Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sanity in an American City

“To live sanely in Los Angeles (or, I suppose, in any other large American city) you have to cultivate the art of staying awake. You must learn to resist (firmly but not tensely) the unceasing hypnotic suggestions of the radio, the billboards, the movies and the newspapers; those demon voices which are forever whispering in your ear what you should desire, what you should fear, what you should wear and eat and drink and enjoy, what you should think and do and be. They have planned a life for you – from the cradle to the grave and beyond – which it would be easy, fatally easy, to accept. The least wandering of the attention, the least relaxation of your awareness, and already the eyelids begin to droop, the eyes grow vacant, the body starts to move in obedience to the hypnotist’s command. Wake up, wake up – before you sign that seven-year contract, buy that house you don’t really want, marry that girl you secretly despise. Don’t reach for the whisky, that won’t help you. You’ve got to think, to discriminate, to exercise your own free will and judgment. And you must do this, I repeat, without tension, quite rationally and calmly. For if you give way to fury against the hypnotists, if you smash the radio and tear the newspapers to shreds, you will only rush to the other extreme and fossilize into defiant eccentricity.”

-- Christopher Isherwood, “Los Angeles” from Exhumations (1966)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Orthodox Fundamentalism, Conspiracies and Harry Potter

The Harry Potter Phenomenon and Orthodox Reactions

Bishop Auxentios of Photiki

The Orthodox Church, contrary to certain well-meaning but misguided efforts by the Faithful and some clergymen to prove other wise, is not opposed to science, progress, or human intellectual development. Even a cursory survey of the writings of the Church Fathers--from St. Basil the Great to St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite, to cite two notable examples--and those of our finest theologians lucidly demonstrates that the fear of secular knowledge, of the West, of science, and of secular intellectual trends is unknown to the Orthodox Church. St. Basil the Great instructs us to benefit from what is good even in pagan writers, while St. Nicodemos adapted more than one spiritual source of Western provenance to Orthodox usage. And the late and renowned Photios Kontoglou, a conservative and decidedly traditional Orthodox thinker, benefited from the writings of classical Greek philosophy and without reluctance fathomed the depths of such Western thinkers as Blaise Pascal. Anti-Western, anti-intellectual thinking is not part of the Patristic consensus, except as the Fathers approach the dogmatic deviations of Western Christianity. We must keep these notions in mind, as we confront technologies, ideologies, social thought, and intellectual trends formed in a changing world and in a secular context that some times challenges the immutable truths which shape our thinking and lives as Orthodox Christians.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Scott Derrickson, the Most Interesting Filmmaker in Hollywood

Scott Derickson is probably Hollywood's most interesting filmmaker, primarily focusing on writing and directing horror movies like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister, and Deliver Us from Evil, and more recently offering his take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Doctor Strange. This interest in movies with a strong good vs. evil motif piques Derrickson’s interest because of his Christian faith. In a 2007 interview Derrickson said in an interview about the horror genre:

Saturday, November 5, 2016

New Russian Film - "The Monk and the Demon" (2016)

When a man decides to dedicate his life to God, he must know that temptations will come like an avalanche to test his internal state. Then he will know if he can truly and faithfully serve God. This path, as the Holy Fathers of the Church say, is narrow and not everyone can cross it. Some stumble from the very beginning, and some when they arrive just halfway, do not manage to reach the end.

But what can a man do when he is attacked by forces that he did not know much about until then? Of course he will fight, and emerge victorious with the help of God.