IN STONES AND IMAGES The Expansion of Sacred Space Orthodox Christianity and Modern Art Special Feature: Sister Ioanna Reitlinger
ISSUE 5 | SPRING 2016
ISSUE 5 | SPRING 2016
LIVING STONES 5
A Meditation on Sacred Space Robert Arida
12 The Boundaries of Our Habitation Kyle Dugdale
EARS TO HEAR, 16 Sister Ioanna Reitlinger Nikita Struve EYES TO SEE LIVING STONES 24 The Vernacular in Church Architecture Alexis Vinogradov
31 The Rebirth of St. Nicholas Church Santiago Calatrava
EARS TO HEAR, 34 Showing Modern Art In Austria’s Historical Monastery Andrei Zolotov EYES TO SEE POETRY DESK 40 After an argument Christopher Sprecher
THE CHURCH ACROSS TIME 41 An Eastern Church Amid the Struggles of Rome and Constantinople: The Patriarchate of Antioch During the Crusades Sergei Brun
POETRY DESK 45 The Meeting Maria Batova
TALKING BACK 51 “In Christ There Is No East or West” Anastacia Wooden
© 2016 The Wheel. All rights reserved. ISSN 2379 - 8262 (print) ISSN 2379 - 8270 (online) May be reproduced and distributed for noncommercial use.
Editorial Board Inga Leonova Michael Berrigan Clark Timothy Scott Clark Joseph Clarke Gregory Tucker
Advisory Board Archpriest Robert M. Arida Sergei Chapnin Archimandrite Cyril Hovorun Pantelis Kalaitzidis Archpriest Andrew Louth Gayle E. Woloschak
Graphic Designer Anastasia Semash
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Cover: God as Geometer (detail). Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, 2554, fol 1 (frontispiece), Bible moralisée, Reims, c.1250.
Reconstruction of Hagia Sophia interior by Rowland J. Mainstone.
A Meditation on Sacred Space Robert Arida To speak about sacred space from an Orthodox Christian perspective requires us to first think about how we perceive and understand reality. For many, knowledge of reality is not linked to an actual experience of someone or something. This becomes most acute in the realm of cyberspace and virtual reality where an artificially created environment offers a semblance of experiencing the other. With all its positive contributions, technology relentlessly continues to veil the line between the world and an artificially created environment manipulated by a keyboard and viewed on a computer screen. A consequence of the divorce between the real and the virtually real is the inability to appreciate space—and more specifically sacred space—as the context in which the mystery of the other is encountered. To furThe Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
ther illustrate this divorce, I would like to borrow some ideas from the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. In his Discourse On Thinking, Heidegger sets out to distinguish between “calculative” and “meditative” modes of thinking. He demonstrates how Western persons, bound to the “calculative“ mode, create a worldview—an ethos—that resorts to an interpretation of reality that ultimately supersedes experience. Calculative thinking “consists in the fact that whenever we plan, research, and organize, we always reckon with conditions that are given. We take them into account with calculated intention of their serving specific purposes. Thus we can count on definite results. This calculation is the mark of all thinking that plans and investigates. . . . Calculative thinking never stops, never collects itself. 5
Calculative thinking is not meditative thinking, not thinking which contemplates the meaning which reigns in everything that is.”1
1 Martin Heidegger, Discourse On Thinking: A Translation of Gelassenheit, ed. John M. Anderson and E. Hans Freund (1959; New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1966), 46. 2
4 Quoted in David W. Fagerberg, “The Cost of Understanding Schmemann in the West,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 53:2–3 (2009): 197. 5 Marc-Antoine Costa de Beauregard, Le Cosmos et la Croix (Iași: Center for Romanian Studies, 2002), 149.
