"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
mattress,/
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Orthodox Architecture in North America: An Interview with Nicholas Denysenko

I count it a great gift to have Nick Denysenko among my friends. I have happily interviewed him on here over the years about his many books, and 2017 must be something of a record for him insofar as he has two coming out this year.

He has recently moved from the so-called city of angels (who are, after all, the lowest-ranked in the celestial hierarchy) to the state of Indiana where, it is reported, the dominions and thrones, if not exactly the cherubim and seraphim, are sometimes inclined to take their annual holidays. So he's moved up in the world, or at least to the Mid-West, and that allows me to bring him to town next year to lecture on his book Christmation: A Primer for Catholics. I interviewed him about that book here. You can read other interviews here and here.

So now to the first of two books coming out this year: Theology and Form: Contemporary Orthodox Architecture in America. It is a fascinating study, and just the sort of scholarship that makes this academic life all worthwhile: a serious, sustained look across a number of disciplines to see what stories they tell. Since studying Jane Jacobs more than twenty years ago, I have had an amateur's fascination with buildings and street-scapes, and the messages they convey, the agendas they have, and the stories they try, sometimes badly and sometimes well, to tell. So Nick's newest book is especially interesting as he ranges quite literally across the country to many and very diverse buildings and communities, looking at their architectural design, iconography, and underlying theology, seeking to analyze the stories those buildings tell, and the communities of which they are a part.

Following my usual practice, I e-mailed him some questions, and here are his thoughts.

AD: What led you from books on Theophany, Chrismation, and liturgical reform to now architecture? Are there links between all these works?


ND: In the earlier studies, I encountered several references to seminal studies on the Byzantine liturgy and architecture. I was particularly intrigued by the evolution of Byzantine liturgy and the relationship between the 'cathedral' and 'monastic' liturgical types. As I examined the literature, there seemed to be a consensus that the received tradition of the Byzantine rite could--and should--be celebrated in any given space.

To be honest, it was a series of personal experiences that inspired this study. In 1997, I participated in the consecration of St. Katherine's Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Arden Hills, Minnesota. Again, in 2008, I served at the consecration of the Orthodox Church of St. Matthew in Columbia, Maryland. The time I spent in these parish communities permitted me to experience the process of planning the building of Church complexes. There were so many factors contributing to the desired edifices that were outside of liturgy. Certainly, raising the needed funds was a major factor in both cases, but there were also questions of parish history, architectural models of the past, and the unique mission of the individual parishes in comparison with other Orthodox parishes in the area. These factors came to be inscribed on the actual architecture, and it occurred to me that Orthodox architecture in America just did not conform to the principle of form following function. So, I decided to look at a sample size of parishes to learn more. The outcome taught me a lot about liturgy, but even more about the mosaic of Orthodoxy in America.  

AD: Your introduction notes the common assumption that "architectural form follows liturgical function" but a little later suggests that your research has uncovered other "factors contributing to the architectural design besides liturgy." Were you expecting to find this when you set out on this project, or was it a surprise? And of those other factors besides architectural design, is there one that stands out as the most important? 

I was expecting to find other factors contributing to architectural form. In my study, I identified a handful that stood out: cultural memory, liturgical renewal, and mission in an American context. I think one could synthesize these into a more general factor that contributes to architectural form: the local community's core values.

AD: You've got six chapters focusing on seven different buildings and communities across the country. How did you choose these? 

I was familiar with most of the communities in one way or another. I decided to examine Annunciation Church in Milwaukee because of its unique history, and the story of the building of the Church really pushed my imagination, because it was clear to me that the architect was considering elements that weren't really a part of the community's vision.

In my reading, it was apparent that including Holy Virgin Cathedral (ROCOR) in San Francisco was absolutely necessary. The community has a longstanding reputation for fidelity to liturgical tradition, the iconographic program is truly extraordinary, and the community's new identity as the home of St. John Maximovich added a new dimension, because so many pilgrims come to the Church for veneration of his relics and prayer.

I added Three Hierarchs Chapel at St. Vladimir's Seminary because it was a good opportunity to consider liturgy and architecture in light of Alexander Schmemann as the preeminent father of liturgical renewal in America, and Fr. Alexis Vinogradov as a practicing architect who designed spaces for multiple communities with a vision for Orthodox mission to America in the background.

The Church of the Holy Wisdom at New Skete Monastery was a special opportunity to see how an Orthodox monastery used liturgical scholarship to construct a building hosting a liturgy founded upon the cathedral tradition. I had also served in a handful of Orthodox missions, and had reflected at length on the significance of mission communities worshiping in non-traditional spaces.

Finally, Joy of All Who Sorrow mission in Culver City was a wonderful way to examine all of these issues in a mission context. I'm particularly pleased with the outcomes of the study, because some of them were surprising.

AD: All seven are Byzantine Orthodox temples. Was that deliberate? Were you tempted at all to look at the theology and form of, say, Armenian or Coptic churches--or even Byzantine Catholic ones? 

Yes - I had planned on an ecumenical volume to enhance the dialogue and make comparisons across traditions. My interest in ecumenical dialogue prodded me to include Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant traditions. Practical considerations led me to limit the study to Orthodox churches, and in this sense, the comparisons were somewhat "apple-to-apple." It certainly would have been fine to include Byzantine Catholic congregations as well, or Oriental Orthodox communities. I see no reason to exclude the possibility of a follow-up article that might examine a variety of Churches in a particular urban, suburban, or rural region. One could learn a great deal about the way diverse congregations in the same region negotiate the economy, politics, environment, and demographic patterns.

AD: You note repeatedly the role that immigrants and immigration played in shaping Orthodox architecture and communities in the US. Among those diverse groups--Ukrainians, Greeks, Serbs, Russians and others--are there commonalities in their experience and in their shaping of their churches? 

Yes, absolutely. I think the most important commonality--or to return, again, to the notion of a "core value"--is continuity. The outcomes are not alike, but the rationale is the same. For example, Holy Virgin Cathedral values continuity of liturgical tradition and fidelity to the ordo established by its founders and primary figures.

St. Katherine's values continuity in establishing programs and spaces devoted to sustaining cultural identity. The core value of passing on beloved traditions that symbolize identity features is a hallmark of immigrant groups, which is one reason the secondary and tertiary spaces of the properties are so important. These spaces are devoted to the non-liturgical and they exist because they're important to the people. For example, the bandura showcased in the museum at St. Katherine's is placed prominently to promote the connection between life here and in the Ukrainian homeland. The same is true of the original iconostasis at Annunciation Church in Milwaukee, in a different way: the iconostasis marks the progression of the community through its generational history.

AD: In addition to the immigrant experience, you also repeatedly note another significant factor shaping architectural decisions: extra-liturgical usages, such as food fests or community events. Tell us a bit more about this factor. 

