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And when he came to himself…he arose, and came to his father – Luke 15:17, 20
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A Prefatory Note
Just a reminder: My lectures are the result of my own studies and give my opinion, within a spectrum of allowable opinion that does not violate the dogmas, canons, or moral teaching of the the Church, and whose publication does not hinder Her saving mission. There are many listeners who have found my talks helpful, and for this, glory to God. Those who do not like them are, of course, under no obligation to listen to them or to agree with them.
The Signs of the Times
As we speak in January of 2021, there are ominous signs here in the United States and throughout the formerly Christian world that we are swiftly coming under some kind of totalitarian rule by an explicitly anti-Christian and even anti-human oligarchy, which now openly intends to persecute anyone attempting to lead a moral and traditional life of any kind, including, of course, us Orthodox, who, after all, are the principal and, ultimately, only effective enemies of the demons who command the global elite . There is much that can be said – and that we have already said – about this from the point of view of an Orthodox philosophy of history: if you will go back to all of our classes starting with the French Revolution and review all we’ve said since then, I think you will get the picture. But now it is time to put what we have learned to the test: We need to be in immediate preparation for a very different kind of life than what we in the so-called free West have known before, and therefore my task now is not so much to keep expanding on the historical framework as to address specific obstacles which prevent us from living effectively in the period we are about to enter. With this in mind, let us recall one of the points made in our last class: We have to correct the things we have control over, and that starts with our own selves, our own minds and hearts.
Returning to Ourselves.
I’m calling this part of our course, “Returning to Ourselves,” inspired by that moment in the parable of the Prodigal Son when the wayward son realizes that he has departed far from who he really is and become someone else, not the person his father had raised him to be. He sees what he has become and he wants to repent of it, to return to his father, which is also a return to himself, to his real self. At the end of our last class, I told you that in our next few classes we will be talking about deeply ingrained errors that the Great Stereopticon has implanted in our minds, errors for which we have to repent in order to recover our true selves as human beings and as Orthodox Christians. There are two points here that need more explanation: 1. One must repent of false ideas, even if one did not previously know one had them, and 2. Several of the errors we will be discussing strike at the root of our humanity, as well as our Christian identity.
1. Repenting of false ideas: Recall that knowing truth is the basis for right action, and that therefore believing in a falsehood is the most basic sinful state, prior to the misuse of the will. How can you use your will properly if you don’t know what direction to point it in? Our first parents fell when they first accepted the lie of the devil, and then, on the basis of their mental deformation, they deformed their will to disobey God.
We have been brainwashed since childhood by many lies of the devil, through this vast mechanism that in our course we have labeled the Great Stereopticon: An all-encompassing mechanism, or, rather, an entire mental matrix within which we live, created by the spirit of Antichrist in these latter days, which includes all the communications media, the scientific establishment, the educational system, government, medicine, corporate business and finance – in short all of the institutions of public life. They have all been utterly deformed and perverted from their right use, hollowed out by anti-Christian subversives who hate God and hate the human race: the insides of all the public institutions have been hollowed out and only the facade remains – on the inside, behind the facade, animating all “official” public life, there is demonism, the spirit of Antichrist, and the servants of the spirit of Antichrist control all the levers of power (humanly speaking of course – God’s providence and sovereignty remain absolute, but here we are discussing how matters appear on the earthly level). The subversives have become the establishment, and they are using the vast power of this all-encompassing mechanism to destroy not only truth, but the very concept that there is truth, and that it is knowable, in the minds of men.
We need to “come to ourselves,” to wake up and realize what has been done to our minds, because when we are in this state of delusion, it is impossible to sift through and understand everything that is happening around us. It doesn’t matter to what extent we are not to blame: Self-justification and self-pity will get us nowhere. We must love the truth, seek it at all costs, and be willing to suffer for it. Without this, there is no human integrity, much less eternal salvation.