For Heidegger, it is only by recovering “meditative” thinking, thinking based on experience, that one is able to encounter the mystery of the other. He perceives calculative thinking as being limited, since it is based on processes or systems that ultimately dictate the result, inasmuch as the result is dependent on rules and formulas and not on encountering the other. Calculative thinking is a monologue in which the other is relegated to being an object. On the other hand, meditative thinking does not rely upon a particular thought process or an established system of laws based on reason. This is so because meditative thinking seeks an experience with the other not as an object but as a subject that cannot be contained or manipulated by a pre-established and regulated epistemology. Meditative thinking is rootedness in reality that opens up to the meaning of persons and things. Heidegger raises a question that is directly related to our reflection on sacred space: “Is there still a life-giving homeland in whose ground man may stand rooted, that is, be autochthonic?”2 His call to meditative thinking serves well the understanding of sacred space as the context in which both self-awareness and awareness of the other occur. With broad strokes, Heidegger summarizes meditative thinking as the “releasement toward things” that moves into the mystery of reality: “Releasement toward things and openness to the mystery belong together. They grant us the possibility of dwelling in the world in a totally different way. They promise us a new ground and foundation upon which we can stand and endure in the world
of technology without being imperiled by it.”3 Complementing this approach is the insight offered by Father Pavel Florensky—a brilliant mathematician, inventor, theologian, electrical engineer, and student of linguistics—who perished in the Gulag. In his magnum opus, The Pillar and Ground of Truth, he grapples with the reality of antinomy (the logic of contradictions), and concludes that “life is infinitely fuller than rational definitions and therefore no formula can encompass all the fullness of life.”4 Meditative thinking allows us to see and experience sacred space as a dynamic reality that ultimately provides the venue in which everyone and everything acquires or re-acquires its proper identity. This is accomplished through relationship with the other in the context of worship. Space and worship are inseparable components that re-root all reality in the divine and eternal. In the following essay, I shall explore four basic aspects of sacred space: space and person; sacred space and person; sacred space and personal identity; and the expansion of sacred space.
I. Space and Person Space provides for the differentiation of persons. It is the context in which I encounter the other and the other encounters me. From this encounter ensues a desire to draw closer to the other or to withdraw from the other. As one writer has put it, space is “the place where personal otherness manifests itself through the body; each body is different than the other; each body is able to move towards the other or to turn away from the other; each body is able to move towards the world [and] to utilize the space of the world.”5 From a theological perspective, God creates space and time. Though God
is super-spatial and super-temporal, he is not separated from what he creates. This means that God, dwelling in space and time, predestines all of created existence to expand into eternity. “In the beginning,” says Genesis 1:1, “God created the heavens and the earth.” These few words speak of the divine origin of space and its inherent sacredness, as well as two harmonious categories of created space—the heavenly and the earthly, the incorporeal and the corporeal. From a biblical and theological perspective this means that until the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise, all space was sacred. There was no duality of space and, by extension, no polarization between the sacred and the profane. The human person occupies corporeal space that can be delineated and therefore measured. At the same time, there is incorporeal space where the bodiless powers dwell. Though created, incorporeal space broadens the concept of space. The co-existence of incorporeal and immaterial creation with the corporeal and material reveals space as having flexible contours. Space is not limited to what is perceived by the senses. In addition to exterior space—heavenly and earthly—Orthodox theology also recognizes the interior space of persons, where the inter-communion or co-inhabiting of persons resides. In Orthodox theology this intimacy of persons based on the intimacy of the divine persons of the Trinity is summed up by the word περιχώρησις (perichoresis). This word attempts to describe each person, whether uncreated or created, as being the very space of the other. In the Gospel of John, Christ prays to his Father that the disciples “may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one”. . . . (17:21–23). While perichoresis describes the interpenetration of persons, it also describes the reciprocity of divine and human properties. The divine Logos, for example, shows that, in becoming incarnate, his humanity takes on divine qualities such as walking on water and passing through closed doors. At the same time, his divinity submits to hunger and thirst, suffering and death. The reciprocity of divine and human characteristics is a common theme in both Greek and Latin Fathers, summed up in Athanasius’s famous aphorism, “God became man so that man might become God.” Space as a created reality not only draws together the incorporeal and the corporeal, but is also the context in which the uncreated and the created encounter each other. Just as God extends himself by creating, his creation also extends itself to the divine and uncreated. This kinetic or dynamic character of space reflects the elastic contours of liturgical worship.
II. Sacred Space and Person Within the divine–human interaction of liturgical worship, the dynamism of sacred space shows itself as having two complementary or interrelated qualities. On the one hand, sacred space reveals the uniqueness of persons in relationship to one another and to God. Given this quality, sacred space or liturgical space is to be understood as the archetype of all space. Within sacred space the human person, together with all of creation, is drawn into the uncreated space of God, while God is drawn into the created space of humanity and all creation. 7
Sacred space is archetypal, for it reveals space as it was intended to be, that is, the context of inter-personal communion of persons and things. The collapse or secularization of space resulting from humanity’s rebellion against God distorts space. Intended for the communion of persons, space undergoes a destructive antithesis. It becomes the context in which human beings hide or escape from the other, or even fight and kill one another. This collapse of space is succinctly summed up in two passages from Genesis: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (3:8), and, “The Lord said [to Cain], ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; Photo by Inga Leonova.
you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth’” (4:10–12). Sacred space as liturgical space includes time. Like space and the person, time is not bound to the created or temporal. It too is created to participate in both divinity and eternity. Within the liturgical context—especially the Eucharist—space, person, and time intersect with the infinite, divine, and eternal. In the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, space, person, and time are joined to the realm of eschatology. Just before the elevation of bread and wine, the celebrant says, “Remembering this saving commandment and all those things which have come to pass for us: the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the sitting at the right hand and the second and glorious coming.” From the historical present, sacred space reveals the dynamism of time.
