Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My colleague Lisa Ruddick thinks she knows where: contemporary training in the humanities, she has argued, is soul-destroying because it requires students to dissociate themselves from their own aesthetic and moral responses to what they read. I think she's onto something. I know she's onto something...

Fencing Bear wonders how the humanities lost its soul? Meanwhile, Walter Russell Mead's thesis is touted by OneCosmos as the answer to the problem of "how then, should we live?" ~
The dynamic religion of the Anglo-American sphere has not just been able to coexist with, but thrive upon, the same sort of skepticism that is so corrosive and ultimately fatal to static religion. In other words, the Anglo-American style of religiosity was well-suited not just to usher in science, but to then assimilate it and endow it with a transcendent meaning it cannot otherwise possess...

I normally agree with virtually anything Robert Godwin has to say, but in this case, he's guilty of over-simplifying, at the very least. It's true that eternal change could become permanent eternality, in a sense, and I suppose in some sense it has to be true in that way. However, the Anglo-American "way" is not the only "progressive" model out there, let alone conceivable. If Schuon can't address some of these things, Evola & Guenon certainly could. And I certainly agree that without transcendence, you are "trapped in history & conditioned as a subject in your own narrative" like Hegel.

His reply is here.


I don't disagree with anything you said, except that history demonstrates that it is quite difficult to maintain any dynamic synthesis over time. Even if Guenon were correct about the necessary deterioration brought about by time -- and I reject that thesis entirely -- there is no virtue in simply surrendering to entropy. Nor do I think that we should in any way devalue the historical time into which we are born, which is as providential and valuable as any -- or, it is our duty to render it so.

11/03/2010 07:18:00 AM

Let us here what the Orthodox would say ~
Fr. Romanides has an overarching thesis: the purpose of the Church is to heal man of spiritual illness brought on by the Fall (this spiritual illness is characterized by the quest for happiness) and enable him to know God. His secondary thesis is that dogmatic controversies throughout the history of the Church are caused by those who do not understand the function of the Church as a spiritual hospital. Thus, the real difference with the West is their loss of this understanding which occurred because the Western ecclesiastical institutions were subverted by political forces into mere political institutions. As political institutions they became concerned with man's happiness instead of his glorification; with mere forgiveness of sins rather than purification.
There is no difficulty with this, save one ~ purification is taken to mean an abstention from Created Order & enjoyment of it to such a degree that one is not allowed to maintain the Empire. It is perhaps this, in which one can find the failure of Byzantium ~ not in its theology, but in its lack of civic order and recognition of any kind of natural law. Perhaps they will say that we Westerners have not the sight to see. But I say that we can look at St. Martin of Tours (as Joel Dietz has reminded me) and ask "why did you not serve in the Legion? Is Christ not a friend of centurions, as well?". Byzantium despite all its theological rectitude & purity, was unable to sustain an order of shared, public good. This, not invasion, brought about its collapse.

Meade may be far too much of the opposite tinge, yet surely no True Religion can ignore the Caesarian slant of the Bible. Purification cannot mean "taste not, touch not". Even Schmemman seems to have aimed at changing this part of Orthodoxy to a degree.

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