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Category: David B. Hart

there is a choice

by Andrea Elizabeth

As far as I can tell, David B. Hart is saying that when all delusions are stripped away, everyone will eventually will to be united to God who is good. People who don’t choose him now do not see him as good and pursue other things they think are good. Goodness is the telos of everything. Maybe hell is being stripped of your delusions and still not wanting God, maybe because of the surrender involved.

If I remember right, Napoleon in Lewis’ Great Divorce was self-satisfied and kept moving away from God. Is this because God allowed him to keep his delusion? Was his happiness even a delusion?

I prefer either of these possibilities of hell to DBH’s inevitable universalism, because it still seems forced despite his rationalizations.

I also don’t relate to his desire for everyone to get along. It feels almost like communism to me where people are not allowed to think differently and find it important. He levels everything too violently and there seems some deep unhappiness at the root of it.

Cliff Lee and David B

by Andrea Elizabeth

My curiosity about what David B. Hart is up to and my subsequent curiosity on whether Cliff Lee is going to stay with the Rangers (probably not) met each other in the former’s First Things article, “A Perfect Game”. He is a delight to read. However, I’m glad he identifies his views as Platonic, and not Orthodox in the piece. My intuition lines up more with his Buddhist and Biblical comparisons with baseball, which seem more incarnational than his elusive Platonist forms.

In his later philosophy, Heidegger liked to indulge in eccentric etymologies because he was certain that there are truths deeply hidden in language. It is one of the more beguilingly magical aspects of his thought and therefore—to my mind—one of the more convincing. Consider, for instance, the wonderful ambiguity one finds in the word invention when one considers its derivation. The Latin invenire means principally “to find,” “to encounter,” or (literally) “to come upon.” Only secondarily does it mean “to create” or “to originate.” Even in English, where the secondary sense has now entirely displaced the primary, the word retained this dual connotation right through the seventeenth century. This pleases me for two reasons. The first is that, as an instinctive Platonist, I naturally believe that every genuine act of human creativity is simultaneously an innovation and a discovery, a marriage of poetic craft and contemplative vision that captures traces of eternity’s radiance in fugitive splendors here below by translating our tacit knowledge of the eternal forms into finite objects of reflection, at once strange and strangely familiar. The second is that the word’s ambiguity helps me to formulate my intuitions regarding the ultimate importance of baseball.

There are things I recognize in the above as pertaining to being made in the image of God, but the pathos and melancholy he describes throughout is about the elusiveness. One can tell he identifies with the batter in his descriptions and how low the odds are that he’ll hit a home run when he comes to bat. While I was watching the playoffs this year, I was identifying with the pitcher. Here is my psychological evaluation of Mr. Hart.

He has a very complicated relationship with his father and thus with God. The pitcher to him is the powerful almighty who is trying to trip him up, but if he’s good enough, he can anticipate and use the pitcher’s power for his own ends. He can’t win his approval, but he can beat him. This possibility sustains him even when most efforts fail. These failures inspire him to constantly outdo himself. Hence DBH’s over achievement in reading and writing. I think his writing can be classified as pretty consistent home runs though. Face to face, maybe not so much, which is what he’s upset about with his dad.

The pitcher to me has to be constantly aware of everyone and what they are doing. Pitching is like serving dinner on time while making sure the laundry’s done and the pool filter behind my back isn’t getting clogged up with leaves. One miscalculation or negligence will ruin everything and it’s “Good-bye baseball” as my favorite announcer, Dick Risenhoover, RIP, used to say.

The ever entertaining Mr. Hart

by Andrea Elizabeth

As I’ve concluded before, David B. Hart is decidedly a fun read. Decidedly, because that is how I have chosen to take him with my all too emphasized modern free will/volantarism (not). Now that I’ve read his First Things article, Believe it or Not, linked both by Mr. Orr and Ariston, with respective commentary, I would like to back away from Mr. Hart’s “purple prose” and examine the main point of departure that keeps me from promoting him as an Orthodox apologist. Well this and the criticism with a certain consensus that his dismissals are too scathing. But scathe can be a guilty pleasure as long as one’s own toes aren’t being scalded. Even then, scalded people have the option of developing thicker skin and joining the fun.