2. Recovering our humanity: All spiritual errors basically are a form of delusion (plani, prelest), and they prevent us from recovering the likeness of God, and, furthermore some of the very basic errors we will be discussing not only prevent spiritual life but also attack something even more basic, the pre-condition for spiritual life, which is simply functioning as a human being, even a fallen human being: that is, they prevent us from retaining even the image of God – they make someone something other than human, not in his essence but certainly in his energies. Remember that the project of the Antichrist elites is no longer only to prevent our attaining the likeness of God. They want to go even further and destroy the very image of God in man by creating a new race of “trans-humans.” Here it would be good to recall the three levels of human life the Fathers talk about: That which is above nature, that which is according to nature, and that which is below nature. Our enemies want to “create” a kind of post-humanity that is trapped in a permanent state below nature, a humanity so deformed as to be unrecognizable.
So, you see, following the one whom Our Lord Himself told their predecessors is their father, that is Satan (see John 8:44), these trans-humanists strive to mock God the Creator by “creating” a supposed post-human race (of course, they cannot really create anything, but only pervert, deform, and destroy). This “trans-humanism” is not a marginal idea one finds only in strange websites. It is the stated and public purpose of the most influential policy makers in the emerging global governance system. They hold highly publicized conferences, write books, make videos, and talk about it all the time now.
Today all of this is out in the open, and we can say with St. John the Theologian, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now there are many antichrists; whereby know that it is the last time (I John 2:18).”
Long before they went public, however, with trans-humanism as a goal stated through the mass media, the elites prepared everyone gradually to accept it, over several generations, by means of all the techniques of the Great Stereopticon, which have implanted in our minds, as normal, ideas that are actually very abnormal, not only anti-Christian but anti-human. They “boiled the frog slowly” by getting people to accept as attractive, normal, and necessary for social acceptance, ideas and ways of life that are actually very deformed and very sick, but they introduced them gradually, and only rarely with explicit reference to the end game, which is trans-humanism, the destruction not only of the likeness of God, but even of the image of God in man.
If we are to resist trans-humanism, we have to recognize these false ideas that prepare people to accept trans-humanism, ideas that have been hardwired also into us. We have to recognize that they became part of what we think we need to have sanity and social acceptability; they have become inherent to our sense of self, and therefore to admit that they are wrong and that we have to uproot them and return to traditional, non-Stereopticon ways of looking at life – and living life! – is a painful process, as we discussed last time. But it must be done! Let us arise and return to ourselves, so that we can truly return to the loving Father who awaits our repentance! How can we be Orthodox if we are not even human? Unless we repent of so-called progressive ideas and ways of life that make us function as something other than human, our Orthodoxy becomes just a fragment of life, not life itself: It becomes a mind game, a disembodied fantasy adventure, or an aesthetic plaything, or a pseudo-spiritual hobby disconnected from reality, and not what it really is: the power of God transforming our corruptibility and making our entire psychosomatic organism, in all of its activities – personal, familial, and social – capable of holiness and eternal life.
A Catalogue of Errors
So…what are some of these false ideas? Today we shall begin with two of them, and in the next few classes we shall continue the list.
Scientism is the crude religious idea – really a kind of surrogate religion – that there is this amazing, monolithic, unified engine of all human progress called “science,” and that it is always right, that it is always progressing to greater and greater truth, and that you have to believe it and obey it, or you are some kind of a stupid, worthless person who is against the progress and welfare of the human race. What is ironic is that scientism is an outmoded, long discredited way of thinking among honest scientists, who understand the fallibility and imperfection of scientific findings, and who know that so-called discoveries are often driven by purely mercenary and malicious agenda. Even when researchers, along with the engineers and social planners who put the findings of research into action through technology, are well meaning, the very nature of empirical science involves many mistakes, constant revision, and a very limited range of understanding. Yet the scientistic establishment and its propagandists keep presenting each new supposed established fact – often completely contradictory to a previous supposedly established fact – as so true and reliable, and of such unlimited range of application, that public policy must be based upon it, no matter how subversive and destructive to normal, commonsense, and truly human ways of living the policy is.