Sacred space binds the present with the past and the future. The interaction of space, person, and time “remembers” the worshipping community to the saving works of God. In its liturgical usage, remembrance (ἀνάμνησις) conveys a person’s oneness or communion with another person as well as an event. Within the context of sacred space, one is joined to a multi-temporal context (past, present, and future) and ultimately to an eternal context. The dynamism of time is also expressed in the movement and unfolding of liturgical worship. This inter-relationship of time, movement, and space is a central feature of St. Maximus the Confessor’s Mystagogia. For St. Maximus, the church building is an image of the cosmos and the Synaxis (the celebration of the Eucharist) is a prelude to the fulfillment of God’s plan for creation. The unfolding of the Liturgy within sacred space consists of “movement” that unites divinity and humanity, time and eternity. This unity in diversity and diversity in unity is expressed by church architecture. Aristotelian concepts related to act (ἐνέργεια) and potency (δύναμις) are used by Maximus to describe the relationship of sanctuary and nave. For Maximus, the sanctuary is act and the nave is potency. Both are united in the one hypostasis of the church structure. Following this train of thought, the distinctions of space are not cause for division, since within the celebration of the Eucharist they are simultaneously different while also being the same. The sacramental act creates a unity in diversity. As St. Maximus says, “The nave is the sanctuary according to potency (τὴν δύναμιν) by the offering of the sacrament (τῆς μυσταγωγίας) . . . and the sanctuary is the nave on the basis of its own sacramental act (τὴν ἐνέργειαν) that remains one and the same in both parts.”6 The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
III. Sacred Space and Personal Identity Because sacred space provides the contours for liturgical worship, it allows the human person to exercise the inherent gift of freedom to draw either near to or apart from the other. When human freedom is used to divide one from another, the result is hell. Encounter with the other without a communion of persons is a living death that is opened to eternal torment.7 Here we confront one of the paradoxes of sacred space. Ideally, its purpose is to allow for the inter-communion or inter-penetration of persons. Yet because sacred space does not impede human freedom, it allows for pockets of dark interior space to exist within itself. Consequently, until Christ’s second coming is completed, sacred space remains the arena of personal spiritual struggle or ascesis, as well as the place in which God’s victory over evil and hell is affirmed and experienced.
6 Maximus the Confessor, Mystagogia in Patrologia Graeca 91, col. 669. Translated in Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings, ed. George C. Berthold (Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1985), 188. 7 De Beauregard, Le Cosmos, 151.
Theodicy—God’s triumph over sin, death, evil, and hell—is a characteristic of liturgical worship that unfolds in sacred space. Within the church building, the worshipping community is “re-membered” to the saving acts of God. In the Eucharistic prayer of St. Basil’s Liturgy, the celebrant proclaims: “For as by man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, so it seemed good that your only-begotten Son, who is in your bosom, our God and Father, be born of a woman, the holy Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary; to be born under the law, that he might condemn sin in his flesh; that they who were dead in Adam might be made alive in your Christ… And having descended into hell through the cross, that he might fill all things with himself, he loosed the pains of death, and rose from the dead on the third day, making a way for all flesh 9
through the resurrection from the dead…” Through liturgical worship, sacred space becomes a word (λόγος) that announces the victory of light and life over darkness and death. The overcoming of evil and death allows for the transformation of the interior space of the person. In the language of scripture and ascetical literature, this inner change is referred to as repentance (μετάνοια). Essential to the process of repentance is a dying to the self that gradually allows a person to become a dwelling space or place for the other. When interior space is filled with the other, then the exterior space of liturgical worship becomes the abode of transfigured and deified reality. The contours of sacred space, both vertical and horizontal, while manifesting the visible and invisible, form a microcosm in which everyone and everything has the potential to acquire its authentic identity inasmuch as it is in communion with the triune and tri-personal God. All of the created components of sacred space and worship, because of their perichoretic and inter-penetrating relationship with God, are freed from a mode of existence destined for death. Created existence enters a multi-dimensional mode of existence that transcends all the parameters of created reality without compromising the uniqueness and integrity of persons and things. Iconography covering many of the vertical and over-arching physical surfaces of sacred space is a testament to this transcendent reality. Images of particular saints and events of salvation history offer to the worshipping community a glimpse of the transfigured cosmos made possible through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. Through its lines and colors, the icon reveals the union of 10
history and eschatology. The historical persons depicted in the icon are presented as already participating in the second coming. History and eschatology—time and eternity—embrace each other. Heaven and earth, uncreated and created, immaterial and material, spiritual and physical, male and female are united within the communal harmony of the Trinity. The dynamism of sacred space, particularly within the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, foreshadows in history the final overcoming of all polarities and divisions in the eschaton. The living icons gathered in sacred space must be consistent with what is revealed in lines and color. For unless the co-celebrants of the Divine Liturgy seek union and communion with one another and with God, sacred space and what occurs within it are desecrated.