It is so convenient to put this topic aside and focus only on the liturgical space. It's irresponsible to ignore it, though, because the community also gathers in these non-liturgical spaces, and the people's use of the space discloses the vitality of the community. In Byzantine circles, we tend to refer to such gatherings as 'liturgy after the liturgy'. For some people, this 'liturgy after the liturgy' is coffee hour. For others, it is the liturgy of daily life. I think there is an important point to explore here, and that is the matter of strong, poignant life experiences that occur in non-liturgical spaces.

For example, I recall several community gatherings that contributed to my formation that occurred outside of Church and worship. Liturgy was never the only part of the community's gathering. There were lectures, meetings, sporting events, concerts, picnics, and classes that took place in the other spaces of the Church community, and these encounters were real, meaningful, and formative.

Our mutual friend Michael Plekon, in his book Uncommon Prayer, demonstrates the power of encounter and engagement in his narrative about making pierogies at St. Gregory the Theologian Orthodox Church in Wappingers Falls. These experiences are formative and we need them: there is a certain vitality to meaningful exchange with people outside of the liturgy that is fed by liturgy, and also contributes to it. I'm not trying to undermine liturgy here, but to show that the non-liturgical spaces of a community tell us a lot about the parish profile, if we would just pay attention to it. When we learn that the parish hall is occasionally larger than the church building, we re-examine our assessment of parish life.

The same principle can apply to a parish that is in the process of planning its property. Let's say that parish devotes an ample amount of space to something non-liturgical, like a food shelf, or for more ambitious communities, a retreat center. Those spaces would have the potential to become fixtures of the local neighborhood and create relationships with the surrounding community that make the parish a true neighbor to the people who live there. Parishes that have the courage to think like this have a strong sense of a pulse for contemporary Christian mission.

AD: Popular discussions of church architecture and design almost invariably include a comment about pews. In the communities you surveyed, was the question of pews ever a question for them, or were they just assumed to be part of the American ecclesial landscape? 

The question did not come up, although I have heard it in mentioned in casual conversation about interior Church space. I do think that pews give us an insight into the arrival and establishment of Orthodox communities in America. On one hand, parishes that adopted pews adapted to the larger local liturgical culture. You could think of an Orthodox Church with pews as conforming to organic development, Orthodoxy acclimating to the local cultural conditions.

On the other hand, pews are foreign to Byzantine liturgy: they constrict space for ritual movement. And they're uncomfortable, at least in my opinion. When the discussion about pews becomes a liturgy war, we need to step back and consider the practical issue at hand. We're talking about seating. An appropriate seating arrangement should be part of every interior church space, and that arrangement needs to honor the need for ritual and devotional movement, and provide an opportunity for people to sit. As for the parishes in my study, the seating arrangements varied. Some have pews, others have chairs, and others have open spaces in the nave with no seating for ritual movement with chairs or benches in the rear for those who need or choose to sit in church. There is no resolution to this debate: on this matter, liturgical pluralism will continue to prevail in America.

AD: Of the seven churches you focus on, do you have a favorite? If so, why?

I have a sentimental attachment to St. Katherine's in Arden Hills because my grandfather was the pastor of the community for eighteen years, and I spent my childhood there. I also sense that St. Katherine's captures the journey of Orthodox people in America: a parish established by immigrants moves to the suburbs and builds a temple based on the model of Kyivan baroque. When I'm inside the church at St. Katherine's, I see room for new icons on the walls of the temple. Will thee future icons continue to honor the heritage of the Kyivan Church? Or will the new icons join the living in prayer with North American saints? So for me, St. Katherine's illuminates the opportunity to understand the unique challenges of immigrant communities to cultivate parish life for several generations to come.

All of the parishes in my study inspire me in some way. Holy Virgin Cathedral is an iconographic wonder and a true liturgical center. St. Matthew gives us a sense of how the Orthodox Church might adapt to contemporary conditions. New Skete sheds light on liturgical creativity. I could go on, the point being that each parish has something to offer.

AD: If a community currently renting a school or community hall were to hire you as a consultant on the design of a new church building complex, is there one piece of advice you'd give them as the most important thing to keep in mind? 

I don't think I can reduce this list to one item, so I'll try to prioritize. The first item is probably the most obvious, but it's worth repeating: sustainability over a long period of time. Communities need to be honest with themselves about what they CAN do, and this requires avoiding the temptation to build a massive edifice because "if we build it, then they will come." Communities have to face the realities of our current world: people are more mobile than ever, and children will move for employment, so no parish can simply count on the next generation continuing parish life apace. Plan a realistic structure the community can actually sustain over the course of multiple generations. It's not necessary for the founders of the structure to run into the courtyard shouting "I have outdone Solomon and Justinian!" Don't build an edifice emphasizing verticality for the glory of God; design a church that inspires the people to glorify God. If your community is fortunate enough to outgrow its space, don't fret--just encourage people to build a new church in a neighborhood that has space.

The second item I'll mention here is mission. How will your community carry out its mission? Larger communities with generous benefactors might consider how they can witness to the people in the neighborhood. We need more parish communities that offer education, service to the community, food shelves, and a space in which the parish interacts with the neighborhood in normal fashion. Perhaps a larger community might have a retreat center with rooms or even a restaurant that invites the public into the space hosted by the Church. Smaller communities can take on humbler approaches that are equally powerful: the point is to build a space that makes contemporary mission in America possible. And that mission is to be a good neighbor to all in our local neighborhoods.  

One bonus item for consideration: how can a community modify a space to make it truly appropriate for worship when options are limited? Orthodox missions in America are constantly confronting this issue, and the textbook answer is to simply take the received Byzantine rite and fit it into that space. But I wonder if there is room for a new creativity, especially when some communities accept the fact that they're never going to purchase land and build, and that a parish community can be vibrant without owning property? We don't know what is coming to us over the horizon.

Two years ago, I heard a fascinating presentation by Stephanie N. Gilles, who is working closely with the Catholic Church in the Philippines to design quality worship spaces in shopping malls. Her work is not a gimmick or a fad: it is a reality driven by limited real estate and the need for the Church to find a suitable place for liturgy. In our context, some people might grumble about the lack of financial support to buy property and build a Church. It could be that the lack of finances for building is offering a more meaningful opportunity: for the Church to gather and worship in non-traditional spaces, and to learn how to witness through those spaces.

AD: Having finished Theology and Form: Contemporary Orthodox Architecture in America, and undertaken some significant changes in your life recently, what comes next? What projects are you at work on now? 

I am currently in transition. This Fall semester, I am taking on a research fellowship at the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, where I will be examining Greek and Slavonic liturgical manuscripts. I hope to learn something new about the blessing of waters on Theophany and to focus on the history of liturgical offices appointed to the fifth week of Lent in the Byzantine tradition.

Additionally, I'm finishing a book on the religious identity of the Orthodox Churches in Ukraine and am writing a new book titled "The People's Faith," a close look at how Orthodox laity in America understand and experience the liturgy. I'm also preparing for a new position: I have been appointed as the Jochum Professor and Chair at Valparaiso University in Indiana, effective January 2018.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Psychoanalyzing the World's Conflicts (II)

As I began by noting, the history of psychoanalysis has been one not just of great clinical insights but also of wider cultural applications as well. That is clearly evident in the later Freud and in many of his successors, as Eli Zaretsky, inter alia, has demonstrated.

