Saturday, September 30, 2006

Nicholas Berdyaev on Orthodoxy
In places he is unfair to Western Catholicism (which arguably really is a body of tradition like Orthodoxy, not just authority) and trots out some clichés (sed contra there are rightly lots of crucifixes in Orthodox churches, but it’s true that Easter tops Christmas, the reverse of Western Catholic culture) but these lines are worth thinking about:
The Orthodox Church is primarily the Church of tradition, in contrast to the [Roman] Catholic Church, which is the Church of authority, and to the Protestant Churches which are essentially churches of individual faith.
See my note above. Here Berdyaev’s description of Orthodoxy sounds like my understanding of what it means to be Catholic. The liberals who are still ‘under the Pope’, and not only get away with being un-Catholic but have clout, seem to prove Berdyaev right! That and the way they talk sometimes, as if the Pope could wave his hand and approve whatever impossible pet cause they’re talking about. (To be fair the Roman Pontiff, who is bound by defined doctrine and tradition in general, would say, ‘Even if I wanted to I can’t. After all I’m only the Pope.’) A people of tradition wouldn’t have come up with the Novus Ordo.
Holiness in the Orthodox world, in contrast to holiness in the [Roman] Catholic world, did not leave written monuments after itself, it remained hidden.
What? Hang on! The Philokalia? The Way of a Pilgrim?
Orthodoxy did not have its Scholastic age, it experienced only the age of Patristics.
Not really, and that’s a good thing. It’s looked down upon now in hip Ortho-circles, like the convert boomlet with its dollop of residual anti-Romanism hooking up with Eastern European xenophobia (some of the former seek out the most obnoxious of the latter to shore up their view).

Rather one can be far more Roman Catholic today living in, for example, essentially 19th-century Russian Orthodoxy, which earlier had adopted scholasticism, than among Novus Ordo RCs who dropped all that and follow Karl Rahner for example.
Characteristic for Orthodoxy is FREEDOM. This internal freedom may not be noticed from the outside but it is everywhere present.
Sounds good.
The admission of the freedom of conscience radically distinguishes the Orthodox Church from the [Roman] Catholic Church.
Not really. See my entry today before this one.
But the understanding of freedom in Orthodoxy is different from the understanding of freedom in Protestantism. In Protestantism, as in all Western thought, freedom is understood individualistically, as a personal right, preserved from encroachment on the part of any other person, and declaring it to be autonomous. Individualism is foreign to Orthodoxy, to it belongs a particular collectivism. A religious person and a religious collective are not incompatible with each other, as external friend to friend. The religious person is found within the religious collective and the religious collective is found within the religious person. Thus the religious collective does not become an external authority for the religious person, burdening the person externally with teaching and the law of life. The Church is not outside of religious persons, opposed to her. The Church is within them and they are within her. Thus the Church is not an authority. The Church is a grace-filled unity of love and freedom.... My personal conscience is not placed outside and is not placed in opposition to the superpersonal conscience of the Church, it is revealed only within the Church's conscience.
True. I’d say it’s a right condemnation of Randian selfishness but of course thanks to the harm principle (‘harm no-one’ or my freedom ends where your hurt begins; the Golden Rule) and parts of Berdyaev’s own point there can be and are Catholic classical liberals including libertarians.

From Ad Orientem.

Here is more from AO and from Owen the Ochlophobist on the once and future Fr Al Kimel’s Pontifications.

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