Where I theologically diverge is with his belief in Divine Simplicity. To be authoritative about this I would need to read St. Gregory Palamas’ debate with Barlaam, but I have listened to an hour long lecture by the accurate philosophical Orthodox apologist, Professor David Bradshaw (another video lecture is linked) explaining how the Greek philosophers were corrected by the Church Fathers on this issue. I have also read from this essay list, and I own an unread copy of his Aristotle East and West. Additionally I have picked up helpful understandings from Energetic Procession and other less direct sources about the essence/energies distinction. And St. Athanasius’ Incarnation can be read with an emphasis on the essence/energies explanation of our salvation.

Here is the quote from the article where Mr. Hart brings up, but is too disgusted to explain in detail, Divine Simplicity,

But something worse than mere misunderstanding lies at the base of Dawkins’ own special version of the argument from infinite regress—a version in which he takes a pride of almost maternal fierceness. Any “being,” he asserts, capable of exercising total control over the universe would have to be an extremely complex being, and because we know that complex beings must evolve from simpler beings and that the probability of a being as complex as that evolving is vanishingly minute, it is almost certain that no God exists. Q.E.D. But, of course, this scarcely rises to the level of nonsense. We can all happily concede that no complex, ubiquitous, omniscient, and omnipotent superbeing, inhabiting the physical cosmos and subject to the rules of evolution, exists. But who has ever suggested the contrary?

Numerous attempts have been made, by the way, to apprise Dawkins of what the traditional definition of divine simplicity implies, and of how it logically follows from the very idea of transcendence, and to explain to him what it means to speak of God as the transcendent fullness of actuality, and how this differs in kind from talk of quantitative degrees of composite complexity. But all the evidence suggests that Dawkins has never understood the point being made, and it is his unfortunate habit contemptuously to dismiss as meaningless concepts whose meanings elude him. Frankly, going solely on the record of his published work, it would be rash to assume that Dawkins has ever learned how to reason his way to the end of a simple syllogism.

Apparently contemptuous dismissals should at least be informed. Anyway. The essence energies distinction does maintain that God’s essence is simple and one, to my understanding, but this has to do with his stability and immutability. His overarching energy is goodness in which His other energies consist such as love, creativity, justice, beauty, etc. The energies do not exist outside of God but flow in and out and between the persons of the Trinity. Mr. Hart rightly says that God does not have to have evolved, but he resolves this by saying God is not complex. Orthodox theologians however say that His many various energies are also eternal as well as many. I would like to see more of a critique about the fallacy of the necessity of evolution, which isn’t provided here. I have never believed in evolution as I was brought up a young earth creationist. Since becoming Orthodox I suppose I am more open to old earth creation but am still doubtful of evolutionary changes. Changes in size and other adaptations have been shown to occur much more rapidly than previously supposed. I like what I’ve read from Fr. Seraphim Rose, who denies evolution, so far the best. Therefore I believe that complexity can be eternal just as the separate members of the Trinity are.

Mind and Heart

by Andrea Elizabeth

While discussing the heart and the mind with a fellow-parishoner yesterday after our newly begun Thursday Vespers service, David Bradshaw’s essay, “On Drawing the Mind into the Heart: Psychic Wholeness in the Greek Patristic Tradition” was recommended. Before today I’d only listened to one lecture that he gave (I thought I’d linked to the video, but I can’t find it. Here’s a post I wrote soon after, comparing him with David B. Hart. It also talks about the heart mind division, and I assigned DB to the mind and DBH to the heart at the time.), which gave me such peace about how to read philosophy from an Orthodox pov. I haven’t read his essays that have been linked in my sidebar for quite a while. Previously this was because I couldn’t open them with my former Macintosh computer. Now that I’m on Windows I can.

