel, to believe, to not believe. And as Christians, as monks, we're dedicated to Christian belief, to extending and enriching our life of faith, and we're dedicated to pushing back sort of the horizons of unbelief. But in the New Testament sense,


and we shouldn't get sloppy here, and we'll go on to that more. Now I think often when they talk quickly in some way, what they end up doing is working out an equivalency between that polarity of belief and unbelief and a whole series of other polarities like sacral and religious on the one hand, which would be sort of equivalent then to belief, and the secular on the other hand, which becomes a kind of a equivalency to unbelief. Now my thesis is that this isn't a biblical polarity. This is much later sociological, and it has nothing to do with this. It's on an entirely different plane. You can have profound believers who are very much in the secular. You can have believers in the sacral. You can have unbelievers in the sacral. You can have unbelievers in the secular, but it's an entirely different plane. But I think when they talk quick sometimes, what they do is make this equivalency. And once you make it from this polarity of sacred or religious as opposed


to secular, then you go right down the line, and you get a whole series of other polarities. The sacral or religious vision and experience seems to characterize the ancient world or the medieval. There's a whole series of questions here to be done. Whereas the secular seems to characterize the modern world. So to set it in kind of a time frame, if you want to set it into kind of a geographical frame, the secular seems to characterize the modern west. The sacral religious seems to characterize the east, medieval, ancient, and also modern. Then once you've got it in a spatial frame, you can get more and more concrete. The west means what? Western Europe and sort of from Italy, west. And of course, United States. East would mean what? It would mean Greece, Mount Athos, Russia, et cetera. And if you want to get into the dialogue with other religions, it means India, et cetera. If you want to get ecclesial about it, the west obviously means the capital.


The technological, secular west is characterized by what? Focusing on technology and the sciences and all this stuff. Whereas the east is focused on what? Wisdom, religion, prayer. So your kind of typical western representative is your scientist or your technologist or maybe your businessman or something. And your typical man of the east would be your wise man. And so you can go on and on. The typical organ of the west is the analytical mind that wants to dominate. The typical organ of the east is the heart or the deeper wisdom or the mind spirit or something like that. You can go on and on. The basic point is, again, this has nothing to do with this. If it has to do with this, everything becomes simple. It's obviously that we, insofar as we're in favor of belief and against unbelief, so we should be in favor of the sacral religious and against the secular. We should be in favor of the old good old times and against the modern. We should be in favor of the east and


against the west, et cetera. Right the way down the line, it becomes very simple. We have a series of battles to fight. And our eastern friends, Clermont, seem to have a series of battles to fight. And they often seem kind of these polarities, which are implicitly, sometimes even explicitly, plugged into this other. So we're against the secular, which is the realm of the unbelief of atheism, et cetera. We're against the modern, where the secular is rampant. We're against the west, where this is unfortunately taken over like a cancer. Again, questions here about Russia and China, et cetera. But anyway, we're against what's happening in America and Western Europe. And we're very dedicated to focusing on this sort of thing. Now, what we'll be wanting to focus on is this opposition between secular and sacral and religious. There's an article in this Concilium that makes it interesting. It says, this is a kind of a late medieval western and still


perhaps the eastern model that's problematic and is unfortunately doomed to break down sooner or later in the east as it has in the west. And that is that faith is somehow all confused with a kind of sacralism, with all sorts of temporal contingent historical phenomena. And you've got to buy the whole package. And so you put yourself against all sorts of, you put yourself against the modern and the secular and the sciences. You have to fight against them in the name of religion, in the name of holy tradition. This is the holy office condemning Galileo and the whole bit that we have gotten past with all sorts of suffering and anguish in the west. That's one model. That's the model implicit in that equivalence. Our model has to be something like this. And we've gone quite a ways in the west towards this, that faith is on one plane totally different from the sacral or religious. And there are many dimensions of the sacral or religious


that faith wants to animate, penetrate, utilize. But there are also many dimensions of the secular, many very positive values that faith wants to penetrate, like leaven, animate, utilize, like medicine, like science, physics, etc. Now the secular can go wild in secularism, that or again just as the sacred can go wild in sacralism, religiosity, etc. We're also against that. So this would be the western that's still being fought and suffered, etc., in so many issues. It's a kind of a global thing that touches so many things. And the eastern is still locked in here. This is the thesis of a couple of essays there. And I think it's an interesting thesis that can be at least reflected upon. Now when the easterners attack the modern western secular world that's unbelieving, implicitly they're locked into this model. And we shouldn't go that route.