IV. The Expansion Of Sacred Space The contours of sacred space are intended to expand so as to eliminate the false dichotomy between what is holy and what is profane. The sacred microcosm points to the sacred macrocosm. Animated by worship, sacred space reveals the universal and eternal dynamism of creation that paradoxically rests in God. According to St. Maximus, ever-moving stability (στάσις ἀεικίνητος) expresses the never-ceasing development of creation within divine life. Development is a characteristic of creation nurtured by the divine-human synergy. God creates so that the whole creation may grow eternally within him. The human person, created in the image and likeness of God, leading the rest of creation, is destined to transcend the limitations of created nature. St. Irenaeus of Lyon points out that the first created human was in a state of spiritual infancy. This immaturity accounts for the sin of disobedience. Nevertheless, even if there had been no sin, the
human person would have continued to develop and expand beyond created limitations for all eternity within the synergistic relationship forged between himself and God. Sacred space bound to liturgical worship shows that, as the human being is called to progress eternally within the stability of God, so too is the whole of creation. The expansion of sacred space corresponds to the eternal expansion of the spiritual and psychological aspects of the human person. In commenting on the commandment of Genesis 1:28, “increase and multiply,” Fr. Marc-Antoine Costa de Beauregard writes: “The word ‘increase’ here prophetically proposed to the human being by God designates not only a numerical increase or expansion of the human species. It indicates above all the development of the human being as such—man is called to become more human—to reach human plenitude (cf. Eph. 4:13 ‘until we all attain to the unity of the faith and the
knowledge of the son of God, to mature manhood, to the standard of the stature of the fullness of Christ’).”8 The expansion of sacred space corresponds to the expansion of the new humanity that eternally offers the new and ever changing creation back to God. “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). Within sacred space, all of creation is transformed into sacrament; all of creation is consecrated into the means for intimate, personal, and eternal expansion with God.
8 De Beauregard, Le Cosmos, 155.
Additional Reading Maximus the Confessor, The Church’s Mystagogy in Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings, ed. George C. Berthold (Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1985). David Bradshaw, Aristotle East and West (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). L. Michael Harrington, Sacred Place in Early Medieval Neoplatonism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004).
Photo by Inga Leonova.
Sotiris Metralexis, “A Note on the Definition Of Χρόνος and Αἰὡν in Saint Maximus the Confessor through Aristotle” in Knowing the Purpose of Creation through the Resurrection: Proceedings Of The Symposium On St. Maximus The Confessor (Alhambra, Calif.: Sabastian Press, 2013). Panayiotis Nellas, Deification in Christ: the Nature of the Human Person (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1987).
© 2016 The Wheel. May be distributed for noncommercial use. www.wheeljournal.com
The V. Rev. Robert M. Arida is Rector and Dean of Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of St. Vladimir’s Seminary. Some of his published and unpublished articles and essays can be found on the HTOC website at holytrinityorthodox.org.
The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
Photo by Inga Leonova.