Backtracking further, it was recommended because I was placing the mind above the heart, citing how hard I have to concentrate to read Church Fathers such as St. Maximus, and how it seems an intellectual exercise. I also related that I have to similarly concentrate to focus during prayer and Church services. It seems in the head. Comprehending icons also seems in the head. My heart reactions seem to involve when I “feel” connected, which isn’t constant. When I concentrate on my heart I usually get sad. Additionally, I don’t trust it as I’ve described before somewhere. I trust my head more which is one reason I divided my blog. I either unpublished or put my heart at Thoughts and Things, ironic title, and left my head here. Also ironically, I “feel” better about and trust more what’s over here, but what’s over there is an integral part of me that I have chosen to keep alive, but with a barrier between. The disturbing painting by Frida Kahlo of the two Frida’s portrays how I feel and think about the two parts of me. I’m using her divided watermelons as my profile avatar over there. This makes me sad so I’ll stop talking about it, or I’ll have to put this post on the other side.

Back to Dr. Bradshaw. I stated before that he gave me peace, and that I thought he was in his head. I’ve probably misjudged him. He probably sounds un-heart-like because he is not a divided person, hence the peace. He may not be as exciting as DBH, but still small voices seldom are. Here’s a good quote from what I’ve read so far,

So far the Biblical conception of the heart is not too different from the modern conception.  Most people today would tend to agree that the heart is deep and hard to know, although it expresses itself in action and to some extent can also be shaped by action.  One point on which the Biblical conception is sharply different from the modern conception, however, is that in the Bible the heart has no particular connection with emotion.  Because it is the whole person at his deepest level, it is the seat not only of the emotions, but also of reason, intelligence, and desire.  In fact the Bible draws little distinction among these different functions.  The book of Proverbs commands, “O ye simple, understand wisdom:  and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart” (8:5).  The context makes plain that to be of an “understanding heart” is not primarily a matter of mental acuity, but of the possession of rightly ordered intentions and desires.  The reason that this is seen as a form of understanding is that for them to be rightly ordered requires that they be formed in light of the knowledge of God.

Voluntarism

by Andrea Elizabeth

According to Wikipedia, “Voluntarism is a descriptive term for a school of thought that regards the will as superior to the intellect and to emotion. This description has been applied to various points of view, from different cultural eras, in the areas of metaphysics, psychology, sociology, and theology.”

From what I can tell, they are putting the will, the intellect, and emotion into three different categories. By superior, I think voluntarists mean that it is more involved in determining reality than the other two. You can will that something exists even if it is irrational or psychologically uncomfortable to you at the same time. To me though, not having read Schopenhauer at all, but having liked his name since I watched most of My Dinner with Andre, it is placing the human will, in addition to being too compartmentalized from the intellect and emotions/heart, in the role of the source of reality. Perhaps this is what Dr. Hart was against in Christ and Nothing. It is very relativistic, making anyone able to invent their own reality. If they are doing this without their intellect or heart, then they must be completely random and haphazard. Surely they are being influenced by something, and not just choosing what to believe or do willy nilly.

To me, (if that’s not too relativistic, actually it is to the extent that I am not purified, and am governed by my ignorance and passions, which could be categorized under the intellect and the heart respectively, but I will to be influenced by obedience to God’s revelation, even if I sometimes defy myself, but that’s giving too much away in a parenthetical.) To me, according to my memory and understanding of St. Maximus the Confessor, our will is more ontological than that. I wont go into the gnomic will and the mature will in detail as I have already done on this blog, but our wills are made by God to choose God freely. A will that doesn’t choose God is acting against nature and is deluded by sin. Delusion involves the intellect and sin involves rationalization which covers up dark desires, which again, are foreign to our nature, but captivating none-the-less. Therefore, if our minds and emotions are darkened by passions, we often choose, or will, incorrectly, against our predestined nature in Christ. So the choice is, recognize that things aren’t right and will to turn to God to be illumined by grace, which will ultimately lead one to the Orthodox Church and theosis/union with God, if we stay on that path. Or we can choose to invent our own reality based on our darkened demon-influenced intellect and passions, or seemingly random willi-nilliness.