Because what is it doing? It's going back to a kind of a happy childhood that was lovely. They can say, look, our vision is very unified and organic. And our faith is related to our art, which is related to our culture, to our philosophy. The whole thing is global and unified and beautiful and sacral. And it is, just like the little child. Everything is unified and everything is magic and everything. Then what happens when you get into adolescence? Things start to break apart and your body goes weirdly in one direction and your mind in another and you're just uncertain of things. And you get relative autonomies breaking out and you have to study physics and you find that that has nothing to do with the very simplistic faith you had or maybe superstitions you had as a child and there isn't a sandy clause and all of this. And things start to split up. Clamant, remember, speaks about this fragmentation of the west. Well, some would hold, and as an attorney


for the defense I would maintain, that this is a sign of moving from a very childish state that was lovely into the rough battles of adolescence. Now we have to try to move beyond both. The solution is not to go back to the simplicity of the east and we all want to become the children who don't have problems of modern exegesis and modern science and modern psychology, etc. We want to become fools for Christ or pure hesychasts or something. Simply cut off all that terrible baggage of a modern secularist world. I don't think that's the solution. I think the solution is we have to go forward on this basic path. And many say, this is the piece of the article, the famous east is going to have to go this route also. It's inevitable. And if there's any schizophrenia, it's much worse here than there. The young Greek student who wants to be a devout orthodox and also finds himself in


the university and is kind of attracted to physics, what does he do? Well, in my college we had an exchange student from Greece who was into physics and boy he had his ups and downs. But what they suggest is the Easterners are starting to learn something about, obviously, physics, engineering, medicine, psychology. They've got to do something with it. There is no longer the sacred emperor around to unify all this. There are all the currents of art from the Renaissance on. There isn't just the old iconography styles, etc. There's Picasso around, Michelangelo, etc. What do you do with them? Do you just spit at them? And what do you do with all these other dimensions? So many stress that the east has inevitably to go through this dark night of adolescence. And so the solution for us is not to say, yes, you're right, the secular modern western world


is terrible, and to kind of make some sort of psychological leap into the east. But to move on this route, certainly again, assimilating all the positive best elements of the east, which are very profound and which prophetically criticize much that's bad in the secular and the secularism, but integrate them precisely because we can. And hope that they can come the route where they will finally be able also to integrate other areas into there, so that a kind of a simplicity of this sacral synthesis begins to become more pluriform and articulated. So here, as a defense attorney, I'll rest my case now. We can take a five-minute break and then go into discussions. So the jury has come back now from its deliberations.


Guilty. Guilty. The west has been declared guilty as charged. So electric chair or life? Roasted. Roasted, all right. Are there any questions or problems or who wants to defend? Here's a defender of that. I always knew you were a hesitant guest. Secretly. Do you feel that the east accepts as well the word god as the ancient world? Well, that's a good question. For instance, this Greek theologian Innocenzo cites, he says, what is the essence of orthodoxy? He talks about these holy traditions, capital S-T, and the holy fathers, and he doesn't even mention the word of god. I don't know. I'm sure it's there, but I think it's there in a very kind of allegorical level.


