by Andrea Elizabeth
I would like to welcome you to my new site for a new year: andreaelizabeth.wordpress.com
I’m not saying the details aren’t important, they’re just stressful right now because they divide us. There’s a time and place for them, I suppose. And who knows how God will deal with them? Will I be found to keep them well enough?
The details are doctrinal, personal, and painful. I’m writing the personal and painful ones by hand in a journal my mother gave me. They are the details of our two week trip to the northeast to visit our graduate student son, George’s dying dear mother, who did pass away in the middle of it, and Poppy, the 32 year old horse that she loved so much, who died 5 days before she did.
“O God of spirits and of all flesh, Who has trampled down Death and overthrown the Devil, and given life unto Your world, give, we beseech You, eternal rest to the soul of Your departed servant, in a place of brightness, in a place of verdure, in a place of repose, from whence all pain, sorrow, and sighing, have fled away.
Pardon, we beseech You, every transgression which may have been committed, whether by word or deed or thought. For there is no man who lives and does not commit a sin. You only are without sin, Your righteousness is everlasting, and Your word is the Truth.
For You are the Resurrection, and the Life, and the repose of Your departed servant, O Christ our God, and unto You we ascribe glory, together with eternal the Father, and Your Most Holy, and Good, and Life-giving Spirit, now and forever, and for ages to come.” Amen
“May our gracious and merciful Lord, who rose from the dead, Christ, our True God, through the intercessions of His Holy Mother and of all the Saints, establish the soul of His departed servant in the mansions of the righteous; give rest in the bosom of Abraham, and number [her] soul among the just, and have mercy upon us and save us”.
Eternal be Your memory.
Details are depressing me, the light, the light, the light is calling me. Christmas music is sounding joy, let it be repeated.
The above is far eastern and far western, but it’s where I am.
Tis the season where everyone says and pictures Christ, Mary, and St Nicholas, lights candles, and enjoys smells and bells. Everyone is Orthodox in December.
The dirt lay peacefully and effortlessly on the side of the mountain, oblivious to its dependence on thousands of trees standing arm and arm to keep it from the brink of erosion.
Another thing I looked up between episodes of Elizabeth R was The Enlightenment. I think I wanted to know if this occurred during the Elizabethan era. It apparently slowly began 50 years after her death in 1603. Wikipedia shares Bertrand Russell’s belief that The Enlightenment is connected to the Protestant Reformation.
Russell argues that the enlightenment was ultimately born out of the Protestant reaction against the Catholic counter-reformation, when the philosophical views of the past two centuries crystallized into a coherent world view. He argues that many of the philosophical views, such as affinity for democracy against monarchy, originated among Protestants in the early 16th century to justify their desire to break away from the pope and the Catholic Church. Though many of these philosophical ideals were picked up by Catholics, Russell argues, by the 18th century the Enlightenment was the principal manifestation of the schism that began with Martin Luther.
Chartier (1991) argues that the Enlightenment was only invented after the fact for a political goal. He claims the leaders of the French Revolution created an Enlightenment canon of basic text, by selecting certain authors and identifying them with The Enlightenment in order to legitimize their republican political agenda.
Historian Jonathan Israel dismisses the post-modern interpretation of the Enlightenment and the attempts of modern historians to link social and economical reasons for the revolutionary aspect of the period. He instead focuses on the history of ideas in the period from 1650 to the end of the 18th century, and claims that it was the ideas themselves that caused the change that eventually led to the revolutions of the later half of the 18th century and the early 19th century. Israel argues that until the 1650s Western civilization “was based on a largely shared core of faith, tradition and authority”.
Up until this date most intellectual debates revolved around “confessional” – that is Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed (Calvinist), or Anglican issues”, and the main aim of these debates was to establish which bloc of faith ought to have the “monopoly of truth and a God-given title to authority”. After this date everything thus previously rooted in tradition was questioned and often replaced by new concepts in the light of philosophical reason. After the second half of the 17th century and during the 18th century a “general process of rationalization and secularization set in which rapidly overthrew theology’s age-old hegemony in the world of study”, and thus confessional disputes were reduced to a secondary status in favor of the “escalating contest between faith and incredulity”.