Back to the source of reality. God is ontologically real, whether we choose to believe so or not. Our wills are ontologically made to choose His life and to know Him in purity and blessedness. But we are free to choose otherwise, and I believe that this happens when people love their dark delusions more than they love God. This also has to do with not wanting to face the hell of humiliation that comes when our sins are illumined. Though the deluded state is also hell. Its delights are ontologically temporary and the hangover becomes more intensely painful than the pleasure was. Humility and love for God helps one bear the humiliation. As St. Silouan said, “keep your mind in hell and do not despair”. This is a choice. But it doesn’t have to stay painful. The three youths didn’t feel the flames, and they, like Peter in the water, had the choice to concentrate on Christ instead.

The Fr. McGuckin/Dr. Hart exchange

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’m trying to decide whether to pay the $15 for David B. Hart’s response to Fr. McGuckin’s critique in the Scottish Journal of Theology of the former’s The Beauty of the Infinite, which enjoys this review from the latter,

“The same issue of the Scottish Journal of Theology has a symposium on David Hart‘s remarkable book The Beauty of the Infinite. John McGuckin of Columbia University writes, “It is undoubtedly one of the most important and timely works of theology written for many decades past, and will prove itself to be so, I suspect, despite many eccentricities and idiosyncratic judgments.” “Many decades” may be pushing it, but certainly the most interesting and provocative book of theology in the …”

I’m leaning towards reading the book first, but Dr. Hart offers such a tantalizing rhetorical carrot in this little teaser,

“I should first of all thank John McGuckin and Francesca Murphy for their remarks; both are scholars I very much respect, and it is flattering that they think my work worthy of their scrutiny and of – occasionally – their animadversions. I much prefer praise to censure, of course, but only the latter affords any scope for a meaningful reply. One dare not respond to a compliment by agreeing with it, or amplifying upon it; but to demur from it is to squander a gift that may not come again. So it is probably for the best that, even if I have apparently succeeded on the whole in pleasing both readers, I have nevertheless failed to please either of them in every particular. And I hope I may be excused for confining my replies almost entirely to their more critical remarks.”

DBH on the will and the death of paganism

by Andrea Elizabeth

I think I see where he’s going with the tragedy of the withdrawal of the pagan gods with the coming of Christ. This is a cool paragraph from Christ and Nothing,

I should admit that I, for one, feel considerable sympathy for Nietzsche’s plaint, “Nearly two-thousand years and no new god” — and for Heidegger intoning his mournful oracle: “Only a god can save us.” But of course none will come. The Christian God has taken up everything into Himself; all the treasures of ancient wisdom, all the splendor of creation, every good thing has been assumed into the story of the incarnate God, and every stirring towards transcendence is soon recognized by the modern mind — weary of God — as leading back towards faith. Antique pieties cannot be restored, for we moderns know that the hungers they excite can be sated only by the gospel of Christ and him crucified. To be a Stoic today, for instance, is simply to be a soul in via to the Church; a Platonist, most of us understand, is only a Christian manqué; and a polytheist is merely a truant from the one God he hates and loves.

So without the old pagan order and without Christ, there is nothing left in our culture, only nihilism. He laments the vacuous wasteland of post-Christian culture that has left only dissatisfied people longing for more, and not being able to go back to a secular time when there was more. Here’s where he connects the will to nihilism,

The only cult that can truly thrive in the aftermath of Christianity is a sordid service of the self, of the impulses of the will, of the nothingness that is all that the withdrawal of Christianity leaves behind.

I think he is equating “the will” to “willfulness” or “selfishness”, which I don’t think is necessary. St. Maximus teaches, if I remember correctly, that humans are born with a gnomic or immature will that needs to be trained in a habit of virtue. A selfish will is an untrained will, which is not inherently bad. It needs to remember, or we must remember to employ it, to desire Christ. I totally agree with his cure in the last part of this essay, and will let it speak for itself.