I think it's often there. Whereas through the west, we've gone the whole route of critical textual exegesis. A real giant here is Erasmus, who sort of opens up the west to western humanism, and he creates out of his genius the critical edition of the New Testament in Greek, and he sort of creates all sorts of areas of critical exegesis, etc. I think you want to get beyond exegesis, but as Vatican II says, the solid rock of your spiritual reading of scriptures has to be the literal, has to be the historical sense. And one of my sort of anguishes is when this, for instance, this orthodox up there at Berkeley said, the distinction between the divine energies and essence, which is a whole orthodox thing, is so important that we've got to keep the church split on this. And they say the same thing about the filioque. And my only question is, where is it in the word of god?


Where do you get the essential distinction between energies and essence? It's not even dreamt of in the word of god. So here we're keeping the church divided over very esoteric theories that come out of their holy fathers quite late. But, I don't know, I think a great breakthrough for the Catholic church was this assertion with Vatican II of divine revelation that the word of god is kind of the criterion for Catholic theology and Catholic spirituality. And I don't know if it's that way for them always. I do agree with that. But that is the norm for theology and spirituality. And Thorek Csikszentmihalyi, when he was presenting some of the Eastern thought, himself would come back to what Holy Scripture says he did. But he was sort of implying that this is what they held. But probably on the other side of the coin, it seems to me it's difficult for the Western Roman Catholic church to claim that


the word of god has been our ultimate norm. Well, that it has been. No, I think we went through a period where we were out of touch. It just seems to me that the spirit of the word were displaced with authority and a set of traces, let me say, type of orthodoxy. Oh, indeed. And we were to assent to this blindly or with some semblance of intelligence. But this was propped here as Catholic faith. Oh, indeed. So I think I'm very grateful for that, too, bringing back the idea of the foundation stone. I really think we have a lot of reworking to restructure and articulate that tradition. One resource I think we have, which is strictly Western,


if we're ecumenical enough in the spirit of etiquette, too, is the whole resource of the Reformed tradition. Because if scriptures weren't central to us for a long time, they've been critically important for the whole heritage out of Luther. And he really, for him, the word of god was salvific. There's no doubt about that. And he did a reading of Pauline theology that every serious Catholic exegete I've read said, basically, he was right. Then he went too far on the other thing and said, well, then let's... But the basic intuition that we are saved by faith, this was decisive for Paul, and then the importance of reading scriptures, scriptures as salvific, etc. We've had this heritage in the West, and thus serious exegesis. Paul did, he translated immediately these scriptures into German, a beautiful transition, as the Anglican student, etc. But we've had a lot of scripture reading, and meditation, and scripture theology being done for 400 years


that we can tap into through Catholic ecumenism. I find it interesting, too, that some of the greatest saints in the Western tradition are really quite like John. They're not too much off into the metaphysical spirituality of that sort of thing, metaphysical abstractions. But I find it extremely interesting that they're not only deeply evangelical, it occurs many times historically, at a time in church history, when the church is quite unimaginably called the Roman church. And this would be a sign of the presence of the Spirit, that it isn't just word, it isn't just institution. But there's these incredible saints that spring up. Pope Francis, I think, is tremendous. But Catherine of Siena, this woman, I think it was Bruno who was saying, there's not that many willed saints in the East, but there are in the West.


There's these prophetesses. Catherine of Siena, who starts talking to the Pope, in no uncertain terms, and to the bishops, and said, this is certainly the Spirit. I think that the danger of the West is certainly to get down into some kind of very dry, arid, simply exegesis of Scripture. This is the temptation now. And the whole wealth of the Eastern spiritual region, we have to get into that. But then again, we can, because we know origin, and we know the importance of origin. And Gregory of Nyssa, and so forth. I was kidding. You know, Chenzo, who's worked on Gregory of Nyssa, and I said, all Gregory of Nyssa was just a disciple of origin. And he says it's true. Now, we know that, and we can serenely accept origin in a way that you couldn't if you were right now in Mount Athos or some theological seminary in Greece or in Russia or something. So I think it's paradoxical, but we have more access to the profundities


