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Paradise and Utopia

Paradise and Utopia

The Rise of Anthropological Pessimism in the West II

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Fr. John contends that to understand the coming of the Renaissance and its humanism, one really needs to understand how in the West the doctrines about man became increasingly pessimistic.

Welcome back to this first episode of part two of this podcast, entitled “The Rise of Anthropological Pessimism in the West.” In the previous segment, I reviewed the Greek Fathers and their anthropology, an anthropology which has often been called optimistic by its emphasis on the high dignity of man, especially man’s calling to deification, to communicate in the very life of God, to participate in the life of God, through participation in God’s…

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Paradise and Utopia

The Rise of Anthropological Pessimism in the West I

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Fr. John discusses the dignity of man according to the Greek Fathers

Welcome back to the first episode in part two of this podcast, entitled, “The Rise of Anthropological Pessimism in the West.” As we begin our discussion of the causes of the Great Schism and its important consequences in leading to the decline and then fall of Christendom in modern times, it is important to bring attention to the place of human dignity within Christendom in the early centuries. Human beings were held up as dignified creatures created by…

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Paradise and Utopia

The Crisis of Western Christendom: The Curse of Anthropological Pessimism

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In this latest episode on the impending Protestant Reformation, Fr. John discusses ways in which the long legacy of pessimism about the human condition and the world in general undermined western Christendom at one of her most critical moments.

Welcome back to this reflection on the crisis of Western Christendom. In the previous episode of this reflection, I spoke about the crisis of papal supremacy that afflicted Western Christendom within the Roman Catholic Church during the late Middle Ages, the period roughly from 1300 to about 1500, and of course immediately preceding…

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Paradise and Utopia

Introduction to Part Two of the Podcast: The Nicolaitan Schism

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In the first episode of part two of his four-part podcast "Paradise and Utopia," Fr. John Strickland, a professor of history at Saint Katherine Orthodox College, describes how Pope Nicholas I paved the way for the rapid development of the papal theory of empire.

It was the year 858, and for Pope Nicholas I of Rome, the situation in Constantinople seemed intolerable. A well-meaning and faithful patriarch of the Byzantine Empire’s capital city named Ignatius, had been summarily deposed and placed under arrest by none other than the emperor himself. This was not simply an act of caesaropapism, by which, as I described in an early episode in Part One of this podcast, a ruler acted in an overbearing and detrimental way toward…

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Paradise and Utopia

Frankish Christendom and the Estrangement of East and West I

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Fr. John discusses the rise of the Franks in Western Christianity.

It was the year 810, and the pope of Rome, Leo III, was alarmed. He had recently met with a delegation of Frankish churchmen who had implored him, in fact had pressured him, to accept something called the filioque. The filioque was an insertion into the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed concerning the Holy Spirit. It altered that original Creed, which had read, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life, who proceeds from…

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Paradise and Utopia

Papal Supremacy and the Parting of the Ways IV

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In this episode, Fr. John discusses Pope Urban II's calling of the First Crusade and the impact it and the crusades of the twelfth century had upon relations between the Orthodox and Roman Catholics.

Welcome back to this reflection on “Papal Supremacy and the Parting of the Ways,” an alternative title for which might be: “How the Schism of 1054 became Great.” In the past two episodes I’ve described, respectively, the sack of Constantinople by Crusaders in 1204 and, more recently, efforts to achieve Church reunion under the leadership of popes such as Gregory VII, popes who insisted upon, as a condition for that reunion, the principle…

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Paradise and Utopia

The Ecclesio-Political System of Byzantium and Its Shortcomings

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Fr. John draws attention to a feature of Byzantine statecraft in which the Emperor persecuted and manipulated the leadership of the Church.

It was the year 404, and St. John Chrysostom found himself in an impossible situation. As archbishop of Constantinople, he was widely loved by his flock, but in that capital of the Byzantine empire, he also found himself confronted by the imperial state. Chief among his opponents was the empress, Eudoxia. John had emerged from an early life in a more distant area of the empire, though hardly an unnoticed one: the city of Antioch. He had become a monk early on, as…

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Paradise and Utopia

The Rise of Russian Christendom II

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Fr. John discusses the Christian statecraft of early Christian Russia.

Welcome back. In the first segment of this episode on the rise of Russian Christendom, I discussed the baptism of Vladimir, and with him, Kievan Russia, talking about the first steps of the Church in the life of Russia during the late 10th and early 11th centuries. I also discussed a bit the process of conversion and the way in which Russia began the process of assimilating traditional Christianity in her culture. So Russia was converted, beginning with Vladimir,…

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Paradise and Utopia

The Rise of Anthropological Pessimism III

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Fr. John addresses the foundations in the West of a growing pessimism about man's condition, paying particular attention to Augustine.

Welcome back to this episode on the rise of anthropological pessimism in the West, as we explore the origins of the Great Schism and their consequences, especially in the West, before the Renaissance. I’ve spent some time in this episode reviewing how the Greek East, during the age of the Fathers, established an optimistic anthropology which emphasized the dignity of man, bringing attention to the role played by the Incarnation, by baptism, and by man’s…

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Paradise and Utopia

Papal Reformation and the Great Schism: III

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In this conclusion to his account of the Great Schism, Fr. John reviews the leading controversies that aggravated relations between Rome and Constantinople during Pope Leo IX's military confinement, and how they resulted in the latter's posthumous act of excommunicating Patriarch Michael Cerularius in 1054.

Welcome back. In the previous segment of this episode on papal reformation and the Great Schism, I discussed the papal reformation of Pope Leo IX. Leo was the most ambitious pope to reign for two centuries, since the time of Nicholas I in the ninth century, and his pontificate gave expression to the desire for many in Western Christendom to see an end to simony, the sale of Church offices, and what was called Nicolaitism, the continued practice of clerical marriage.…

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