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The Transfigured Cosmos: Four Essays in Eastern Orthodox Christianity [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   132
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.31"
Weight:   0.39 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 6, 2007
Publisher   Semantron Press
ISBN  1597312525  
EAN  9781597312523  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which is the spiritual tradition of nearly 200 million people, including many millions in the former Soviet Union, differs widely from that of the West both in form and spirit. These four essays, readable and clearly developed, introduce the reader to the mystical world experienced by the Orthodox Church. The first sections highlight among other subjects the spirit of Orthodoxy, the richness of Orthodox worship and the significance of icons, together with the place of holy fools, pilgrimage, holy men, and asceticism in Russian religious life. In the last sections, the reader will find a concise presentation of hesychasm, the mystical tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy which involves awakening to the Uncreated Light - the Presence of God which 'overshadows' and envelops the entire cosmos within Itself. For the Orthodox mystic, the way of liberation and deification in God lies in contemplation, in quieting the constant stream of thoughts, phantasies, and passions which make man blind to the splendor and mystery of the Divine Presence. The vehicle of liberation is the Sacred Name of Jesus, invoked constantly by the devotee, the significance of which is dealt with in the last essay. Author Jon Gregerson has written and lectured in the field of religion. A graduate of the University of California, he has done research in Russian culture at the University of Chicago. His own spiritual quest has led him from the Christianity of the West to Russian Orthodoxy.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Understanding Eastern and Western Christian Differences  Oct 14, 2008
This book is an antidote to the vacuousness of postmodernism and its acceptance of "your truth" and "my truth" no matter what contradictions there are. The differences of east and west are clearly laid out by introducing us to the writings of Zernov.

"In the West body and spirit are clearly distinguished, and there is a tendency to set them in opposition to each other; in the Christian East they are treated as interdependent parts of the same creation...In the West the individual always occupies the center of attention; in the East he is always seen as a member of a community...In the West mankind is the main object of redemption; in the East the whole cosmos is brought within its scope... The West likes clear, precise formulae; it is logical and analytic...The East treats religion more as a life than a doctrine; it mistrusts overelaborate definitions...It believes that the Church and its sacraments are divine mysteries...that they will always evade analysis by logical reasoning." "The Western mind is analytic; it likes to scrutinize, to dissect, to classify; in its dealings with religion it tends to be logical and even legalistic. Eastern Christians, on the contrary are more interested in synthesis...They look upon the world as one great organism; they approach the diverse manifestations of life as an expression of the same ultimate reality...." "The East does not think about salvation in terms of the individual soul returning to its Maker; it is visualized rather as a gradual process of transfiguration of the whole cosmos, culminating in theosis...Man is saved, not from the world but with the world." pp. 9-10

These differences are rather differences of emphasis more than differences in Doctrines which are largely shared. There are real differences in understanding however. In a non-transparent desire to just get along, modern Orthodox publications tend to count the number of Ecumenical Councils as 7, however there are actually two more which, although condemned in the West, are not negotiable by the Eastern Orthodox, which cut to the core of Orthodox spirituality: hesychasm.

Instead of understanding the Fall as resulting in some kind of inherited guilt for the sins of our predecessors, the orthodox have a different conception of sin. Sin is not seen as an evil to be avoided at all costs moving one from a state of grace to a condemned state like a light switch. Before Vatican II, Catholics in the state of grace who read any book on the Index without permission suddenly became destined for hell. After Vatican II it seems not so. So when was the [Catholic] Church in error, before or after Vatican II? Or did the Council [Pope] change the mind of God? To over-define ought to be embarrassing. So how does the Orthodox concept of sin differ? The Orthodox conception is more about "missing the mark."

"To the Russian, good and evil are, here on earth, inextricably bound up together. This is, to us, the great mystery of life on earth... "Evil must not be shunned, but first participated in and understood through participation and then through understanding transfigured." p.41

To me, the eastern view of life seems so much more in tune with modern life as it really is. Instead of actually having choices between good and evil acts so we can always choose the good and avoid evil, we actually live in a world of prelest. Prelest is a word that has a root similar to the word planet. We are wandering stars. Prelest is "the corruption of human nature through the acceptance by man of mirages mistaken for truth; we are all in prelest" p.58

The great divide between Judaism and Christianity is not the false charge of killing Christ. If the Jews did actually kill Christ then Christ would not have died because of our sins and we would still be hopelessly lost! While the Law is our model, Christians are saved not by merely following the law but by a living faith in Jesus Christ our God. When we want to do something, we do not look up everything in Holy Scriptures to see if it is Ok or not. We have models of perfection similar to "ideal gas models." Real physical gasses only approach the ideal model. We must all confess our falling short of the mark. Killing is wrong and it is always soul deadening. When a murderer is torturing and killing your family and you "justifiably" kill him to stop the carnage, that act remains "soul deadening" and needs healing. The killing doesn't suddenly become a virtue.

How should modern man understand the violent toppling of governments in the 20th century, often subverting democratic administrations and installing brutal dictatorships and killing many innocent non-combattants? Government administrations always claimed to be doing good, but how often afterward did the people seek to really "understand through participation and then through understanding transfigure...our mind within the heart?" p.58

When we Americans experienced the phrase "Shock and Awe" did we afterward seek to understand how that meant terror, screaming, blood and carnage of innocent noncombatants in Bagdad? What about the previous deaths from the 10 year embargo. Am I imagining all this? Did this not all happen?

"Prelest is the resulting state of man's wandering from Absolute Truth and it has its basis in his fallen or egocentric nature, which through sundering his inner wholeness causes 'forgetfulness of God'; obscures the plendorous Divine Presence, and creates a multitude of illusions which infect his very perception of the cosmos." "Enchanted and captivated by 'the shadows of prelest,' man becomes blind to God the Divine Center, to the true nature of all creation, and to his true or real self." pp. 58-59

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have. The author of "The Transfigured Cosmos" is Jon Gregerson. For some reason his name is being misspelled as John.
George Battelle, Axios-San Francisco rep.

The Transfigured Cosmos: Four Essays in Eastern Orthodox Christianity

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