A sobering read

June 22, 2010

I read this afternoon the manifesto of a group called “the Dark Mountain Project.” The authors of the manifesto are the writers Dougald Hine and Paul Kingsnorth. The document (it may be be downloaded here) speaks very bluntly about a failure of our current, global civilization, while suggesting that there are problems inherent in human civilization as such. It is a depressing, sobering essay. Given that I prefer being depressed and sober to being giddy and intoxicated, I recommend it. Here is a brief sample:

There is a fall coming. We live in an age in which familiar restraints are being kicked away, and foundations snatched from under us. After a quarter century of complacency, in which we were invited to believe in bubbles that would never burst, prices that would never fall, the end of history, the crude repackaging of the triumphalism of Conrad’s Victorian twilight — Hubris has been introduced to Nemesis. Now a familiar human story is being played out. It is the story of an empire corroding from within. It is the story of a people who believed, for a long time, that their actions did not have consequences. It is the story of how that people will cope with the crumbling of their own myth. It is our story.

This time, the crumbling empire is the unassailable global economy, and the brave new world of consumer democracy being forged worldwide in its name. Upon the indestructibility of this edifice we have pinned the hopes of this latest phase of our civilisation. Now, its failure and fallibility exposed, the world’s elites are scrabbling frantically to buoy up an economic machine which, for decades, they told us needed little restraint, for restraint would be its undoing. Uncountable sums of money are being funnelled upwards in order to prevent an uncontrolled explosion. The machine is stuttering and the engineers are in panic. They are wondering if perhaps they do not understand it as well as they imagined. They are wondering whether they are controlling it at all or whether, perhaps, it is controlling them.

All this is true, and it is good to hear it stated in such stark terms. As to the idea that civilization itself is the problem, or part of the problem (an idea suggested, in part, by the essay’s title, “Uncivilisation”), I don’t buy that; the essay is, in fact, a fine example of civilized writing, which is why I recommend it. Nor can I accept the authors’ description of the Christian gospel as a “myth of eternal salvation,” a phrase they let drop at one point. It is curious that, although Mr. Hine and Mr. Kingsnorth seem to have a notion of an ecological fall, and highly developed consciences, their metaphysical naturalism probably precludes any belief in the reality of sin.

Anyway, the essay is worth reading, and brings to expression a feeling which many of us carry with us much of the time these days — a sense of something having gone deeply wrong with the civilization we have inherited, of living in a world tottering dangerously on the brink. None of us, apparently, are very sure what to expect when the world tips over; these authors, nevertheless, think that we would do well to start looking into the pit that lies below. And I must ask myself: how, as a Christian, do I respond to this?


AAR meeting

June 15, 2010

Today I received in the mail an invitation from the American Academy of Religion (AAR) to attend their meeting this autumn in Atlanta, Georgia. A number of people have advised me to attend such meetings, as they are evidently an important resource for finding academic employment. But I have not gone, and, when I look at this year’s meeting’s list of offerings, I am reminded why I do not go. Very little of it has anything to do with traditional Christian theology or practice, and much of it strikes me as positively blasphemous.

A small sampling:

A Chants Encounter: Pagan Gospel/Jam Session.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Caucus.

Contemporary Pagan Studies Group.

Gay Men and Religion Group.

Religion and Sexuality Consultation.

Lesbian-Feminist Issues and Religion Group.

The Brain on Ritual: The Embodied Logic of Tantric Deity Worship.

Watching Avatar through the Deleuzian 3Ds, Desire, Deterritorialization, and Doubling: A Postcolonial Ecotheological Review.

Transhumanism as a Theological Process.

Ask Not What Buddhism Can Do for Cognitive Science; Ask What Cognitive Science Can Do for Buddhism.

The Great God of the Five Paths: A Blood-sacrifice Pagan Cult During the Reign of Emperor Wu of Liang, or a Religious Propagandist Story Fabricated by the Song Buddhist Vegetarian Reformists?

Dealing with Ecological Despair (these last two might actually be worth going to).

