Words

Life

Category: theosis

That they may be one

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’m starting to agree with this essay on administrative unity.

Let me remind you, just in case you forgot, that the Lord’s imperative for unity in “That they may be one” has little to do with organizational structure. It has everything to do with theosis and communion. It has everything to do with fidelity to the apostles’ teaching and the reception of the sacraments administered by them and their successors.

– Fr. Jonathan Tobias

Here it is

by Andrea Elizabeth

Not feeling very wordy lately, but I want to be a regular blogger. I don’t have anything insightful or insiderly to share really. I thought about doing a post on the PBS documentary rerun I saw Saturday on The Last Conquistador statue controversy in El Paso. But even though I side with the mistreated Natives, the argument seems kind of tired. Let the white bread people of pro-Spanish and ignored Native descent choose their own heroes. Let the minority native clingers keep protesting and preserving their heritage amidst much opposition.

I also thought of blogging on the new statistics George told me he heard on the radio about sex among teenagers. But I can’t find the source or the statistics and why should you trust my third-hand information? I’ll just say that he said that they said only 1/3 of teens make it to graduation from highschool as virgins in practice. But how many of them have witnessed and thus somewhat vicariously participated in sex second hand? There is a larger question about why don’t we get struck by lightning when we don’t follow the rules that is probably worth exploring.

Falwell and co. used to imply that STD’s and bombings were punishing lightning bolts, but what about when we figure out how to avoid those? Satan told Eve, you’re not going to die, go ahead. And she didn’t die – not for a long time. And what about those “soul-destroying heresies”? The heretics seem to be doing pretty well, and it seems nicer to appreciate their good sides nowadays. Post-mortem punishment? Orthodox don’t believe in the wrath of God, but we do believe folks wont enjoy heaven if they reject God, which includes by sinning. C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce makes Napoleon and those other guys who opt out of heaven to seem like they’re not suffering all that badly either. They don’t seem to realize what they’re missing in the great beyond.

People don’t even seem to have guilty consciences anymore. Sometimes it takes something to activate one’s conscience if someone, like David after Bathsheeba, was in denial. He really wanted to walk right with God though. I don’t know if teenagers care that much about that. I tend to think that’s because of parental neglect. Today’s parents were either ’60’s rule breakers or where raised by them. I’ve sort of criticized the motivation by fear technique of ’50’s society. That isn’t the answer either. I guess motivation by the lives of the Saints is better. Saints like St. Mary of Egypt fought against their passions and had the rewards illuminated to people. I find motivation by illumination compelling.

The inferiority of changeableness

by Andrea Elizabeth

From Kierkegaard’s exposition on Plato’s Phaedo in The Concept of Irony with Continual Reference to Socrates, p. 73:

Now, the soul has the greatest similarity to what is divine, immortal, rational, homogeneous, indissoluble, and is ever self-consistent and invariable; whereas the body has the greatest similarity to that which is human, mortal, irrational, multiform, dissoluble, and never self-consistent (p47). But here we come to an equally abstract view of the existence of the soul and its relation to the body. To be more specific, this view is by no means guilty of tangibly assigning the soul a specific place in the body, but on the other hand it does disregard, and completely, the soul’s relation to the body, and the soul, instead of moving freely in the body produced by it, continually tries to sneak out of the body. […] That the soul is not compounded is quite admissible, but as long as there is no more explicit answer to the question in what sense it is not compounded and, in another sense, to what extent it is a summary of qualifications, the definition of the soul naturally becomes totally negative, and its immortality becomes just as langweilig (boring) as the eternal number one.

Here I assume he is comparing the soul to Absolute Divine Simplicity or the One. Earlier he talked about all the virtues being many but ultimately one, but I’ll leave that for now, except that it is relevant to the discussion in Phaedo about how one’s acquisition of the virtues affects one’s afterlife. There is a part at the end of Phaedo that talks about the unvirtuous soul, though remaining a fully intact soul, is pretty much shunned in the afterlife. The idea that an individual soul can be shunned by other souls seems to place the soul more in the realm of the particular, or diverse, or many, than the universal one. Perhaps the virtuous souls are absorbed by the abstract, and as Kierkegaard surmises, the negative One, and the unvirtuous ones are left to their diverse independence. I can see the appeal of licentiousness in that case.

