A beautiful quote from Eugenia Constantinou’s Thinking Orthodox: Understanding and Acquiring the Orthodox Christian Mind has been making the rounds on social media: Being Orthodox in mind requires that one accept ambiguity, uncertainty, mystery, and paradox. Perhaps this encourages humility before God. We cannot rely on clever explanations or beloved definitions, and we must accept […]
I never really wrapped up my series on Rod Dreher’s Life Not by Lies. I spent a lot of time in my previous posts discussing my problems with Rod Dreher’s historical analysis, and I promised my readers a post in which I discussed my disagreements with his ideas about Christianity (and also some comments about the places where my concerns and Dreher’s overlap, which I’ll do in this post as well). I’m on much shakier ground criticizing Dreher’s ideas about Christianity than when criticizing his ideas about history and politics; I might wander into territory where I attack Dreher’s faith itself, and I don’t want to do that. In fact, I almost gave up on this post altogether. Why would I, a relatively new convert to Orthodoxy, want to waste energy criticizing the religious beliefs of another Orthodox Christian?
I felt compelled to write today, on my favorite feast day of the Church, Pentecost. Today we celebrate the origin of the Church, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles with tongues of fire and they spoke in many languages to the crowd of people who had gathered for the Jewish feast day from throughout the known world.
My priest and spiritual father gave me an English translation of Saint Jean of Saint-Denis’s Technique de la prière (A Method of Prayer for Modern Times, published by Praxis Institute Press in 1993), which I’ve been reading off-and-on since the fall. Saint Jean of Saint-Denis was born Evgraf Kovalevsky and was the first hierarch of the […]
Rod Dreher’s magazine, The American Conservative, recently published a review of Professor Carol Any’s new book on censorship, self-censorship, and the Soviet Writers’ Union under Joseph Stalin. The review’s author, literary scholar Gary Saul Morson, makes an oblique reference to the “cherished causes and moralistic ideologies” of the present day, but apart from that does not draw too many analogous between the very concrete, horrific oppression described in Any’s book and “cancel culture” in 2021.
My foray into Rod Dreher and the culture war that follows him like his own personal raincloud began with this post from December, where I recorded Dreher’s engagement with several so-called “leftist Orthodox brigade.” These Orthoprogressives, warned Dreher, are on the march.
I begin this series on Rod Dreher’s Live Not By Lies by examining a nearly fifty-year-old essay that inspired the title of Dreher’s book: Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “Live Not By Lies,” dated February 12, 1974, the same day the KGB broke into Solzhenitsyn’s apartment and arrested him, seizing a draft of his Gulag Archipelago (already published and circulating through the West) as a pretense for his arrest.
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