There is a hunger among us for something different, something better, something true, real, and good in ourselves and all the institutions of our culture. The desire is almost palpable in the air and the hunger is past the point of pain. Something is wrong and we’re not quite sure what it is. Consider this.
For years in the media, the arts, our schools, our businesses, our religious structures, and the greater culture we’ve been told that morals, truth, righteousness, and all good things are whatever a person decides is appropriate in their own world view. By and large all of us have bought into this in one way or another, lured by the promise of freedom and the possibilities of a soul unlimited by even reasonable constraints. Ancient wisdom formed in the crucible of centuries of human experience has been discarded. We assume that technological progress is the same as the evolution of the human being. We thought we were being progressive and oriented towards a utopian future. Because we can make a better car we came to believe that we were also wiser, more enlightened, and better than the ideas and people who came before us. Yet something is missing.
Slowly we’re discovering that we’ve succeeded in creating, instead of some brave new human, a whole generation plus of self-centered individuals with a fetish for our own desires as civil rights and very little consideration for the world of people outside our own orbit. Our children are becoming little monsters and our politicians remain little children. We believe in nothing beyond the next pleasure and live without a past so we have no future. Our institutions reflect this and are the way they are because they are from us and we are in a very sorry state of things. Now we wonder what has happened and fear for the future.
We don’t need a new political party, a new product, a new corporation, or even a new government. We need a new worldview. And as Orthodox Christians it has to start with Christ and His church, the primal and over arching culture to which we are all supposed to belong.
To do this we will need to see our churches not simply as centers of worship, although true worship is at the heart of things, or places where we socialize or, God forbid, as ethnic centers where we sell goods to outsiders to keep the lights on. We need to see our communities as centers of Christian civilization and culture, bastions of holiness and light. In these places we ourselves will learn, because we often are swept up into our broken culture’s vision, about our Faith as a worldview that impacts every bit of our existence and learn how to practice it and share it with the larger world. In worship we will set our hearts in their proper alignment. In learning we will discover truth that endures. In being community we will help each other along the pilgrim way. The renewal of a culture begins with the revival of the Church. If we want the world to shine with grace and glory we, each of us have to shine, and our churches must be ablaze as well. The world needs examples of the good things we proclaim, proof that there’s some kind of substantial hope. If we are not it then what?
I am convinced that today, somewhere a Saint is being made. Who it may be is not mine to know. God knows. Yet in this world of darkness it will be those transfigured people, Saints in the making, and transfigured churches, where the unconquered Light will shine and through them the world will be renewed. Let it be us.