C.S. Lewis spoke of “men without chests” in his famous little book, The Abolition of Man. Without going into all he meant by that, I will suffice it to say that he saw many modern men who no longer felt about themselves and their world as men had generally felt through the ages. And here I should note, that would certainly be true for women as well.
One of the great missions of the Church in the modern world, is that in preaching the gospel of Christ, we are also preaching a gospel “of man,” meaning that Christ is not only perfect God, He is also perfect man. We have lost sight of ourselves and no longer know what it truly means to be a human being.
This is so fundamental. It probably represents the greatest battle of our age. You can tell that I’m hanging around my Archbishop (Vladyka Dmitri). He tirelessly reminds us that human dignity is under assault and can only be restored by preaching the fullness of the gospel as the Church has received it.
To become, as St. Irenaeus said, “a man fully alive,” is the proper result of accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who alone shows us what it truly means to be human.
I believe that this mission includes our own taking the Gospel seriously and becoming, “fully alive,” ourselves, that we may help others to enjoy this gift of grace from Christ.
Yesterday, I asked Fr. Michael Oleska, what he thought about ministering to people in the modern world who had lost their own culture, and were hostile to religion. He smiled, and noted that their children are rarely hostile to religion but usually turned to new age, Buddhism, or other philosophies, or became pagans – and then noted with a wry smile that Christianity has been ministering successfully to pagans for 2000 years. I might add that Western pagans (and their wannabes) do not know much about Orthodox interaction with paganism and should not jump the gun on us and accuse the Orthodox of the practices that were often used in the West to deal with paganism.
There is plenty of mission for us to do. No matter the state of the people to whom we minister. But it is good to be asking questions and thinking about these matters.