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Church: the space of neurosis or the mission of beauty?

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Church: the space of neurosis or the mission of beauty?

The falsity of parish relations should not override the tradition of the Spirit.

Sin bag over the shoulder

It has long been noticed that a person, coming to the temple, almost never meets the tradition of the Spirit at once, but enters into the space of neuroses and complexes, as well as a caricaturedly understood ideal. Inconsistency of external and internal and lack of understanding of the essence, as a rule, lead to hypocrisy or to the way of mastering the form instead of the way of the Meeting. And a great desire for authenticity is needed in order to find the Church of the Spirit among all this.

I remember one of my friends, who first came to a provincial monastery. It was morning. The student went to the temple and was delighted with the liturgy. Suddenly, a nun jumped to her and hissed:

“How can you carry a bag over your shoulder?” Don't you know what sin is?

Although the girl went to the temple for only a few months and was inclined to trust everyone, she felt that something was wrong in the words of the nun. A friend called me and I explained that she was faced with ordinary folly. But among the newcomers to the Church there are a large number of those who see “something is not right”, but there is no one to explain to them: the complexity of human relations is not important, the main thing is to find here and learn the high tradition of the Spirit.

Christianity game

One wise and highly educated Russian nun, who took the veil in 1994 and after 12 years of monastic life, moved to a monastery in Greece, said that the 1990s in Russia were a time of unprecedented inspiration. Thousands of young people came to temples and monasteries, where monasteries were rebuilt from the ruins, often not even having bread to fill. They had a lot of strength, inspiration, desire, but absolutely no mentors who could show them the spirit of the grace-filled tradition.

And these enthusiasts began to play Christianity, posing as ascetics and hermits in the measure of their imagination. Such a game led to the fact that these people replaced God with form and formalism and even, it happened, lost the virtues peculiar to any normal secular man.

The fruits of this game are in Russian churches and monasteries and now, like the game itself. This is expressed in hostility to all "nenashey", hostility to world culture and beauty, inability to see the diversity of the expression of God in people, reducing the Christian life to the temple space instead of sanctifying their thoughts, deeds and works. Another characteristic feature is the assurance that we are meant for suffering (although Christ has commanded to always rejoice); suspicious attitude to joy and smile; the colossal dominance of formalism — when a person instead of a true growth in God and goodness depicts certain virtues; confidence that torturing others “for humility” is good; rejection of the multiplication of beauty, although this is one of the purposes of man in being.

Looking at all this, one can understand why Kierkegaard said: "There is no heresy more dangerous for the soul than the game of Christianity."

And only those who were not satisfied with the form and truly desired the Spirit, the Lord, in some miraculous ways, led to real teachers, who really could show others the Way …

What will Marya Aleksevna say?

Christianity is an opportunity to live by God. When we meet such a person, we see that the earth is blooming around him. To understand Christianity, it is imperative to see Christians, although they are rarely found. And this is not an exaggeration: where the Christian has passed, they will only talk about him all day — with indignation or enthusiasm. Because the Holy Spirit does not allow anyone to remain neutral, but, shining from the hearts of those who deserve Him, He terrifies clever men and formalists, at the same time inspiring and delighting those who aspire to authenticity and the light of the Lord.

It is natural for a Christian to see beauty in everything and notice the gleams of Favor light in that which is beautiful. Few of those who know how. Once I talked with a friend and told him about the English saint – King Alfred the Great.

“And our Dmitry Donskoy is not worse,” he frowned in reply.

I realized that it was useless to talk further, because the vision of this Christian is so fractional, incomplete, that even the saints he measures according to the principle of “his” and “alien”. This is because faith is perceived by many as a slogan, a poster of the times of socialist realism, but not as life with God.

In such a perception, of course, it is not the fact of beauty that is important, but things completely foreign, external, reduced ultimately to the Griboedov one: “Ah! Oh my God! What will Princess Marya Aleksevna say? ” Familiar formalists, neighbors, all sorts of prejudices, an old woman at a candlestick, and anything else, can play the role of Marya Aleksevny.

