The Death of Socrates

The Death of Socrates

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Matter and Spirit

Christianity dose not "bastardize, trivialize or outright reject this world.". It cannot, because of the Incarnation. God entered into this world so that this world might be raised, somehow, to share in divinity. God’s business in creation is to unite all things under Christ as head.

This mortal life is inadequate unto itself, that is true: but only because of death and the “little death” that is suffering. Various heretics have proposed that this material world is evil – Gnostics, Docetists, Cathars, Calvinists(?) – but this is strongly opposed by the Catholic faith. The sacramental system would be impossible on such a view. Go into any traditionally decorated Catholic or Orthodox church and the “sensuality” will hit you full-on. The senses of sight and hearing and smell are all engaged.

The Orthodox Catholic has a great respect and valuation of the body. It is only via the body that we can experience and act. The human spirit is what gives significance and dignity to the body, but without the body the spirit would be entirely ineffectual and pathetic. Hence, the Catholic teaching concerning bodily resurrection. The long-term destiny of the human being is not some kind of incorporeal existence “in Heaven” but a resurrection life “in the New Jerusalem.”

As an Orthodox Catholic and as a Platonist, I am well aware of the fragility and poverty of this world – relative to the world of spirit – but I also rejoice in its glories, beauties, loves and joys. All of these direct me towards the Glory, Beauty, Love and Joy which transcend this word and yet which this world is founded on and truly participates in and shows forth to my senses and soul. This world is not an illusion – it is real enough! – but it is only a partial representation of what is absolutely real.

Jesus came not to denigrate the life of this world. He cured the sick, raised the dead, consorted with prostitutes and attended parties. He said that His very purpose was to enhance our life: to show us how we could “live abundantly” and “eternally” in the fellowship with God.

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