The Solzhenitsyn Files: Intro

A few years ago in a book store in Missouri I picked up Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago I-II.  Being a Russophile at the time, I had to pick it up.  I got about 80 pages into it before the rest of life happened.  It sat on my book shelf for a few years.   I picked it back up yesterday.

It’s standard criticism to say Obama is a tyrant.  Of course he is.  The more astute will point out that FEMA is a soft version of the GULAG (a prototype?).  An even deeper analysis will see Obama’s private armies analogous to the Cheka (yes, I am aware of the factchecker’s response. All FactChecker does is say that it isn’t meant to be the Gestapo.  Obama’s own words say security force).  What is not talked about, not in depth anyway, is the nature of “shock” engineering on society to create these desired effects.   Solzhenitsyn saw it clearly, even if he didn’t call it by that.

A Russian Prophecy for America?

Yesterday I offered an olive branch to the Orthodox.  They have many astute social thinkers who have not bowed the knee to the Regime.  Seraphim Rose is one.

fr-seraphim-rose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I must quote Fr Damascene’s account in full detail.

In 1978 Fr. Seraphim contemplated the possibility of such a global system…Never has there been more talk of ‘peace and security’ than today. One of the chief organs of the United Nations is the Security Council and organizations for world peace are everywhere. If men do achieve finally a semblance of peace and security, it would seem to contemporary man to be a state like heaven on earth…The practical way to do this is to unite all governments under one. For the first time in world history such an idea becomes a possible goal in practical politics–a world ruler is conceivable now. For the first time, the Antichrist becomes an historical possibility” (Damascene, 697).

What Fr Seraphim is saying is nothing new. People used to laugh at those who said, “You know, world leaders really do want power. These guys really are corrupt. Maybe they do want world government.” People would laugh and say, “Oh that could never happen. What are you, a kook? World leaders do not really want that.”

Except that when you ask the elitists what they want, they say exactly that:

Admiral Charles Ward, former member of the Council on Foreign Relations, “The most powerful cliques in these elitist groups have an objective in common–they want to bring about the surrender of the sovereignty and the national independence of the United States .  A second clique of international members in the CFR…comprises the Wall Street International bankers and their key agents. Primarily, they want the world banking monopoly from whatever power ends up in the control of global government” (Rear Admiral Chester Ward, Review of the News, April 9, 1980, pp37-38, quoted in Fr Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, 697-698).

Fr Damascene goes on to mention,

With the establishment of the European Union, the creation of the Euro currency, the control of former Eastern-bloc countries by Western financial interests, the advances towards a cashless society, the formation of an international criminal tribunal by the United Nations and NATO, we see what appear to be the forerunners of such a one-world system. Some of these developments are not necessarily evil by themselves. Taken together, however, they help to set up a global apparatus which can make way for the rising religion of the future. Such was the expectation of Alice Bailey, who in 1940 wrote, The expressed aims and efforts of the United Nations will be eventually brought to fruition, and a new church of God, gathered out of all religions and spiritual groups, will unitedly bring an end to the great heresy of separatedness’ (cf. Alice Bailey, The Destiny of the Nations, p.52, quoted in Fr Seraphim Rose, 698). Robert Muller, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, expressed the same belief on the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations in 1995: ‘At the beginning the United Nations was only a hope. Today it is a political reality. Tomorrow it will be the world’s religion’ (Fr Seraphim Rose, 698).

It doesn’t get any more straightforward than that.  Further, I am not yet quoting the remarks by David Rockefeller who is quite open on the need for a supranational body.  While this is the domain of conspiracy-theorist kooks, there is nothing secret about it.  These remarks have been in the open for almost half a century, and have been actively pursued for about a generation on the political level.

Back to Solzhenitsyn

Damascene writes,

When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago came out in 1974, Seraphim not only read it, he studied it as a textbook…he [Rose] wrote…Communism as such is incidental to the terrible events described in this book; the villains of this book do not act the way they do because they are Communists, but because they are victims of an ideology far deeper and more deadly than Communism” (Damascene 651).

Rose identifies the ideology as nihilism.  I’ll take it a step further:  Luciferianism.  In any case, it’s important not to reduce it to Communism.  Communism is a Satanic evil.  One we must hate with all of our being, but by reducing all of the problems to Communism we implicitly excuse the current Regime from culpability, since they can legitimately claim they are not communists (yet).

Well, if Communism is so evil, does this mean the West or Hitler was right to oppose it?  The question is misplaced.  Rose gives an insightful answer:

The actions of those temporarily opposed to Bolshevism temporarily out of envy (Hitler) or hypocrisy (the Western Allies) are only historical episodes [of the Spirit of Revolution]” (652).

