February 2007


The Lord must have worked very hard and felt confident in His work, the work of His hands as it is written in the Psalms. And His work must be of the highest order, for the harder we work, the higher the level of energy we achieve and perhaps it is no coincidence that the word work and energy are virtually one and the same: light from light, true God from true God; imitate the Lord, then, work hard, be confident, achieve a new level of energy, let yourself go in the faith, and be free in the will of the Lord.

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The Church, the human community of God on earth, may die if it fails to produce enough men and women capable of providing an adequate response to whatever heresy may be afflicting the human community, either internally or society at large (which only from time to time, and even then in name only, amount to the same thing).

We must, for example, provide a response to the challenge of the materialist excesses (but not materialism itself) of the industrialized economy , especially now as it spreads throughout the world in an age, marked by nationalist energy wars (sometimes cloaked as a “clash of civilizations”), when we can actually record it happening in real time.

I write this under the image of the Pantheon of ancient Rome. Just as some of the Stoics reportedly taught that the life of an individual in society is not complete without bearing and raising a son, and one who becomes a responsible member of the community, so I find that family life is no impediment to writing, and these are the things that God commands. Never forget who you are, Latin & Hellas, for the one without the other is not complete in cultural terms, and here is the point: culture is an indispensable stage and fundamental element in the life-cycle of the soul, and just as life without freedom is not a life, so life without culture is not a life; for what is more and honorable for a man to do with his freedom if not to pursue culture after he has mastered the basics of real work, to pursue art, in the spirit of real love, reflecting the love and the glory of God.

The day will come when you will be able to dedicate your talents to the greatest pursuit of all which is the praising of God through fine works of art. But the key word in that phrase is work. One either has to be endowed with extraordinary natural talent or work feverishly – or both – to earn the title of true artist and not just pretending to be one as an excuse for laziness or anti-social behavior. For the mature soul is both rational and social. Where, then, is the place for the starving artist, the misunderstood artist? What pretensions to make such excuses! There is also the artist who does an honest day’s work, an honorable job, earning his daily bread like everybody else. Only in few cases and in extraordinary times is martyrdom a requirement of the job, and only if done with the greatest sincerity and on call from God.
But what is the place of the self-appointed martyr, making complaints as if a spoiled child? Because the Lord has endowed us with myriad talents through which we can indeed change our psychological and cultural reality, one zap at a time, in step with the times, making a contribution to the cultivation and the harvesting of the daily bread and reflecting the glory of God for all to see.

Some express praise in the form of song, other in their written prose, and yet others in lyrical poetry like the psalms, and still others in as many ways as the good Lord has dispensed talents. But in any way that you do it, use your finest art as a tool to praise the Lord, in the morning through your articulated prayer – Lord open my mouth and my lips will sing your praise – and in the evening through the fine art of writing if you can.

But whatever your means of expression, be sincere, express the truth, record how you feel about the sovereign Lord, set down, even for a future generation, how you lived on the energy of faith, how you came to know the meaning of what it is that we are supposed to keep, to hold fast to, above all other pursuits, and to fashion all other pursuits into the scope of faith, so that you cultivate the soul and in turn that the soul fulfill its purpose, which is to share in the unfading, unfathomable glory of God. Faith is the seed of the soul and its harvest is sharing in the glory of God.

This is the meaning of our hard work, everyday, this is the meaning of our prayer and our art.

Look at the image, work at the system, discipline and creativity, be the image.

Let even your prayer be a form of art, but without ever letting affectation get the better of sincerity, just as you work hard at pursuing your culture and as your hard work is a form of prayer. Never lose sight of the fact that, in all that you do, you are the soul at work, disciplined and creative, cultivating that field one zap at a time, raising that stable, artistic pyramid longer than any one earthly life, and even longer because we are talking about the sovereign soul, the reflection of the everlasting glory of the one and true sovereign, our Lord God.