One contemporary American scholar who has applied analytic theory to socioeconomic and political issues in a number of books is David Levine, retired from the University of Colorado where he taught economics and political economy. He has also trained at the Colorado Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, and has applied such insights in a variety of books on economic, political, and social topics, including his most recent, Psychoanalysis, Society, and the Inner World: Embedded Meaning in Politics and Social Conflict (Routledge, 2017), 144pp. (Levine is also co-author of a book forthcoming next year that looks fascinating in light of contemporary conflicts on university campuses.)

This is a slender, subtle, and suggestive book that raises a number of psychoanalytic ideas, primarily drawn from the well-known analyst D.W. Winnicott and the larger British and object relations schools, and then seeks to apply them to contemporary sociopolitical problems, including "fake news." The justification for doing so comes relatively late in the book when Levine argues that "psychoanalytic ideas and methods become important to the extent that it becomes important to understand the special suffering that people inflict on themselves and their special attachment to it" (93). Commendably, however, Levine recognizes the limitations of this approach, knowing that merely gaining insight into why someone does something is not, in itself, usually going to be a significant force for broader social change.

The merit of this book is that Levine writes with a light touch, and commendably refuses to turn psychoanalysis into an ideological club with which to attack problems, or to force all issues to fit a pre-existing frame. At the same time, though, his arguments are sometimes attenuated by an unhelpful degree of abstraction, though some of this is remedied in the last few chapters of the book in particular, the usefulness of which quickly becomes very obvious in an age of rising nationalism, "fake news," Donald Trump, and constant protest and outrage at perceived slights to people grouped together via "identity politics."

Levine begins from the insight that "training in and development of psychoanalytic habits of mind...offers a measure of protection against the impulse to externalize responsibility for what originates inside and enhances sensitivity to the presence of that impulse in others" (10). In other words part of the value of psychoanalytic training (as Fred Busch has also argued) is that it offers not just a 'what,' that is, access to the 'contents' of something called the 'unconscious mind,' but that it offers insights into the 'how' of the mind, how it works.


Too often our minds work by concealing certain operative assumptions that may in fact be imprisoning us without our realizing it, forcing us to continue thinking and acting in ways based on unexamined habit. Levine thus rightly argues that what we may well need to give up is a certain history, a certain view of our history that doesn't merely narrate the past, but do so in a way that prevents new options from being brought to the fore in the present: "psychic change only has meaning, then, where our history is not also our destiny" (16). Adding to this, a little later on he notes that the only kind of change that will last and prove to be valuable is "change that moves us from a closed to an open system" (30). Both Eastern Christians viewing our history, and many Muslims theirs (and both viewing the Crusades), will surely find this an important challenge to undertake.

Levine's second chapter unpacks some of the central insights of the object relations school including the mind's rather "primitive" inclination to see everything as having a cause for which someone can be held responsible: "nothing is an accident; nothing simply happens" (20). He also draws on the widely discussed experience we all have, which was given a name by Christopher Bollas: the "unthought known" as developed by him in such works as The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known (Columbia UP, 1989), recently re-released in a 30th-anniversary edition.

From Winnicott in particular Levine draws the important insight that many people find their identities in groups--whether political parties, churches, nationalist or racist movements, or many other such clubs--but that in doing so they sacrifice part of, and sometimes all of, their true self for a false one. They may well be doing so precisely to avoid contact with parts of their true self that are disturbed and disturbing. The group identity is clean, idealized, and often totalized, whereas their own personal identity may be rough, disorderly, and fragmentary. These latter aspects result in what Levine calls "ambivalence about the self," a good deal of which may be founded on early childhood experiences of guilt and shame.

Levine's eighth ("Hate in Groups and the Struggle for Individual Identity") and tenth ("Truth in Politics") chapters are perhaps the most pertinent in 2017. The insights driving both are derived in part from Freud's insights into the connection between "Mourning and Melancholia," noting that an unwillingness or inability to complete the former is almost always bound up with outbreaks of the latter, which are in turn often bound up with anger, lashing out, and blaming others. (In my estimation, as I've argued elsewhere, this is very much what we see in ISIS propaganda--anger based on incomplete mourning of a lost empire.) The capacity to mourn adequately carries with it the promise of being able to renew one's separate identity afterwards instead of becoming fused with and stuck on the dead or lost object. There is, as I just suggested, much wisdom here in thinking of those who have not mourned for past losses, whether in the Crusades or elsewhere.

The tenth chapter notes that a key problem with much current political rhetoric is that it makes sweeping and unsubstantiated claims alleging that "survival is at stake" (cf. in this regard Rod Dreher) and does so via expansive and abstract "apocalyptic rhetoric." Such tactics project onto others "an extreme form of the bad object that must be controlled or destroyed rather than treated as a partner in the reasoning process" (130). The chapter very briefly mentions a few examples in connection with the 2016 elections in these United States, but overall it is far too short and under-developed, missing a very considerable opportunity here.

Levine's book could, in fact, have been strengthened, in my view, by greater engagement with the British psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, especially his two books Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life, discussed here, and Unforbidden Pleasures: Rethinking Authority, Power, and Vitality, which I discussed at some length here.

Overall, the merit of Levine's newest work, Psychoanalysis, Society, and the Inner World: Embedded Meaning in Politics and Social Conflict comes in raising issues and suggesting useful lines of analytic theory for further exploration without heavy-handedly bludgeoning his point, and readers, to death. That is no small thing. It does, after all, take greater self-discipline to write a short book of useful questions than a very long book of useless answers.

Concluded. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Great Terror Revisited

I read lots of books, and forget some or all of a good many of them. But seared into my memory, as it must surely be to everyone who has read it, are the images of staggering iniquity and cruelty documented by Robert Conquest decades ago in covering some of Stalin's many crimes in The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine and in The Great Terror: A Reassessment. Both were groundbreaking books at the time part of whose force and "unforgetability" came from the relentless documentation of evil upon evil.

Since those books came out, the USSR of course collapsed, and many people have understandably preferred to focus on a better future than on the ravages of the past.

But note James Harris, who last year published in hardcover The Great Fear: Stalin's Terror of the 1930s. And later this year, in mid-October according to Oxford University Press, a paperback version of the same will be in print.

