Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Lost Christianity

Further quotes from Needleman's Lost Christianity. These come, supposedly, from a mysterious Middle Eastern monk called Father Sylvan, about whose actual existence I'm a little skeptical. But what he says is spot on:

It is not demanded of us that we always be in the state of the heart which grants us vision and self-mastery. It is only demanded of us that we know the state we are in.

And, speaking of the reason that Christianity turns mysticism into persecution of heretics:

The causes of religious violence...lie in [the] tendency to leap impatiently from metaphor to symbol. One struggles to live according to the Teaching and gradually a certain level of understanding is reached. One begins to feel and know, to a certain degree, how important the Teaching is to forgets that I myself need the Teaching even more than the world does.

And, on reform:

If we would infuse new life into Christianity, it is necessary first and last, to occupy the body of the old Christianity, just as Christ occupied the body of the old Adam... Criticism is not the point. Presence is the point, awareness of the gap separating the ideas and the actual situation...But who is there who can occupy the tradition in order to reconstruct the teaching? Where are the few Christians who can become, so to say, the "subtle body" of the Church?...It can only begin with individuals who can occupy their own being... Only in rare moments can I be toward myself what I wish to be toward the tradition. And if I cannot be a forgiver of myself, how shall the power of forgiveness ever enter toward Christendom itself?

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