Dr. Hart on ADS, free will, and the Ordo Theologiae

by Andrea Elizabeth

Dr. Hart seems to have a push/pull style. Either in appreciation followed by harsh critique, or the reverse. A bit past half-way in Christ and Nothing he’s nicer to Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics.

In any event, developed Christian theology rejected nothing good in the metaphysics, ethics, or method of ancient philosophy, but — with a kind of omnivorous glee — assimilated such elements as served its ends, and always improved them in the process. Stoic morality, Plato’s language of the Good, Aristotle’s metaphysics of act and potency — all became richer and more coherent when emancipated from the morbid myths of sacrificial economy and tragic necessity. In truth, Christian theology nowhere more wantonly celebrated its triumph over the old gods than in the use it made of the so-called spolia Aegyptorum; and, by despoiling pagan philosophy of its most splendid achievements and integrating them into a vision of reality more complete than philosophy could attain on its own, theology took to itself irrevocably all the intellectual glories of antiquity. The temples were stripped of their gold and precious ornaments, the sacred vessels were carried away into the precincts of the Church and turned to better uses, and nothing was left behind but a few grim, gaunt ruins to lure back the occasional disenchanted Christian and shelter a few atavistic ghosts.

If he, like Goliath, got tired of unworthy opponents, as was brought out in reviews of his new book on neo-atheism, I guess he feels he has to play Good Cop and Bad Cop at the same time. I gather Plato did as well in his dialogues. Fiction writers get to do this too, especially wide thinking ones like Dostoevsky. Here he’s harder on the moderns,

it does seem clear to me that the special preoccupations and perversities of modern philosophy were incubated in the age of late Scholasticism, with the rise of nominalism and voluntarism. Whereas earlier theology spoke of God as Goodness as such, whose every act (by virtue of divine simplicity) expresses His nature, the spectre that haunts late Scholastic thought is a God whose will precedes His nature, and whose acts then are feats of pure spontaneity. It is a logically incoherent way of conceiving of God, as it happens (though I cannot argue that here), but it is a powerful idea, elevating as it does will over all else and redefining freedom — for God and, by extension, for us — not as the unhindered realization of a nature (the liberty to “become what you are”), but as the absolute liberty of the will in determining even what its nature is.

Forgive me for commenting before I finish the rest, but I’m afraid I’ll forget my reaction, and I guess I don’t want to be alone on the journey. At the beginning of the essay he talked about everyone nowadays having too much freedom to choose. I’m not sure how he ties that into nihilism yet, and I’ve never heard that the late scholastics posit that God’s will precedes his nature. The Fathers have been clear, in my reading, about denouncing determinism. The first time I heard a firm stance on this was in Patriarch Jeremiah the II’s three replies [edited 6-28-09 to say that the excerpt about determinism seems to have been edited out, I guess I’ll have to buy the book and excerpt it myself] to the Augsburg Confession given from 1576 to 1581. To me, nature preceding will is deterministic. Further, having will or activities proceed from Person and precede Nature does not necessarily imply “spontaneity”, which has the connotation of reactionarianism or impulsivity. God can still be a consistent good willer. God is good. Subject/God, verb/activities or will, object/nature. Maybe it’s different in the Greek, I don’t know. Even romantic languages put adjectives after nouns. Adjectives are subordinate to the person, and to me, “Nature” is an adjective, or at least words that describe it are.

God has a perfect will, we do not. So so far I do not see the problem with having too many things to choose from in today’s world. (btw, I do not know the difference between voluntarism and free will) But there is more opportunity for an imperfect will to achieve it’s desires, or at least it’s easier and more socially acceptable. This does not have to be a bad thing. To choose rightly out of love rather than lack of opportunity to choose wrongly, or from fear of retribution is a higher way to choose, imo. Mother Gabriella said that the fear of the Lord is being afraid to hurt one’s beloved.

Therefore I do not see that reversing the order allows humans to determine what human nature is. There are semantics involved, but Christ determined all human nature to be in His image and likeness and when humans choose differently in sinning, they exhibit a corrupted, or hidden human nature, not an anything-goes nature.

