ULTIMATE QUESTIONS by Alexander- Ed. Schmemann


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Though the religious spirit of Old Russia has relations with neo-orthodoxy, its ecclesiastical architecture is much too exotic for the European and Anglo-American models. For one thing, the insistence upon eschatological quests, mixed with messianic anarchism and verities of social reform, often seems an insurmountable muddle to Westerners. For another, even within the Church's own boundaries, its Slavic, Byzantine and Christian aspects have long produced contending factions, prophets and philosphers, each with a special approach, or dream-view, of the world or the world to come. Thus an anthology like this, containing essays by eight representative gurus, is a welcome enterprise, if only to light up the terrain. However, the work being largely a source book, with the historical backdrop only vaguely sketched by the editor, the reader is left pretty much on his own. Berdyaev is the one ""name"" and he has connections with two others, Solovyov and Fyodorov; they and the remaining five-Khomyakov, Florensky, Rozanov, Fedotov, Bulgakov- span the 19th to mid-20th centuries. In one form or another all reject historicism and reassert the dependence of human action and/or events on transcendental planes: freedom and Christ's redemption; universal kinship; sacred and profane love; hortatory minglings of the cosmological and existential; and always the missionary motif- the duty of Orthodox Russians to save the Western brethren. (Communism it seems really did have fertile ground, ironically speaking.) Anyway, a boon for the students.

Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston