Orthodox Luddism

I was in the company of one of the monastic brothers from Moni Petra who had served as our guide throughout the day as we walked through the narrow lanes of the city in the shopping district as the warm Spring evening settled in. And insofar as we had, by then, been in a monastic environment for a few days, we were not the least chatty as the sacred hesychia of the monastery had begun to do its work. At one point, my brother turns to me and remarks; “you are uncomfortable here, father, yes?” And I had to admit that I was in the sense that the surreal aspect of modern life playing out around us stood in such stark contrast to the grounded reality of work and prayer in the monastery.

This observation led to a quiet discussion about the nature and trajectory of modern life and the yawning chasm opening up between the Church and the world as the very fabric of human society itself unravels around us. At one point, our conversation must have veered into matters technological as my brother relayed the gist of a conversation which had occurred in the monastery between Geronda Dionysios and the brotherhood wherein Geronda likened the Internet with the Apocolyptic image of “Babylon” written of by St. John the Theologian. Exegetes may bicker over the precise meaning of this image of Babylon but Geronda’s point surely stood on its own merits. The internet presents a very real problem for society today and I have come to believe that it is time to challenge the medium itself as corrupt and as a corrupting influence quite apart from any consideration about content.

Read

Affected spirituality, Star Trek, Hesychastism, Luddism, quiet insightful monks, misunderstood/misrepresented philosophy, this blog farewell at Again and Again in Peace has it all. It’s almost as bad as Dreher’s musings on Paris. What is it about American Orthodoxy that makes so many of us think that the most right wing, Luddite or just plain strange is a representation of the highest form of piety?

I love that he decides to use the Internet to announce that the Internet is Babylon, evil in its very essence, and that he, supposedly, won’t make any further use of it, or whatever. Perhaps he should have taken a page from Wendell Barry’s book, and learned to be consistent on the matter. That might have been better than doing something like committing a grievous sin, just to announce his intent to no longer sin grievously in said manner. Again. Is he trying to use a medium that is inherently corrupt and corrupting, despite the content, to uncorrupt his readers? Does he desire one last hurrah, one last wallowing in seediness and filth? Perhaps he just needs a little bit of “look at me.” Probably all of the above.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Orthodox Luddism

  1. Almost as bad as Dreher on Paris? Come now. That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?

  2. Perhaps. Painful Orthodox travel logs seem to be becoming a definable genre.

  3. It’s for the best when Orthodox with such ideas limit the general public’s chances of coming across them.

  4. Richard Barrett

    I think he’s got a couple of valid points, particularly about cantors and readers being distanced from how one uses the traditional liturgical books, but the thing is, our bishops have already done that in how they’ve assembled “liturgical guides”.

    I mean, I wrote an article a few years ago called “Becoming Orthodox In Spite Of The Internet”, but I published it in a print publication (that subsequently circulated online…).

    All that said, you’re right on with the “grumpiest, strangest, most anti-social person in the room is probably right” stuff.

  5. You must have chased him off the public internet, because I don’t even get to find out what he said about Star Trek.

    • Too bad. Should have pasted the whole thing.

      It was something like: The belief that technology is essentially neutral is logical positivism, which was a philosophy popularized by Star Trek. Of course, the error of the Star Trek’s Utopianism is made evident by the unlikeliness of the vision of a French star fleet captain with an English shakespearean accent sitting in his quarters reading “musty old tombs.” So, since a reality of a technological utopia that involves print is unlikely, we should, quite obviously, retreat from the digital.

      Why is not entirely clear, but it involves spiritual benefits vaguely alluded to.

      • Logical positivism in Star Trek? Wut.

        As Ross Douthat once put it Star Trek [other than DS9, I would say] is a UN bureaucrat’s dream of the future, but logically positivist it is not.

      • There wasn’t any part of that argument of his that made sense. He obviously has no clue what logical positivism is. One would think he’d at least wiki it before posting about it, but then wikipedia is inherently corrupt and all that.

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