Advertisements

On not praying to angels

A prior note on terminology.  Anchorites will insist they don’t worship angels the same way they worship God.  The Bible, however, collapses the distinction between doulia (reverence by way of service) and latria (proper worship).  God specifically tells his people neither to worship these gods (however you want to define that term) or serve them.   Further, the claim that praying to an angel is no different from asking your friend to pray for you won’t hold up.  If you examine these prayers, besides the fact it is nowhere commanded by God, the angels are simply asked to intercede, but to act in such a way that they have power to do x and y.  That is simple Paganism.

Old Creation Judged and Gone

Angels ruled the Old Creation.   That has since been destroyed in the Death-Resurrection of Christ and the Death of Jerusalem.  Why would we pray/invoke entities who no longer rule?   Does not the New Covenant say The “lights” of creation (day 4) were designed to rule (thus the language of greater lights ruling over the lesser lights).   Lights (e.g., the sun) manage time, and so also in the Old Creation they are connected with Festivals.

Before Jesus humanity was under angelic tutors. Psalm 104:3-4 (and Heb. 1:7) connects angels with the natural forces.  Further, this is also connected with Torah.  The law was to shut the whole world under sin (Gal. 3:22-23) and was given by angels (Acts 7:53).  Thus we can conclude that the angels had some authority over the world which was connected with Torah.   Paul further connects Torah and Angels with “elementary principles” (stoichea, Gal. 4:3, 9; Col. 2:8).  We may further conclude that any attempt to live under the guidance of angels, however slight, is seeking to go back to the stoichea and is elsewhere condemned in the book of Hebrews.  Oliver O’Donovan even notes that Paul connects both Torah with the stoichiea. In fact, Paul even notes (Galatians 4) that the Gentiles were in bondage to Stoichea.  This is shocking.  No one ever accused the pagan Gentiles of being too much under Stoichea. It’s not as shocking as it seems:  apart from Christ both Torah and the stoichea appear to us as a threat (RMO, 22).  This conclusion of Paul’s only makes sense if we keep in mind that Angels, Torah, and Stoichea are interconnected under the Old Creation.

Forms, Realism, and Nominalism

One thing I noticed in recently reading Homer and Vergil is that the pagan deities were often invoked as powers.  This is not that different from the language of Forms.  Forms in this philosophy is not simply an idea of x, but that the higher form causes and acts in such a way that is is a power to the lower forms.  Paul Tillich made the interesting connection that ancient Christianity simply baptized the older view of Forms with the newer view that these forms were saints and angels, which form a hierarchy of being to God.

Tillich’s suggestion makes sense.  After Plato and the skeptics, few Greeks and Romans were stupid enough to believe that Athena sprang from Zeus’ head.  However, Greek mythology did have a lot of explanatory power.  It might have been philosophically naive to suppose that the pantheon was rule, but it was philosophically astute to transpose that understanding of deity to the realm of the Forms.

Maximus the Confessor famously (though not originally) spoke of the distinction between Logos and Logoi.   Jesus is the Form in whom all the forms exist.  He is the inter-causal causal cause.  It’s beautiful philosophy.  It runs into problems with the Forms are identified with the stoichea.

This is why I am neither realist nor nominalist, but covenantal verbalist.
Nota Bene:  I wonder if this is why demon-possession stories are so common in Catholic and Orthodox lands (see Seraphim Rose, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future and  The Soul After Death).  They are playing too close to the elementary principles of the Old Creation, which God has specifically condemned.  If they get too close to these principles, then God just might let them get close indeed.

Seraphim Rose on the New World Order

“In 1978 Fr. Seraphim contemplated the possibility of such a global system…Never has there been more talk of ‘peace and security’ than today. One of the chief organs of the United Nations is the Security Council and organizations for world peace are everywhere. If men do achieve finally a semblance of peace and security, it would seem to contemporary man to be a state like heaven on earth…The practical way to do this is to unite all governments under one. For the first time in world history such an idea becomes a possible goal in practical politics–a world ruler is conceivable now. For the first time, the Antichrist becomes an historical possibility” (Damascene, 697).

What Fr Seraphim is saying is nothing new. People used to laugh at those who said, “You know, world leaders really do want power. These guys really are corrupt. Maybe they do want world government.” People would laugh and say, “Oh that could never happen. What are you, a kook? World leaders do not really want that.”