The problem with the ever shrinking amount of abstract forms in the ascent of the hierarchy to the One is that it has trouble reconciling and maintaining the many. In the essence/energy distinction, the many are retained, but in order to do this the proper Ordo Theologiae must be assumed. Instead of going from essence to activity to person, person is the starting point who determines activities according to nature, unoriginate in the Father’s case, created in ours. A person is many and one. A person has a vast amount of energies which enable him to eat, think, gaze, etc. all at once. There is one human nature, which Yannaras explains in the link, and I think says is more about how we are and do the many things in a personal way. An individual is one person who has a human will to choose the different activities, good or bad. If God is seen as an essence first, then reducing His component parts into one poses problems, the first being boredom to Søren and me. His essence, beyond beingly being as Dr. Jones says (see the St. Dionisius category), is the mode in which He personally moves, but stays immovable, which gets us back to Kierkegaard.

The supposed superiority of the soul is due to its immutability compared to the body’s being subject to change. Likewise a soul that is governed by a passionate body harnesses itself to changeableness and does not achieve a good end in the afterlife, even if it of itself does not change, however that may be. St. Maximus says that it must attain a habit of virtue – virtue achieved not only internally, but through the body. A properly governed body positively affects the everlasting stable soul. Thus it can be said that in some respect, in that case, the body shares in the soul’s stability. This is the point in unGnostic theosis. The body comes to partake of unchangeableness. This is why many bodies of the Saints remain incorrupt.

In the above I am borrowing the idea of the immutable soul from Plato. While I believe the soul has a beginning, I agree it doesn’t have an end. The above doesn’t depend on the idea of a stable soul that doesn’t change and which is not in and of itself affected by the body, but can also be applied to the notion that a person – body, soul and spirit or whatever three parts you want to say make up a human person – was created to achieve a state of unchangeableness. “Ever moving rest” as St. Maximus calls it. Adam in the Garden was yet to attain it in that he was immature and needed to develop stable maturity even before he sinned. He had a gnomic will that had to deliberate in a less than omniscient state. God, even as Incarnate Son, does not have a gnomic will, in that He is omniscient and doesn’t have to blindly choose between good and bad options. He knows all the good options for sure. In partaking of His nature by grace (we will always have a human nature but can be joined to God’s divine nature through His communicating energies), we can attain a conscious stability which extends to our human bodies as illustrated above.

If one does not achieve theosis in this life, then their body at the final resurrection, I suppose, will be unused to being joined to a dispassionate soul, or at least to God’s kingdom. Even if the soul is not dispassionate, contrary to Plato, I think that with the removal of sinful options that one is accustomed to will cause torment in the soul and the body. This lack of options is not due to their being none but One, but due to there being no sin in heaven. This has been explained as the existential state of hell by some. I have heard from western sources that there is sin in their idea of a physical hell, but how that brings suffering I’d have to look more into.

As far as the soul seeking to go in and out of the body, before death there is a demonic way that can occur, but there is also a Christian way. Many saints while still living have trans-located, but their appearance in other places was not disembodied. I do not know the nature of their being in another place at the same time other than that. It appears though that we are created to partake of a certain amount of divine omnipresence.

The necessity or the reality of words 2

by Andrea Elizabeth

In the last post I discussed needs-based language and drew a comparison of language to God the Word. It is a given that Christ, being God, is not born nor eternally begotten out of necessity on the Father’s part. Thus the Father, the source of divinity and of the Son and the Spirit, does not need the Son. I suppose that there does not need (on the Father’s part) to be an expression or revelation of the Father, nor a transmitter of His attributes (to roughly paraphrase) in the person of the Holy Spirit. The fact that the Trinity exists roughly in this manner can only be said to be because it’s the Father’s will, if that’s not stretching things too far. Is the Son begotten in order to reveal the Father to us because we need this revelation? His Incarnation probably is, but not His eternal begetting. He was the Word before the Incarnation according to John 1. Therefore language, or self-revelation does not have to be based on necessity, at least in God’s case. Why God communicates inside Trinitarian relationship, I don’t know. The three Persons aren’t providing new information to each other or solving any problems or righting any insecurities in their relationship. I have heard of the perichoresis of love between and through them, which I’ll just have to leave at that.

