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Paradise and Utopia

Paradise and Utopia

The Rise of Anthropological Pessimism IV

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Fr. John continues to discuss St. Augustine by looking first at his notorious doctrine of original sin and its impact on the conception of man in the West.

Welcome back to this episode on anthropological pessimism in the West as we explore, in Part Two of the podcast, the coming of the Great Schism and the consequences it had on the character of Western Christendom. In the previous segment of this episode, I introduced St. Augustine and described an anthropology that he developed around his doctrine of grace and free will that was comparatively pessimistic in relation to the optimistic anthropology of Greek Fathers like…

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Paradise and Utopia

Emperor Constantine and the Christianization of the Roman State

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Fr. John delineates the various ways in which Constantine contributed to the Christianization of the Roman state.

It was the year 312, and the Emperor Constantine, standing on the banks of the Tiber River in Italy, had a lot to think about. He had come to this place as part of a military campaign against his main rival for rule of the Roman Empire. That rival’s name was Maxentius, and Maxentius held the all-important city of Rome. Furthermore, he had a superior fighting force behind him. Constantine’s army, arriving at the banks of the Tiber River in October, was…

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Paradise and Utopia

Frankish Christendom and the Estrangement of East and West IV

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Fr. John concludes his account of the influence of the Franks by returning to the question of the filioque and how the papacy's resistance to its insertion in the Creed finally came to an end on the eve of the Great Schism.

Welcome back to this episode on Frankish Christendom and the estrangement of East and West. In previous segments of this episode, I’ve explained how the Franks gained influence in Western Christendom, especially during the reign of Charlemagne, and how, with that influence, they begin to alter the character of traditional Christianity there. I discussed, for instance, the policies—what I called an ideological program—of Charlemagne to identify Eastern…

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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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