December 31, 2004

Elevation, Not Return

Human nature doesn't change, but cultures do. So how does that affect religious practice? Joseph Pearce interviews Solzhenitsyn:
Pearce: Is the only hope a return to religion?

Solzhenitsyn: Not a return to religion but an elevation toward religion. The thing is that religion itself cannot but be dynamic which is why “return” is an incorrect term. A return to the forms of religion which perhaps existed a couple of centuries ago is absolutely impossible.On the contrary, in order to combat modern materialistic mores, as religion must, to fight nihilism and egotism, religion must also develop, must be flexible in its forms, and it must have a correlation with the cultural forms of the epoch. Religion always remains higher than everyday life. In order to make the elevation towards religion easier for people, religion must be able to alter its forms in relation to the consciousness of modern man.

Pearce: Related to this, there are two points of view amongst members of the Catholic Church about the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. One side says that it was good because it modernised the Church, the other side saw it as a surrender to the modern values with which the Church was essentially at war. What are your own views?

Solzhenitsyn: This question stands also now before the Russian Orthodox Church. It also has two currents within it. The one which is hierarchically dominated does not want to develop at all whereas the reformers seek change. For instance, a question peculiar to the Russian Orthodox Church is should we continue to use Old Church Slavonic or should we start to introduce more of the contemporary Russian language into the service. I understand the fears of both those in the Orthodox and in the Catholic Church, the wariness, the hesitation and the fear that this is lowering the Church to the modern condition, the modern surroundings. I understand this fear but alas I also fear that if religion does not allow itself to change it will be impossible to return the world to religion because the world is incapable on its own of rising as high as the old demands of religion. Religion needs to come to meet it somewhat.
via Leo Wong

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