There are a few lectures and conferences that sound interesting. Scott Kenworthy, from Miami University in Ohio, plans to lecture on the subject “The Marginalization of Eastern Orthodoxy in the Study of World Christianity.” (Perhaps Eastern Orthodoxy is marginalized in the study of World Christianity because it affords little opportunity for scholars to make a living writing about gender issues; that is, it remains faithful to traditional Christian moral teaching.) Kathleen Gibbons, from the University of Toronto, is lecturing on “Hierarchy before Henadology in Origen of Alexandria.” There is to be a session, chaired by Aristotle Papanikolaou of Fordham University, devoted to the theme “Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann: All Aspects of His Legacy.” Annemie Dillen, Joris Deldhof, and Annemie Patyn, of the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, give a presentation titled, “How Can the Catholic Character of a University be Maintained when Its Christian Identity is Fading?” — that seems to me a very good question. And there is a Middle Eastern Christianity Consultation, which, if I do go to this meeting, I’ll probably attend. But, all in all, I think I’ll probably avoid this circus.

Pages from a lost book

June 12, 2010

As mentioned in a recent post, I have lately been editing and translating a book by John Bekkos that has remained in manuscript for some seven hundred years. It was written around the year 1280 against an anonymous writer who, perhaps in the year 1279, had published against Bekkos, and against the union of the Churches, a collection of some 49 theological chapters. When the Emperor Michael VIII died in December 1282, and the political/ecclesiastical situation radically changed, the anonymous writer made himself known: he was George Moschabar, professor of exegesis at the patriarchal school. Informally, I will refer to the work Bekkos wrote in 1280 as Against George Moschabar instead of using the long, cumbersome title given by Bekkos himself (Refutations of the recently-discovered chapters which were written anonymously against the ecclesiastical peace). But it is worth bearing in mind that Bekkos later wrote yet another work against Moschabar, which has unfortunately not survived; perhaps I could refer to that later work as Against George Moschabar, Part II.

In any case, I have decided to present here a few paragraphs from the beginning of the book, including both the Greek text and my English translation. And, although I would like to think that no reader of this blog would be so unscrupulous as to lay claim to another person’s work, in this fallen world I cannot assume this; so I hereby assert copyright protection over these writings, as their translator and editor.