About this book we are told
Between the winter of 1936 and the autumn of 1938, approximately three quarters of a million Soviet citizens were subject to summary execution. More than a million others were sentenced to lengthy terms in labour camps. Commonly known as 'Stalin's Great Terror', it is also among the most misunderstood moments in the history of the twentieth century. The Terror gutted the ranks of factory directors and engineers after three years in which all major plan targets were met. It raged through the armed forces on the eve of the Nazi invasion. The wholesale slaughter of party and state officials was in danger of making the Soviet state ungovernable. The majority of these victims of state repression in this period were accused of participating in counter-revolutionary conspiracies. Almost without exception, there was no substance to the claims and no material evidence to support them. By the time the terror was brought to a close, most of its victims were ordinary Soviet citizens for whom 'counter-revolution' was an unfathomable abstraction. In short, the Terror was wholly destructive, not merely in terms of the incalculable human cost, but also in terms of the interests of the Soviet leaders, principally Joseph Stalin, who directed and managed it. The Great Fear presents a new and original explanation of Stalin's Terror based on intelligence materials in Russian archives. It shows how Soviet leaders developed a grossly exaggerated fear of conspiracy and foreign invasion and lashed out at enemies largely of their own making.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Liturgy and Byzantinization in Jerusalem

It is one of the undeserved gifts of my life that I can count Daniel Galadza as a friend as well as co-worker (we are editing a collection of papers on the 1946 pseudo-sobor of Lviv based on a conference at the University of Vienna in June of 2016, which I discussed a bit here). He is a scholar's scholar without any of the pretenses such men sometimes have, combining great erudition with great humility. I've never forgotten our conversation about six or seven years ago now when I was in Washington giving a paper at a conference, and he was a junior fellow at the most prestigious centre for Byzantine studies in North America, Dumbarton Oaks. As we were standing in the rain waiting to cross some street or other en route to lunch, I asked him what he'd been up to lately, and he very off-handedly remarked that he was teaching himself Georgian (to add to his fluent Ukrainian, English, German, French, Italian, and, as I saw this past June in San Felice del Benaco, not impassable Russian!), at which I doffed my cap yet again in amazement.

He has been teaching at the University of Vienna since completing his doctoral studies in Rome. That dissertation will be published next year in the very prestigious series, Oxford Early Christian Studies, from the publisher of the same name: Liturgy and Byzantinization in Jerusalem (OUP, 2018), 432pp.

About this forthcoming study, we are told:
The Church of Jerusalem, the "mother of the churches of God," influenced all of Christendom before it underwent multiple captivities between the eighth and thirteenth centuries: first, political subjugation to Arab Islamic forces, then displacement of Greek-praying Christians by Crusaders, and finally ritual assimilation to fellow Orthodox Byzantines in Constantinople. All three contributed to the phenomenon of the Byzantinization of Jerusalem's liturgy, but only the last explains how it was completely lost and replaced by the liturgy of the imperial capital, Constantinople. The sources for this study are rediscovered manuscripts of Jerusalem's liturgical calendar and lectionary. When examined in context, they reveal that the devastating events of the Arab conquest in 638 and the destruction of the Holy Sepulchre in 1009 did not have as detrimental an effect on liturgy as previously held. Instead, they confirm that the process of Byzantinization was gradual and locally-effected, rather than an imposed element of Byzantine imperial policy or ideology of the Church of Constantinople. Originally, the city's worship consisted of reading scripture and singing hymns at places connected with the life of Christ, so that the link between holy sites and liturgy became a hallmark of Jerusalem's worship, but the changing sacred topography led to changes in the local liturgical tradition. Liturgy and Byzantinization in Jerusalem is the first study dedicated to the question of the Byzantinization of Jerusalem's liturgy, providing English translations of many liturgical texts and hymns here for the first time and offering a glimpse of Jerusalem's lost liturgical and theological tradition.
Upon its publication next year, you can be sure I'll arrange an interview with the author to discuss his work in more detail.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Psychoanalyzing the World's Conflicts (I)

I have for several years now been engaged in a project of returning to psychoanalytic thought for several purposes, including especially the light it can shed on problems of historical memory in Orthodox-Catholic conflicts, in the Crusades, and in contemporary ISIS propaganda about the latter. As many other scholars in the humanities have found over the last several decades, psychoanalytic thought admits of wider application than what goes on in the individual consulting room. Freud himself, of course, had no problem moving from analyzing patients to analyzing cultures and religious traditions, though I have long maintained that the late Freud, of Civilization and its Discontents, and even more of Moses and Monotheism or The Future of an Illusion, is neither so interesting nor so helpful as as the earlier more clinical Freud.

Later analysts have helpfully applied analytic categories and theory to social conflicts and problems. Thus I have drawn attention to the important work of such as Charles Strozier and Vamik Volkan (discussed a little bit here), and spent rather a lot of time focusing on the fascinating and wonderfully provocative work of Adam Phillips. All these, and others who should be mentioned such as Jeffrey Prager and Donald Spence (both discussed here), have shown the usefulness of Freudian and later analytic categories. They are not unaware, however, of some of the methodological issues that arise in attempting such work, and I am also keenly aware of them. People have in fact been aware of them for decades, as one sees in such works as Psychoanalysis and History from 1963, or, more recently, Edwin Wallace's Historiography and Causation in Psychoanalysis or the edited collection, Dark Traces of the Past: Psychoanalysis and Historical Thinking, eds. Jurgen Straub and Jorn Rusen (Berghahn, 2011).

And now Routledge Press, which carries a larger list of books devoted to psychoanalysis than any other publisher (apart, of course, from Karnac), has kindly sent me a new short study by David P. Levine, a Yale-trained economist recently retired from the University of Colorado:Psychoanalysis, Society, and the Inner World: Embedded Meaning in Politics and Social Conflict (Routledge, 2017), Levine also has analytic training and has put it to use in other books.

About this book the publisher tells us:

Psychoanalysis, Society, and the Inner World explores ideas from psychoanalysis that can be valuable in understanding social processes and institutions and in particular, how psychoanalytic ideas and methods can help us understand the nature and roots of social and political conflict in the contemporary world.
Among the ideas explored in this book, of special importance are the ideas of a core self (Heinz Kohut and Donald Winnicott) and of an internal object world (Melanie Klein, Ronald Fairbairn). David Levine shows how these ideas, and others related to them, offer a framework for understanding how social processes and institutions establish themselves as part of the individual’s inner world, and how imperatives of the inner world influence the shape of those processes and institutions. In exploring the contribution psychoanalytic ideas can make to the study of society, emphasis is placed on post-Freudian trends that emphasize the role of the internalization of relationships as an essential part of the process of shaping the inner world.
The book’s main theme is that the roots of social conflict will be found in ambivalence about the value of the self. The individual is driven to ambivalence by factors that exist simultaneously as part of the inner world and the world outside. Social institutions may foster ambivalence about the self or they may not. Importantly, this book distinguishes between institutions on the basis of whether they do or do not foster ambivalence about the self, shedding light on the nature and sources of social conflict. Institutions that foster ambivalence also foster conflict at a societal level that mirrors and is mirrored by conflict over the standing of the self in the inner world. Levine makes extensive use of case material to illuminate and develop his core ideas.
Psychoanalysis, Society, and the Inner World will appeal to psychoanalysts and to social scientists interested in psychoanalytic ideas and methods, as well as students studying across these fields who are keen to explore social and political issues.
When I'm done reading it, I shall post some further thoughts.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Getting to and Joining a Church

There's a silly tract that periodically gets recycled among Eastern Christians alleging that men prefer Eastern Orthodoxy because it is more "manly" and "demanding" in its liturgical and ascetical culture. It is, of course, the typical product of the fevered imagination one finds in American converts to Orthodoxy, an extremely un-self-aware group of people so well analyzed in D. Oliver Herbel's book as well as in Amy Slagle's.

