Continuing with the theme out of Vladyka Averky’s observation at the end of the last century that modern life presents a much more dangerous persecution than even during communist rule in the USSR, given all the investitures of the heart requisite of the day, I should like to reflect on this situation as of late.
If you are like most non-monastics (except for rich housewives, and househusbands I suppose) and must work for a living today, you may not be a stranger to the fact that the self-proclaimed “woke” and “diverse” liberal of today has placed a totalizing injunction of bubbly positivity over absolutely everything including the very air we breath. The degree to which this injunction is apparent may still, however, depend upon the degree to which your employer has given it, or those who heed its call, the reins.
And it’s not just evident (nay, unavoidable) in the workplace, but currently maintains a hegemony over all spheres of life except the Orthodox Church (and it has made significant fissures into certain jurisdictions of the earthly ecclesial body, as well). But more care is needed in circumspection of its forces at play.
It is at play as opposition of the family, even by those who are at the head of families themselves. It is alive in their pedantic reprimands today, for instance, of any who would question the effectiveness of masks, snootily citing prima facie “science.” And it places under its sway any who would welcome the hypnotic allure of its perfect, accessible luxury.
Did anyone else notice sometime in the last 20 years, suddenly all restaurants revamping their appearance to be more like the bread co, all patterns on products and packaging everywhere becoming more polka-dotty, chevron, and “eye-popping,” as they say? And scantily can one view any selection at all on prime, zulu, or nutflicks without tons of gay, tons of guilt-driven minority-worship, tons of packed-in and over-filtered image of self-creation, self-care, and penultimate self-idolatry.
Yes, it has been called the New Luxury Movement in everyday life. It’s the cyber-enhanced life lead by the selfie, nevermind the self ditched back in Eden. Nevermind how you got here. And nevermind that you’re gonna go away when, where, why, and how.
Nevermind what the world’s leading physicians say, nevermind what substantial aspects and structures of sustained meaning forgone for ordinances posed as mere “suggestions.” Only the news.
In fact, just create your own cosmos in your mind and fly that plane. Choose your own gender! Let it choose you before you arrive, even, and then fashionably insist with a quaint rasp that you were born this way! Teach kids to play along! C’mon! Have a little sunshine in your day, “man!” Livin’ tha dream?!
Dysphoria. Depression. Despair. Despondency. Off your meds? Double the dose.
Dismiss all genuine inquiry as conspiracy theory, and conspire and collude with others–coach the kids, too–to do the same. Snap open your snug little purple plastic brain-case, but maintain your wits about most. No need to master even none. Or one.
You can do no wrong. Except if you hold that there IS anything wrong (except disagreeing with this. Oh, and skyperson, a.k.a. God. Oh, and experience of evil. [Nevermind even that radical evil has without exception ever in history come about announced and believed as absolute good]).
I once, maybe twice, had a charismatic baptist minister lady boss tell me I couldn’t mention the Menaion saints of the day in my internal office chat status update but we both have crosses in our cubicles. What is that? What are those names and dates? You can’t do that.
I most certainly refrained, after explaining they were Christian martyrs from ancient days through recent times who were willingly slain that day for Jesus. Someone else was bothered by it, she tidied-up.
Now, after decades of the almost-mythic failure of political correctness, things alas still find splendid annunciation upon the plane of consciousness. Wait, I know! Let’s hire a diversity executive in every company who is himself diverse! Wait. You mean not a bleached male, no doubt. And male even?
Say it fast: he, she, it. No, don’t. Choose your preference! Pick one, pick two!
Hi, I’m a grey rhombus! Sir/Ma’am/House, is that your essential nature? No I’m scared of the woods.
Ceaseless “I”-statements. Ceaseless uprooting of all possibility of authentic morality, of genuine grounds for actual value at all.
Have a coke or kill, and a smile? No no no, have a coke and die from cancer, with a smile.
Is that the light switch, or is that the wall around it? YOU’RE PREJUDICE, MAN!!! I MEAN SHE-IT!!!
What are we gonna do with you, Rhomby.
Back to the gulag in the air all around us.
There hails a spiritual tyranny at the behest of the adversary, roaming after your soul like a roaring lion after all jackal-pups, welling up through your unfettered passions taken for ambition and worldly success.
And there is love. Love which is not hot, mushy, sweaty, hamburgers, or your allegiance to nothing outside of the company except hamburgers, for that matter.
And to avoid the dualist trappings of destructive concept, let us rather say there is loving.
Loving that flows in one’s opening-being-opened to the world, to the diversity already at hand in creation. The universe. It has been here all along, but for whom?
And it will be here/there until the end of time, for what?
For whom does everything happen?
I am. And therefore I think?
How has anything intelligible been made intelligible? Is our underlying core essence such that all we need do is shine the light of our eyes, and boom, a thing!?
Without alterity, without the otherness of the other (and the Other), without the constant discovery of the exteriority of the interior life, there is only automata ad absurdum. Only possessed and divested mantra.
We live the life in Christ only by ceaseless interior prayer of that incomprehensibly most-intelligent organ of spirit the heart, by incessant humility among others, and by maintaining the courage to endure the immeasurably benevolent Fear of God and obedience of the beneficent balm of His Commandments.
And we do this only in that most-sacred sheepfold (the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic [Orthodox] Church) set apart by His first most-brave warriors of the integral soul now almost all but lost to the fragmentation of giving in, of prostitution of oneself for Roman approval, or for 30 pieces of Sanhedrin precious metal.
For all authentic values, all grounded morality, all co-existence between matter and spirit, oneself and the other, in peace, despite the ongoing play of forces (violence) of daily life, has always only truly been provided by God, through the one, true Church, and its Mysteries, its being Holy.
By no other way can godly lives be lived, can God-pleasing ways be grounded and transmitted. She (the Church) is the site of being. She, is the fourfold of all saving power.
And only Her preservation across the ages and forever of the Gospel, of the concrete living had therein and through its careful and manifold setting out of the one thing needful, can one proceed with Life itself.
Fear not, for I am with thee. Fear not, for I have redeemed thee. Fear not, for I have overcome the world. [Isaiah 41:10, 1; John 16:33]
In closing, only when all of this, the only pearl of great price, the road to which has been paved by the blood of martyrs, the Holy Icons blessing the walls of such have been lit by the fires of icon-burning persecution (Fr. John Krestiankin), and the ability to be struck ever anew by the Holy Gospel, have been taken away, can we ever become episcopally-sanctioned dissidents.
All else is death anyway, and any way you look at it, for those who have eyes to see, etc. In the meantime, everything sacred is being “replaced.”