Thus the anti-Christian elite has successfully brainwashed a critical mass of the population to believe that this trustworthy, infallible institution really exists. An especially dangerous subset of scientism is the worship of the medical establishment, because those who control the doctors and the drug makers have so much power over people’s minds and bodies. As Lenin once said, “Medicine is the cornerstone of achieving Socialism”
It is critical to remember that science is the twin of magic, and that the temptation of the magician – 1. that he can become a superior being by controlling nature through cooperation with demonic forces, and 2. that other people are something less than he is, something less than human – is essentially the same as the temptation of the scientists and engineers, and of those who control the scientists and engineers with their money and thereby control the direction of science and technology. This recognition – that science can become subject to diabolical control and used in diabolic ways to oppose God – is not a wild theory newly created by marginal paranoiacs. It is a great theme within the cultural inheritance of our civilization, going all the way back to the myth of Prometheus and, in modern times, illustrated in literature by the story of Faust. Also, and more to the point, our own Orthodox tradition tells us that there is not a hard and fast boundary between science and magic, between the apothecary and the peddler of lethal potions. It is vanity, and an ignorant, irresponsible and sinful disingenuousness, blithely to trust the vast and explicitly anti-Christian apparatus that holds the reins of earthly power through science and medicine over the bodies and minds of men. It is idolatry, and those who worship this idol will suffer the fate of all idolaters.
Within Christian civilization, of course, the Church to a great extent directed the efforts of science and medicine, and there were many pious and enlightened scientists, physicians, inventors, and so forth, and even today, there are still a few. When the Church is the dominant influence over science, technology, and medicine, this is the best possible situation, not only for the Church, but for science itself, because it is precisely the enlightenment of mind that the Gospel brings, that grace brings, that the recognition of man as a reason-endowed being made in the image of God brings, which makes real knowledge (scientia, episteme) possible. But over the last few centuries, since the Renaissance, and especially in the open Revolutionary Period of the last 200 years, the oligarchy that controls Francis Bacon’s “Atlantis” project of an all-powerful Technocracy (see OSC Class 17 and 58) has gradually and – by now – totally usurped the Church’s rightful place as the sponsor and guide of science and medicine. Instead of claiming to seek the limited and modest good of making a man’s life on earth more bearable as he prepares for eternal life, the Technocracy assumes that this life is all there is, and it seeks unlimited power to create a false heaven on earth. We know where that leads: It creates hell on earth instead.
Naturally, as the scientific establishment and the medical establishment are more and more dominated by anti-Christian and anti-human people, their methods and goals do and will become more and more anti-Christian and anti-human, they “progress” into more and more ignorance, not more and more knowledge, and they become less and less trustworthy, not only because they lust ever for more and more power over others, but also because they have become completely out of touch with reality. Just go to the websites of the United Nations, UNESCO, the W.H.O., the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, and so forth. Read Klaus Schwab’s plan for the Great Reset. Go back to the classic futurist screeds of H. G. Wells and Bertrand Russell, proposing World Government through technological control of the masses. See for yourself. These people are totally out of touch with reality. But these deluded, insanely arrogant people and their fellow-travelers are precisely the ones driving public policy everywhere and forming the mind of the masses of humanity outside the Church, as well as, sorry to say, some individuals who are nominally within the Church.
So it’s extremely important, really a matter of life and death, to understand this and to become an intelligent critic – not a knee-jerk reactionary, but a calm and intelligent critic – of the ubiquitous, impersonal, and mercenary scientific and medical official establishments, viewing everything they say and do very cautiously, and through an Orthodox lens. What you will find is that those who practice real science and real medicine are now often marginalized, and their careers, and even their lives, are destroyed, and their voices are thereby silenced, precisely because they are seeking the goals of true science and true medicine – that is, scientific truth and man’s well-being – and not the goal of the scientific and medical establishment, which is to advance the agenda of the Antichrist elite who control the money that funds the “acceptable” scientists, the drugmakers, and the doctors. ( As a side-note, I’d like to say that we should really reach out to these sincere people, for all science and philosophy that really is true, as St. Basil teaches, belongs to the Church; nothing that is true is alien to the Church. In a way, these marginalized truth-seekers and truth-tellers, who are suffering so much right now, are like secular martyrs and confessors of our time: If only they knew it, they would realize that they really belong to the Church, and we should honor them and listen to them on the matters within their realm of competence. Yes, they may be agnostic libertarians, or Roman Catholics, or Protestants, or even neo-pagans, but if only they would convert to Orthodoxy, they would find the fulfillment of their search for truth, for all truth comes from the Logos of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ.)