If The Enlightenment during the 18th C was the age of reason, and was replaced by Romanticism/Idealism in the 19th, then could it be that before that, people’s hearts and minds were more united, hence Elizabeth, Shakespeare and co.? Next time I read or watch one of his plays, I’ll look for that. Oh I remember now, the Shakespearean language in Elizabeth R is so beautiful, I wanted to know what influenced it. Intelligent hearts.
Elizabeth R (1971) on Netflix streaming is a surprisingly good and captivating 6 episode miniseries. I agree with this reviewer, though I’ll take her word for how historically accurate it is, that the costumes themselves are reason enough to watch all 9 plus hours.
I’m divided as to whether so much time should have been spent on courtly love. It probably accurately reflected its emphasis in the period, however.
What I appreciated most was the handling of the religious climate. Elizabeth 1 solidified Protestantism in the land. I hadn’t studied how much the campaigns of the time were about which Church would control western Europe. Since Protestantism won, what are we to conclude? I get ahead of myself. What did Protestantism have to do with the success of Elizabeth? My tendency is to say that in her case, the best “man” won. She was smarter and more savvy than her counterparts. She didn’t take her religious superiority for granted as much as Mary 1, Mary Queen of Scott’s, or Phillip II of Spain did, which to me doesn’t speak to the merits of their confessions, but of their personal characters, educations, backgrounds and talents. Now, did God ordain Elizabeth to be superior in these ways? That’s the tough question. If so, was it because of the defects of Catholicism? Since I am neither Protestant nor Catholic, but Eastern Orthodox, I don’t have to choose between the two. I can speculate that He let the Protestants ascend to stop a tyrant. Since my background is Protestant, I can also believe that the Protestant values of individual critical thought have influenced westerners to be able to think in terms of an alternative to Roman Catholicism. That protesting the Catholic Church is a necessary step. But only as a step towards Orthodox Christianity. So was it necessary to go through the last 400 years to get to Orthodoxy in the west? Surely not is my impression. But maybe so. It took 3758 years to make Christ, not to mention Mary, after all.
I voted. Don’t think I will in the one tomorrow. Romney’s got Texas, so I can passively resist the idea that salvation comes from the government.
About state vs. federal, hurricane disaster relief highlights this issue. It doesn’t seem like states can afford to clean up and rebuild, but I don’t know. If they can’t, should vulnerable coast lines be deemed too impractical to set up shop in? The locals would say they want to stay, but that’s because of their ties to the past, not that that’s not a good argument. There is also a national identity with those places. Since the Panama Canal, Americans have been determined to move heaven and earth to get and keep what they want. I’m curious about the existential experiment that lets nature win. But maybe that’s not fulfilling the mandate to “subdue the earth”. And I wonder if Sandy and Katrina, and maybe Andrew are worse than ever before (except for the flood), indicating end times (as did the flood), or just before recorded measurements.
In researching the prevalence of nudity in college figure drawing classes, I came across this article, Nudity in Art: A Virtue or Vice. Some good points are made, especially the one about how certain poses and gestures done by clothed people can be more sexual, but I think the article minimizes the power of the private parts of human bodies and our response to them. I agree that some objections are based in the wrong idea that bodies and sex are bad, but, maybe it’s just me, I think that showing our most intimate parts is distracting. My eye is drawn to them and not the rest. You can avoid being prudish amd Puritanical by seeing these parts as too bright, instead of dark, to view comfortably. Do we really want to become desensitized to that power? Draping those parts can better lead attention to the overall structure, form, grace, and luminescence of the human body. I think the painting in the right margin by Vitaly Schtonko of the shepherd with the beautiful drapes is the most glorious depiction of skin on the page.
Lately I’ve been wondering if God is a perfectionist. A perfectionist rejects and disdains imperfection. When a Protestant I believed He was. And that Jesus had to cloak our disgustingness with His robe of righteousness. I still felt dirty underneath.
An alternative is to believe our innate goodness, good intentions, or even our willingness to bear Him will make us attractive enough to win His favor. If Christ is so much better, well intentioned, and devoted, how can we be enough?