of Eastern spiritual exegesis than the East in some ways, though they can say we've been cut off too long from it. Other questions, comments? Is it primarily the question of fear, the lack of openness to see what is good and what is evil? It seems like in the tradition that I was trained in, we would spend more time on what we were against than what we really cared for. So I think more about the things we were meant to be afraid of and avoid. And it's like when there was all these things that happened, that I experienced in some form of injury, the things that we were supposedly fighting against, and maybe because of fear, and the fear seems to come from our lack of security,


our lack of faith, and we've been known to trust in God. We've been able to receive from all kinds of traditions. The only thing that made a problem in terms of East and West that was interesting to me is that the request to learn to accept what comes from the East did not have the foundation of the West. It would be dangerous to go and make a statement unless you agree with the bottom line of Christian tradition, and then you should not go and figure it out. It's a question of balance. It's a question of balance. Now, it seems to me that's extremely important


that this business of trying to be elsewhere, and the fact remains as a kind of a starting point, it seems to me, that we are here, we are Americans born in this century, and somehow the will of God is tied up in this, because no one else, it wasn't our parents who decided that this unique person is this sort of thing. Now, so in fact, I'm here. Now, I can go elsewhere psychologically, and I can do it with all sorts of efforts, but I think I've first got to be me. I've got to start from where I am. B. Griffiths was commenting on an Italian student who had gone very Eastern and was there in India. He says, when he's here in India, he's always still the Italian. Then when he goes back to Italy, he's always the Indian. But there's this type, you know, that has to be defined against,


and even against where he's really at, which is interesting, which gives you a kind of identity, paradoxically, but it's so polaristic. So I've been told by Eno Cenzo to not underestimate the kind of cultural difference of the East. We can read these hesychasts and say, this is beautiful, and want immediately to appropriate it and apply it. But he says it's an incredibly different world. The whole mindset and vision is so different that you've got to be there years before you start. And I think a kind of Western superficiality might be to want to make that leap before really serenely coming to terms with where I am. I think that's... There's so many Westerners, in India, for instance, and it's rather tragic. They're hooked into drugs. It's not even a good question.


Yeah. Maybe monasticism is this way, and even just Christianity, for many people, is quite an unknown quantity in its real faith. But I think if this is case, as it is, I think you aggravate the problem if the identity of a whole community is then very esoterically 14th-century Indian or 12th-century Clooney or something like that. That is to say, you can start dialoguing with this young man in terms of bonds. For instance, Thomas Merton is a contemporary American. He's dialoguing with Thoreau,


who's very much part of the American culture. He's dialoguing with a young hippie, etc. You can present the contemporary Western monastic experience in a way that... I think it's less something from the moon, or you can do it in a way that's more from the moon. I think one of the ways to make it less from the moon is to accept that we are, in fact, you know, Americans of 1980. And it's as Americans of 1980 that we're wanting to be Camaldolese monks, whatever that means, and to work through that. I think if we take that path, we might be able to dialogue more with this chap who comes off, because there'll be all sorts of tie-ins. Monasticism may be very weird, but he'll be able to relate to all sorts of things. The communal aspect, for instance, which is very strong in the young people, having everything in common, living in community, sharing the whole thing of meditation.


I think you can start building bridges like crazy if you start from where we're at. But if you start from the sacred texts of Tibetan Buddhism or something, then it's a double... I almost wanted to say alienation, but a double leap into another world. And some people want that double leap. They want to break completely, not just with egoism and sin, but they want to break completely with a culture, which in many ways is very ugly and hard and mean, as it might be on the streets of Athens or the streets of Moscow or Poland. So, yeah. ...


