Misc Studies (43)
The feast of the baptism of Jesus is the second most ancient liturgical celebration and is among the major mysteries of Christ. The synoptics mention Jesus` baptism in the Jordan, and John`s Gospel gives a report of it, indicating its importance.
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It is now only too evident that the revolutionary changes in mental outlook that took place in western Christendom some three or four centuries ago, and that produced the modern scientific movement, are the major cause of the ecological crisis in which the world finds itself today. Yet the terrifying consequences of the practical exploitation of modern science are usually attributed not to modern science as such — and still less to the mental picture of the universe which it presupposes — but simply to its misapplication and abuse. We are even told, with a naïvety that is as inconsequential as it is typical, that modern science must be good because what is true cannot be evil, and since modern science works, or produces results, it must be true.
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This major Orthodox contribution to the study of "ethics" takes as its point of departure the concept of "hypostasis" or "person" not only as this is presented in the theology of the Greek Fathers but also as it is experienced in the worship, ascetical life and art of the Orthodox Church. In this perspective, morality is seen not as "an objective measure for evaluating character and behavior, but the dynamic response of personal freedom to the existential truth and authenticity of man." The author states that "freedom carries with it the ultimate possibility of taking precisely this risk: that man should deny his own existential truth and authenticity, and alienate and distort his existence, his being. . . What we call the "morality" of man is the way he relates to this adventure of his freedom. Morality reveals what man "is" in principle, as the image of God, but also what he "becomes" through the adventure of his freedom: a being transformed, or `in the likeness` of God."
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Christians in various western traditions are re-discovering spiritual direction. Yet many have little experience of the living tradition of spiritual fatherhood. The book sets out to learn how Orthodox Christians understand and value their spiritual fathers. Both the people and the spiritual fathers who speak through these pages are part of an ancient tradition in a Church only recently emerged from decades of Communist harassment. While their experience of spiritual fatherhood is uniquely their own, it can be of help to all Christians who seek God by searching out a spiritual father, a bearer of the spirit who knows, and can help others to know, the living God.
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The discipline of "bioethics" has developed in response to unprecedented advances made during the past three decades in the area of biomedical technology. Many of those advances have an extraordinary potential for good; nevertheless, much of the new technology has placed us on a dramatic slide down the "slippery slope," from partial-birth abortions to physician-assisted suicide, from surrogate gestation to the cloning of human embryos. How does Orthodox Christianity view these developments?
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