τοῦ αὐτοῦ ἀντιρρητικὰ τῶν κατὰ τῆς ἐκκλησιαστικῆς εἰρήνης ἀνεπιγράφων εὑρεθέντων κεφαλαίων :~ By the same author: Refutations of the recently-discovered chapters which were written anonymously against the ecclesiastical peace.
Πάλιν ἡμῖν ἀγῶνες καὶ πάλιν περὶ τὸ λέγειν ὁρμαί· ἂν δ’ οἱ νῦν ἀγῶνες τῶν προτέρων διάφοροι, οὐχὶ διάφορον καὶ τὸ ὑποκείμενον· ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν ὑποκείμενον ἕν· ἡ δὲ τῶν ἀγώνων χρῆσις διάφορος, ὅτι διαφόρως τῷ ἑνὶ τούτῳ ὑποκειμένῳ οἱ πρὸς οὓς ἡμεῖς τοὺς ἀγῶνας καὶ ἐποιησάμεθα καὶ ποιοῦμεν ἐχρήσαντο. ἀλλ᾽ εἰς τί μοι ταῦτα καὶ λέλεκται; τὴν διάστασιν τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν τῆς παλαιᾶς φημι Ῥώμης καὶ τῆς νέας τε καὶ ἡμετέρας, ἀγνοεῖ τῶν ἁπάντων ὅστις οὐδεῖς· ἀγνοεῖ δὲ ὡσαύτως οὐδείς, καὶ τὴν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἡμῶν μεταξὺ αὐτῶν γεγονυῖαν εἰρήνην. καὶ ὁ περὶ τῆς διαστάσεως ταύτης καὶ εἰρήνης τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν λόγος, τὸ τῶν ἀγώνων ἡμῖν ὑποκείμενον· ἡ δὲ τῶν ἀγώνων διάφορος χρῆσις, ὅτι τοῖς τῶν πρὸ ἡμῶν συγγράμμασιν ἐντυχόντες ἡμεῖς οἷς ἐπὶ συγκροτήσει τοῦ ἐκκλησιαστικοῦ ἐκεῖνοι ἐχρήσαντο σχίσματος, οὐκ ἐφ’ ὕβρει ἐκείνων καἰ καταφορᾷ ὡσπερεὶ μανιώδει, τοῖς κατ’ ἐκείνων ἀντιρρητικοῖς ἐχρησάμεθα· ἀλλὰ προσηνῶς καὶ ἡμέρως καὶ τὸ πᾶν εἰπεῖν ἀδελφικῶς, τὸν κατὰ τοῦ ψεύδους ἐκείνων ἀγῶνα ἐνευρησάμεθα. νῦν δὲ χρείας καλούσης κατὰ τῶν νῦν ἀντιλεγόντων διαγωνίσασθαι, οὐκ ἔχομεν μετὰ τῆς αὐτῆς τοῦτο μεταχειρίσασθαι διαθέσεως· καὶ τὸ αἴτιον, ὅτι οἱ πρὸ ἡμῶν τοῖς Ἰταλοῖς ἀντιλέγοντες ὑπὲρ ὧν ἡμεῖς τὸν τῆς ἀντιρρήσεως πρὸ μικροῦ ἐνεστησάμεθα, οὐχ οὕτω βλασφημίαις ἐκτόποις καὶ ἀλλοκάτοις κατὰ τῆς εὐσεβείας ἐχρήσαντο· οὐδ’ οὕτω τὰς θεολογικὰς φωνὰς τῶν ἁγίων παρεξηγήσαντο, ὡς οἱ τοῦ νῦν καιροῦ ἐπὶ τῷ ἐκκλησιαστικῷ σχίσματι ζηλωταί. καὶ παρὰ τὴν αἰτίαν ταύτην, φθάνομεν ἑαυτῶν ἐν τοῖς νῦν ἀγῶσιν ὑπεραπολογούμενοι, καὶ αἰτούμενοι, μηδένα τῶν τούτοις ἐντυγχανόντων σκαιᾶς τινος καὶ ἀπαιδεύτου γνώμης ἡμᾶς γράψασθαι, ἀπὸ τοῦ τοῖς ἡμετέροις ἐμφέρεσθαι γράμμασι παρ’ ἡμῶν τὰς ἀξίας τῆς κακονοίας αὐτῶν δυσφημίας. ἀνὴρ γάρ τις τῆς εὐσεβείας ὢν ζηλωτὴς καὶ ἀσεβὴς ἀκούων καὶ βλάσφημος παρὰ τοῦ ἀληθῶς βλασφημοῦντος καὶ κακῶς διαβάλλοντος τὴν ἀλήθειαν, πῶς ἂν ἄλλως ἢ κατὰ τὸν ὅμοιον τρόπον τοὺς τῆς ἀληθείας συκοφάντας ἀμείψαιτο; καὶ τοῦτό ἐστιν ἡ ἐπὶ τῷ αὐτῷ ὑποκειμένῳ διάφορος χρῆσις τῶν ἀγώνων ἡμῶν ὑπὲρ ἧς ἡμᾶς δυσχεραίνομεν, ἀποτρόπαιόν τι νομίζοντες καὶ τῆς ἡμῶν προαιρέσεως ἀλλοτριώτατον τὸ δυσφήμως τοὺς προσδιαλεγομένους ἀμείβεσθαι· καὶ οὐκ ἄν ποτε εἰς τοῦτο ἔργον προήχθημεν, εἰ μὴ ἡ κατὰ τῆς εὐσεβείας λύττα καὶ μανιώδας τούτων παραφορὰ τὴν ἡμέτερον εἰς τοῦτο ζῆλον ἀνέκαυσαν· καὶ τὸ ἔτι κατ’ αὐτῶν ἐκκαῦσαι ἡμᾶς, ὅτι πάσης ἐρεσχελίας πλήρη ἀπερευγόμενοι καὶ ῥήματα καὶ νοήματα, ἀνεπιγράφης παραμεῖναι τῷ βίῳ τὰς αὐτῶν ἀντιρρήσεις ἐμηχανήσαντο· κακούργως διανοησάμενοι τὸ σατανικὸν τῆς κακίας κέρδος ἐντεῦθεν πορίσασθαι· ἔχει γάρ τε πρὸς τὴν σκοπὸν αὐτῶν τὸ ἀνύσιμον εἰ μὴ ἐξ ὀνομάτων τὰ βλάσφημα συγγράματα τούτων γινώσκοιντο· ἀλλ’ εἰ καὶ μέχρις ὀνόματος ἔλαθον, ὁ δὲ δρασσόμενος τοὺς σοφοὺς ἐν τῇ πανουργίᾳ αὐτῶν, οὐχὶ καὶ αὐτὰ λαθεῖν ἀφῆκε τὰ τῆς πονηρᾶς αὐτῶν διανοίας ἐκτόκια, τῶν τῆς ἀληθείας ἐλέγχων ἀνώτερα· μήποτε τῷ ἀνεξελέγκτῳ, ἕξουσιν ἴσως ὀψὲ τοῦ χρόνου δόξαν ὑγιαινόντων ἔχειν δογμάτων. τοιγάρτοι χωροῦντες ἤδη ἐπὶ τῷ λέγειν, τοὺς ἐντευξομένους τοῖς παροῦσιν ἡμῶν ἀντιρρητικοῖς θερμῶς ἱκετεύομεν ἐν διανοίᾳ νηφούσῃ καὶ ἀπροσπαθεῖ διαγνώσει τοῖς ἑκατέρωθεν εἰρημένοις ἑαυτοὺς διανεῖμαι. Again we are faced with contests, and again there is the urge to speak. But our immediate contests differ from those which came earlier, although their subject matter differs not at all. But, whereas the subject matter is one and the same, the format of