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February 02, 2009


Spirit of Vatican II


Too bad Eastern Orthodox, with their emphasis on apophatic theology, are not involved in this discussion.

Posted by: evagrius | November 15, 2008 at 11:43 PM

I would suggest that evagrius read the following essay, among others:


In other words, it would appear that even the Orthodox have had a productive dialogue with Buddhists.

Without wishing to seem more testy than I am about the subject, I think that anyone who can say "many believe that Orthodox Theology is fossilized", may be betraying an ignorance of that theology, especially that written in the last century.

Posted by: Bernard Brandt | November 22, 2008 at 03:56 AM

One swallow doesn't mean spring is here.

Orthodox theology isn't fossilized but it still has a way to go in order to engage in fruitful dialogue with other religions.

Posted by: evagrius | November 22, 2008 at 05:03 AM

Dear Evagrius:

I would suggest that you also read the footnotes, as they appear to indicate more than "one swallow";

I would also suggest that you look at some of the work that the late Fr. Seraphim Rose did, fruitful work as regards a liaison between Christianity (even Orthodox Christianity) and Taoism. While I do not have the links to that yet, I would be happy to supply them.

I would further suggest that you look at the website of Abbot Lisitzin, which appears to be hosted by Marquette, which appears to be a fruitful exchange between Orthodox and Jewish scholars as regards relationships between Judaism and early Christian monasticism. I would be happy to give you the links as regards those.

I will not but indirectly refer as well to Orthodox participation in both the NCC and the WCC, a participation that has been more long term than that conducted by Roman Catholic clergy and hierarchy.

My point is that there has been a great deal of dialogue, and quite fruitful work, done by a large number of Orthodox scholars, prelates, and laymen and women, with many religious traditions, and over quite a long time. It might be useful to look at this work before drawing conclusions.

Finally, I would like to apologize for any confusion which I may created by citing the "many believe that Orthodox theology is fossilized". I had not intended on pinning that one on Evagrius. Those, rather, were the words of the host of this website, in his recent essay, "Restorationist Skulduggery".

Posted by: Bernard Brandt | November 23, 2008 at 09:38 AM

I would also like to apologise to Fr. O'Leary for not taking the time first both to read and to address the essay which prompted the above logomachy.

As is usual for his essays here, I found the presentation of the Buddhist concept of "useful means" to be much food for thought. I am currently in the process of writing a book on Chinese Qigong, with particular emphasis on what we actually know of the Bodhidharma's teaching of Chan Buddhism at the Shaolin Temple in what is now Henan province. By the bye, Evagrius, the book includes a comparison of early Chan and Taoist meditative practices with the ascetic tradition described in the Philokalia.

While it is possible that I am misreading Fr. O'Leary's presentation of "skillful means", I believe that such "means" are not only the sort of rhetorical devices used to assist the enlightened one in question in presenting Buddhist doctrine, but include the meditative techniques and trans-rational "wake-up calls" which are presented in later Zen Buddhism as Koan.

That said, I would like to examine this concept further, as it would appear to permit a fruitful interchange between Buddhism and Orthodox Christian ascetic practice. I would like to thank Fr. O'Leary for writing his essay, and bringing the concepts within it to my attention.

Posted by: Bernard F. Brandt | November 23, 2008 at 10:31 AM

Not an Orthodox but a Catholic priest;

Tiso, Francis. "Evagrius of Pontus and Buddhist Abhidharma." Religion East & West 5 (2005): 41-72

He shows some interesting parallels.

I studied with Fr. Golitzin. He is quite interested in the religious atmosphere in the Middle East during the first 5-6 centuries of the "Common Era".

It's too bad that there's no participation by Orthodox in MIDI, the organization that promotes dialogue between Buddhist and Christian monks (Benedictines).

Posted by: evagrius | November 25, 2008 at 11:49 PM

Brian Gallagher

Nothing to post about the SSPX story? and the Linz aux. bishop appointment?

I guess that there's really nothing to say. Any analysis will conclude that the pope is either inept or reactionary regarding this matter.

Will we ever once again hear a bishop say something like "Ne timeamus quod veritas veritati noceat"?


Re; the previous post;

Obviously there's a dearth of "skillful means".

Spirit of Vatican II

A dearth indeed, because bishops have been appointed to be yes men and the Pope monopolizes discourse. His style is myopic, solipsistic, non-dialogal, and above all divisive, and has been so for a long time. Now the whole world is experiencing the irritation that has been felt by theologians for the last 30 years or more. Nor will this change.