So, to get back to our goal, which is repentance and “coming to ourselves”: We need to ask the Lord to enlighten us to see and acknowledge to what extent we have believed in this scientistic myth of unlimited progress and the idea that science and medicine are always benign and moral, an idea that is not a harmless, morally neutral delusion, but rather a preposterous and destructive kind of idolatry. We need to discover within ourselves to what extent we mentally practice this idolatry, driven by cowardice, lack of faith, and infantile desire for pleasure, comfort, freedom from suffering, and even deliverance from death itself. We need to see that the claims of the scientistic establishment are simply a re-statement of the primordial lie of Satan to our First Parents, that he, and not God, are the source of life and immortality. We need to see that man is not progressing into a higher and better way of life through “science,” but rather is descending into an ever lower and worse moral and spiritual state, a completely carnal and sub-human state, by exchanging faith in our Creator for faith in “the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation.”
Let us beg the Lord to give us the eyes to see all this, and to repent. While being grateful for whatever real good that real science and medicine can offer, and supporting our good Orthodox – or simply moral – physicians, scientists, and so forth, we must reject the myth of progress and see this New Atlantis project for what it is: A new Tower of Babel, the radical revolt against God by demon-dominated men who are constructing a World Government based on technological dominance not simply over society in general but over our minds and bodies. We must recognized this is a totally illegitimate form of governance, for it is explicitly condemned by God in Genesis 11 at the tower of Babel; it partakes inherently and completely of the spirit of Antichrist and therefore it is neither established nor approved by God, but only allowed by God because of our sins, for which we need to repent. And to live our repentance and not just talk about it, we must be willing to suffer, to endure the consequences of going “outside the camp” to be with Christ. (See Hebrews 11.)
Freudianism and “Personal Fulfillment”
In one of our earlier talks, we referred to a video series called “The Century of the Self” – look it up on the Internet – which tells the story of how those in power in the 20th century used the insights of contemporary psychology to create the media propaganda machine that they have deployed with such frightening effect to practice mass mind control and thereby create the current global culture of mindless materialism and selfishness based on the idea of “personal fulfillment.” It is not a mere coincidence that the founder of this technology, a man named Edward Bernays, was the nephew of Sigmund Freud. Bernays’s technological project directly fulfilled Freud’s cherished dream, as explained in the latter’s manifesto, Civilization and Its Discontents, the dream of destroying Christian civilization through destroying all moral constraints, all ascetical discipline, and especially the traditional mores relating to family life and sexual behavior. So the Great Stereopticon and the sexual revolution have the same people as their creators and ideologues. That’s why you notice that everything in the media and education nowadays always somehow gets back to some kind of perversion of sex.
Freud presents this destruction of Christianity through the sexual revolution as a great leap forward for the human race, because then the individual will be free to pursue his fulfillment in freedom from Biblical morality, which is really, of course, slavery to the passions. And Freud’s project of destruction has in fact been wildly successful, except that the actual outcome, of course, is that people have become less and less truly fulfilled, less themselves, and more and more mindless, boring automata enslaved to their passions, indistinguishable from one another, subsumed into the mass of atomized post-humanity, the Gadarene herd chasing ever more frantically after happiness and never finding it, leaping off the cliff and drowning themselves in the life of sin.
Freud’s theories, of course, do not remotely resemble actual scientific findings but rather present to the reader a mishmash of quasi-religious gibberish, a grotesque fantasy, which nonetheless exerts a hypnotic, demonic power over the Freudian believer, very much like the demonic power that Marxist gibberish exerts over the true believers in Karl Marx. And it does not only affect conscious students and believers in Freudianism. Though very few practitioners today use Freud’s psychoanalytic method, the Freudian ideology has malformed our culture, has permeated the air we breathe, to such an extent that everyone suffers from acting on Freudian assumptions.
There are other schools of psychology, of course, and the ones that are least pretentious, closest to simple common sense, and are the least intrusive, can offer legitimate practical advice for controlling outwardly destructive behavior, and they do help people, but only when the psychological or psychiatric practitioner is a serious Christian or at least a moral person and not a deviant of some kind, which, sadly, is often not the case. At any rate, an Orthodox Christian has to approach secular psychology very cautiously, in order not to fall into a humanistic and ecumenistic approach to life, where one is looking for truth in all the wrong places, outside of the Church, where alone the whole and undistorted truth can be found.
