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Postmodernism in frock

 

           The biography of the young monk Savatie is a wonder and a model at the same time. It is a model of the spiritual rebirth of a man. How is it special ? Readers may find an answer in the following interview. Some of the topics that the interview tackles are: Stefan Bastovoi the poet, the nation, science and globalization.

 

          “The man of the old ways stays in us till our last breath”

          Father you have never tried to hide your troubled past. Is it because you are not totally rid off the “old-way man” you once were ? Is the man you were, until you entered monasticism, now asleep in the depths of your soul or your conscience – waiting for a moment to wake up – or, is he “dead”, ever since you had your hair cut as a monk ?

          Something dies in that moment, something still remains. It is as it should be; it is as monasticism should be; and if you read the Writings of the Holly Fathers you will find that it cannot be otherwise. Surely, the old ways man remains in us till our last breath, waiting to wake up, as you said. But one has to learn how to talk to his inner old ways man, sometimes to reprimand him, other times to work him out. He has done more than enough foolish things, now it is time to do something good, at least, as much as he can do. About the past, what have I to hide ? I am just a man like the rest of us and my past is as common as anybody else’s. I am not boasting myself with it, nor am I embarrassed by it. I live with the belief that there is no past whatsoever. Christ came and put an end to the past. I pray to Him that every moment of my life can be a new beginning, a rebirth and not to consider my past anymore, because it will always be an abyss full of dirt and misery. Because the past means death. Eternity has no past.

 

          Do you miss the rebel poet Stefan Bastovoi ?

          I never liked to be a rebel. I was simply disagreeing with the world I was living in. In that, I am still the same rebel today. But if by ‘being a rebel’, you understand to drink, to fight and then to take the guitar and cry, no, I will never miss that.

          How can the Freud passionate you once were get along with the necessity of body purity imposed in monasticism ?

          But who is not a Freud passionate ? We are all ruled by the passion, this is our nature. But there is also God. If you want, this is the best proof that God exists; the fact that a Freud passionate became a monk.

          What triggered the conversion to Orthodoxy of an adept of scientific atheism and a passionate of Nietzsche ?

          I cannot tell.

 

          Romania and Bessarabia do not have much culture”

          Is there any common subject for the Bessarabian and Romanian intellectuals with importance in the Orthodox area, outside the echoes of ecclesiastical creation ?

          There is no doubt that there exists a common feature among the Romanian and Bessarabian intellectuals. For example, the fact that the Bessarabians copy the pattern of the mind of the Romanians, but the copy-machine is Russian. What can I say ? We do not have much culture. This is another thing Romania and Bessarabia have in common. As far as the relation with Orthodoxy is concerned, they resemble in drifting apart from it. Personally, I know many intellectuals, most of them usually appear in the front pages of newspapers, but none of them attends the church. I do not mean to make it sound as a reproach. God forbids ! But there was a time when I was in the same situation.

          Does this affect the spiritual evolution of our national community ?

 

          Well, first of all this evolution should exist in order to be affected. I do not know if there really is a national evolution. Of course, I am referring primarily to the biological evolution, not in the Darwinian sense but from a demographic point of view. The last statistics show that in the Republic of Moldavia, more still babies are being born dead than alive ones. Over 20% of the babies are given birth to by unmarried mothers. Speaking about culture in this condition would be cynical.

 

          Which is the shortest way to turn an intellectual – full of doubting pride, “mandatory for an educated man” – into a man of the Church ?

 

          If there were such a path, God would have showed it to us. He wants us all to stay alive and be saved. I do not know of such a path and I am not in search to find it. I do believe without a doubt that God works with every one of us in His own way. God knows us because “He is the one who created us, not the other way around”, as David says. He chooses to reveal Himself to each and every one of us in the most appropriate way. For example, He sent an angel like a star to inform the three Magi, because they knew how to read stars.

 

          “Science confirms and strengthens the Orthodox dogmas”

 

           How is it influenced – if it is – the moral and spiritual life of the East Europeans by the astonishing informational and technological development ?

 

          I do not have much in common with the world. I have lost the pulse of my time. I discover this from the letters that I receive. On the other hand it is a good thing. One of the Russian poets said that being contemporary with your time is a sign of stagnation.

 

          Today the monks have mobile phones and the monasteries have Internet pages. Is it possible for a monk to live in praying and, at the same time, to explore distant and strange places on the Internet and not to be alienated from his state of mind ?