The homily Sunday was about not asking why God loves us, but how it is important to believe He does. If unworthiness doesn’t prevent it, is God blind? Or extremely condescending? But don’t we condescend to our children and pets because they are attractive to us? But enemies aren’t attractive, and loving them is the true test of Christianity. But aren’t our efforts to love them usually based on forced obedience? I don’t think God loves begrudgingly. If our sins make us enemies of God, do we have to get over feeling so lovable? That’s the opposite of self esteem. Yet He loves us freely. It still seems that we are to find our enemies lovable, or it wouldn’t be love. Love implies desire, not just detached servitude. Is it then a contradiction to say unworthy lovable-ness? Seems so to me. The pure see God in the unworthy somehow, and that’s how they love them. Is their unworthiness cloaked over? I don’t think so, I think their distinctness is part of the attraction. I think understanding why they are imperfect, if even that is accurately seen, helps make them lovable. But we are to strive for perfection and repent of all of our unrighteousness. Do we have to be completely successful? Believing so is motivating, fear of God and all, and I think safer.
I have heard transgendered people say that they are being true to themselves by surgically and hormonally changing their bodies. My first opinion about this is that we are not our sexual orientation. Transgendered people will probably say that they didn’t so much do it because of who they are attracted to, because they probably don’t have any qualms about appearing hetero or homo sexual, but it seems that sexual relationships are usually involved in their sense of identity. Indeed in even homosexual relationships, each person seems to assume a masculine or feminine identity. There doesn’t seem to be a gender neutral (SNL’s Pat appears more masculine to me). If we are not our orientation, which does seem to be tied to our sense of our own gender, then does it follow that we are not our gender either? I don’t mean to prioritize gender so much, but a story about a transgendered person did make me start thinking about identity.
When the Bible says that there is no longer male or female, Jew nor Greek, I am lead to believe that gender is not the source of identity. Growing up with a Protestant, Christ only, view of Christianity, Christ has been the sole example of humanity, so one sort of has to ignore they are female when focusing on that. There are of course many gender distinctions in the Bible such as who can teach whom and so forth, but that can be somewhat separated from one’s spiritual aspirations. It is hard to come to terms with the Orthodox perspective of increased veneration of female Saints, but I’ll say even they are Christlike.
This is all to say that from the Christian (an identity that applies both to male and female) perspective, our gender is not who we are. With that I’ll not dispose of St. Maximus’ distinctions, but the distinctions are not as obvious as we may think. Male Saints can be praised for having certain female characteristics, perhaps gentleness, and vice versa. There are many hymns that praise female Saints for “manfully bearing …” too. Therefore I think that what men and women can properly do is pretty fluid.
Then we come to traditions. There are many cultural and Christian traditions that relegate what a man and woman can properly do as men and women. In the ’60′s these traditions where criticized and the social penalties for not conforming to them where thrown out the window. More recently, I think there has been a more tolerant view of traditional “options”. They have become a matter of aesthetic choice. A person is to be true to themselves, and some people may have a more fundamentalist makeup. I’ve even wondered if this is true. At bottom, I think everyone should choose to be traditionally Christian, but maybe that’s because I score very high in judging in that personality test. Good grief. I actually don’t feel all that traditional. I don’t like feeling boxed in. I love and respect the Orthodox traditions, but I’m a bit lenient sometimes.
Some people’s identity seems very linked to their occupation. I was watching a female classical xylophone player the other day, and was amazed at her precision, quickness, and attention to musical dynamics. To focus so much energy into becoming that proficient means that you have to totally believe in music. Your whole life has to become about music. While it was most impressive, I wonder if music is worth that much belief in it and its importance. Of all the disciplines, I probably would say that music is at the top of that list. I think it’s God’s language, but it’s not His only one. Jesus is called the Word, but did he sing the world into existence? I wonder. I think atoms are probably harmonically held together.
Men and women can harmonize together. Last night we heard the male Stretensky Monastery Choir perform in Dallas. It was beautiful and wonderful and transporting, but towards the end in the folk music section the conductor turned around and lead the Russians, who were many, in the audience in singing the chorus to a particular song, which they all knew. I think it was my favorite part of the whole concert. I was hungry for the higher, lighter registers, as much as I loved the lower ones up to that point. It’s nice to hear them in their individual settings, but I like variety.
In an old blog, in my profile I wrote, “I am what I like”. While what I like is important to my sense of self, asceticism is doing without things we like. Perhaps the ascetic likes asceticism more! But we don’t empty ourselves to be empty. We want to like Christ more.