When ever I read the Philosophical works of the great Russian thinker Nicholas Berdyaev, I become profoundly and, deeply aware of how painful and, enduring is the loss of contact that we in the western tradition still have with regards to the Eastern Churches. It's almost impossible to comprehend this loss- it saddens me, particularly in this increasingly hostile world of functionalised facts which can transcribe or, even rob the most reverential of values of their authentic forms, by refusing them their original existence and, calling in the spiritual life of Man.
Yet how can there be a spiritual crise in the western world? In a world were the spirit of Christianity is either dying through its meaning been made into a formal secular code like in the U.K or been universally discarded for the wholesale attractions of the consumer lifestyle that has occurred in the hedonism of places like modern Ireland. Is it only now possible to say that the only form of Christianity that will exist in the west, in the future will be the intellectually restricted type that exists in the U.S? Does this type of Christianity really approach the deeply complex obligations and undertakings that the spiritual life of Christ brought to the world?
It is in the works of Berdyaev whose Christian philosophy was informed by the Eastern churches that one may come to understand something that approach’s both the high estate and grandeur of Christ’s spiritual vision for humankind. The true Christian vision is not only something worthy of Man's unique place in the cosmos, but it also tells Man how to be- free, creative and, as wise as serpents, despite the necessary corruption of time and money, Man could perhaps never become anything of spiritual worth without these created limitations, which also include the neccesary transfigurations of the one who understands His death. For what dies could never be a part of this world- for our we not born in the fullness of life?.
It is in these thoughts that Berdyaev places the yearning spiritual need that desires nothing less then a fullness of being that grows from the restricted roots of life- that we come to know the God Christ speaks. It is perhaps, in the Eastern Churches that one may still sense the painful loss that occurred to a religion that began to value the goods of Caesar far more then the true words that matched the deeds of Christ; and yet it is still those material goods and images that damage the spiritual vision of Christ in many of the "organised" Christian churchs in places like the U.S and the Vatican, which often appear to be operated like large corporate outfits that sell a particular brand of Christianity. Can the message of the lonely, wandering, homeless fisherman ever be realised within a world which worhips the idol, rather than the spirit of the Man Christ simply was, and simply is?.
As Christians is the spiritual crises not one of the Christian religion but rather about the battle man must wage constantly while in life against those real dangers that cause the spirit to sleep and die long before its natural time. Can Christ's message not be understood to mean that we must struggle actively for the true life of the spirit to be realised, and He who has the opportunity but does seek, will remain blind to the kingdom of the spirit. Have not the different Christian faiths of the western churches disregarded, what Berdyaev called the "sobernost" which is related to the meaning of the word Catholic, and signifies the dynamic creative spirit that suffers like or, in the Christ who overcomes a world that crucifies the spiritual essence through its ignorance and self-satisfaction?.
And yet, should we not also say that Christ would of also expected us to extend our "sobernost" and hospitality to include our respect and love for the vision of all other tribes who have spoken through their prophets and holy men about His fathers kingdom? Is not His kingdom a mansion, all His children must inherit one day soon?.
Hi James, I agree with most of what you write, although I don't appreciate Berdyaev so much as Schmemann, and in particular his book “For the Life of the world”. Berdyaev's Essay of Eschatological Metaphysics, for example, one of his best, is somehow disappointing.
Berdyaev has studied a lot and has moved in many directions, avoiding to create a system but also remaining unable to give his thought a shape, a real contact with the past. His thought is not formed in the tradition of any Church, therefore it does not give the feeling of what life in Church means. This is also the problem of western Europe – the loss of the Church.
Your disregard of the Vatican is not without reason, but Catholicism (in contrast with the Protestants) keeps some connection with the ancient Church. And in this connection Catholicism can understand more than the Protestants, that there isn't only one mansion in Heavens, there are many mansions, of different kinds, because even demons have their mansions.
Thanks for your post. You mentioned the idea of how Russia surrendered to the idea of Communist- that very European creation.
The idea of surrendering to a greater faith, or hope in the future contains perhaps something of that distant messianic vision that proclaimed the world- by rejecting it in a promise, made too naked for every-man to bare witness alone? Does the collective sub-mission of each man in the communist manifesto, not pay an indirect homage to this sense of the naked witness- who is alone essentially in all details- the one who is not of the world, cannot be a part of the peoples revolution.
Is the naked, unhoused witness not the most dangerous man to this worlds order, to its corruption, stupidity, and greed? The revolution knew this type of man, they loved him like no other brother in the family, He was the holy, mad fool who saw far to much, far beyond their grasp, they never realised why they had to murder the sacrifice they loved too much.
So the bloody revolution honored the Christ, whose countless names could not submit His vision, to this, their exiled and vast worlds of frozen wastelands.
Yet it is the modern world of capitalism, which will annihilate what Charles Peguy called "le spirituel sous toutes ses formes" (the spiritual one in all its forms). The "one" was pregnant with potent illusions, were its forms could still give life; as in communism these forms were merely frozen, awaiting the potential of a life, our post-modernity no longer needs.
I just boarded this train. My luggage, in part, consists of the Works of Plato, The Secret Doctrine, Isis Unveiled, The Mahatma Letters, . Thinking and Destiny and related books including Adepts, Masters and Mahatmas, and The Seth Material, all of which pretty much leaves me with few to talk to, with the exception of a coffee house friend or two.
I will not jump into the waters or you discussion, after all I just got on board this crowed train and have yet to find my seat. I will just add that I am glad to be here and look forward to seeing some beautiful terrain.