Five books that explained to me that being a Christian is happiness
Pentecost is the “birthday” of the Church. Why being in the Church is happiness, writes the philosopher and patrologist Timur Schukin.
This is not a list of the most evidential, smartest, or most piercing books about the Christian faith. These are the books that once impressed me, helped Christianity in me to become more joyful and alive. Yes, and do not expect from the list of originality below.
Blessed Augustine. "Confession"
We are lucky that a representative of late Hellenism, a man of the universe, free from parochial traditionalism, and therefore extremely neurotic, prone to self-analysis, painfully interested in the movements of his own soul and sharply reacting to them, turned out to be a genius theologian, scientist and writer. “Confession” is a confession, it tells about the sin of a particular sinner, somewhere in detail, somewhere covered (it is believed that the famous stolen pears are an allusion to the sexual sins of Augustinian childhood), but always with a beautiful, touching bitterness. But after reading the list of sins, we have at the exit of the saint, but of what saint – the whole blessed Augustine. We find ourselves deceived: we were told about a ugly sinful duckling, and we see a snow-white swan-dragon with an elegant neck. As it happened, we do not understand, probably, the fact is that the sins were told not only to us, that we were lucky to be present at the dialogue of the confessor with God himself. Perhaps there are no such large-scale works of this kind in the Christian tradition. The books of Rousseau and Tolstoy with the same name are completely different.
Maxim the Confessor. “Four Centuries of Love” and “Message to John Cubicularia about Love”
These are the most complete, most accurate and most intelligible of the patristic interpretations of the words of Christ about the commandment of love of God and neighbor (Matthew 22: 37-39). If you read these texts outside the context of previous and subsequent traditions, both spherical and in a vacuum, it is difficult not to come to the conclusion about the conventionality, meaninglessness, and at times the harmfulness of any religious subculture. For spiritual happiness, a person needs only God, his own mind and … everything, this list ends. All you need is love. If we are alone, we are not alone. If there are neighbors nearby – the monastery's brotherhood, parents, children, wife, other relatives, friends, it acts in love for them – all the same is our love with God to each other. If we love, then we are free from passions, from foolish attachments to things, from envy, anger, self-admiration and other spiritual garbage. Love frees social prejudices, eliminates the division of the world into people who are worthy and unworthy of it. It justifies creation and helps a person to be free, non-dependent in relation to him. “Through it (love), all teaching of the law, the prophets and the gospel exists and is transmitted, so that we, having desired unspeakable blessings, entrust our ardent desire to images (realization of virtues), through the love of the Creator as much revelation of the creation as it serves Him and to what extent the logos of nature, which establishes as a law the equalness and excludes from nature all inequality resulting from a prejudice towards any person, since this logos of all implies within itself a single force of identity. ”
Oscar Wilde “Prison confession. De Profundis »
Seeing the first words of the psalm 129 at the beginning of a literary work, we must ask: “What kind of vulgarity? There is nothing more beaten than a biblical quote in the title. ” And the truth is, this title was common at the time, and it got to “horror movies”: Arthur Conan Doyle called his story about the appearance of the deceased husband’s wife to his wife. But Wilde's book deserves a title, because it is a rare case – a story of a sincerely repentant man, crushed by the circumstances, by everyone. This is the "case" of the prophet David. Victorian aristocrat Christianity – lazy, inactive, rather contemplative. It admires the sacrifice of Christ, the boy who climbed into the garden of a giant egoist, or a stone prince who gave away his diamond eyes, but he himself does not know how to suffer for another, does not know how to give. Hence, an aestheticized vice, if not real, then existential estrangement from the neighbor and God. The prison does not fix very few people, few people are able to take spiritual benefit from the experience of ostracism. Among such people are the Prophet David and Oscar Wilde. The classic of literary modernity is confined to those in a dull English prison, that by reading the Gospel and meditating on Christ. There are many blunders in these reflections, but there is also a recognition of the uniqueness and irrevocability of Christ, who acts and moves even the inconvenient Victorian soul to action: “The prison system is absolutely flagrantly unfair. I would give everything in the world to change it when I get out of here. I intend to try to do this. But there is nothing so unjust in the world that the spirit of Humanity, that is, the spirit of Love, the spirit of Christ dwelling outside the temples, could not be corrected, if not completely, but at least so that injustice could be torn down without hardening heart. "
Gilbert Keith Chesterton. "Orthodoxy" and "Eternal Man"
These two books are written with a difference of sixteen years. The first – even before the First World War and even before its prelude – the Balkan wars, when local conflicts like our clash with the Japanese in the Far East or the Anglo-Boer confrontation, sung by Boussenard, seemed to be the height of an interpersonal nightmare. The second was in the mid-1920s, when the wounds inflicted by the Great War on English society and all estates were terribly bleeding. Between "Orthodoxy" and "Eternal Man" are the years of perepeltsevshi world canvas change. But these changes are not read in the books – and therefore both works were quietly published under a general cover and, for example, by me, a post-Soviet reader, were perceived as a single whole. Chesterton's style is stable as his figure, as the social system of Old England, the learned daily columnist's skill for stringing aphoristic, tweet-speaking utterances, makes itself felt in the notes and in detective stories and in religious journalism. But behind the stability of style is the steadfastness of the simple Christian faith, which is hand in hand with the author’s phenomenal mental stability, “adequacy,” as they now say. Chesterton is shockingly constant and normal, he appreciated this quality in himself and was convinced that normality is a key feature of true Christianity, which not only always goes along the royal path between extremes, but also allows these extremes to exist around Christianity and as Christianity. Chesterton teaches: it is not surprising that, within the framework of Christian culture, seemingly mutually exclusive things are combined, radical denial of marriage and family values, chivalry and pacifism, incredible luxury of church decoration and love of poverty, denial of peace and vigorous activity in it. Christianity is not logical, but after all, the world, more generally, reality, cannot be described only by logical categories.
Juliana Schmemann. “My life with father Alexander”
Someone loves Archpriest Alexander Schmemann as a theologian, religious journalist and author of interesting diaries. And father Alexander is closer to me – as the husband of his wife Uliana and the father of his children. The fact that this was a marriage can be judged by one entry in those very famous “Diaries”: the priest himself admits that he seems to have been married for more than a dozen years, but now she has gone to the store, will be back soon, and I'm worried on the first date. The twentieth century generally allowed Christian marriage to speak from its voice: it turned out that the so-called. “Romance”, tenderness, sensuality, respect for the essence of the opposite sex, attention to his words, desires, needs – this is important, this is the real fulfillment of legal matrimony, through which that very love for God and neighbor is realized. The memories of Mother Juliana are a story about how Christian marriage feels in the modern world. It is important that we are talking about a very successful, almost exemplary marriage. Love to the grave is possible if Christ is no longer in the tomb.
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