Among its several flaws is its lack of serious scholarly study of a statistically respectable population surveyed according to scientific methods (to say nothing of the fact it ignores the attendance and activity rates of men in Europe, which tell a very different story). Those flaws do not look to mar the forthcoming study of the sociologist Sally K. Gallagher, Getting to Church: Exploring Narratives of Gender and Joining (Oxford UP, 2017), 240pp.

What makes this book so unique is the fact that it pays special and sustained attention to an Eastern Orthodox parish in this country. Orthodoxy in North America is so numerically small that it is often given only very cursory treatment if it shows up on sociological radar screens at all. So this book is especially to be welcomed, and I'm greatly looking forward to reading it.

About this book we are told:
Why do people go to church? What about a congregation attracts new members? What is it that draws women and men differently into diverse types of congregations? Getting to Church assesses the deeply personal and gendered narratives around how women and men move toward identifying with three very different Christian congregations one Orthodox, one conservative, and one mainline. Drawing on extensive research and ranging across layers of congregational history, leadership, architecture, new member process, programs, and service ministries, Sally Gallagher explores trajectories of joining, as well as membership loss and change over a seven-year period. By following both those who join a community and those who explore but choose not to, Gallagher avoids the methodological limitations of other studies and assesses the degree to which the spaces, people, programs, and doctrines within distinctive traditions draw women and men toward affiliation and involvement. Getting to Church demonstrates that women are attracted to specific doctrines and ideas, opportunities for individual reflection, experience and expanded personal agency; while men find in these congregations a sense of community within which they experience greater connection with other men, appreciate beauty, and yield to something greater than themselves. Drawing on extensive field work, personal interviews, and focus groups, Getting to Church challenges extant theories of gender and religious involvement.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Leontius of Byzantium

A new book by the eminent and widely respected patrologist and historian Brian Daley is always a welcome and important event. Oxford University Press informs me that early next month they are bringing out Daley's Leontius of Byzantium: Complete Works (OUP, 2017), 608pp.

About this book we are told:
Leontius of Byzantium (485-543) Byzantine monk and theologian who provided a breakthrough of terminology in the 6th-century Christological controversy over the mode of union of Christ's human nature with his divinity. He did so through his introduction of Aristotelian logical categories and Neoplatonic psychology into Christian speculative theology. His work initiated the later intellectual development of Christian theology throughout medieval culture. Brian E. Daley provides translation and commentary on the six theological works associated with the name of Leontius of Byzantium. The critical text and facing-page translation help make these works more accessible than ever before and provide a reliable textual apparatus for furture scholarship of this key writing.
The Press also gives us the table of contents:

 INTRODUCTION
I. The Author and his Times
II. The Works
A. The Six Treatises
B. The Florilegia
III. Leontius the Theologian
IV. The Manuscripts
V. The Scholia
VI. Earlier Editions
VII. This Edition
VIII. Select Bibliography
Key to the apparatus of Leontius's Florilegia
Abbreviations
TEXT AND TRANSLATION
1. Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos
Appendix I (Scholion)
Appendix II (Scholion)
2. Epilyseis (= Solutiones Argumentorum Severi)
3. Epapor=emata (= Triginta Capita contra Severum)
4. Contra Aphthartodocetas
5. Deprenhensio et Triumphus super Nestorianos
6. Adversus Fraudes Apollinaristarum
7. Fragmenta Incerta
Appendix III (Excerpta Leontina)
Appendix IV (Tabular comparison of extracts in Leontius s florilegia with those in other ancient and medieval florilegia)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Byzantine Architecture and Aurality

I hope soon to run an interview with Nicholas Denysenko about his new book, Theology and Form: Contemporary Orthodox Architecture in America.

But this is a rich summer for those with an interest in such topics, as Bissera Pentcheva has just edited and published Aural Architecture in Byzantium: Music, Acoustics, and Ritual (Routledge, 2017), 272pp.

About this collection the publisher tells us:
Emerging from the challenge to reconstruct sonic and spatial experiences of the deep past, this multidisciplinary collection of ten essays explores the intersection of liturgy, acoustics, and art in the churches of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Rome and Armenia, and reflects on the role digital technology can play in re-creating aspects of the sensually rich performance of the divine word. Engaging the material fabric of the buildings in relationship to the liturgical ritual, the book studies the structure of the rite, revealing the important role chant plays in it, and confronts both the acoustics of the physical spaces and the hermeneutic system of reception of the religious services. By then drawing on audio software modelling tools in order to reproduce some of the visual and aural aspects of these multi-sensory public rituals, it inaugurates a synthetic approach to the study of the premodern sacred space, which bridges humanities with exact sciences. The result is a rich contribution to the growing discipline of sound studies and an innovative convergence of the medieval and the digital.
Pentcheva also has a monograph coming out in September under her own hand, clearly related this topic: Hagia Sophia: Sound, Space, and Spirit in Byzantium (Penn State, 2017), 304pp.

About this forthcoming book, the publisher tells us:
Experiencing the resonant acoustics of the church of Hagia Sophia allowed the Byzantine participants in its liturgical rituals to be filled with the Spirit of God, and even to become his image on earth. Bissera Pentcheva’s vibrant analysis examines how these sung rites combined with the church’s architectural space to make Hagia Sophia a performative place of worship representative of Byzantine religious culture in all its sensory richness.
Coupling digital acoustic models and video with a close examination of liturgical texts and melodic structures, Pentcheva applies art-historical, philosophical, archeoacoustical, and anthropological methodologies to provide insight into the complementary ways liturgy and location worked to animate worshippers in Byzantium. Rather than focus on the architectural form of the building, the technology of its construction, or the political ideology of its decoration, Pentcheva delves into the performativity of Hagia Sophia and explains how the “icons of sound” created by the sung liturgy and architectural reverberation formed an aural experience that led to mystical transcendence for worshippers, opening access to the imagined celestial sound of the angelic choirs.
Immersive, deeply researched, and beautifully illustrated, this exploration of Hagia Sophia sheds new light on sacred space, iconicity, and religious devotion in Byzantium. Scholars of art and architectural history, religious studies, music and acoustics, and the medieval period will especially appreciate Pentcheva’s field-advancing work.
Pentcheva is the author of two earlier studies in iconography, both of which were very positively reviewed in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies. In 2006 she published Icons and Power: The Mother of God in Byzantium.

In 2010 she published The Sensual Icon: Space, Ritual, and the Senses in Byzantium (Penn State, 320pp).