these contests differs, because our former combatants and our present ones have treated of this one subject matter in different ways. But what is it about which I am speaking? That it is the division between the churches, the churches of Old Rome, namely, and of our New Rome, that is in question, there is no one who is unaware. And, likewise, no one can be unaware of the peace which has come about between us and them in our own days. And the essential reason or rationale for the division and the peace of the churches — that constitutes the subject matter of our contests. But the reason why these contests take a different shape is that, when we came across the writings which were produced by those of earlier times in support of the schism, we did not, in our refutations of them, reply in kind to their hybris and violent, even maniacal language, but meekly and mildly and, in a word, in a brotherly way, we were found combating against their lie. But need now calls that, in confronting these present deniers, we cannot carry on in the same attitude; the reason is that those who, formerly, contradicted the Italians, and whom we earlier endeavored to refute, did not employ such bizarre and outlandish blasphemies against godly teaching, nor did they misinterpret the theological statements of the saints so brazenly as do the zealots for schism who are writing at this time. And, given this cause, we have been beforehand in this contest in making a self-defense, and in entreating all who may encounter these writings not to ascribe to us a perverse and uneducated frame of mind because of our allowing the rancorous character of these writers’ vindictiveness to be brought in by us into our own writings. For, when a man who is, in fact, zealous for orthodoxy hears himself being called “impious” and a “blasphemer” by someone who, in truth, blasphemes and wickedly maligns the truth, what other course ought he to follow than to answer those who attack the truth in a style like their own? And we would never have been led to undertake this work if our own zeal for orthodoxy had not been enflamed by these people’s fury and raving fanaticism against it. And if it still burns against them, it is because, when they belched forth words and notions full of sophistry, they contrived that their refutations be brought into the world with no indication of authorship, conceiving thereby wickedly to reap the satanic gain of malevolence: for there is, indeed, something effectual in these blasphemous writings towards accomplishing their goal, even if their authors are not known by name. But, although they are hidden as to their name, he who “takes the wise in their own craftiness” has not allowed the offspring of their wicked reasoning to remain hidden, so as to escape Truth’s refutations, lest, in the absence of a full rebuttal, their ideas should at some future time gain the reputation of being sound doctrines. However it may be, in commencing this discourse, we fervently entreat those who shall encounter these disputations to focus carefully, with sober reasoning and unbiased judgment, upon the things that have been said by both sides.
ὁ γάρ, καὶ οὐκ οἶδα τί ἂν αὐτὸν καὶ καλέσω, συκοφάντης δὲ ὅμως καὶ τῆς ἀληθείας ἐχθρὸς ὡς αὐτὰ παραστήσει τοῦτον αὐτοῦ τὰ συγγράματα, εἰς οὐκ ὀλίγα κεφάλαια τὰς ἑαυτοῦ διεῖλεν ἐρεχελίας· καὶ ὥσπερ δὴ νόμος τοῖς περιέργως πάντα καὶ φρονοῦσι καὶ πράττουσιν, ἄλλως καὶ ἄλλως περὶ τῶν αὐτῶν συνεγράψατο. ἐγώδε τὰ πάντων αὐτῶν ἀπολεγόμενος καιριώτερα καὶ οἷς ἂν καὶ ὁ τῶν σιωπωμένων συμπαρεκτείνοιτο ἔλεγχος, ἐπὶ τοῦ μέσου ἂν προτιθοίμην καὶ σαφῶς διασκευαζοίμην τὸν ἔλεγχον. For this man — for how I should address him, I don’t know, though that he is a caviller and an enemy of the truth is shown by these very writings of his — has divided his sophistry into not a few chapters. And, as is customary for those who act and think as perpetual busybodies, he has written over and over again about the same things, now in this way, now in that. But, for my part, I would structure my refutation in a clear manner and present it to the public in such a way as to reply only to those chapters that are most essential to his argument; thus, the refutation of these would apply also to those chapters which are passed over in silence.