 

          Nobody has to explore distant and strange places on the Internet; the strangeness with the sense of unknown is not good. But it is good to write e-mails. What could be wrong in this ? If you know how to use it there is a useful thing in it. For example, to poor men assaulted by all the temptations of the world, can write or ring anytime the confessor priest and ask for advice or to get comfort.

          An old father from Moscow is telling a nice case in one of his books, appropriate for our discussion. A young atheist is kidding him in a trolley: “Oh, the father is going by the devil. Is good, isn’t it ?” And the father answers gently: “There nothing wrong in the fact of going by the devil. Worst is then, when the devil is going by you.”

 

          Some Orthodox priests from Eastern Europe and from America are against the technological miracles, considering them as means of the devil. There is a vivid debate concerning the significance of the number 666 on identity cards; booklets about the spiritual harmful of the TV have been published. Is Orthodoxy in contradiction with the informational and technical development ?

 

          There is no contradiction between Orthodoxy and the technical development. And we have to use the correct term: Orthodoxy and Christianity, because fighting against science is the business of the Roman-Catholics and Protestants, who are Christians, too. The Orthodox believers did not burn anybody on the stake because he said that the Earth is moving round. The Roman-Catholic and the Protestant dogmas led them in the situation to deny the science, because the scientific discoveries were contradicting their imaginations about man and the world. About Orthodoxy, we can say that science is doing nothing but confirming and strengthening our dogmas.

          Pseudo-science is different, because some speculations as the Darwinian one are identified with science. We do not have to stigmatize science because some of its representatives failed and wanted to do diabolic things. We can say similar things about a lot of the Church officials, but we can not conclude that the Church is bad. There is no good in separating science and culture in general by the religious life. The ecclesiastical life is not something parallel with reality. The ecclesiastical life is our true life. We have a lot of saints who were emperors, state officials, soldiers, etc. This is the Orthodox and true Christian vision of world and science. If you read the treatises of Saint Gregory from Nyssa, bishop in the fifth century, and about the creation of man, the interpretation of the Hexameron (the 6 days of the creation) in particular and the interpretation of the titles of the psalms, you will see that the Saint is talking about atmosphere and the circulation of the elements in the nature, about the movement of the stars and other things that cause trouble for the Roman-Catholic inquisitors. This is the dogmatic and theoretical attitude of the Orthodoxy about science.

          In my turn, I do not advice anybody to watch TV. I do not watching TV and I do not listening music. But not for the reasons you already mentioned. If we should make an experiment for one week to have TV programs just with good things, to change all the dirty posters on the street, to change the idiot and vulgar music that sounds everywhere and to have psalms instead of them, I think that we would change the opinion about this world and the performances of science. Then we would understand that this machines, wrecks full of wires and screws, are not bad.

 

“Orthodoxy is not answering to any provocation”

We are assisting an unstopped phenomenon: the globalization. One of its effects is the unification of identities, consciences, mentalities, etc. The diversity is meeting into uniformity. Will Orthodoxy give an answer to this provocation ?

 Orthodoxy is not answering to any provocation. It anwered once and forever by the death of Christ. God on the cross is the answer to this world. The others are not ours.

 The English language, the most important promoter of the globalization is gaining all the more. In Romania we may speak of the phenomenon of the Americanization of the language. Do you think that this is just a fashionable thing or is a sign of a weak language that gives way for a stronger one ?

I do not know what is a weak or a strong language. But I know what it is a weak people with no personality. The Romanians were always impressed by the things from abroad. In the XIXth century they were speaking French. Before that was Greek and now is American. The same thing, the same people. There is nothing to do with the language. I am not afraid by the changing of the language, but about the changing of the mind, because the language is saying what mind tells it. I am not saying that the Romanian mind is wonderful but it is a mind. Americanizations instead means totally giving up to the mind.

Who can assure us that in the way that language is changing, the faith will not change, too, through an aggressive and persuasive campaign ? We have already noticed the idea that in Romania, the principal oposition to the progress is the Orthodox Church. It is by its influence that some measures which were supposed to get us “in the world” as the legalization of homosexuality, are getting strong oposition.

 They are right. The Orthodox Church is the main obstacle in the way to progress. But this progress means the complete lost of mind. I believe That One that said that it will rest until the end of the time. There will be one or two in any moment and they will speak to the others no matter who and how much tney are. This makes me be untroubled.

 

Interviewed by Claudiu Târziu

Translated from Romanian by Adrian Bourceanu and Carmen Bourceanu

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