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A LETTER FROM A "TYPICAL AMERICAN"

I am a 44 year old somewhat educated, fairly typical American. In college, I studied western history philosophy and literature. While I embraced the ideals of the West, I could never reconcile them with the departures from the spiritual life and the moral relativism that has resulted. Narochnitskaya's essay ("The Religious-Philosophical Dimensions of Culture") is the most interesting treatment of this issue I have read. The document has given me many areas of study which I shall pursue, many of the philosophical references are way beyond the scope of my study.

Only in the last 12 years, with the birth and subsequent death of my daughter have I begun to understand the spiritual nature of Life. With the options available to me, I concluded that my spiritual quest must be a personal one without the guidance of the western religions, which I have rejected. While I have always considered myself a Christian, I could not find in any Church - Protestant or Catholic - a comprehensible understanding of Christianity. I have read some Western Philosophies from the Greeks to the 18th and 19th Century Germans and English, and a few "Westernized Eastern" works, but nothing ever struck me as a comprehensive Truth until I read the essay mentioned above. The moral decline and Nihilistic nature of my culture, the subversion of the spirit, the corrupting nature of usury and materialism have become obvious to me over the past ten years, but until now, I have been alone in my search. What strikes me most about the work is the depth of the intellect displayed, and the complete honesty in every word.

Like most Americans, I have viewed most issues from the center being influenced by the seemingly opposing points of view of the right and left in our culture. Your web site has re-awakened in me a curiosity about eastern points of view. The simple reminder that "Marxism and Capitalism are cousins" has sent me on a great search of both a spiritual and intellectual nature. I read a great deal in college about Russian history leading up to the revolution and since. The only references to Orthodoxy was the influence of Rasputin (ironically, it was a movie about Rasputin that led me to search out Mysticism and Orthodoxy on the web, which led me to you. At any rate, your web site has helped me gain a perspective as to the cultural influences of the Orthodox Church on Russian History, which many treatments in history books from a "Western" point of view have failed to point out. I have gone back and read brief histories of the Byzantine Empire and the development of Orthodoxy which has helped me understand better the current perspective. Orthodoxy is completely missing from most western treatments of history, with Christianity equated with Rome and any other Church dismissed lightly and "cultist" or minor in comparison. The point is, I cannot overstate the impact your site has had on me personally. These efforts to understand Orthodoxy, the Byzantine Empire, and their contributions to civilization and spiritual development are tremendously important.

More specifically, I have read most of the English articles on your site. (I notice there are several new ones that look interesting.) What I am struck most by is the compatibility of the spiritual and intellectual approach. The point of view that the Church/State issues do not need to be separated. This idea is clear from the study of Byzantium. I do not understand it well enough to draw any distinct conclusions, but it makes the Church, and hence Christianity more a part of everyday life and not aloof to the World, which is the failing of the Protestant and Catholic Church in our country. Your unapologetic position that nobility is a virtue, and has a huge place when we measure civilization. This is not an elitist point of view, but one which, like other virtues, should be strived for. The article about London beautifully characterized experiences I have on a daily basis, and say a great deal about our culture.

My interest in your site is not only intellectual. In mid-life, I find myself in a spiritual crisis. My experiences over the last 15 years have taught me that true happiness is a strictly spiritual issue. I look around me and see that most people I encounter are looking elsewhere. Until now, I was convinced that it was going to be a personal quest. Now, I am not so certain.

Sincerely,

G. H.
South Carolina, USA

22 Jan 2001

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