In a double-income, no-child (or at best a two-child) economy, young married Catholics who are faithful to God’s commandments and the teachings of the Church enter the realm of increased suffering. Most will not be as successful in material terms as those who have succumbed to the “lesser evil” argument in its myriad manifestations. Unless a family’s wage-earner is a professional with a large income, or the family is blessed with a rich uncle who is willing to subsidize faithfulness, the family will be severely tested and tempted. The heart, the soul, the love for spouse and children, will become “problems.” I have discussed this with hundreds of families over the years, who as they strive to be completely faithful to Christ, feel trapped in the diabolic economy of this social revolution.
- Michael O’Brien
What are the relations between the Church and the state in the Orthodox countries?
The Orthodox civilization has developed its own standard model of the relations between the Church and the state, which was called ‘symphony’ in the legal code of Emperor Justinian. However, I would not hurry to authorize this principle of the state-church relations as a specifically Eastern Christian tradition. In the 6th century, when Emperor Justinian codified the Roman and Byzantine law, a common Christian tradition existed in Europe, and the idea of ‘symphony’, therefore, is a common heritage of the West and East of Europe.
It is necessary to recognize that this model has influenced the Orthodox understanding of the church-state relations. However, one should discern between a historical teaching of ‘symphony’, which belongs entirely to the past, and its methodological foundations, which can be applicable today. Historical understanding of ‘symphony’ is linked with the monarchic form of government and with an ideological role of Orthodoxy. The Church and the state were understood as the two equivalent institutes, as the two gifts of God with different domains of care for one and the same social and cultural body – the people. The Church undertook to defend the Church, and the Church undertook to support the state. Such a model has never been realized, like a democratic model will never be realized in its pure form.
The model of ‘symphony’ today has an important methodological value. I shall remind you that it was formulated as a result of the almost two-hundred-years search for an optimal model of the relations between the Church and the state. The Church and the state were at enmity with each other before the early 4th century, when Christianity was proclaimed the state religion, and a serious question arose of the kind of relations between the Church and the state with both institutes being in harmony, which means ‘symphony’ in Greek. In the 4th century Emperor Justinian presented his own solution of this task by listing the duties of the Church and the state before each other. Yet, the contents of these duties can change in different times of history, while the methodological principle of peaceful coexistence between the Church and the state remains the same. When the Russian Orthodox Church adopted the ‘Foundations of the Social Concept’ in 2000, she was guided by the methodology of a ‘symphony’ model in a part of the document dedicated to the relations with the secular state and listed point by point the conditions and fields of a possible harmonious cooperation between the Church and the secular state at present.
There are Orthodox countries today, such as Greece and Georgia, which constitutions declare a special state of the Orthodox Church, as the overwhelming majority of the population of these countries are Orthodox. In my opinion, there is nothing bad or threatening the freedom of people of other faiths, if the State publicly declares its special relations with the religions of the majority of their countries. In this case the clear and comprehensible rules of the church-state relations appear, which can be controlled by the public. I believe it helpful for Russia to define special relations with the four traditional religions of our country: Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. That would allow the State and religious communities to cooperate in various public spheres in proportion to the number of believers, who belong to this or that traditional religion.
Michael O’Brien, Catholic author and painter has a great article on the apocalyptic times we live in. He says:
Gazing about at the contemporary world, even our “democratic” world, could we not say that we are living in the midst of precisely this spirit of secular messianism? And is this spirit not manifested especially in its political form, which the Catechism calls in the strongest language, “intrinsically perverse”? How many people in our times now believe that the triumph of good over evil in the world will be achieved through social revolution or social evolution? How many have succumbed to the belief that man will save himself when sufficient knowledge and energy are applied to the human condition? I would suggest that this intrinsic perversity now dominates the entire Western world.
“…contention leads astray even good, learned, and acute men, when they are led away only by a desire to defend their own cause.”
Second term Presidents seem to always get bogged down by scandal. I have been thinking about it for the entire first Bush term, wondering which of the clowns around him would be the one to kick it off. Nixon fell, Reagan fell, Clinton fell, and now…
This doesn’t seem like a “big” deal compared to Clinton’s shenanigans, or the lies leading up to Iraq, but nevertheless, it could be criminal. I think the passion surrounding the whole investigation is due to raw feelings about Iraq, and probably the 2000 election still. What really grates on me is that Bush said if anyone leaked they would go, and that now he has moved the goalpost to ‘if they committed a crime they will go.’ It is so Clintonesque. And if Clinton had appointed his personal counsel to the Supreme Court, the reactive right would be going berserk (rightly so). I guess Miers is the first sign of how badly Bush leans on Rove. She was picked by Card, not Rove, but I digress.
The whole right wing nationalist hysteria for Bush and the war drives me nuts. But the left wing is an even more pathetic joke with its love of child-murder and total lack of ideas. The paleoconservatives are the only sane ones around, but they don’t hold office or have any power. Bush has accomplished nothing, especially in his second term. It already feels like it is over, and it just started. I am so utterly disillusioned with America and American politics, I wish we had a Whig party or something like that. I feel like tuning out the news forever.
File this under you learn something new every day:
I just read that Bob Marley converted to Coptic Orthodox Christianity just before his death. He renounced Rastafarianism and confessed Christ.
Someone came to our door a couple days ago trying to serve papers on a person who no longer lives here. My wife told him that this person didn’t live here anymore. Yesterday, the warrant was just sitting by our door, all notarized and everything. What kind of incompetence is that? They don’t believe us, and they apparently can’t take the time to do a records search and find out where the person actually lives. So now this person might miss a court date because of the laziness of the system? I did call the law office that is the plaintiff in the case and told them again that this individual doesn’t live here anymore and probably hasn’t for a long time.
In the TLS, David Coward summarizes recent novels by Michel Houellebecq. Some snippets that struck me:
…in our post-faith, commodity-rich culture, personal gratification has become the highest good. The pursuit of pleasure prioritizes the self and, in the process, promotes separation and dispersal. As a result, society has reverted to its fragmented, pre-civilized form and is filled with unliked, unfulfilled, unhappy egos…
And thus was destroyed the last remaining outpost of the collective spirit, the family, whose members serve each other without hope or expectation of tangible reward. Individualism, the antechamber to barbarism, is the grave of communal life and ultimately of civilization. It is also an illusion.
…he does not regard Islam or any other faith as a serious threat to anything. Having lived for extended periods in Ireland and Spain, two deeply Catholic countries, he was struck by how quickly religion had collapsed in both places in the wake of modernization. He considers that Islam will go the same way. Fiercely supported at present by the young, it will disappear in its turn, dismantled by the same appetite for consumer goods that marked the end of Communism former Easter Bloc countries. Like Christianity or punk, he says, it will leave only aesthetic remains. A greater threat by far, dealt with in his new novel, is the barbarism which is the true legacy of the 1968 revolution and the hippie generation: social, intellectual and moral deregulation.