Unrelated comment: I like what he says about God not creating or needing our sacrifices out of any necessity on His part.

Athens and Jerusalem II

by Andrea Elizabeth

Dr. Hart’s Christ and Nothing is not encouraging me to read Plato either. If modern philosophy denounces Platonic hierarchies, then I think perhaps some proper evolution has occurred. In Christ and Nothing, Dr. Hart talks about how revolutionary Christ was in the pagan order of things.

The great Indo-European mythos, from which Western culture sprang, was chiefly one of sacrifice: it understood the cosmos as a closed system, a finite totality, within which gods and mortals alike occupied places determined by fate. And this totality was, of necessity, an economy, a cycle of creation and destruction, oscillating between order and chaos, form and indeterminacy: a great circle of feeding, preserving life through a system of transactions with death. This is the myth of “cosmos” — of the universe as a precarious equilibrium of contrary forces — which undergirded a sacral practice whose aim was to contain nature’s promiscuous violence within religion’s orderly violence. The terrible dynamism of nature had to be both resisted and controlled by rites at once apotropaic — appeasing chaos and rationalizing it within the stability of cult — and economic — recuperating its sacrificial expenditures in the form of divine favor, a numinous power reinforcing the regime that sacrifice served. And this regime was, naturally, a fixed hierarchy of social power, atop which stood the gods, a little lower kings and nobles, and at the bottom slaves; the order of society, both divine and natural in provenance, was a fixed and yet somehow fragile “hierarchy within totality” that had to be preserved against the forces that surrounded it, while yet drawing on those forces for its spiritual sustenance. Gods and mortals were bound together by necessity; we fed the gods, who required our sacrifices, and they preserved us from the forces they personified and granted us some measure of their power. There was, surely, an ineradicable nihilism in such an economy: a tragic resignation before fate, followed by a prudential act of cultic salvage, for the sake of social and cosmic stability.

[…]This is true even of Platonism, with its inextirpable dualism, its dialectic of change and the changeless (or of limit and the infinite), and its equation of truth with eidetic abstraction; the world, for all its beauty, is the realm of fallen vision, separated by a great chorismos from the realm of immutable reality.

It is true of Aristotle too: the dialectic of act and potency that, for sublunary beings, is inseparable from decay and death, or the scale of essences by which all things — especially various classes of persons — are assigned their places in the natural and social order. Stoicism offers an obvious example: a vision of the universe as a fated, eternally repeated divine and cosmic history, a world in which finite forms must constantly perish simply in order to make room for others, and which in its entirety is always consumed in a final ecpyrosis (which makes a sacrificial pyre, so to speak, of the whole universe). And Neoplatonism furnishes the most poignant example, inasmuch as its monism merely inverts earlier Platonism’s dualism and only magnifies the melancholy. Not only is the mutable world separated from its divine principle — the One — by intervals of emanation that descend in ever greater alienation from their source, but because the highest truth is the secret identity between the human mind and the One, the labor of philosophy is one of escape: all multiplicity, change, particularity, every feature of the living world, is not only accidental to this formless identity, but a kind of falsehood, and to recover the truth that dwells within, one must detach oneself from what lies without, including the sundry incidentals of one’s individual existence; truth is oblivion of the flesh, a pure nothingness, to attain which one must sacrifice the world.

Granted, some of these concepts can be translated or corrected into a Christian view, but I don’t think a pagan would have done that for himself.

It is worth asking ourselves what this tableau, viewed from the vantage of pagan antiquity, would have meant. A man of noble birth, representing the power of Rome, endowed with authority over life and death, confronted by a barbarous colonial of no name or estate, a slave of the empire, beaten, robed in purple, crowned with thorns, insanely invoking an otherworldly kingdom and some esoteric truth, unaware of either his absurdity or his judge’s eminence. Who could have doubted where, between these two, the truth of things was to be found? But the Gospel is written in the light of the resurrection, which reverses the meaning of this scene entirely. If God’s truth is in fact to be found where Christ stands, the mockery visited on him redounds instead upon the emperor, all of whose regal finery, when set beside the majesty of the servile shape in which God reveals Himself, shows itself to be just so many rags and briars.

