This is not a usual news article, and it is blatantly and unabashedly “religious.” However, one of the great things about religion is that it reminds us all of things that go far beyond our temporal chatter of the moment, with its passions and urgency. Orthodox Christianity in particular carries a powerful and deep message at this time of year, our Holy Week (a.k.a Passion Week), leading up to the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, Pascha, often referred to as “Easter” in the West.
We will not get into the theological and cultural wrangling that netizens often divert to about religious debate. We only want to offer the point of view expressed here by Orthodox Christians and their Church, because it may help us breathe for a little bit and reflect on things that really matter in the eternal sense.
This thought, oddly enough, was inspired not directly by the presence of Holy Week itself, but by my re-reading of a 1959 novel called Alas, Babylon, written by Pat Frank. That book reveals a great deal of prevalent American thinking during the 1950’s at the height of the Cold War against the USSR. But now, in 2020, with the Cold War not even a memory in the minds of some of our very uneducated youth, we are led to think that the crisis of the day is “the worst ever; it is new; we need to be worried” and so on. Yet, these short excerpts from that book detailing the concerns of the fictitious characters, but reflecting on the reality of the time, show something different.:
Florence gathered her pink flannel robe closer to her neck. She glanced up, apprehensively, through the kitchen window. All she saw were hibiscus leaves dripping in the pre-dawn ground fog, and blank gray sky beyond. They had no right to put those Sputniks up there to spy on people. As if it were on his mind also, Frank continued:
“Senator Holler, of the Armed Services Committee, yesterday joined others of a Midwest bloc in demanding that the Air Force shoot down Sputniks capable of military espionage if they violate U.S. air space. The Kremlin has already had something to say about this. Any such action, the Kremlin says, will be regarded the same as an attack on a Soviet vessel or air-craft. The Kremlin pointed out that the United States has traditionally cham-pioned the doctrine of Freedom of the Seas. The same freedom, says the Soviet statement, applies to outer space.”
The newsman paused, looked up, and half-smiled in wry amusement at this complexity. He turned a page on his clipboard.
“There is a new crisis in the Middle East. A report from Beirut, via Cairo, says that Syrian tanks of the most modern Russian design have crossed the Jordanian frontier. This is undoubtedly a threat to Israel. At the same time Damascus charges that Turkish troops are mobilizing. . . .”
Look somewhat familiar? Try this:
At eleven, approaching Orlando on Route 50, [Randy] turned on the radio for the news. Turkey had appealed to the UN for an investigation of border pene-trations by Syria. Syria charged Israel with planning a preventive war. Israel accused Egypt of sending snooper planes over its defenses. Egypt claimed its ships, bound from the Black Sea to Alexandria, were being delayed in the Straits, and charged Turkey with a breach of the Montreaux Convention.
Russia accused Turkey and the United States of plotting to crush Syria, and warned France, Italy, Greece, and Spain that any nations harboring American bases would be involved in a general war, and erased from the earth.
The Secretary of State was somewhere over the Atlantic, bound for conferences in London.
The Soviet Ambassador to Washington had been recalled for consul-tation.
There were riots in France.
It all sounded bad, but familiar as an old, scratchy record. He had heard it all before, in almost the same words, back in ‘57 and ‘58.
Not much different, is it? The more things change, the more things stay the same.
Now this coupled with the crisis du jour of COVID-19 and its truly significant effects on the whole planet, we still get a lot of hyperbole even when there is a real problem. However, it seems that we can often feel “around the edges” that there is something contrived about this event, even though it is real.
This is the value of reflection on eternal truths. The life, ministry, death and resurrection of Christ is held by Christian believers to be the central event in the history of the Universe, if you come right down to it. The Eastern Orthodox Church maintains the complete and whole view of this, available to anyone who wants to consider it. For that, for the sake of a little silence and reflection, we offer this production. It is surprising, shocking, and very beautiful.
It may help to have a “retreat” to things like this whether a person considers themselves religious or not. A glimpse at the Divine Reality and how it intersects with our lives practically is something many of us find very useful.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.