ἐξ αὐτῆς γὰρ οὗτος αὐτίκα βαλβίδος, ἐπιγραφὴν τοῦ πρώτου κεφαλαίου ποιεῖται, ὅτι οὐ ταυτὸν ἐκπόρευσις καὶ χορηγία· ἔννοιαν ἐντεῦθεν ὑποτείνων τινὰ τοῦ λέγειν ἡμᾶς ταυτὸν εἶναι ἐκπόρευσιν καὶ χορηγίαν. μετὰ δὲ τὴν ἐπιγραφὴν τῶν λόγων ἀρχόμενος, οὕτως ἐπὶ λέξεων λέγει· Right from his point of departure, he composes this title for his first chapter: That procession and bestowal are not the same thing. In saying this, he implies that we in fact say that procession and bestowal are the same thing. Then, after beginning with this chapter heading, he goes on to say the following:
Οἱ τὴν τοῦ παναγίου πνεύματος ἐκπόρευσιν χορηγίαν εἶναι τιθέμενοι καὶ ἀποστολὴν ἢ πρόχυσιν ἢ πρόπεμψιν, ἀθετηταὶ ἂν εἶεν τῆς τούτου χαρακτηριστικῆς ἰδιότητος καὶ τῆς τοῦ Μακεδονίου δόξης ἀφιστάμενοι κατ’ οὐδέν· καὶ γὰρ ὥσπερ ἐκεῖνος τὴν ἐνυπόστατον τοῦ θείου πνεύματος ὕπαρξιν ἀθετῶν ἐνέργειαν χορηγουμένην ἐδογμάτιζε τοῦτο τοῖς μετειληφόσι καὶ δεκτικοῖς πρόσφορον καὶ εἰς ἀνυπαρξίαν κατῆγε τὴν πάσης οὐσίας καὶ ὑπάρξεως τοῦ θείου πνεύματος ὑπερούσιον οὐσίαν καὶ ὕπαρξιν, οὕτω καὶ οὗτοι τῆς ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς ὑπὲρ αἰτίαν καὶ λόγον τοῦ θείου πνεύματος ὑπάρξεως ἀθετοῦσι τὴν ἀφοριστικὴν ἰδιότητα τὴν ἐκπόρευσιν ἣν ἡμεῖς καὶ δεδιδάγμεθα παρὰ τοῦ σωτῆρος Χριστοῦ καὶ πιστεύομεν· καὶ ὁμολογοῦμεν σημαντικὴν εἶναι τῆς τοῦ παρακλήτου θεοῦ ὑπάρξεως, ὅπως ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἔχει τὸ εἶναι ὅτι ἐκπορευτῶς ὥσπερ καὶ τὴν γέννησιν ἀφοριστικὴν τοῦ υἱοῦ ἰδιότητα· ὅπως καὶ οὗτος ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἔχει τὸ εἶναι καὶ γὰρ γεννητῶς. Those who would posit the All-Holy Spirit’s procession to be a bestowal and a mission or a shedding-forth or a sending-forth set aside his characteristic identifying feature and, without reason, take a stand with the doctrine of Macedonius; for in fact, just as Macedonius set aside the real, personal existence of the divine Spirit and taught that it is an activity (energy) bestowed upon participants and conveyed to its recipiants, and thereby reduced the superessential essence and existence of the divine Spirit, who transcends all essence and existence, to the rank of the non-existent, so also these people set aside the procession from the Father, which is the defining particularity of the divine Spirit’s existence, an existence which transcends cause and reason. We have been taught by Christ the Savior and we believe and confess that this defining particularity indicates God the Paraclete’s existence, so that he possesses being from the Father, which he has in a proceeding way — just as “begottenness” is the defining particularity of the Son, so that he also possesses being from the Father, having it in a begotten way.