This slave is the Father’s eternal Word, whom God has vindicated, and so ten thousand immemorial certainties are unveiled as lies: the first become last, the mighty are put down from their seats and the lowly exalted, the hungry are filled with good things while the rich are sent empty away.

Since my background with the pre-Christian world is mostly in the Old Testament, I do not think that the pagan order was a universal view. There were coups of power all the time, like that of the younger sons, Seth, Jacob, and Joseph, the Hebrew slave, Moses, thwarting Egypt, pagan Ruth being the great-grandmother of King David, who supplanted his birth order and Jonathan’s right to the throne. It seems Israel was influenced at times by their pagan neighbors, but God brought about cleansings of the idols and admonitions against the wrong attitude of offering sacrifices, (like Psalm 50/51). Many Jews did not recognize Christ, but they were not the ones who followed their own tradition in spirit and in truth. Many Jews did, and they were the first converts. I get the idea that the OT people I mention above would have. In other words, types of Christ had existed throughout all time, even though a minority may have recognized them.

I am also pondering what would have happened if Greek (Athens) had not been the language of the Early Church. Since the Jews (Jerusalem) rejected Christ and the early Church did not continue in Hebrew, we will never know. However we still have the Old Testament which was decidedly Hebrew, the Septuagint Greek’s translation notwithstanding. I have read a little about how Hebrew storytelling is metaphorical and pictoral. Being mostly a concrete thinker I identify with Christ as Shepherd, the Lamb of God, the Rock of Ages. I also believe that there are enough references to the Old Testament in the services and Church Fathers to keep that imagery and method alive (maybe a friendship between this method and the idea of forms and analogeia entis can be made, which I may explore later). The Church Fathers, starting with St. Paul on Mars Hill, apparently did not inact a dialectical antagonism between the two in practice, at least not to the point of cleansing the language references of either one, Tertullian’s and Justin Martyr’s differences of opinion notwithstanding.

“East is East and West is West and the [right] one I have chose”

by Andrea Elizabeth

Having now finished the comments linked in my last post, and my recent samplings of Drs. Davids Bradshaw and B. Hart, including half of Christ and Nothing, I see these two men as representing the conflict in my own soul between “correctness” and “freedom, love, and self-expression”. I put Dr. Hart in the “freedom, love, and self-expression” category because behind his very pointed critiques, I sense a love of western writing, and a desire to be his brilliant self amidst disapproval from more rigid Orthodox. I also have a love of western writing, but I am offended at their incorrectness and wrong perspective on many important things that I think have lead to Calvinism on one side and romantic fantasy on the other. It does not seem Dr. Hart is as bothered by these two things. Am I too scared of them? I shudder at the thought, but I cannot dismiss people like him who do not have the walls up that I do. These Orthodox intellectuals are my bridge to my past. I cannot wholeheartedly love the subjects that they love anymore, because I feel too damaged by them, but I feel in some way, these people who are friendlier to western thoughts or methods, who I do not think have been as personally damaged by them and are thus not as estranged, can broaden horizons and provide some sort of connection to my roots and my upbringing, which I do not believe is totally depraved.

I can rest in Dr. Bradshaw’s pointed and surgical correction of the past, and his calm, dispassionate manner. Though even he is more friendly to western thought than I am. I still have a hesitancy to reading the ancient Greek philosophers (btw, it is interesting to me how they are attributed to rooting western thought, though Greek Orthodoxy is decidedly Eastern). I want to read from people who get it right, or at least more right than me. I was a Sola Scripturist after all, and am still not convinced Plato is more right than me, smarter though he be. Dr. Bradshaw’s open-mindedness to studying the ancients, and Dr. Hart’s open-mindedness to engaging more modern philosophy, and other smart Orthodox who are still open-minded to western literature, intrigue me, so I think I’ll continue to try to undialectically read them, and maybe some of their primary sources, and will keep an ear out for Fr. Behr and Fr. McGuckin as well.