Category Archives: Orthodoxy and Modernity

Apostates and Romantics: Further Thoughts on Modern Traditionalism

by Kyle M. Nicholas

In a recent post, Aristotle Papanikolaou argues that the terms “traditionalism,” “traditionalist,” and “Orthodox morality” are unhelpful identifiers. For Papanikolaou, these terms construct a false traditional/non-traditional dichotomy that conceals the fact that everybody belongs to some tradition. The real question is what the presuppositions of one’s tradition are, and consequently “the implications of presuppositions or beliefs held in common by those who adhere to [that] tradition.” The logic of purity that underlies attempts to constrict “tradition” to narrowly-defined doctrinal and moral positions animates much of Papanikolaou’s essay. I want to extend Papanikolaou’s argument further by introducing two spiritual temptations of those who claim “tradition” for their own side as part of the culture wars, especially in the US.

The philosopher Max Scheler once called those who hold their deepest beliefs from a place of “intrinsic meaning and worth” the “resurrected.” Particularly apt examples of the “resurrected” are the saints, who love God for God’s own sake. Yet, in addition to this “resurrected” type, there are today a considerable amount of what Scheler calls the “apostate” and “romantic” types. For Scheler, to be either an apostate or a romantic is a particular form of spiritual resentment. Continue reading

Fundamentalism as “Orthodoxism”

by Haralambos Ventis

Our long-standing captivity to a sad caricature of Orthodoxy that could be called “orthodoxism,” and whose main characteristics will be summarized in what follows, has been largely consolidated by a widespread attitude in the Church known as “the fear of theology.” It is this fear that has propelled the substitution of theology with a shallow, stale “spirituality” based on an excess of pious yet vacuous sentimentalism.

Let us examine more closely the particular features of this “orthodoxism.” What is it made of? It is a fundamentalist travesty of Orthodoxy that shows a heightened aversion to thought, particularly of the critical kind. It has an equal aversion to the materiality and historicity of human life, and a corresponding near-exclusive emphasis on “spirituality” revolving around the salvation of one’s soul in heaven, in a way bordering Plato’s anthropology and metaphysics. More substantially, we might say that Orthodoxism is structured around the following theoretical pillars:

1). The fetishization or idolization of the Church Fathers as infallible and direct purveyors of divine truths. Continue Reading…

Orthodox Christian Rigorism: A Multifaceted Phenomenon

by Vasilios N. Makrides

In the historically Orthodox Christian heartlands of Eastern and South Eastern Europe, as well as sometimes in Orthodox diasporic communities around the globe, one may come across certain protest movements bearing many similarities to what is commonly called fundamentalism. In actual fact, this term has already been used to describe such phenomena, yet its main association with conservative Protestantism in early 20th century USA and its later generic and at times uncritical use render it rather inappropriate for the Orthodox case. The latter has a much longer historical background and exhibits various specific features, such as a rigorous traditionalism, a virulent anti-Westernism, and a strong anti-Ecumenism. It is, for example, in many respects problematic to call the Russian Old Believers (from the late 17th century onwards) fundamentalist. On the other hand, referring to related phenomena within Roman Catholicism, most scholars prefer to use another term, namely “integrism”. It appears thus necessary to look for a more neutral term for the quite multifaceted Orthodox case, this is why I opted for “rigorism”. This differentiation should not however obfuscate the various commonalities existing among all these protest phenomena. Continue Reading…