Οὕτω μὲν οὖν ἀφανὴς οὗτος θεολόγος καὶ τῆς γωνίας ὄντως ἐπάξιος· ἡμεῖς δὲ διαφορὰν χορηγίας τε καὶ ἐκπορεύσεως ἐν πολλοῖς τῶν ἡμετέρων συγγραμάτων ἐκδηλότατα εἰρηκότες, οὐδενὸς ἄλλου λόγου ἐν τῷ παρόντι δεηθησάμεθα εἰς ἀποσκευὴν τῆς καθ’ ἡμῶν ἐπὶ τούτῳ διαβολῆς καὶ διὰ βραχέων οὕτω τὴν πρότασιν ἀνατρέποντες ἐξ ἧς ὁ γενναῖος οὗτος τῆς ἀληθείας ἀντίπαλος τὸ καθ’ ἡμῶν τῆς Μακεδονίου δόξης ἔγκλημα συνάγειν διενοήθη, ἐξ ἄλλων ἀναντιρρήτων καὶ ἀληθῶν ὑποθέσεων μᾶλλον ἂν αὐτὸν ἀποδείξαιμεν τὸ τοιοῦτον ἔγκλημα ἐπισυρόμενον ἑαυτῷ· ἅτε τὴν ἐνυπόστατον τοῦ θείου πνεύματος ὕπαρξιν ἐνέργειαν τοῖς μετειληφόσι χορηγουμένην δοξάζοντα καὶ εἰς ἀνυπαρξίαν κατάγοντα τὴν πάσης οὐσίας ὑπερούσιον τοῦ θείου πνεύματος ὕπαρξιν. ἐπεὶ γὰρ οἱ τῆς ἐκκλησίας φωστῆρες τῆς ἀκριβοῦς θεολογίας διδάσκαλοι τὰ τοῦ παρακλήτου πνεύματος θεία χαρίσματα τῇ τοῦ πνεύματος κλήσει καθ’ ὁμωνυμίαν καλεῖσθαι δογματίκασιν, ὁ γενναῖος οὑτοσὶ θεολόγος συνιέναι μὴ δυνηθεὶς ὅπως τὲ αὐτὸν τὸν ἐνυπόστατον παράκλητον δηλοῖ ὁ τοῖς δεκτικοῖς αὐτοῦ χογηγεῖσθαι λέγων αὐτόν· καὶ ὅπως ἡ χωρηγία εἰ καὶ μὴ ταυτὸν τῇ ἐκπορεύσει ἐστί, σχετικὴ γάρ ἐστι τοῦ χορηγουμένου ἐνοίκησις· ὅμως τὴν ἐκ τοῦ χορηγοῦντος παραστῆσαι δύναται ὕπαρξιν ὡς καὶ ἐν ἄλλοις ἀποδεδείχαμεν, θείας γραφῆς ἁπάσης καταυθεντῶν, νομοθετεῖ ὅποιπερ ἂν εὑρίσκηται πνεῦμα ἅγιον χορηγούμενον καὶ διδόμενον, τὸ σημαινόμενον ἐκεῖσε τοῦ πνεύματος μὴ τὸν παράκλητον εἶναι θεὸν· ἀλλὰ τὴν πνευματικὴν αὐτοῦ χάριν, καθ’ ὁμωνυμίαν πνεῦμα ἅγιον λεγομένην. καὶ ταῦτα λέγων ὁ παραπλὴξ καὶ ἐμωράντητος· καὶ τί γὰρ ἂν ἄλλο καλέσαιμι αὐτὸν προσφυέστερον, ἀγνοεῖ αὐτὸς εἶναι ὁ τῇ Μακεδονίου περιπίπτων δόξῃ κακῶς καὶ ἐπισφαλῶς· εἰ γὰρ ἐκεῖνος ἐνέργειαν ἀνυπόστατον τοῖς μετειληφόσι χορηγουμένην τὸ πανάγιον ἐδογμάτιζε πνεῦμα· καὶ οὗτος δὲ τοιαύτην διαβεβαιοῦται πνευματικὴν δηλοῦν ἐνέργειαν τὴν κλῆσιν τοῦ πνεύματος ὀπηνίκά τις λέγει πνεῦμα ἅγιον χορηγούμενον καὶ διδόμενον, πῶς οὐκ ἂν εἴη οὗτος Μακεδονιαστὴς ὡς νενομοθέτηκεν, ἐὰν ἡμεῖς μὲν αὐτὸν τὸν παράκλητον τοῖς δεκτικοῖς ἐνοικεῖν ἀποδείξωμεν, οὗτος δὲ κατὰ τὴν αὐτῷ προσοῦσαν ἀνοησίαν τὴν δηλοῦσαν αὐτὸν τὸν παράκλητον κλῆσιν τοῦ πνεύματος, ἀνυπόστατον εἶναι ἐνέργειαν τερατεύεται; Thus far our unseen theologian, someone truly worthy of a dark corner. But as for us, having most clearly stated, in numerous of our writings, that there is a difference between bestowal and procession, we shall be in need of no new argument, in the present work, to frame our response to the slander that is lodged against us on this point, and in this way we may briefly overthrow the premise which this eminent adversary of the truth has supposed he could use to draw down upon us the charge of holding to the view of Macedonius; rather, from other irrefutable, true postulates, we shall show that he has drawn this charge upon himself, forasmuch as he supposes the real, personal existence of the Holy Spirit to be an energy bestowed upon those who partake of him, and he has dragged the superessential existence of the divine Spirit, surpassing all essence, down to the level of non-existence. For since the luminaries of the Church, the teachers of exact theology, teach the doctrine that the divine gifts of the Paraclete Spirit are called, equivocally, by the title “Spirit,” this eminent theologian, in his inability to understand how it is the person itself of the Paraclete which is signified when he is said to be bestowed upon those who receive him, and how this bestowal, even if it is not the same thing as the procession — for it is the relational indwelling of the one who is bestowed — nevertheless is able to make known his existence from the one who bestows, as we have fully established in other writings — since, as I say, he is unable to understand this, he lays it down as a law that, wherever the Holy Spirit is found being bestowed and given, the object there signified by the word “Spirit” is not God the Paraclete, but his spiritual gift, which, by equivocation, is called “Holy Spirit.” And, when he says these things, this addle-pated ignoramus (for I am at a loss to know by what more apposite a title to call him), he fails to recognize that it is he himself who falls, wickedly and clumsily, into