Do we still have this?
Christianity and Culture (Collected Works of Georges Florovsky #2)
Look around and I think the answer is pretty obvious. Has our civilization died?
At least not yet. But we have broken the tradition of learning. We have forgotten. We have failed to do the laborious work of preserving what was handed down through so many generations.
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And so I do believe that we—western civilization, that is—are on the path toward death. Now for one more sidetrack. In this same book with Dawson and Florovksy, I also met T. Eliot asked this in and he ultimately said no, based on the second of two criteria.
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Here are his critieria:. Our culture has positively become something else. And I would argue in at least two ways. The civilization of a world in which pride of place, in terms of a scale of values, is given to entertainment, and where having a good time, escaping boredom, is the universal passion. To have this goal in life is perfectly legitimate, of course.
Only Puritan fanatic could reproach members of a society wanting to find relaxation, fun and amusement in lives that are often circumscribed by depressing and sometimes soul-destroying routine. But converting this natural propensity for enjoying oneself into a supreme value has unexpected consequences: it leads to culture becoming banal, frivolity becoming widespread and, in the field of news coverage, it leads to the spread of irresponsible journalism based on gossip and scandal.
Today, intellectuals have disappeared from public debates, at least the debates that matter. Because in the civilization of the spectacle, intellectuals are of interest only if they play the fashion game and become clowns. This culture has given itself over, in a passive manner, to what a critic now relegated to obscurity [not at Eighth Day Books!
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Does this sound familiar to you? It does to me. Our culture has been taken captive by the spectacle; or I should say we have willingly submitted to the rule of the spectacle.
We might even put it in the words of the title to a wonderful book by the social critic Neil Postman: We are Amusing Ourselves to Death. Franklin Sanders, a farmer-economist friend in Dogwood Mudhole, TN once called it Americanity, which he suggested consists of the twin pillars of individualism and greed. I need not say more, except that I would argue that many Americans who call themselves Christians are just as captive to this new global culture that is smitten by the gods of entertainment, comfort, and convenience.
Taking up the cross and dying to self is not on their agenda. All that to say that I think Eliot would agree that today we do indeed fit into his third historical era of the post-Christian. That choice is all the more pressing to us: will we form a new Christian culture? Do we have the strength, the stamina, the will to build or create a new Christian culture?
I had to do it. But we are here to learn about Florovsky. But before we turn to Florovsky, I do want to formally dedicate this lecture and this week, and for that matter, the work of Eighth Day Institute, to the memory of Fr.
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Matthew Baker. Please do read it. All I will say right now is that, even though I never met him in person, I still consider Fr. Matthew a dear friend.
This is how the communion of saints works. Fr Matthew was the driving force behind the Florovsky Symposium, which began the same year we launched the Eighth Day Symposium in I coordinated a live feed broadcast of all four of those symposia from Princeton University to Wichita, KS. Without ever meeting him in person, I felt like I knew a man who had drunk deeply from the well of the Fathers and of Florovsky; a man who, under the influence of Florovsky, understood my passion for pursuing the unity of Christians, a passion that was born in me when I worked in Mexico and experienced a Baptist church divide three times over the course of two months.
Many predicted Fr. Matthew would be the most important theologian of the 21st century, just as many have called Florovsky the most important theologian of the 20th century. His loss is truly tragic. It really does break my heart. So, to organize this evening, this inaugural Florovsky Week, is truly an honor for me because I see it as a continuation of his work. As I note in the program, this week we humbly stand on the shoulders of two giants: Fr.
Georges Florovsky and Fr. May their memory be eternal! But I have to present you Florovsky now, and I only have about ten minutes left for the rest of this lecture! How in the world can I do Florovsky justice? I vividly remember Fr. It was way longer than he had time to present. He had so much to say, too much to say. It was an impossible situation for him. I felt his pain then. And I feel exactly the same way today. There is so much to say about Florovsky. And I intend to keep it. So let me simply share a few memories and explain how Florovsky has a mission, or maybe better put, a message for our secular age.
My next memory is my reception into the Orthodox Church. She also included a passage by Fr. Thomas Hopko—this passage! Little did I know back then in how significant this gift would be, how much the author of this book would shape my life. Thank you, Carol, for this amazing gift! And then I remember receiving a draft of Fr. I had already read quite a bit of Florovsky, but this thesis rocked my world.
For the first time I realized how important ecumenical dialogue was to Fr. And I was moved to dig far deeper into his work, reading every book review he ever wrote, searching for every rare and obscure writing I could find. The recently canonized Serbian theologian St. The problem is that, as famous as he may have been at one time, he is barely known and hardly read at all today, outside of a very small group of Florovsky scholars. There are a few factors for this ignorance. For one thing, he only wrote three books: The Ways of Russian Theology and two volumes of Patristics lectures.
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