When I started this blog a few months back, I intended it primarily as a useful and interesting way to prepare for my lecture at AFCon 2019. Well, it was that and more. Thank you to all of you who have left comments and sent me emails before and after AFCon. As I thought, the idea of culture creation is something that many of you feel is significant, even if some of you don’t quite agree with my presentation of it.
Now, on the Old Calendar commemoration of St. Olga, Equal to the Apostles, I can’t help thinking that, no matter the difficulty, one person truly CAN create a new Christian culture. Because that’s exactly what St. Olga did. In her own person, she incarnated both the worst excesses of Russian paganism and the light of a new culture that would bring Christianity to half the known world, including the American continent.
This fact is commemorated, by the way, in a fascinating way at the Vespers service to her memory. The Old Testament readings chosen for her are truly unique. The first two readings are some of the most violent in the Old Testament: the killing of Sisera with a tent peg to the head, and Judith’s decapitation of Holofernes. But the third is a short jewel from Proverbs about the ideal woman.
It’s almost like the Church, faced with this incredible woman, decided to immortalize both the brutal and the sublime. She could not have become the saint she was, perhaps, had she not first descended to horrifying depths of vengeance and violence, as she did. But after hitting rock bottom, she became in all respects an ideal for emulation. And a builder of culture!
Here’s an article I recently translated about St. Olga’s life. If it doesn’t directly talk about culture creation, that reality is present in everything she did.
The takeaway from her life, I think, is this. No matter the difficulty or darkness of our own lives, it’s possible for each of us to become a true builder of culture. And if you thought it was easy for Olga, since she was effectively queen of Russia, you couldn’t be more wrong, as you’ll see in the article.
But how?!? I hear you all asking.
And I ask myself that same question every day. As I was preparing my lecture for AFCon, the sheer volume of material I could read and study almost overwhelmed me. I could go in so many directions! So many people to talk to! So many books to read! It almost froze me in my tracks.
I now have a better idea of where to go with this blog for the long term. But I’d like this project to be something that’s useful and edifying to you all for a long time to come.
So I’m going to take the next two months to read, study, and pray to St. Olga. I’m on vacation for the first time, really, since I was married, so it’s a good time to fill the creative well and get some perspective on how best to chip away at the mountain of information out there about culture creation. So other than one or two posts over the summer, I’ll be largely silent until September.
Also, I’d love to hear your feedback. I’ve made a short (4 question) survey that I’d love for you to fill out. It’ll help me serve you in the best way possible with this blog and with my creative work in general. So please feel free to be critical and honest with me.
I also have some stories to share with my subscribers this week. Subscribe to my newsletter below to receive them, as well as a free copy of Foundations of Christian Culture by Ivan Ilyin, translated by yours truly.