Bp Williamson is amusingly eccentric when he goes on about the Sound of Music (which he skewers) and women's dress and education -- we are producing "feckless unmen and trashy unwomen". A pity more bishops are not able to turn a phrase. His negationism is obnoxious, but I do not agree with the prosecution of thought-crime.

The Vatican has its own lurking antisemitism that makes it impervious to the odious character of this, as its chronic self-hating homophobia makes it insensitive on another front. I once heard a Vatican personage excoriate "Catholic masochism" about the Jews and claim that "not that many were killed under Hitler".

Spirit of Vatican II

Remember the reception of Mel Gibson's movie at the Vatican? Some claim that John Paul II's approbation of it was ventriloquized by Cardinal Ratzinger. Here is a comment from the time:

New York, NY, December 17, 2003 ・The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today reacted to media reports that Pope John Paul II recently previewed Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of Christ" and indicated through an intermediary his approval of its account of the events leading up to the Crucifixion of Jesus.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

If in fact Pope John Paul II has screened Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ" and if in fact his reaction to the film was positive, as has been reported, then we respect his statement. The Pope has a record and history of sensitivity to the Jewish community and has a clear moral voice and understanding when it comes to anti-Semitism.

However, we must reserve final judgment on "The Passion of Christ" until we have an opportunity to see the film. We hope that Mel Gibson has heard our concerns and those of Christian and Jewish scholars and religious leaders, who expressed unease about the earlier version of the film and its potential to fuel, rationalize and legitimize anti-Semitism.

If Mel Gibson has changed the film, which he has referred to all along as a "work-in-progress," then we would welcome that. We would like the opportunity to screen the final version for ourselves to see if the scenes of concern have been changed, and if so, publicly congratulate him.

Spirit of Vatican II

Here is a comment on the Pope by one of his warmest admirers -- NOT! -- Don Franco Barbero; only someone objects that it could apply to any Pope:

D) Don Franco, conosco quali sono le sue valutazione delle scelte, dei documenti e delle prese di posizione di papa Ratzinger. Oggi, vorrei, invece porLe una domanda diversa: "Come vede la persona di Ioseph Ratzinger? Quali sentimenti nutre verso di lui e quali emozioni prova?"

R) Nel totale dissenso delle posizioni culturali, antropologiche e teologiche, penso che l'uomo Ratzinger sia una persona buona e sincera. Quando lo vedo vestito come un attaccapanni e tappezzato come un armadio, provo persino emozioni di tenerezza. Vederlo conciato così, tra l'imperiale e lì arlecchino, ma dà la percezione di uno "scomparso", di una persona tutta immolata, identificata, sepolta dentro la comparsa istituzionale. Recita una parte. Provo la stessa emozione di simpatia che mi coinvolga quando incontro i tossicodipendenti del centro terapeutico di cui sono coordinatore. Ratzinger mi sembra un uomo intossicato dal sacro pervasivo, angosciante, funereo, sessuofobico. Come taluni eroinomani vivono in un mondo tutto loro, così Ratzinger è trasportato in un mondo accanto a quello reale. La tossicità del sacro cattolico trasforma la persona dalla punta dei piedi alla punta dei capelli. I "fumi del sacro" sono pervasivi, avvolgenti, alienanti. E lui ogni giorno si fa abbondanti "fumate" di sacro. Vestire Prada, polsini d'oro, ermellino, zucchetto, calici preziosi, incensi, inchini, baciamani…è poco sano. Magari anche a lui piacerebbe poter baciare ed abbracciare, stringere affettuosamente ed accarezzare teneramente amici e amiche, sentire un po' di calore. Invece, poveretto, si trova nelle stanze di palazzi tra baci finti ed inchini reverenziali di professionisti del sacro… In questa compagnia malsana come può avere idee nuove? Esce in viaggio? Anche lì trova il solito patologico paesaggio di gente intossicata dal sacro, cresciuta nell'obbedienza e nell'inchino. Ovviamente, se uno vuole uscire da una dipendenza, una strada c'è. Temo però che Ratzinger si sia un po' troppo adattato a questa dipendenza dal sacro e che gli sarebbe difficile superare la carenza.


Perhaps the myopia, solipcism, etc., is there because no one's "faced the wall", so to speak.

Brian Gallagher

The, "toxicity of the sacred" is a good phrase. Comparing Benedict to a heroin addict might be a stretch, but I'd definitely describe those who claim to be hard-core 'traditionalists' as such.
Perhaps now the pope will finally "get it"? (unlike after Regensburg)

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