the mindset of Macedonius. For if Macedonius dogmatized that the All-Holy Spirit is an impersonal energy bestowed upon those who receive [him], and if he himself stoutly maintains that the title “Spirit” indicates just such a spiritual energy whenever anyone says that the Holy Spirit is bestowed and given, how is it not he himself who is the Macedonian, according to his own legislation, if, while we demonstrate that it is the Spirit himself who indwells those who receive him, he, on the contrary, talks prodigiously, in keeping with his own proper foolishness, that the title “Spirit” (which indicates the Paraclete himself) is an impersonal energy.
καὶ ἡ ἀπόδειξις, ἔχει μὲν τὴν ἰσχὺν καὶ ἐκ πολλῶν ῥήσεων πατερικῶν· ὡς καὶ ἐν ἄλλοις ἡμῶν συγγράμασι παρεστήσαμεν· ἔχει δὲ αὐτὴν βεβαιότερον ἐξ αὐτῶν τῶν ἐν εὐαγγελίοις τοῦ κυρίου φωνῶν. ὁ γὰρ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμα πέμπειν ἐπαγγελλόμενος, οὐ χάριν τινὰ πέμπειν ἁπλῶς ἐπηγγείλατο· ἀλλ’ αὐτὸν ἔφη τὸν παράκλητον πέμπειν, αὐτὸ τῆς ἀληθείας πνεῦμα ὃ παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκπορεύεται· εἰ γοῦν ὁ παράκλητος τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας ὃ παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκπορεύεται, ἐνέργειά τις ἐστὶν ἀνυπόστατος, εἴη ἂν κατὰ τὴν φλυαρίαν τοῦ εἰπόντος καὶ τὸ πεμπόμενον καὶ χορηγούμενον τοῖς πιστοῖς πνεῦμα, ἀνυπόστατός τις ἐνέργεια. εἰ δὲ πνεῦμα μὲν πεμπόμενον καὶ χορηγούμενον ἐστὶν ὁ παράκλητος, ἡ δὲ τοῖς δεκτικοῖς ἐγγινομένη σχετικὴ αὐτοῦ ἐνοίκησις πρὸς τὰς διαφόρους τῶν χαρισμάτων ἰδέας τὰς διαφόρους δέχεται κλήσεις πνεῦμα λεγομένη σοφίας ὅταν ὁ ἐνοικήσας τινὶ τῶν πιστῶν παράκλητος κύριος σοφίαν παράσχοι· καὶ πνεῦμα γνώσεως ὅταν γνῶσιν παράσχοι· καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ἅπερ διὰ τὸ μικροῦ πᾶσι κεῖσθαι εἰς γνῶσιν τῷ λόγῳ οὐ διαλαμβάνομεν, οὐδὲν ἄρα λειπόμενον ἔσται τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς καὶ εὐσυνειδήτοις διαγνῶναι, ἢ ὅτι ὡς ὁ μετὰ πολλῆς τῆς αὐθεντίας νομοθετῶν τὸ διδόμενον καὶ χορηγούμενον πνεῦμα, μὴ τὸν παράκλητον αὐτὸν εἶναι θεὸν ἀλλ’ ἐνέργειαν αὐτοῦ ἀνυπόστατον, καθ’ ἑαυτοῦ τὴν ψῆφον τῆς τοῦ Μακεδονίου δόξης ἀποίσεται. And the proof [of this] has force also out of many statements of the fathers, as we have also shown in other writings of ours. And it has this force most emphatically from the very things said by the Lord in the gospels. For, when the Lord promised to send the Spirit, he did not announce that he would send simply some grace, but he said that he would send the Paraclete himself, the very Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father. If, therefore, the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, is an impersonal energy, this would accord with the nonsense of him who states that the Spirit who is sent and bestowed upon the faithful is an impersonal energy. But if the Spirit who is sent and bestowed is the Paraclete, and his relational indwelling, which comes about in those who receive him, is given various names according to the various ideas of his gifts, being called a “spirit of wisdom” when the Lord the Paraclete, in indwelling one or another of the faithful, provides wisdom, and a “spirit of knowledge” when he provides knowledge, and so on with the rest of the titles which, because a knowledge of them may be easily had by anyone, we do not here recount word by word, then any honest person of good conscience will lack nothing to discern that he who legislates, with a great air of authority, that the Spirit who is given and bestowed is not God himself, the Paraclete, but his impersonal energy, takes the side of the viewpoint of Macedonius, his own protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