So beyond problem solving, there is language used in expressing love. The lover delights in expressing his love to the beloved, who delights in receiving it. Is this based on avoiding a bad thing if this love is not expressed? I think it can be understood that the beloved will suffer without this expression, or that perhaps the lover will miss out on a chance of possessing the beloved if he doesn’t. Again leaving aside necessity in the beloved, and believing that at least God doesn’t need to possess creation, why else would God express Himself in the Son? The motives of delight and enjoyment seem necessity based too, but that may be because of an over-emphasis on personal entertainment and fulfillment. I’ve also heard of kenosis. It is God’s nature to give everything, including words. Does God have a need to give and thus a need for a recipient? Given that God is not selfish, this cannot be right. I think it does have to do with being an ontological giver though.

Co-dependence can occur if people have a need to be needed. These people have trouble letting others become independent and strong on their own. They can’t let go. Learning detachment can help break this cycle. Detachment comes back to silence in my mind. Detachment is not needing special feelings and statements in order to get a sense of one’s worth or position. Position and worth cease to matter as much. One humbly accepts where one is at. Prayer becomes more about doing God’s will, and is not looking for personal results, except not wanting to displease God. Pleasing God is not one’s business, but not displeasing Him is. Thinking one can please God seems vain. One can still be pleased with Him though, hopefully less self-consciously. Which brings me to words of worship and praise.

I believe it is personally beneficial to worship God and that I need to do it. God doesn’t need me to do it, I need to do it. That sort of makes worshiping selfish though. Ideal worship is unselfconscious where one is genuinely impressed and utterances of love and praise naturally spring forth. It is taught that the Spirit prays in us. At the end of morning prayers, the phrase “and Yourself pray in me” is said. This is probably the Trinitarian kenotic perchoresis of love that it is apparently possible to eventually enter into unselfconsciously.

Affirmative and Negative Theology

by Andrea Elizabeth

from Dr. John D. Jones’ Introduction to Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagite: The Divine Names and Mystical Theology

To declare something is to bring it to light, manifest it, and make it known in discourse. Thus a (true) affirmative statement (S is P) brings to light a sameness which prevails between what is denoted by the terms of the proposition. A (true) negative statement (S is not P) brings to light a difference between what is denoted by the terms of the statement. On this view affirmative theology would bring to light the sameness of the divinity and beings, where this sameness is understood analogically or on the basis of the causal likeness which prevails between beings and the divinity. On the other hand, negative theology would bring to light the radical difference between the divinity and beings. In other words, affirmative theology gives us a knowledge of the presence or immanence of the divinity in beings, negative theology “exhibits” the separation or transcendence of the divinity from beings. Since the divinity is cause of all, negative theology functions to protect the preeminence of the divine cause over all that is and to emphasize the fundamental unknowableness of the divinity to (finite) knowledge. Hence if we consider metaphysics to be the knowledge of the first cause of all that is, then affirmative and negative theology become complementary aspects of metaphysics, so that negative theology functions primarily to “correct” what is said in affirmative theology. Thus no matter how greatly affirmative theology celebrates the likeness of beings to the divinity, negative theology is always there to deny this likeness and to give expression to the transcendence of the divinity. Thus it “expresses” the mysterium tremendum as the wholly other.

Yet, so far we only express the “function” of negative theology within metaphysics. This does not exhaust negative theology. It seems to me that for Pseudo-Dionysius negative (mystical) theology, which culminates in a cessation of all discourse and in a radical unity with the divinity, requires the denial of affirmative theology and, thus, of metaphysics. Thus, instead of articulating the preeminence of the divine causality, negative (mystical) theology requires that we deny (stand away from or disregard) the divinity ‘as’ cause. Far from isolating the divinity as wholly other, one engages in negative theology – the denial of all that is – to attain unity with the divinity itself; the non-other, non-same, beyond cause, and beyond – eminence. (p.22,23)

[…] Thus, after distinguishing between affirmative and negative theology in terms of light and darkness, knowledge and unknowing, and seeing and not seeing, it seems that we must cancel these distinctions in an apparently monstrous contradiction. We see the apparent collapse of these distinctions in the following text:

Into the dark beyond all light we pray to come, through not seeing and not knowing, to see and to know that beyond sight and knowledge-itself: neither seeing nor knowing. [Mystical Theology II]

Why does Pseudo-Dionysius apparently cancel the distinction he makes, and how are we to understand this cancellation? I would offer the following explanation. While the divinity “is” wholly non be-ing, it is not be-ing in no manner whatsoever but “it is” beyond being. The divine non be-ing is not empty but overfull or beyond the fullness of beings. In conformity with this, the divine darkness of unknowing is thrust beyond beings and is overfull of these. (p. 25,26)

Unmercenary Readers

by Andrea Elizabeth

The new Orthodox book club, Unmercenary Readers, is launched.

