If we can foster a freedom to flourish rather than our modern freedom of choice, and if we can recognize versions of a common good appropriate to different real entities of social order from the family to the town to the nation, integrated with the rest of nature at scales from the local and regional to the biosphere, then the need to impose order through laws and regulations is minimized, replaced by deliberative, cooperative action towards a common good.
There is something new in Doestoevsky's insights into the psychology of “the Human Being,” beyond the Church Fathers, or at least that's the case made. If this is true, especially in the light of the complete mental breakdown happening all around us, shouldn't we be redirecting our time and energy toward incorporating this and making it central to our thought and lives?
We academics unfortunately often fall into the trap of pride (particularly of the self-involved, self-satisfying, institutional kind), and hence a humbling such as this conference delivered was probably much needed. I have a Christian duty, as an educator and as a member of a Christian community, to think systematically about how I can live up, as a teacher and scholar, to the values of inclusion and equality
It is a hard task to learn to plant roots in a place from which you know you will be uprooted. It is also the task that we, mirroring Israel in Jeremiah 29, are called to do. Through the process of planting gardens, marrying, having children, raising our children, and being planted and watered, we can shadow what our true home is to our neighbors and loved ones.
Look at our priests or bishops now. Do they seem any more advanced in the cure than anybody else? Some do. But so does the guy who took the snow tires off my car last week, and I don’t know if he’s ever darkened the doors of a Church. I just know that he had an air of spiritual freedom about him, such that somebody might think, “I want what he has. I wonder what makes him tick.” There’s a beginning.
People with cosmic self-respect can reconcile themselves with the possibility that there is no conductor, and that after death comes only silence. And they can muster the strength to keep listening for the fragments, to keep imperfectly piecing together the rhythm of the music, and to keep dancing along as best they can with those they love.
Contemplation of God is paying attention to what demands one’s attention—more than information discovered or expression felt. Contemplating art can be a means, a sort of preparatory practice, of contemplating the Beautiful One from which all beauty is derivative.
I have Orthodox friends that find our little chapel concerning, and they are certainly right that a casual use of icons for decorative enhancement is to be avoided. Still, their chief complaint should be directed to the monks of Mount Athos who, infused with God’s flagrant generosity, so recklessly gave their replica icons away.
If such substitution and exchange were genuinely possible, would we agree with Lewis that no gift was more gladly given? Would we too readily assume we could bear another’s burden and so sink ourselves under more than we could carry? Or, would our burdens be lightened by such sharing?