Empty Days

Tuesday, September 13, 2005



Meditations on that camel and a needle's ear.

I keep wondering what it is that I found in those churches. Perhaps it means something that Russia remained communist for such a long time: religion was literally wiped out from people's minds - all spiritual discourse was banned, along with places of worship which were basically turned either into museums or warehouses. What it means is that saving religion as a spiritual tradition despite this bannishment required real sacrifice and a true inner purpose. All the stale wordly residue that accumulated previously through historic merging of state and church was washed out from the face of russian orthodoxy - today it is being rediscovered as a true refuge from the raging emptiness of free-market values: while the West keeps distributing across the globe its wonder-recipies for economic paradises, ordinary russians are trying to find something else to munch on beside banknotes.

Well, to say the least: it does something to one's mind when in a crowded church people go down on their knees in throngs and with complete willingness and sorrow. And it is probably not without consequence that those who come to church do so because they want and need to for real - and not out of empty observance (as does happen on big traditional holidays however). People are in a bad situation in Russia nowdays and those sorrows they drag about are not minor, they're major, and they're shared by many. All this suffering is brought to church and it becomes a place of communion for a whole nation.

I can't say I've seen that happening everywhere else I've been to. But this is because I've only been to western europe and north america - the richest parts of the world. I am pretty sure that the situation is very different and much more alive in poorer lands where people are by necessity less neurotic about wordly competition and wealth - and thus far less arrogant and self-centered.

To put it plainly: there are almost no places in the West anymore (except some very wild nature perhaps) where one can find spirit and be touched by it - while there are still many more such places in less favored lands. Reason doesn't understand this because reason doesn't feel - to a rational thinking all places and nations are basically the same and spirit is understood as a sort of universal abstraction without anything tangible about it. But it's not like that - it's a living thing much more than a concept and it relates to things.

To be continued.





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