What Is Not Allowed

June 11, 2010

A poem, originally published in the Irish Times, June 5, 2010, and reprinted on the website Global Research, June 7, 2010,

by Richard Tillinghast

No tinned meat is allowed, no tomato paste,
no clothing, no shoes, no notebooks.
These will be stored in our warehouses at Kerem Shalom
until further notice.
Bananas, apples, and persimmons are allowed into Gaza,
peaches and dates, and now macaroni
(after the American Senator’s visit).
These are vital for daily sustenance.
But no apricots, no plums, no grapes, no avocados, no jam.
These are luxuries and are not allowed.
Paper for textbooks is not allowed.
The terrorists could use it to print seditious material.
And why do you need textbooks
now that your schools are rubble?
No steel is allowed, no building supplies, no plastic pipe.
These the terrorists could use to launch rockets
against us.
Pumpkins and carrots you may have,
but no delicacies,
no cherries, no pomegranates, no watermelon, no onions,
no chocolate.
We have a list of three dozen items that are allowed,
but we are not obliged to disclose its contents.
This is the decision arrived at
by Colonel Levi, Colonel Rosenzweig, and Colonel Segal.
Our motto:
‘No prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis.’
You may fish in the Mediterranean,
but only as far as three km from shore.
Beyond that and we open fire.
It is a great pity the waters are polluted –
twenty million gallons of raw sewage dumped into the sea every day
is the figure given.
Our rockets struck the sewage treatments plants,
and at this point spare parts to repair them are not allowed.
As long as Hamas threatens us,
no cement is allowed, no glass, no medical equipment.
We are watching you from our pilotless drones
as you cook your sparse meals over open fires
and bed down
in the ruins of houses destroyed by tank shells.
And if your children can’t sleep,
missing the ones who were killed in our incursion,
or cry out in the night, or wet their beds
in your makeshift refugee tents,
or scream, feeling pain in their amputated limbs –
that’s the price you pay for harbouring terrorists.
God gave us this land.
A land without a people for a people without a land.

Richard Tillinghast is an American poet who lives in Co Tipperary. He is the author of eight books of poetry, the latest of which is Selected Poems (Dedalus Press, 2010), as well as several works of non-fiction.