The Boundaries of Our Habitation Kyle Dugdale How might we best articulate architecture’s legitimate ends? And what are its boundaries? Is this whole world not, after all, fundamentally a world of our own design? Do we not inhabit environments— built and imagined—that are increasingly shaped and controlled, for better or for worse, by our own actions? Are we not reputed to have entered the Anthropocene, an epoch in which human activity is understood to be exerting a massive impact on the very systems of our earth? Do architects, and designers more generally, not bear a certain responsibility—perhaps even a significant responsibility—for the present and future conditions of this planet? There is clearly a great deal at stake here for the discipline of architecture. So it is unsurprising that such questions should currently be occupying the attention of those who are most 12
invested in shaping our architectural future. During the fall of last year, the Yale School of Architecture convened a symposium that explored, on a grand scale, the boundaries of architecture’s valid domain. Entitled “Constructed World,” it drew on the work of leading voices from the disciplines of architecture, planning, geography, economics, anthropology, and philosophy. Its evolving conversations explored architecture as nothing less than a means of comprehending the world, and drew attention to the fact that conceptual and physical constructs are closely intertwined: the way we imagine our world has an impact on the way we build, and vice versa. The symposium’s keynote address was delivered by the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk. He is a figure whose work has become increasingly familiar to students of architecture, precisely because of his focus on the spatial and
architectonic dimensions of our conceptual spheres of existence, examined on the premise that “humans are themselves an effect of the space they create.”1 Toward the end of his talk, underscoring the constructed nature of this world in which we are immersed, Sloterdijk quoted a passage from Paul Valéry’s fictional Socratic dialogue of 1921, Eupalinos ou l’architecte, in which Valéry places in the mouth of Socrates the exclamation “Nous sommes, nous nous mouvons, nous vivons alors dans l’œuvre de l’homme!”—“We are, we move, we live in the work of man!”2 Or better, perhaps: We have our being, and move, and live in the work of man! What, in this context, is “the work of man”? Valéry’s Socrates asserts that it is architecture, more than any other art, that shapes the environment in which we find ourselves immersed. It is architecture that defines the boundaries of our earthly existence. It is architecture within which we have our being, and move, and live. Sloterdijk went on to suggest (not for the first time) that Valéry’s phrase is in effect a re-appropriation of a familiar assertion from the seventeenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, where what is at stake is precisely that within which “we live and move and have our being.”3 The suggestion is doubtless accurate; certainly the biblical text was familiar to Valéry.4 But at the Yale School of Architecture, Sloterdijk quoted Valéry, because the twentieth-century poet’s response to that question appears, in effect, to be architecture. This remains, no doubt, the typical contemporary response, and also the premise of the “Constructed World” symposium. But within the context of the Apostle Paul’s address in Socrates’s Athens, as narrated by the author of the Book of Acts, the response is different. That The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
within which we live and move and have our being is there declared to be not the constructed world created by the architect, but rather the creator God himself, who “made the world and everything in it” (Acts 17:24). When approaching this text as text, it is perhaps easy to overlook the architectural context. But if we are to be attentive to environment, that context is surely significant. Paul speaks while “standing in the middle of the Areopagus” (Acts 17:22). Standing below the temple of Athena Parthenos—today perhaps architecture’s most canonical monument—the apostle Paul delivers a powerful assertion of Christian doctrine, rendering explicit the premises that underlie this constructed world, and drawing attention to architecture’s incommensurability with the divine, its inability to contain the creator God: The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for. . . . (Acts 17:24–28) Paul declares that “the God who made the world and everything in it” cannot be contained within the boundaries of men’s architectures; on the contrary, it is he who has created men and “the boundaries of their habitation.” This is God the architect, deus architectus mundi, an architect with clear design intent, who created men that they should
1 Peter Sloterdijk, “Spheres Theory: Talking to Myself about the Poetics of Space,” Harvard Design Magazine 30 (Spring/Summer 2009): 127. 2
Paul Valéry, “Eupalinos ou l’architecte,” in Architectures, ed. Louis Süe and André Mare (Paris: Éditions de la Nouvelle Revue Française, 1921), 28; my translation. See also Valéry, “Eupalinos ou l’architecte: Dialogue des morts,” La Nouvelle Revue Française (March 1, 1921): 257–85.
3 See Peter Sloterdijk, “Architecture as an Art of Immersion,” trans. Anna-Christina Engels-Schwarzpaul, Interstices: Journal of Architecture and Related Arts 12 (2011): 106–7; Sloterdijk, “Paul Valéry,” in Mein Frankreich (Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2013), 87. Valéry’s text is closest, perhaps, to the trajectory launched by Jacques Lefèvre’s 16th century translation, which reads: “En luy nous vivons et mouvons et sommes.” 4 This is clear from the paraphrase of the Latin Vulgate in a passage from Paul Valéry, “Mauvaises pensées et autres,” in Œuvres, ed. Jean Hytier, vol. 2 (Gallimard, 1960), 809: “Dieu (in quo sumus, vivimus et movemur).”
seek God. And this excerpt ends, in the English, with that single word for— which in turn introduces the quotation to which Valéry’s text alludes.