Except that when you ask the elitists what they want, they say exactly that:

Admiral Charles Ward, former member of the Council on Foreign Relations, “The most powerful cliques in these elitist groups have an objective in common–they want to bring about the surrender of the sovereignty and the national independence of the United States (and even more so, any religious, social nationalist country: Russia, Belarus, Serbia, Ireland–JBA). A second clique of international members in the CFR…comprises the Wall Street International bankers and their key agents. Primarily, they want the world banking monopoly from whatever power ends up in the control of global government” (Rear Admiral Chester Ward, Review of the News, April 9, 1980, pp37-38, quoted in Fr Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, 697-698).

Fr Damascene goes on to mention,

With the establishment of the European Union, the creation of the Euro currency, the control of former Eastern-bloc countries by Western financial interests, the advances towards a cashless society, the formation of an international criminal tribunal by the United Nations and NATO, we see what appear to be the forerunners of such a one-world system. Some of these developments are not necessarily evil by themselves. Taken together, however, they help to set up a global apparatus which can make way for the rising religion of the future. Such was the expectation of Alice Bailey, who in 1940 wrote, The expressed aims and efforts of the United Nations will be eventually brought to fruition, and a new church of God, gathered out of all religions and spiritual groups, will unitedly bring an end to the great heresy of separatedness’ (cf. Alice Bailey, The Destiny of the Nations, p.52, quoted in Fr Seraphim Rose, 698). Robert Muller, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, expressed the same belief on the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations in 1995: ‘At the beginning the United Nations was only a hope. Today it is a political reality. Tomorrow it will be the world’s religion’ (Fr Seraphim Rose, 698).

It doesn’t get any more straightforward than that.  Further, I am not yet quoting the remarks by David Rockefeller who is quite open on the need for a supranational body.  While this is the domain of conspiracy-theorist kooks, there is nothing secret about it.  These remarks have been in the open for almost half a century, and have been actively pursued for about a generation on the political level.

The fallacy of canon-arguments against charismatics

First of all, while I am not a cessationist, neither am I a charismatic.  I believe with Fr. Seraphim Rose that much of the charismatic movement is likely communing with demons.  On the other hand, most of the Reformed arguments against the continuation of “uncomfortable” spiritual gifts are quite bad and are never challenged in the Reformed community.

The argument goes something like this:  We know longer need prophesy/tongues/healing/miracles because the canon is here, and that is God’s complete revelation to man.

Here are the problems with it:

  1. Historical-grammatical method says we must interpret scripture according to the historical setting of his original hearers.  The canon, however, is a later development and was foreign to the situation of the first hearers.  Therefore, it is illegitimate to bring in the canon in the argument.
  2. In any case, part of the canon assumes these spiritual gifts are still operative.   1 Corinthians 1:7-8 says, “so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.   He will also strengthen you to the end.”

On face value the text seems to say that the Corinthian church will have all spiritual gifts (including the ones above) until the Second Coming.  That is indeed how I interpret the verse.    The cessationist can try one of two moves.  He can say that the revealing refers to the canon (which is absurd) or to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.   The latter is a respectable view in Reformed circles–partial preterism.    Pp has several strengths to it but ultimately cannot be salvaged.  True, it takes time-references seriously and is able to provide rich, liturgical interpretations of Revelation.

On the other hand, even if I accept Pp as a legitimate position, even on Pp’s grounds what is the literary and logical connection between “tongues/prophecy” ceasing and Jesus’s revealing identified with the destruction of Jerusalem?  Further, how can one consistently say that some gifts (tongues, miracles) ceased but others (faith, teaching, helping, administration) are still on?   St Paul makes no distinction whatsoever?   Further, if I were a postmodernist or a Marxist, I could point out that the typical cessationist argument simply reinforces the bourgeoisie mentality (which it does).

God’s Revelation to the Human Heart

God’s Revelation to the Human Heart by Fr. Seraphim Rose

Fr Seraphim gave this as an address to a group of college students in California around 1980.  In many ways it summarizes all of Fr Seraphim’s writings (which is kind of impressive for only 50 pages).  Fr Seraphim’s message is the human heart opens itself up to the truth of God—this is revelation.    It is often when the Scriptures are expounded with the right interpretation—this is intensified in times of acute suffering.

Fr Seraphim gives many examples from the lives of the saints, most notably St John Maximovitch of Shanghai and San Francisco.  St John’s life was one of humility and suffering and as a result God blessed him with miracle-working.  More importantly for this story, he received revelation to appear to a woman (in the flesh) despite the fact that it was impossible by the laws of physics for him to do so.   (Think of St Philip and the Ethiopian).   Fr Seraphim then surmises that many of the disciples who traveled to Russia, southern Africa, and China did so by the same means that St Philip did in Acts.