Book to be reviewed: Fellow Workers With God: Orthodox Thinking on Theosis by Norman Russell.

Deadline for reviewers to declare intent to write a review: October 15th, 2009 (New Calendar)

Deadline for all completed reviews to be sent to our editor Mr. Stanley: Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 (N.C.)

See the site for more details.

Patrisitic Theology: Finis

by Andrea Elizabeth

Father Romanides’ book with its gradually progressing and repeating rhythm of explanation, is very clarifying regarding the Patrisitic method vs. the philosophical method of Theology, the distinctions between essence and energy and person and nature, the relations in the Trinity, the dual natures of Christ, and apophatic theology, (off the top of my head) not that I totally grasp these things, it’s just that they seem in sharper focus.

I found this passage in the last pages the most exciting as it is an answer to the question of the nature of the hypostatic union of Christ’s divine and human natures,

The only part of creation to participate in this kind of theosis [participating in God’s essence] is the human nature of Christ (the God-man). Hence, the essence of God is not only theosis (union or vision) for Christ as God (the Word), but also for Christ as the God-man. In other words, Christ’s human nature does not simply participate in the uncreated energies of God alone, but it also participates in God’s essence (by virtue of the hypostatic union), This theosis is the reason why the union in Christ of the two natures – divine and human – is a union by essence, by hypostasis, and by nature. You can find this terminology in the Church Fathers.

This speaks to an even closer relationship between Christ’s two natures than I have previously understood. The closer the better.

I don’t know whether to share many of the other quotes I marked in this book because it really is worth the read in its entirety. It is available at Uncut Mountain Supply. I may quote some in the future if I feel inspired according to context.

Patristic Theology By Fr. John Romanides 4

by Andrea Elizabeth

I do not know if I relaxed or if Father John’s tone changed in the second half of Part One of this book which is on “The Rudiments of Orthodox Anthropology and Theology”. Part Two, which I will read next, is “On Heretical Teachings and How the Fathers Responded to Them”. It seemed to me that his tone became gentler and more loving. I know that it is important to clearly define the Orthodox Faith, to contrast it from false representations, and to speak of the dangers and limitations of false representations. Father John is very ‘Orthodoxy is the only path to salvation’. My deepest self believes this, but I am confused about the state of “others”. I love strengths in others, and many other Orthodox will quote others, but I guess I will have to leave them to God because I cannot reconcile their many good qualities with their rejection, maybe through ignorance or misrepresentation, of the Orthodox Church. And I believe that each conversation with a non-Orthodox who may have many worthy things to say, could ultimately lead to a fulfillment of each subject in The One True Church, if they would allow and desire it to go that far. And perhaps God brings others into our lives for some other benefit as “all things work together for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28), and then we have to let them go according to their own will.

So I agree with Father John in the exclusive message and practices of the Orthodox Church. My other issue, which I brought out in Patristic Theology 2, is Father John’s claims against modern Russian Orthodox and moderner Greek Orthodox teachers. Through my limited reading and exposure to people’s explanations, it does seem that the second millennium Eastern Church was perhaps a little more victimized by threatening social and political pressures than the mighty pre-Schism Roman (including “Byzantine”) Church was. The latter, with it’s unity, was able to recognize and cast out heresies in shorter order, it seems. After the Schism, the east was on the verge of capitulation to the errorred but mightier west many times and in many ways, official or not. I get the feeling that the east was the “injured spouse” in the dispute, it can be hard to keep your resolve with the injurer says they want you back, and how you may be tempted to compromise yourself, your beliefs, and your actions, in the hopes of being loved by them and joined to them again. Especially if you are having a hard time making ends meet, are lonely, or are under attack elsewhere. Some of these compromises may have occurred in regional or temporary instances, but I do not think they contaminated the Faith once delivered in a broader context. I do not know the effects on individual souls.

But still, even though I believe that the Orthodox message is unified, I am not ready to say that some Orthodox theologians, accused of speculation by Father John, were not in a state of his rightly required “purification, illumination and theosis”, so that their words cannot be received as helpful and valid. I think he was too sweeping in his remarks against whole countries full of Orthodox. St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. John of Kronstadt, St. John Maximovich of San Francisco, the North American Saints including Sts. Herman, Innocent, and Tikhon, among others, would be notable exceptions, the monks of Mt. Athos, Russian and Greek, and I’m not ready to give up on the Russian émigrés to France either, like Bulgakov and Florovsky, even though they may have disagreed with each other.

