Sunday, 17 February 2008

Great Postings from Fr Ray Blake...

....can be found on his St Mary Magdalen website.
One thread especially caught my eye - from a speech of Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev on the Death of Liberalism. So much so that I'm going to post another sermon introduction from the venerable bishop:

‘The glory of God is the living man.’ This dictum of St Ireneus encompasses the theological and anthropological vision of early Christianity, according to which there is an intrinsic and inseparable link between God and humanity. Man is considered to be the highest expression of God’s creative process, while God is regarded as the absolute value, the ultimate criterion of truth for all living creatures. Man’s vocation is to be the glory of God, that is, to glorify God with his life, words and deeds. Being created after the image and likeness of God, man is called ‘to become god’ himself by being fully obedient to God’s commandments. Deification of man takes place through Jesus Christ, who is ‘the living Man’ and ‘the glory of God’ in the absolute sense of the word, who is the way, the truth and the life for all humanity.

The Biblical and Christian vision of man as God’s image and likeness is radically opposed to the relativism of ancient Greek sophists, notably Protagoras, according to whom ‘man is the measure of all things’. Protagoras is known for his belief that nothing is exclusively good or bad, true or false: what is true for one person can be false for another, and vice versa. There is therefore no general or objective truth, and there is no higher criterion of truth than the human person: each individual is the standard of what is true to himself. This vision sends religion to the backyards of human existence, makes it irrelevant and unnecessary. Indeed, Protagoras is reported to have said: ‘Respecting the gods, I am unable to know whether they exist or do not exist.’ In other words, it does not really matter, whether there are gods or not, as long as man himself is the measure of all things.

The radical discrepancy between anthropocentric and theocentric visions can be perceived throughout human history, but it seems to me that we are living in the epoch when this discrepancy is being expressed more acutely than it ever was. In contemporary Europe, for instance, the anthropocentric vision takes the form of militant secularism, which actively opposes any manifestations of religiosity. The conflict between secularism and religion was reflected in the battle against reference to God in the European Constitution, the battle which was lost by the churches and won by secularists. The same conflict can be perceived in the debates following the French government’s prohibition against wearing religious symbols in public places. In both cases militant secularism surfaces as the only legitimate world view upon which the new world order should be built both in Europe and beyond.

To proclaim man as the measure of all things, to exclude God from the public domain, to expel religion from society and relegate it exclusively to the private sphere – this is the programme that the representatives of modern liberal humanism attempt to implement. This programme is inspired both by the notions inherited from the ancient Greek humanism and by the ideas of the Enlightenment with their peculiar notions of freedom and tolerance. According to this programme, tolerance of religion should be practised only insofar as it neither violates the dictates of political correctness nor contradicts so-called ‘common human values.’ Everything that transgresses these boundaries must be limited, forbidden or entirely eliminated.

The categorical refusal of a significant number of European politicians to mention Christianity in the European Constitution and the decisive resistance of the majority of French social activists to all visible manifestations of faith, together with other, similar phenomena throughout many areas of Europe, form but the tip of the iceberg. Behind these actions we can discern the consistent, systematic and well-targeted onslaught of militant secularism on what remains of European Christian civilization, along with the desire to obliterate it once and for all. This attack is being carried out to the drumbeat of the proponents of democracy and liberal values and with loud cries over the defence of civil rights and freedoms. But this assault on religion also entails that the cardinal right of a human person to confess openly his faith in God, is placed under question. It also threatens the freedom of human communities to base their mode of existence on their religious world views.

Fr Ray astounds me with the diversity and the informative nature in his blog - which is why I'll most definitely be voting for him in the 2008 Catholic Blog Awards

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