That is why beauty is always a small demand, even in temples, because at the parish we are often confronted with a false relationship than with the tradition of the Spirit. Therefore, it is so important for us to relate to everything that is heavenly beauty: liturgy, gospel, friendship, love, active kindness, nature, poetry, music, and everything else on which lies the imprint of the Glory of the Lord.

It is too important to know personally those who see the world in its Easter radiance, that is, according to the thought of the Philokalia fathers, sees it correctly. And then we will not be horrified, encountering numerous distortions.

Monks need to know physics

I recall my friend a church watchman from the same nineties. He graduated from the Faculty of Philology, but, believing, he burned his library. And not only he burned, but he incited all of us to do the same, saying that books are something mundane, unnecessary. He, of course, did not know how the holy fathers of antiquity valued books and knowledge, did not know the names of holy poets glorified by the Church, did not know the enormous education of ascetics, did not know that modern elders such as Sophrony (Sakharov) and Dionysius (Kalambokas) send their monks and students in the best educational institutions in the world. Because they believe that the better the monks will know physics, chemistry or mathematics, the more they will have reasons to admire the Creator and His wisdom and to realize themselves as people who know the world and multiply beauty. In a word, this watchman did not know anything, but he was absolutely sure that he was doing the right thing when, in the manner of the Bradburyan firefighters, he delivered books to the fire.

Archimandrite Sofroniy (Sakharov)

Then he, however, left the Church, and it was natural: in fact, he was not in the Church, but in his caricature of spiritual life, which seemed to him to be true.

And everyone who lives in such caricatures is afraid of real Christianity and is afraid of how the Lord manifests Himself in culture.

Tale – a lie, and there is no hint

I remember another story about another similar watchman, a graduate of the Faculty of Economics, who seriously assured me that the Cinderella fairy tale is harmful and should be banned for the common good.

– What did she bother you with? – I was surprised.

And he began to explain that in the fairy tale act Fairy the Cross.

– So what's wrong with that? – I asked.

– So in fact, fairies do not happen! – he pointedly remarked – and that means that she is not a fairy at all, but a witch.

– Of course, there are no fairies, – I answered him, – and there are only boots and rubles, and cabbage …

Fairy Godmother from the movie "Cinderella" (2015)

I talked with one sullen seminarist, who also turned against the fairy tales. He was especially outraged by Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings". And he long and tediously explained to me that there was a young Tolkien girl in his temple, who instead of diligently going to the services and listening to the seminarian’s instructions, as well as meeting him (he liked her), always goes to some incomprehensible he games

He said a lot of angry things about her, and the more he spoke, the more I understood that this girl was looking for authenticity, and no one in the temple could show her the tradition of the Spirit, and only the storyteller John Tolkien did it. Then I already learned from this very girl that Tolkien helped her to understand Christianity more deeply and to find in her the beauty for the sake of meeting with which the world and the Church exist.

Not stones but people

Once I taught classes for a group of mentally ill people and their parents. He told one ancient English Christian legend, and then read Kipling’s poem Christmas Service in Selsi. If it was difficult for the sick to concentrate on the legend, poetry fascinated them. They froze and literally listened to the light that filled the verses. Few healthy people feel to such an extent that, touching high art, we touch God …

Rembrandt Artist in the workshop

Rembrandt has a canvas, which is called "Artist in the studio." It is compositionally constructed in such a way that we don’t see the plot of the canvas itself, but light comes from the artist’s canvas. Rembrandt says that art itself is luminous. But in order to perceive this luminosity, a person needs sensitivity to the Spirit, to grace. Such sensitivity as these sick people had.

Poetry allows a person to live in depth and so escape from the universal slip on the surface of being. Poetry is a graft against the world of "serious adult people", the world of false human relationships – as opposed to the world of the Lord, where all is beauty, wisdom and light.

The true beauty of art combined with the beauty of the universe and the grace that sounds in beauty raises a person so that he becomes who he was originally conceived – a Christian who truly lives in the Spirit.

And only realizing this, only opening the world and life as a great reason for gratitude and jubilation, where our blissful business is to multiply beauty and goodness, we, according to John Reskin:

“Day after day, effort after effort … with the help of art, thought, and goodwill, we will really build up … A church that will not be said:“ Look at the stones here, ”but say:“ Look at the people here ”.

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