Which brings up disagreeing Orthodox. I find the fervor behind these disagreements kind of cute, after I get over their stepping on my toes. To me it points to the individuality of each Orthodox in their walk with God. It is the presence of God in the Liturgy, the Ecumenical Councils, the hymnography, the seasonal calendar, and the prayers that unite us, but all of these point to a personal experience of theosis – intimacy with God. Father John is very clear in what this entails, and it is rehearsed several times in this book. He is right and helpful in stressing the exclusivity of this message and experience, and we should not minimize its importance.

I think I’ll share some of the quotes I marked next.

Perelandra 2 and Patristic Theology 2

by Andrea Elizabeth

I have said before that I am a disillusioned optimist. I keep believing that there is an answer and a fix to all the mess. I can’t help myself. And I have found answers, and when I do, like in Out of the Silent Planet, I hitch my wagon to the horse from whose mouth it came. Every time. I can’t help myself. Then the horse stumbles – how could he not? C.S. Lewis did not become an Orthodox Christian, but I so wanted someone in the western tradition to speak Orthodox, and I think he comes close many times because Orthodoxy is the language we were all meant to speak and lies in potential in all of us. What is not Orthodox is foreign, and sometimes we develop foreign habits. In Perelandra, Lewis shows his Protestantism in that he believes that Christ was incarnated because of the Fall, instead of the Orthodox belief that Christ’s intention in creation was to join with us in the Incarnation from the beginning and would have happened without the Fall. So on Perelandra when the unfallen Green Lady and the King get married, it is seen as a less great thing than what happened on earth as a result of the Fall.

Then Ransom’s sacrifice is seen as an unmeritorious act I assume because of the Protestant creed of Glory to God Alone. But this causes him confusion when he sees the King’s face who is created in the image of “Maleldil”.

“You might ask how it was possible to look upon it and not to commit idolatry, not to mistake it for that of which it was the likeness. For the resemblance was, in its own fashion, infinite, so that almost you could wonder at finding no sorrows in his brow and no wounds in his hands and feet. Yet there was no danger of mistaking, not one moment of confusion, no least sally of the will towards forbidden reverence. Where likeness was greatest, mistake was least possible.”

He continues to struggle with idolatry when he talks about man-made images,

“A clever wax-work can be made so like a man that for a moment it deceives us: the great portrait which is far more deeply like him does not. Plaster images of the Holy One may before now have drawn to themselves the adoration they were meant to arouse for the reality. But here, where His live image, like Him within and without, made by His own bare hands out of the depth of divine artistry, His masterpiece of self-portraiture coming forth from His workshop to delight all worlds, walked and spoke before Ransom’s eyes, it could never be taken for more than an image. Nay, the very beauty of it lay in the certainty that it was a copy, like and not the same, an echo, a rhyme, an exquisite reverberation of the uncreated music prolonged in a created medium.”

His iconoclasm is showing, but he knows that there is something to marvel at in humanity. It is so hard when converting from Protestantism to be able to make peace between the Creator and the created. We have been so conditioned to believe that it is a sin to appreciate the greatness of creation. Proper veneration has become foreign. We are more afraid of committing idolatry than to venerate man’s intended end, and that which represents and communicates those who have accomplished deification, or theosis – icons.

But it is because of Christ’s and the Saint’s union with God that venerating them is not idolatry. God is in them, unseparated, unmixed, distinct, and undivided. To venerate the Saints is to worship God and His intention in Incarnation. Perelandra is full of What Would Jesus Do? Instead of God filling His Saints so that they can reach their potential – deification. Lewis presents a copy, but not the real thing.

Back to disillusioned optimism, less than perfect people can still impart improvements to where we are at present, so I’ll not give up on Professor Lewis. And I’ll not give up on Father John Romanides who has also let me down with this unsubstantiated ad hominem on page 90 of Patristic Theology, “If we use the criteria of the Apostle Paul and the Church Fathers such as St. Symeon the New Theologian regarding who is truly a theologian, we will see that contemporary modern Orthodox theology, under the influence of Russian theology, is not Patristic theology, but a distortion of Patristic theology, because it is written by people who do not have the above-mentioned spiritual prerequisites [that they be in theosis].” This is all he says about Russian “theologians”. I’m very disappointed and now will have to force myself to finish this book as I did with Perelandra.

