Are alphas born?
by Andrea Elizabeth
My new thought on western romanticism, mostly born out here in posts on C.S. Lewis’s Allegory of Love, where it is claimed that courtly love began around 1100 a.d. (which seems timely with the schism between east and west, imo), is that it is very tied to alpha male and alpha female ism. I believe most people identify with lead characters in stories of dashing heroes who save beautiful princesses. Even if we do not believe ourselves to be as dashing and beautiful as the people in the stories, we probably hoped that we would be when we were children, and that hope may still be unhappily buried throughout life. I am thinking that this may be a western phenomenon.
In western chivalry, all spoils go to the victor who rules over the kingdom, from where he selects the most worthy lady to co-rule with him. Those who lose in this struggle either die or become meaningless servants, valued for their tributes only. Thus the appeal of western romanticism is to identify yourself as the victorious, special male or worthy, special female, even vicariously. I’m also thinking this plays into the American dream of individual home ownership. “A man’s home is his castle.” There’s really no room for equal community in this scheme. Even supporting American laborers are allowed some measure of this individual alpha identification after hours.
From what little I know of Russia and Russians, where Eastern Orthodoxy has been most largely played out, I do not get the same sense of order. It seems that things were mostly a free for all, even though strong men and women held sway. But it was not because they were the most romantically worthy. They best not go to sleep because anyone could take back from them at any time. Individual conquering men do not seem to have been held in the same savior role. Individually strong characteristics may push harder than others, but I don’t think the whole person was glorified in the same way.
This difference may affect how the east views spiritual fathers and elders. A western convert, or even a western influenced cradle Eastern Orthodox, may bring in the western romantic idea of a spiritual father being their alpha savior to whom they can pledge allegiance, and perhaps through whom they can become the alpha queen equivalent (don’t get too literal about gender here) in their own realm. This idea may need adjustment.
I believe the proper view of a spiritual father is that they can guide one on the path to becoming united to Christ through passing along the three fold path of salvation: purgation, illumination, and theosis. He is a guide who serves, not a romantic savior. I think this confusion also influences how we view veneration of the Saints. To view them as chivalric saviors is idolatry. To see them as guides to the proper worship in and belief about God is to see them as helpers. They should also identify with us as equally created fellow humans, not as special alpha people.
I think this unhealthy romanticism also influences how people, especially women and perhaps some men, see mentoring in general. It should not be about the personal association with an alpha male, it should be about guidance in the truth of how to be with God.