“The author of one of the new books on after-death experiences made a point of asking the opinion of various ‘sects’ on the state of the soul after death. Thus, he called a priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and was given a very general opinion of the existence of heaven and hell, but was told that Orthodoxy does not have ‘any specific idea of what the hereafter would be like.’ The author could only conclude that ‘the Greek Orthodox view of the hereafter is not clear.’ On the contrary, of course, Orthodox Christianity has a quite precise doctrine and view of life after death, beginning from the very moment of death itself.”
(The Soul After Death, 3)
(Continued from part 5.)
If anyone asks for an example of Fr. Seraphim’s impact on Orthodox life, at least we can say that now, nearly 40 years after the publication of The Soul After Death, it is very difficult to imagine that an ordained Orthodox clergyman could give such a flippant answer to a question about the afterlife. The first obligation of any religion is to provide a clear and understandable explanation of what happens after we die — anything less would be unprofessional. Continue reading
“Every heresy has its own ‘spirituality,’ its own characteristic approach to the practical religious life.”
opening line of Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future (xix)
(Continued from part 4.)
It is likely that Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future, unlike Nihilism, was never intended as a grand philosophical statement. Continue reading
Platina, CA. Winter 1969-1970.
(Continued from part 3.)
In the 1960s, for some time after his conversion, Eugene worked on an ambitious project, a book of religious philosophy that was to be titled The Kingdom of Man and the Kingdom of God. This book was never finished — only one chapter was polished to the degree where it could be (posthumously) published as a stand-alone text (Nihilism: the Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age, 1994). However, many of the themes that Eugene raised here would eventually resurface in Fr. Seraphim’s later writing. Continue reading
The old Russian Orthodox cathedral in San Francisco.
It looks like a refurbished Protestant church because it is one;
in those years, the diocese could not afford a new building.
(Continued from part 2.)
Eugene stumbled into Orthodoxy by chance (or “chance”). He heard something about it, attended a service in a small church that served the Russian community in San Francisco at the time, and stayed. Within a year or two, Christian themes had crept into his correspondence and thinking. His growing Orthodox zeal played a major role in his decision not to pursue a doctoral degree (although his resentment at academia’s treatment of Gi-ming Shien also had a lot to do with it). Continue reading
(Continued from part 1.)
When contemplating what Fr. Seraphim became, it is useful to keep in mind that Eugene Rose spent much of his youth studying philosophy and classical culture. He graduated from Pomona College in 1956 (two years ahead of Kris Kristofferson) and majored in Oriental Languages, which in the 1950s would have entailed considerable study and academic rigor. In 2017, Pomona had an acceptance rate of around 10%. Continue reading
“A monk is one who, being clothed in a material and perishable body, seeks to resemble incorporeal life and being. A monk is one who follows only the words and commandments of God in any time, and place, and action. A monk is the constant coercion of nature, the unflagging control of all feeling. A monk is one whose body is purified, whose mouth is pure, whose mind is enlightened. A monk is one who, grieving and pained in his soul, always remembers and contemplates death, whether in sleep or in wakefulness. The renunciation of the world is the willful hatred of all substance that is glorified by the world, and the rejection of nature, in order to receive those blessings that are higher than nature.”
St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent
Mt. Sinai, 7th century
Fr. Seraphim (Rose) was a hieromonk of the Russian Orthodox Church (Outside Russia) during the 1970s. He had no Russian background (born Eugene Dennis Rose, into a Protestant family in San Diego) and no connection to Russian culture. However, by the end of his life, and in the years following his death in 1982, he became one of the most striking writers, ascetics and preachers in 20th-century Church history. The trajectory of his life was so unusual that (so an Orthodox Christian would say) it could only have happened by a direct act of God. Continue reading