In addition to our faithful looking for answers outside the Church, an even more dangerous problem for us presents itself today: Regardless of the school of psychology under question, the secular psychologistic mindset, characterized by the focus on the self, constant analysis of the self, and the endless futile quest for happiness centered on the self, has crept into Orthodox circles and has distorted the traditional understanding of Orthodox life as well. Putting aside the Church’s traditional, Scriptural, and patristic practice of calling the sinner to repentance, heroic self-sacrifice, and forgetfulness of self, a newly appeared pseudo-patristic, hyper-therapeutic model of Orthodoxy absolutizes and exaggerates the character of the Church as a spiritual hospital. The ill-informed priest who believes in this one-sided approach to Orthodox life can end up pandering to contemporary man’s obsession with himself as a needy, pitiful victim of someone or something, and willy-nilly promoting the Church as the best shop to go to in order to buy happiness at low prices by crafting a separate, antinomian, and quietistic peace where one can check out of the struggle for moral and civic responsibility and simultaneously be “spiritual.”
The Church, of course, is a spiritual hospital. We all do suffer from the illness of the passions, and we remain in the Church’s therapeutic care to the end of our lives. Without some measure of freedom from the passions, we cannot move on to practice the virtues without delusion, unto our salvation. But moving on should be the goal! Yes, the Church is indeed a loving Mother and a House of Healing where we go for nurture, understanding, condescension, and tenderness. But she is also the Church Militant, a fighting Church of kings, warriors, prophets, martyrs, and ascetics – heroes all, people who are not pre-occupied with themselves, who count their lives as nought, people whose constant concerns are God and other people and things outside of themselves generally. She is the Prophetic and Teaching Church, openly and publicly denouncing evil, calling sin a sin, and especially not mincing words when she denounces the evil deeds of those who hold the reins of earthly power. She speaks the plain truth “in season and out of season,” and she does not indulge in man-pleasing; she has no respect of persons, remembering that God will crush the bones of man-pleasers, as the psalmist writes.
Neglect of the Church’s militant character, because of an exclusive and one-sided hyper-therapeuticism and pseudo-compassionate passivity, goes hand in hand with the catastrophic civilizational process we see going on all around us, which is the the creation of a totalitarian therapeutic nanny state based on the feminization of men and the denial or subversion of male authority. This, of course, involves the error of feminism, which is a profound error, or rather, a witch’s brew of various errors, attacking not only spiritual life but even normal human life, that dominates our society today, and which is another “hardwired” sinful way of thinking we all have to repent of. We’ll address the problem of feminism per se in a later talk.
So, how do we repent of this cult of pleasure and self-absorption masquerading as the way to psychic health and even spiritual growth? To begin with, we must resolutely reject Freud’s call to throw off moral restraint, and we must even more radically take on ourselves the yoke of God’s commandments! The Lord Himself said that He had not come to abrogate the Law but to fulfill it. The plain moral commandments of the Old and New Testaments, as well as the Church’s canons and penitentiary forms, remain in place, now and until the end of the world. Let us ask ourselves: Do we really want to forget ourselves, to count our own lives as naught, to live lives of courage and self-sacrifice? Or do we use Orthodoxy as another “method” of self-absorption and self-pleasing? Do we presume on God’s mercy, which is the sin of audacity? Do we fear His just judgment? To what extent have we unconsciously accepted the lie of Freudianism, of the sexual revolution, the idea that the Church’s restraints on sexual behavior, and on pleasure in general, are “unhealthy” and “outdated”? To what extent do we assume that life is about seeking personal “fulfillment” of some kind? To what extent do we use Orthodoxy to seek a pleasant, falsely spiritual peace based on the abdication of our familial and social responsibilities on the pretext of wanting a tranquil, pleasant, and falsely spiritual existence?
Let us ask questions like this, and ask the Lord to enlighten us, that we may see the truth and return to ourselves. Let us seek this day, this hour, to love God and to keep His commandments.
“If ye love me,” saith the Lord, “keep my commandments.” – John 14:15