Let our pursuit of the sovereign soul, then, in all its dignity, morality and honor, be in harmony with the will of God in all its everlasting glory, radiating the love that is creation itself, working in a disciplined fashion, yet a discipline that is the ultimate creative freedom expressed through work itself, prayer, culture, and art.

Therefore keep this image in mind and in your heart as you go about the business of life so that you may make a good accounting of your soul before the eyes of the Lord.

We read Psalm 103 everyday for a reason, especially the parts that talk about the work of man, who plants grass seeds in the field and brings forth bread to sustain his body, who trims the vineyards and brings forth wine to gladden his heart, who tends the orchard and brings forth oil to brighten his face. Man arises at dawn and works until evening, έθου σκότος και εγένετο νυξ … εκλείψουσι και εις τον χουν αυτών επιστρέψουσιν. And in the interval of time between evening and night, one earthly life and passing away, a man writes poetry, ποιητής ουρανού και της γης, he imitates the Creator, he knows that art is very important in life, he needs a good pen to write with.

And so we dedicate the most meaningful portion of the fruits of our labor to the glory of God, to contributing to creation, to building our church, whether in the form of bricks and mortar or in the form of the living Word, or both, each according to his means in proportion to his faith, that is his energy of life, the life that he shares with the Creator, God, so it is our responsibility to invest this time for the purpose of His glory of which we are a reflection and so it is right and proper that we should eat bread, drink wine, and shine in oil, and so in whatever holy trinity that is the fruit of the labor of men of whatever culture of whatever part of the earth.

And so to gain greater understanding of such things, each person must work at his assigned task, preferably a pursuit of his own choosing, but to work hard and sincerely so that he can rightfully claim his place as one of the mystery-workers of the universe, which is the energy of faith expressing itself as life, even life on earth among men.

Therefore, this is why we seek to avoid what the fathers of the Church call sin, energy-wasting behavior associated with laziness and excessive indulgence in bodily stimulus or in sentiments that bring about disharmony in relations among persons, this is why instead we seek to establish and pursue a disciplined program of work so that we too may be worthy of the life that God has graced us with, putting every moment available to good use in praising His glory, praying that He steers our passions towards good works, works that edify ourselves, our relations with one another, and God’s very creation. So do not worry excessively about times and dates – these concerns have their place in a disciplined program of work – but do not let them rule you to the point where you lose sight of your creative purpose, rather seize the spur of the moment, cultivating the feeling of wanting to create. This is the middle path between disciplined work and spontaneous creation.

Watching television has to be one of the most perverse forms of denigration to the human mind in the modern world, a shameful waste of the freedom that the industrialized economy has afforded us, and I am glad that instead I read and write.

There are many earthly activities that are uplifting to the soul, but watching television, smoking cigarettes, factory-made food are not among them. Woe to those – culturally, politically, and spiritually – who engage in such activities whether as form of cheap entertainment in a social setting or for mere self-indulgence.

Make the most, then, of any opportunity to write. Practice the several virtues. It is no trouble for me to repeat it and it is a safeguard for you. Combined with a disciplined program of hard work – whether or not one needs to do it for a living –, free creativity, engaging in some art, is healthy for the mind and spirit, but merely engaging in art without a disciplined program of hard work is also mere self-indulgence in the majority of cases and usually does no go to the self or to others.

No matter what you do, then, take it seriously, do it for the glory of God, and do it also in the service of others, for the community of personhood, the very life the we share together with God.

That is the work of the poet, then, ποιητής, to teach us the value of creation, the role of freedom in our lives as creatures, and the economy of service. For it is through the personhood of others, chiefly of course through the persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, that we are who we are, and you, my friend, may have the opportunity to learn more and more who you are through your effort to educate your son. But may this first and foremost be God’s will before it is my will. For it is only by shaping our souls to justice, by shaping our will to God’s will, that we can be saved, that we can truly serve others, that we can use our creative powers for the furtherance of creation.