Both books deserve a prominent place in any library serious about iconography.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Searching for the Beauty of Holiness in Western Culture

A quarter-century ago now (!), I had what was easily one of the most intellectually engaging courses of my freshman and indeed entire undergraduate career: The Bible in English Literature, taught by a man then-unknown to me, but whom I later came to know as one of the great scholars of our time, viz., David Lyle Jeffrey. A giant of a man--he is in fact very tall--in every sense, he has been a prolific scholar. In 1992 when I took that course from him, he had just put the finishing touches on a monumental project, the Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature

Since then, he has published a large number of studies, especially in the area of English literature and Christian tradition, as you may see here.

Not long after I took that course from him, Jeffrey was lured down to Baylor University, and thus some of his more recent works reflect that perspective of chief academic officer in the contemporary academy. Thus, e.g., The Bible and the University.

Five years ago I heard him on NPR discussing his fascinating study, The King James Bible and the World It Made.

I had dinner with him in early 2015 when I was invited to be a lecturer at the Robert Louis Wilken colloquium hosted by Baylor. It was great to see him and he flattered me by saying he remembered me in that class from 1992. I don't know if I could say that of students I had taught two decades earlier!

And now he has a new study coming out from Eerdmans in September of this year that looks to be of great and timely interest: In the Beauty of Holiness: Art and the Bible in Western Culture.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Beauty is a highly significant subject in the Bible. So is holiness. In this study of Christian fine art David Lyle Jeffrey explores the relationship between beauty and holiness as he integrates aesthetic perspectives from the ancient Hebrew Scriptures through Augustine, Aquinas, and Kant down to contemporary philosophers of art.
Incorporating sample artworks ranging from the Roman catacombs to Marc Chagall, Jeffrey demonstrates that the Bible has consistently been the most profound and productive resource for the visual arts in the West. He contextualizes Western European art from the second century through the twenty-first in relation not only to the biblical narrative but also to liturgy and historical theology.
Lavishly illustrated with more than one hundred masterworks, In the Beauty of Holiness is ideally suited to students of Christian fine art and to general readers wanting to better understand the story of Christian art through the centuries.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Priestdaddy

This summer, I am receiving the new chapters I commissioned for my collection, Married Catholic Priests. While focusing strongly on Eastern Catholic history and experience, it also includes chapters by and about married Catholic clergy in the ordinariates created in 2009 for Anglicans entering the Church; and several chapters also from married Orthodox clergy, whose own experiences shed welcome light on Anglican and Eastern Catholic ones. And between now and, I hope, the early fall, I shall have all the revisions requested by the reviewers complete and be ready to send the thing back to the Press for the final stages.

As editor of that collection, I'm greatly looking forward to reading a unique contribution to the discussion in the form of Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia Lockwood.

About this book the publisher tells us
Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met—a man who lounges in boxer shorts, loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates “like a whole band dying in a plane crash in 1972.” His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the Church’s country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents’ rectory, their two worlds collide.
In Priestdaddy, Lockwood interweaves emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence—from an ill-fated family hunting trip and an abortion clinic sit-in where her father was arrested to her involvement in a cultlike Catholic youth group—with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure she and her husband had in her parents’ household after a decade of living on their own. Lockwood details her education of a seminarian who is also living at the rectory, tries to explain Catholicism to her husband, who is mystified by its bloodthirstiness and arcane laws, and encounters a mysterious substance on a hotel bed with her mother.
Lockwood pivots from the raunchy to the sublime, from the comic to the deeply serious, exploring issues of belief, belonging, and personhood. Priestdaddy is an entertaining, unforgettable portrait of a deeply odd religious upbringing, and how one balances a hard-won identity with the weight of family and tradition.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Secrets of the Soul and Body Politic

Peter Tyler's densely argued The Pursuit of the Soul: Psychoanalysis, Soul-making and the Christian Tradition, published last year, is, alone of the recent attempts at a Christian re-engagement with psychoanalytic thought discussed on here, the most intellectually sophisticated and serious. He draws on the patristic tradition, including Origen and Augustine, to look at the conceptualization of the "soul" in classical Christian spiritual traditions as well as modern psychoanalysis.

About this latter he makes a convincing case that those who supervised the "Englishing" of Freud, that first generation of such as Ernest Jones and James Strachey, zealously concerned to protect Freud and his tradition from charges of being "unscientific," and equally zealous to differentiate themselves from "spiritual healers" and other charlatans and quacks, coined a series of neologisms in English purposefully to get away from any language of the "soul" and to sound more "scientific."

That theme of the soul also comes up in a very good history I've just finished by Eli Zaretsky: Secrets of the Soul: A Social and Cultural History of Psychoanalysis. Published in 2005 by an author whose earlier work, Capitalism, the Family, and Personal Life, clearly informs the later work, Secrets of the Soul is the very model of the sort of careful cultural analysis that someone like Rod Dreher should have done if his new book (which I discussed here at length) were to be regarded as remotely intellectually serious. Zaretsky follows a similar narrative arc as Dreher, both tracing the rise and then gradual decline of a given tradition--Christianity in the West for Dreher, and the psychoanalytic tradition for Zaretsky--but what distinguishes Zaretsky is his careful and very detailed scholarship co-relating the socioeconomic conditions that facilitated first that rise and then more clearly still the gradual decline of psychoanalysis. Socioeconomic changes are not entirely responsible, but together with intellectual debates and other factors, they play a crucial role. Christians who wish to be taken seriously in staking out claims of decline cannot be taken seriously until and unless they also attend to socioeconomic changes in as careful and discerning a manner as Zaretsky has done.

Zaretsky's book would make a good companion for two works by George Makari: his Revolution in Mind: the Creation of Psychoanalysiswhich I reviewed in some detail here; and then his more recent Soul Machine: the Invention of the Modern Mind.

One thing that comes up in all these works is the painstaking efforts Freud took to stay out of secular politics in both Austria and Germany. This was clearly done for purposes of preservation and protection, especially after 1933. Given the treatment handed out to Freud and his daughter Anna at the hands of the Gestapo in 1938, and the treatment more broadly during the war of Jews (all of Freud's sisters were killed in Nazi death camps), such anxiety to avoid politics makes a great deal of sense. Freud was in fact eventually, and with great reluctance, forced finally to flee Bergasse 19 in Vienna for London, where he died in 1939; the tale of this flight is well told in David Cohen's surprisingly well-done and riveting Escape of Sigmund Freud.

Freud also repeatedly insisted that psychoanalysis as such not enter into political debates about various topics, especially during and after the Bolshevik revolution. The early Bolsheviks saw some use for psychoanalysis, but it was later denounced and banned in Russia for its bourgeois-capitalist and Jewish backgrounds. Nevertheless, Freud lives on today in part not for his clinical work, but precisely for the political application of his clinical insights, a point made in depth and detail in Zaretsky's newest book, released just this month, Political Freud: A History.

About this new book the publisher tells us:
In this masterful history, Eli Zaretsky reveals the power of Freudian thought to illuminate the great political conflicts of the twentieth century. Developing an original concept of "political Freudianism," he shows how twentieth-century radicals, activists, and intellectuals used psychoanalytic ideas to probe consumer capitalism, racial violence, anti-Semitism, and patriarchy. He also underscores the continuing influence and critical potential of those ideas in the transformed landscape of the present. Zaretsky's conception of political Freudianism unites the two overarching themes of the last century―totalitarianism and consumerism―in a single framework. He finds that theories of mass psychology and the unconscious were central to the study of fascism and the Holocaust; to African American radical thought, particularly the struggle to overcome the legacy of slavery; to the rebellions of the 1960s; and to the feminism and gay liberation movements of the 1970s. Nor did the influence of political Freud end when the era of Freud bashing began. Rather, Zaretsky proves that political Freudianism is alive today in cultural studies, the study of memory, theories of trauma, postcolonial thought, film, media and computer studies, evolutionary theory and even economics.
In this light, Political Freud clearly picks up where Zaretsky ends Secrets of the Soul: noting that while its clinical status continues to decline, psychoanalysis is far from dead as a cultural hermeneutic. As Zaretsky notes in his epilogue, by the time we arrive at about 1980, psychoanalysis "divided into two divergent projects: a quasi-medical therapeutic practice aimed at treating mental and emotional disorders, and a set of new approaches to the study of culture." If the former project seems increasingly eclipsed by psychopharmacology and other therapeutic traditions (the efficacy of which is not, as noted here, always so great), the latter remains vibrant and valuable.

But what, in the end, remains valuable in the psychoanalytic tradition? This is a question I am continuing to think about in preparation for a lecture I've been asked to give in Iowa in late September of this year which marks two significant anniversaries in the Freudian canon: 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Freud's most popular and widely translated work, Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis.

It also marks the 90th anniversary of perhaps Freud's weakest but nonetheless one of his most controversial works, Future of an Illusion. This latter work purported to explain the origins and purposes of monotheistic religions certainly (and perhaps even all "religions" if such a thing can be defined at all); but it is not a good book, and it rather unnecessarily drew down upon itself a great deal of ire and opposition from Christians who were thereby handed an over-easy excuse for refusing to see what was valuable in Freud. (Having recently re-read Future of an Illusion, I must say, with all due respect to the great master, how much Terry Eagleton's opening line, reviewing Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion, also applies to this book: "Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.")

But one badly considered book (especially in so vast a Freudian, to say nothing of wider psychoanalytic, canon) must not be allowed to detract us from seeing what remains valuable in psychoanalytic thought. Here Zaretsky's Secrets of the Soul offers us a useful list of "a set of understandings that we need to protect," including:
  • the reality of the individual's inner and unconscious life, part of which is not just hidden but repressed;
  • that such individuals exist not in the abstract but as "concrete, particular, and contingent";
  • relations with others, especially loved ones, are shaped by that unconscious life;
  • "psychologically, being a man or being a woman is the outcome of an idiosyncratic and precarious process, and that no one is simply one sex or the other" (a point I discussed at some length recently);
  • an "irreducible gap" between the individual's psychic life and "the cultural, social, and political world";
  • and finally that "society and politics are driven not just by conscious interests and perceived necessities but also by unconscious motivations, anxieties, and half-spoken memories, and that even great nations can suffer traumas, change course abruptly, and regress."

Friday, July 21, 2017

Theologies of Retrieval

Last week, when I was at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota at a fantastic conference, discussed here, I met the editor of a forthcoming collection of great interest: Theologies of Retrieval: An Exploration and Appraisal, Darren Sarisky, ed. (T&T Clark, 2017), 368pp.

About this collection, which features an impressive array of some of the most prominent names in theology today--East and West--the publisher tells us the following:

One of the most significant trends in academic theology today, which cuts across thinking from Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox points of view, is the growing interest in theologies of retrieval. Theology of retrieval is a mode of thinking that puts a special stress on giving classic theological texts a close reading, with a view toward using the resources that they provide to understand and address contemporary theological issues.

This volume offers an understanding of what theologies of retrieval are, what their rationale is, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. The contributors to this volume are all well established theologians, who answer important questions that existing work raises, expand on suggestions that have not already been developed fully, summarize ideas in order to highlight themes that are relevant to the topics of this volume, and air new critiques that should spur further debate.

We are also given the table of contents:

Introduction, Darren Sarisky (University of Oxford, UK)

I. Genealogies of Modernity: The Role of Intellectual-Historical Judgments

1. 'There's Always One Day Which Isn't The Same As The Day Before': Christianity and History in the Writings of Charles Péguy, John Milbank (University of Nottingham, UK)
2. The Past Matters Theologically: Thinking Tradition, Stanley Hauerwas (Duke University, USA)

II. Different Inflections to Retrieval: Confessional Approaches

3. Orthodoxy, Andrew Louth (Durham University, UK)
4. Reformed Retrieval, Michael Allen (Reformed Theological Seminary, USA)
5. "Only what is rooted is living" A Roman Catholic Theology of Ressourcement, Jennifer Newsome Martin (University of Notre Dame, USA)

III. Twentieth-Century Figures

6. Georges Florovsky, Paul Gavrilyuk (University of St. Thomas, USA)
7. Karl Barth, Kenneth Oakes (University of Notre Dame, USA)
8. Henri de Lubac, David Grumett (University of Edinburgh, UK)

IV. Theological Sources

9. Scripture: Three Modes of Retrieval, Michael Legaspi (Penn State University, USA)
10. Tradition I: Tradition in Congar, de Lubac and Blondel, Gabriel Flynn (Dublin City University, Ireland)
11. Tradition II: Thinking With Historical Texts - Reflections on Theologies of Retrieval, Darren Sarisky (University of Oxford, UK)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Cyril Hovorun on the Church's Scaffolds

At the end of May I noted some initial thoughts on Fr Cyril Hovorun's new book, Scaffolds of the Church, which I was then half-way through reading. I have since not only finished the book, but publicly recommended it in two very different contexts, including to a class of Catholic teachers from the local Latin diocese who were taking a summer course with me in ecclesiology. As I said to them, if you buy and read no other book in ecclesiology this year, let it be this one. It is very much worth your while.

I will finish that review later this week, but in the meantime, I wanted to let you hear from the author himself, and so I e-mailed some questions to Fr. Cyril. Here are this thoughts.

AD: Tell us about the background to Scaffolds of the Church.

CH: My motivation to write this book was to give answers to the questions, which I asked myself at different administrative positions at the Moscow Patriarchate, and in the frame of various ecumenical dialogues, where I participated on behalf of my church. During my numerous journeys through the Eastern Christian oecumene, I observed many fascinating and sometimes strange phenomena in theology and church life. I did not find a satisfactory explanation for these phenomena in the existing literature. So I decided to explain them myself and to give them a theological sense, when there is a theological sense, of course. Even when I did not see any theological sense in what I observed in the Christian East, I tried to give a theological explanation why this sense is missing in the real life of the church.

AD: When we last spoke on here, it was about your book Meta-Ecclesiology. What links these two books?

