Our Violent Culture and the Despair of Nihilism
As my readers know, I have been attending the Orthodox Frontline, (Emergency Response Network of the International Orthodox Christian Charities), conference in Washington, D.C. Together with one hundred Orthodox clergy and lay volunteers from across the nation, trained and experienced chaplains, counselors, therapists, emergency response managers, social workers, medical doctors, registered nurses, emergency medical technicians and other related fields, we gathered in the White House complex, to plan for future national emergencies, and find how we can better help those who will suffer trauma and loss.
How could any of us have imagined that word would reach us, as we were boarding our buses to leave the White House Complex, of the horrendous massacre of twenty beautiful little kids, and six adults, in an elementary school rampage. Not one of us, contemplating the vision of little children being shot with brutal efficiency, while hundreds of their classmates dived under little desks and hid in closets, have eyes that are not clouded with tears.
The whole nation, and the world, looks on with astonishment as yet another school massacre takes place in this nation. The President of the United States teared up, and how could he not, as he recounted the broken hearts of a nation still recovering from the massive personal loss of so many fellow citizens, following Super Storm Sandy. Gun advocates leap to the defense of our constitutional right to bear arms, and our nations gun sales climb to all time highs, as people, fearing the possibility that new laws will ban gun sales, rush forth to build their own arsenals of defense.
Gun advocates tell us “guns don’t kill, people kill”, while others call for stricter gun laws. Law enforcement agencies call for the banning of armor piercing bullets, and powerful military style weapons, while others fear we are about to lose our right to bear arms, and that we are on the verge of becoming a totalitarian state.
While flying back to Seattle, I sat next to a young marine, who, as we were landing, asked if I would permit him to accompany me to my shuttle, as he “had a personal matter that was weighing heavily” on his heart. While being in our nations capital I had already come into contact with many soldiers, all of whom I personally thanked for their service to our country, and all of whom were young enough to be my grandchildren. The young marine reached out to me, not unlike I had with my grandfather, or my pastor, when I was a young man needing the guidance and direction of an older, more seasoned man.
Since my plane arrived too late for a ferry, I spent the night in the Airport Hilton. Being too exhausted to sleep after seven hours in flight, I spent much of the night praying for of all the little children who had been senselessly slaughtered by a madman, and for their grieving parents. I prayed for the soul of the school principle, and for the teachers who lost their lives trying to protect the very children whose education and welfare had been the focus of their lives. I prayed for all the children whose innocence has been ripped from them. I prayed for our nation.
Why have we, as a nation, become an incubator for such a murderous young man, whose rage would reach such a threshold that he’d shoot his own mother in the face, and drive to an elementary school to murder twenty children his mother loved? How have we, as a people, come to a place where we think we must arm ourselves to the teeth for our own personal survival, and where some think we should even arm college students, so they can be safe in their classrooms? How have we come to a place in our nations history where someone would think it important to suggest to the abbot of a monastery that he consider acquiring weapons to protect his monks?
If we think about it, there is a clear reason so many of our youth have given themselves over to the despair of nihilism, and surrendering to a viewpoint where traditional values and beliefs are dismissed as senseless and useless. This young people adhering to a doctrine that denies the possibility of an objective ground of truth. Young people coming to believe that conditions in the social organization of our world are so bad as to make destruction and murder desirable for its own sake. Young people living in such total despair as to believe death is the only way out, and who have never been given the gift of hope.
We have seen whole new generations educated in public schools where Christan morals and values have been forced out under the guise of separation of Church and State. A nation whose young people have been raised without hope, without God, and deprived of the moral, spiritual, and ethical basis that had, in the past, been the very foundation of our nation.
Our problem is not that guns may be banned, but rather that we have already banned God, replacing faith with materialism, greed, and hopelessness. As well, I truly believe the marked increase in the numbers of people suffering from mental illness is directly related to how we, as a nation, have banned God from our lives. People with no hope, and deprived of the stable influence of a loving faith community, are far more likely to slip into mental illness.
Saturday December 15, 2012
28th Week after Pentecost. Tone two.
Nativity (St. Philip’s Fast). Fish Allowed
Prophet Habakkuk (Abbacum) (7th c. B.C.).
New Hieromartyr John priest (1919).
New Hieromartyr Mathew priest (1921).
New Hieromartyr Demetrius priest and Venarable Vera confessor (1932).
New Hieromartyrs Constantine, Nicholas, Sergius, Vladimir, John, Theodore, Nicholas, John, Nicholas priests, Hieromartyr Danact, Cosmas,, Woman Hieromartyrs Theuromia, Tamara, Antonina, and Mary; and Virgin-martyrs Mary and Matrona (1937).
Virgin-martyr Mary (1938).
Martyr Boris (1942).
Venerable Athanasius “the Resurrected,” recluse of the Kiev Caves, whose relics are in the Near Caves (1176).
Venerable Athanasius, recluse of the Kiev Caves whose relics are in the Far Caves (13th c.).
Martyr Myrope of Chios (251).
Venerables John, Heraclemon, Andrew, and Theophilus of Egypt (4th c.).
Venerable Jesse (Ise), bishop of Tsilkani in Georgia (6th c.) (Georgia).
St. Stephen-Urosh IV, king (1371), and St. Helen of Serbia..
St. Solomon, archbishop of Ephesus.
Venerable Cyril of Philea (1110).
Venerable Ioannicius, monk of Devich (1430) (Greek).
St. Abibus the New (Greek).
You can read the life of the saint in green, by click on the name.
THANK YOU, to all of you who have been able to contribute towards the support of the monastery. These difficult times of economic hardship have impacted the monastery, and those of you who have been able to donate, have been our lifeline. May God bless you for your generosity, and kindness.With love in Christ,
16do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
22And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
32“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant
35“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. 37Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. 38And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 40Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”