I struggle with disillusionment a lot, but I know I can’t keep retreating forever from the less than perfect. Part of it is dealing with being offended and learning to forgive and have a humble attitude about how much I fail myself and require patience and forgiveness from others. But also I have read that love requires perfection, so it is ok to notice when something is not perfect and to bring it to attention when it is presented as the truth. We are easily deceived and must fight it in ourselves and others. Father John Romanides is motivating me to seek theosis through purification and illumination by prayer and repentance, so I will keep reading him even though he must be one of those ethnocentric Greek Orthodox. It just takes some of the fun out of it is all.

The Holy Spirit’s role in deification

by Andrea Elizabeth

The second half of The Comforter and Divine-Humanity is about God’s union with creation. Here’s a sample,

The Holy SpiritТs Kenosis for us: Sanctification in Creation and Inspiration for Divine-Humanity

The kenosis of the Holy Spirit in the immanent Trinity, her becoming copula of the Father and the Son, their hypostatic Love, is paralleled in the created realm: the SpiritТs sophianic sanctification of the world, and her personal descent in creation for the inspiration of humanityЧto become copula that binds in love all human relationships in the self-offering love of friendship. Thus from the beginning of creation the Holy Spirit is the Artist, the Giver of life, bathing creation in beauty; but in the fullness of time, in the Christ event, the Holy Spirit accompanies the descent of the Son and is poured on all flesh (Acts 2:17). In turn, the apex of time of the earthly ministry of Jesus becomes a special moment for the labor of the Spirit in creation: a personal labor, but shrouded in a special hiddenness. Each of these three kenotic moments of the Spirit in creationЧsince the beginning of time, in the life of the man Jesus, and in PentecostЧwill be pondered in turn.

And this goes with my byline quite nicely,

a. The Sophianic action of the Holy Spirit

That matter is energy and energy is matter is one of the greatest scientific discoveries of our times. It also retells the story in contemporary language of how GodТs Ruah swept over Уnothing,Ф over tohu-bohu, birthing Уlife.Ф The inherent УpotentialityФ or energy created by the Father is breathed upon, preparing УnothingФ to receive its form, to be molded into matter, to become the rich diversity that mirrors the beauty of God. In the Spirit, matter becomes, evolves, is crafted, according to its design given by the Logos. Breath is the energy inherent in matter, Уexist[ing] in the very flesh of the world, in the matter of the world,Ф[73] enabling it with the dynamism to gradually become Уsomething,Ф beauty, the rich diversity of creatures. The Spirit who fulfills, who completes, empties herself in an ongoing sophianic action towards creationТs fulfilment, towards creationТs completion, but that requires the very participation of creation according to its particular freedom or УmeasureФ: УThis multistage or gradual character of being is proper to the life of the world, for the creative Сlet there beТ always resounds in the world in its different forms; creation is always the future too, not only nata, but also natura[74] Not only the apparent, but also the imaginedЧsince the transcendence of this divine imagination is the telos of creation; its becoming not only natura, but supranatura, the resplendence of God.

The sanctification of matter is then explained, and I want to quote the whole thing, but will commend the link instead. This is what I’ve been looking for. I’m reminded of the “what happens” in St. Maximus, but this seems to be the “how”.

There occurs a mysterious, i.e. invisible, transfiguration of creation, in which the latter, while ontologically remaining itself, becomes transparent for the Spirit, receives the faculty of communion with God, is deified.

If I’m understanding Bulgakov rightly, the personified Sophia is sort of like the Derridian ‘membrane’ where Spirit meets creation. But this membrane is transparent, or at least becomes so upon deification/union with God, whereas Derrida’s remains opaque, or when breached still remains other, whose brightness is beheld from a distance. And Derrida is talking about creature to creature, with Truth as a silent, though bright witness. But Bulgakov is talking about the inherent Spirit in creation, who is indeed everywhere present and fills all things. Creation becomes transparent through being sanctified in the Church, so until that happens, I think perhaps Derrida may be disappointed, and if not, is he in prelest? Non-Christians can appreciate the glory of nature, but they probably are in danger of becoming Pantheists. Still, I’d take a Pantheist over a Gnostic. I think. I don’t know, praise God that I don’t have to choose, but I hope the Pantheists help clean up the smog in the Grand Canyon.