CH: There is an intrinsic link between the two books. Actually, in the beginning they were supposed to constitute a single book. However, the manuscript I produced was too long for any publisher. Publishers suggested I cut it into two works. So I redrafted the manuscript to make two different books. They are indeed different, even though they deal with the same phenomenon of the church.

The approach of the first book, Meta-ecclesiology, is epistemological. I consider the church as a stream of consciousness, or as self-awareness of the church as church. I explore the church through various metaphors and ecclesiological theories, and in the end I apply to the church the epistemological methods of phenomenology and analytic philosophy.

By contrast, Scaffolds has a different approach to the church: through structuralism and poststructuralism. This approach is more analytic and relies on the traditional theological patterns of Aristotelian-Porphyrian logic. Unlike God and Incarnation, the church in the classical theological period was not described in the terms of nature, hypostasis, accidents, etc. I try to fill in this lacuna and to present the church through the juxtaposition, and sometimes counterposition, of its nature and structures.

AD: One of the main arguments you make is that sometimes ecclesial structures can act against the nature of the Church. Tell us a bit more about that, and give us an example.

In my earlier book, Meta-ecclesiology, I identified a chasm between the church as we believe in it, and the church we observe in our everyday life. The differentiation between the nature and structures of the church helps explain why this chasm exists. Indeed, what we believe about the church, that it is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, belongs to its nature. What we criticize in the church--in most cases--goes to its structures. The structures have been developed in the course of the history of the church to serve its mission. However, when the structures demand that the church serves them instead of serving the church, they deviate from their original rationale. Let us take, for instance, community, which I consider as church’s hypostasis, and hierarchy. Hierarchy was introduced to the church for the sake of the well-being of communities. When hierarchy makes communities an instrument of its own well-being, it goes against the nature of the church and betrays its own purpose.

AD: Alasdair MacIntyre's latest book, noted here, talks about how deeply hidden structures in neoliberal capitalist societies are so that we often don't even think to question them. In that light, I'm wondering if, like a lot of political structures, ecclesial structures do their work invisibly, and thus, when they act against the nature of the Church, we don't see them clearly enough to question them?

CH: I agree with this insight. In my book, I try to disclose some structures of the church, which mimic its nature. A number of Orthodox and other theologians identify the structures of the church with the church proper. We can call their approach ontotheology - the word coined by Kant and then used by Heidegger and Derrida. When I talk about ontotheology, I mean something different. I mean sacralisation of those services in the church, whose origin is profane, not divine. Their provenance is from the Greco-Roman world, not from the gospel. Hierarchy and primacy are some of these services.

AD: You argue in several places that hierarchy is useful in the Church but not necessary. Tell us a bit more about that.

CH: Hierarchy is useful, but not necessary as any instrument that the church has adopted in the course of its history. As with any such instrument, hierarchy is vulnerable to abuses, and indeed it often abuses the church and contradicts the church's nature.

In my book, I have scrutinized two sources from which hierarchy was borrowed to the church. These sources are not divine, but quite profane: Roman political culture and Neoplatonism. Even the word “hierarchy” is Neoplatonic and was introduced to the Christian theological lexicon in the 5th century. That hierarchy is not divine, however, does not mean it should be rejected altogether, as an alien element. It should be used in the church, and when necessary, repaired and restored to its original function.

The final chapter of the book is “From structuralism to poststructuralism and beyond.” The “beyond” is very important here. It means that my task is not just to deconstruct the ecclesial structures, something that structuralism and especially poststructuralism would do, but to suggest a way of re-construction of these structures - in accordance with their original meaning and with the nature of the church, which they are supposed to serve.

AD: Notions of autocephaly and canonical territory, so often invoked especially in Russian and Ukrainian contexts, are, you say, not really ecclesiological but nationalist in nature. Tell us a bit more about that.

CH: These notions were adopted by the church from the political culture very early, even before nationalism was invented in early modern Europe. "Canonical territory" brought about a transition from the original meaning of the church as particular to the local church. The earliest structures of the church were measured by communities. After the Roman empire embraced Christianity, they became measured by territories. The territorial principle of administration was appropriated by the church as a principle of canonical territory.

AD: You speak (p.127) about reinventing notions of autocephaly. Can you give us some indication of what you mean by that?

CH: The evolution of autocephaly was more complicated than the evolution of other ecclesial structures. It was invented in the Late Antiquity as an instrument that helped the church to resist its assimilation in the Roman state. It was countercultural, as it were. In the Middle Ages, from a counter-political phenomenon it turned to a means of further politicisation of the church. Autocephaly became an instrument of transitio imperii for the medieval Balkan and Moscovite states. In the nineteenth century, it was adjusted to the national awakening of the Orthodox peoples and facilitated their emancipation from the empires of that time. In our days, it is an instrument of decolonization for the states that emerged from the Soviet Union, particularly in Ukraine. This, I believe, is the latest version of autocephaly.

AD: In calling for its reinvention here, as in other places, you very commendably note the importance not of just dismantling structures or dismissing them, but of seeing their worth and revising them where necessary and possible, noting that there is no once and forever solution. From this, and from your book as a whole, I gather a clear sense that the Church and her structures really needs to be a lot more "portable" or "flexible" in many ways, a "field hospital" (to use Pope Francis's well-known image) that has some stability and structure but is not necessarily a permanent and fixed feature of the landscape. Is that a fair read?

CH: I think you have grasped the main idea of the book very well. I argue that to prevent the ecclesial structures from turning to simulacra, they need to be kept open. To remain useful, and not harmful, for the church, they have to be permanently readjusted, always with their original meaning as blueprint. I think the famous “ecclesia semper reformanda” should apply not so much to the church per se as to its structures.

AD: You and I seem to meet about once a year at ecumenical conferences--June 2016 in Vienna, June 2017 in San Felice del Benaco. From those conferences, your other travels, and your new position at the Huffington Ecumenical Institute, do you have an overall or global sense of where the search for Orthodox-Catholic unity is today?

CH: I have participated in many official and unofficial dialogues, and had many chances to see their power and limitations. I concluded that the most important issue on the plate of the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue is primacy. In my ecclesiological books, I always try to tackle this issue, and thus to contribute to the dialogues. I believe that equally, if not more, important for the Orthodox-Catholic rapprochement are all sorts of relations and networking between the two churches on all levels. I argue in my books that the nature of the church is relational. Therefore, the more there will be different relations between us, the closer we will get to sharing in the same nature of the church. I consider my new role at the Huffington Ecumenical Institute in fostering these relations.

AD: Having finished Scaffolds of the Church, what are you working on now?

CH: I am finishing a new manuscript for the Fortress Press. Its tentative title is “Unorthodox Orthodoxies.” This book will continue my previous ecclesiological studies. This time, I will consider some particular cases, when the idea of the church, and Christianity in general, get distorted in the Orthodox world. I will study the issue of nationalism, collaboration of the churches with the totalitarian regimes, their participation in modern culture wars and obsession with ideologies. I will pay a special attention to the issue of antisemitism among the Orthodox, and will argue that it is close to the classical Christological heresies.
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