Fr Seraphim warns his audience not to search for religious experiences, but for truth.   As an example he gives the chilling story of St Niceta of the Kievan Caves.   We accept that miracles and spiritual gifts are real, but we must test our religious experiences not by ourselves, and not even by our reading of the Bible, but by submitting it to the discipline and wisdom of the Church.

The end of the book is a Q and A session.   Other reviewers and the editor were dismayed at the questions asked.  They feared that the audience missed Fr Seraphim’s main point.  The audience probably did miss it, but their questions do reveal that Fr Seraphim indeed “touched” something within their hearts.   Fortunately for later readers, Fr Seraphim’s answers are very clear and short answers to difficult questions.

This book is one of those written with rare power.   Fr Seraphim writes with the same message the book contains.    It is like all of Fr Seraphim’s books:   practical, urgent topics met with the wisdom of the ancient church.  He is always serene and clear.  Fr Seraphim’s life was one of suffering and seeking to acquire the mind of the Fathers.   Doing so brought him “pain of heart,” as the Fathers would say.   This pain of heart, this suffering, gifted him to speak to audiences such as these.

My favorite books of 2010

(In no particular order)

1.  Gregory of Nyssa, Dogmatic Treatises (NPNF Series II volume 5).   Good, if long-winded discussion of God’s attributes and essence and the distinctions within God’.

2.  Basil the Great, Works and Letters (NPNF Series II volume 8).   Exciting glimpse into the life of the church, along with suggestions of how to navigate out of certain “canonical” messes (found in the “Letters” part).   Excellent trinitarian reasoning.

3.  John McGuckin, Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy.  Splendid discussion of Cyril’s Christology.  Demonstrates how the Chalcedonian church saw Cyril as the test of Orthodoxy.

4.  Lee McDonald, The Formation of the Christian Biblical Canon.  McDonald doesn’t pursue it, but his reasoning fully deconstructs sola scriptura.  Responds to “But the Jews had a canon!” claims and other similar claims.  McDonald, being a watered-down evangelical, fumbles the ball at the end after looking modernity in the eye (and quailing).

5.  Thomas Torrance, The Ground and Grammar of Theology.  I actually listened to the audio lectures on the book, but the same principle is there.  Shows how a Patristic Christology saves both science and faith.

6.  Joseph Farrell, God, History, and Dialectic.  Somebody please put this into a real book.  This annoyance almost undoes whatever good qualities the book has.  In any case, the book redefines worldviews.   Probably shaped my reasoning more than anything else.

7.  Hieromonk Ambrose, The Life and Times of Fr. Seraphim Rose.  A cross between Augustine’s Confessions and Louis L’amour.  Awe-inspiring.  We see Fr Seraphim as a modern Tsarist Knight against Nihilism–and we should aspire to similar aims.

8.  Seraphim Rose, Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future.  The modern phenomena of fringe elements of society becoming mainstream, as well as a watering down of religious and cultural mores is a preparation for Antichrist.

9.  David Engleman, Ultimate Things.  While bad exegesis at times, good meditations on how the fall of Tsarism unleashed the forces of Antichrist on the world (which the rest of the century demonstrated).

 

Penultimate Review of *Elder Macarius*

I received a copy of Elder Macarius of Optina this summer.  I decided to buy it because I was looking for material on the Slavophile philosopher Ivan Kireevsky, who was footnoted in The Life of Fr Seraphim Rose.

I was initially disappointed.  The book did have a section on Kireevsky–more than most books would have, in fact–but the rest of the book seemed tedious to read.  I made it about 200 pages through the book this summer, but soon put it down.  The cares of the school year, along with the difficulty of the book, put the issue from my mind.

I decided to finish it, though.  Fr Seraphim Rose’s life has been on my mind recently.  I gather that many Orthodox do not like him–or at least are “passively annoyed” with his work.  I am not in a position to judge, except that he seemed to have successfully acquired the mind of the Fathers–a point many of his detractors refuse to challenge directly, quite tellingly.

Rose is a spiritual descendant of the Optina elders.  The Optina elders passed down their spirituality through many sons after the satanic Bolshevik Revolution–many of these sons and daughters came to America.  The Konzetevichs were one such group.  They introduced Frs Herman and Seraphim to the Optina elders (and to Kireevsky).

While my own future is unknown to me, Rose’s development and passing down of the Tradition plays powerfully on my mind.  Therefore, I decided to finish the book, a book Fr Seraphim recommended.

Themes of the book:

  • beware of spiritual delusion (prelest).  Very good sections on the Jesus prayer (and how not to engage in it) and of doing spirituality outside the wisdom of your elder.
  • Holy Russia is real and is passed down to her adopted children.