No matter what subject you read, it's almost like you had to baptize it because it wasn't very well said. There had to be a better reason. And it was all this business of the will of God, separate from our own human... what I would want, as if God wouldn't want what I want. Because that was completely separate. And we had to find out what God wanted all the time. And we were always misinterpreting what God wanted. And it never occurred to us that God would want something, that he was a good father, that he loved us, that he would give us a free will, that he would choose many things that we would not be able to accept. None of those things. ... What I think one tries to get into


in the West at its best... As I say, often the comparison is the West at its worst against the East at its best. So you're comparing some atheistic businessman with Simeon the New Theologian or something. But if you compare the West at its best, if you compare St. Francis of Assisi with Rasputin, we can do that one. But I think the West at its best... This is a nice little jingle. ... involves things like incarnation and the God who redeemed us is the God who created us. And St. Thomas here, grace presupposes nature. That's a motto that has so many implications. And so just the joy of creation, the joy of our own human nature, and therefore not trying always to forcefully spiritualize everything. I think that's very... in a kind of a heroic attention that... but serenely be where we're at. I think this is biblical,


and I think it's happily theological. So... And... I often thought that one of the gifts of the Spirit, at least in the Western Church today, is a rediscovery of our own incarnation spirituality. And I'm very comforted and consoled by William Johnstone, who does what he teaches in this environment. And his introduction to his latest book, The Inner Eye of Love, where he... after dialoguing with all the Eastern religions and after researching them and interacting with them, he says, I find that I must come back to the Western and to specifically his own tradition. But I think he was saying two things. Not that he was fleeing, but that it was in being grounded in his own tradition that opened him to these other spiritualities


and spiritual traditions. And... I guess a thing I've... been doing some talk to lately is in terms of rediscovering your own roots and incarnation and your own traditions, and I find that there's an anxiety in the Church today, and even guilt, about... we aren't what we used to be. Meaning, in 1980 we aren't what we were in 1940. Right. Yeah. But, you know, it's like there's a corporate guilt now that we've given up the real faith or the real thing and we're just sort of wishy-washy now or floundering around. And yet, I just wonder, it isn't the opposite. I wonder if we weren't cut off from a tradition where a community interacted with its Chinese hero


and really tried to determine an incarnation for itself and struggled and lived by the spirit, where you're really dynamized and alive, surely floundering and stepping on your own feet and all that, that's fine. I mean, that's part of life. But I wouldn't give any reflection on the right thing. I have a sense that we have this tension between guilt and fear on the one side that we aren't doing it right, as if there's some model up there that we've got to pull down and look at and map ourselves against. And yet, on the other hand, I really feel that it's a tremendous moment for incarnation and creativity and the spirit of dynamism. This moving forward with dynamism, a person who's been very important to me is Cardinal Newman. He was very Catholic and very oriented towards tradition. He knew the Fathers, and that was decisive for him. But the Anglicans always told him,


the Roman Church today is different from the age of the Fathers. And at a certain point, he said, you're right. But that's because any living reality develops. And he wrote his key essay, Development of Doctrine. It has to be development in continuity. So he works out criteria and et cetera. But I think a truly Catholic vision precisely wants development. If you don't want development, you should be either Lutheran or an Anglican. Because they correspond often closer to the Church of Cyprian or the Church of... But what we're saying is this Church has been ongoing and dynamic. And Newman said, yes, I've changed. Thank heavens, I've changed. Because to grow is to change. So that was his thing. So I think we've had so long this model of immobility, which is their model. And so truth has to be immobile because truth can't change. And Newman took us back more to this organic model of scriptures. The vine grows, the body grows,


and so things develop. So I like that. It's very important for me. Because if you get into an immobilist, and it's always a false immobilist. This is Monsignor Lefebvre. We've got to go back to the old times in Latin. Well, Jesus didn't celebrate the Eucharist in Latin. It's absurd. And certainly not in that rite he uses. He's going back to one period, and he's saying, that's it. But there was a before that, etc. So the immobilist is always artificial because there's not that golden rock truth. So I think that the serene ongoing is the only answer which permits, you know, also psychic growth and creativity, etc. But of course, then you can get off on side tracks and things. But good. So next time we'll come back and try to get further into what is secular? What is sacred? What is the good of the secular? What is the good of the sacred? And how we can hopefully fit into that model. So good. Thank you.