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Two types of enlightenment.


We, the modern people of the so-called "Western culture," live by necessity in two spiritual circles: a) the circle of timeless Christian Enlightenment and b) the epoch of "enlightenment" begun in Western Europe at the end of the Middle Ages. We live in the age of rationalism, or practical thinking, which has gradually departed from religious beginnings, particularly in the age of "Voltarianism." In our century it has amounted to a direct persecution of Christianity, falling mainly on the Orthodox Church, and particularly on the Russian Church. According to the goals of this general epoch, only earthly goals are worthy of social attention and even of existence. A concern for eternal life, or the perfection of oneís life according to the spirit of the Gospel has no place here. And for the protection of "social ethics" and order, common teaching and police-like vigilance, along with detention facilities, are deemed perfectly sufficient. Such are the values of this era. But its realities are all before: millions killed for their firmness in faith, thousands in prisons and exile for protesting the physical and moral pressure, a wave of international and civil wars, a growth of crime, a collapse of morality, an abundance of moral and physical suffering.

Notwithstanding all the violations in the field of religion, it seems obvious that the positive part of practical western culture has grown from a Christian foundation, ó be it printing (Guttenberg, the Bible, Church books), artistic literature, "novels" (springing from the hagiography of the Roman scholastic period), the works of great composers (written initially to be performed at Church services), art (from Church art), or architecture (from the intricate designs of Church architecture, particularly in the East).

On the other hand, we are aware that the Christian faith does not reject earthly culture and oneís daily needs, to which the Holy Scriptures themselves attest. Thus, we read in the Gospel that in the forty days after Christís resurrection, the disciples of the Lord set out on their nightly toil of fishing. The Apostle Paul, completely devoted to the preaching of Christís Resurrection and Christís teaching, also spent time making tents, in order that others were not burdened by keeping him. The Evangelist St. Luke was both a physician and an artist, besides being the author of two major holy books: The Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles.

But, by the Lordís word: "Man does not live by bread alone." And our personal self-awareness teaches us, that our scope, and thus our purpose are above the demands of plain existence, and to limit ourselves to this physical side means to deprive ourselves of the fullness of life. But we will say, from the Christian point of view: it is more than a deprivation of spiritual joys on earth, but also of the blessings of eternal life in God, and this means spiritual death!

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