5 Paul Valéry, Eupalinos, or The Architect, trans. William McCausland Stewart (London: Oxford University Press, 1932), 37–38. 6
James Rendel Harris, “The Cretans Always Liars,” The Expositor 7, no. 2 (1906): 305–17. 9 For an exceptionally careful treatment of this text, reviving the interest in Epimenides, see Clare K. Rothschild, Paul in Athens (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014).
The curious thing, for readers familiar with Valéry’s text, is that the poet there goes on to place in Socrates’s mouth speculations that are not so distant from Paul’s own assertions. We are told by Valéry that architecture, like music, is indeed an art devoted to constructing an immersive environment: it “fills our knowledge and our space with artificial truths, and with objects essentially human.”5 Yet its methods seem to point toward things that extend beyond the boundaries of this constructed world; as a tectonic art, it seems “dedicated to reminding us directly” of a more fundamental conceptual order and stability.6 Valéry’s Socrates goes on, in fact, to speak of the search for God the creator, “the great Shaper,” “the Constructor.”7 He ties a dialogue about architecture to the search for the divine architect—a shift not dissimilar to that accomplished by Paul in the seventeenth chapter of Acts. The relationship between Valéry’s text and its presumed biblical source is perhaps more extensive than Sloterdijk’s attribution might at first suggest. But the web of appropriations is more intricate still. What remained unsaid, in Sloterdijk’s keynote address as in his previous discussions, is that Paul’s words, according to the account in Acts, were addressed specifically to the philosophers of Athens—to the heirs to Valéry’s main protagonist. And it has been suggested in the last century that Paul’s statement to those philosophers was in turn appropriating a line attributed to a poet presumed familiar both to first-century Athenians and hypothetically, before that, to Socrates himself: a line credited to the semi-mythical seventh- or sixth-century BC Epimenides of Knossos—poet,
prophet, and by some accounts philosopher—whose words, known only via a twelfth-century Syriac compilation that incorporates passages from a lost fifth-century commentary on Acts 17 by Theodore, bishop of Mopsuestia, are uttered in the context of a hymn to Zeus ostensibly composed by the god’s son, Minos of Knossos. Epimenides’s authorship was reconstructed in the early twentieth century by the English scholar James Rendel Harris, and published in a series of texts that assessed the impact of the Cretans’ claim as to the death of the great god Zeus, whose tomb, according to the Cretans, could be found on their island.8 The attribution to Epimenides is sometimes mentioned in footnotes to more recent translations of the book of Acts; yet the apparent witness of the biblical text itself—“as certain also of your own poets have said” (ὡς καί τινες τῶν καθ’ ὑμᾶς ποιητῶν εἰρήκασιν)—is typically separated from Epimenides’s preceding line by a semicolon, which fixes the force of Paul’s own (plural) attribution on the (singular) quotation from Aratus’s Phainomena, long recognized, that immediately follows it. The Revised Standard Version, for instance, renders the verse as follows: “For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’” If punctuation is typically among the more arbitrary elements of textual transmission, this semicolon is perhaps due for reappraisal. It should be noted that the debt to Epimenides is not universally recognized. Recent scholarship has often preferred to relate Acts 17:28a to Platonic ideas—a relationship that would impute a different but equally rich resonance to Valéry’s appropriation.9 But the attribution to Epimenides, if accepted, is architecturally significant. For one, Paul is found to be appropriat-
ing a statement that is tied to the story told by the Cretans—always liars— about the death of the great god. The quotation is therefore already to be understood within the context of an apologia—specifically, within the context of a longer debate over the mortality, and thus the boundedness, of the divine. Furthermore, according to tradition, Epimenides had once prescribed the building on the Areopagus of altars to gods unknown, edifices that have in turn been compared with that altar to which Paul here refers. If, as a type, the altar is to be understood as a proto-architectural construction, then this text should also be interpreted in the context of an architecture that is tied to the search for an unknown divinity, an architecture with a capacity to point toward things that extend beyond the boundaries of this constructed world. Paul’s sermon is evidently a text of extraordinary allusive richness. And its insinuation into contemporary discourse is no less complex. At the Yale School of Architecture, extending a staggering trajectory of oral and textual references, Sloterdijk the German essayist cites the presumed appropriation by Valéry the French poet in the name of Socrates the Athenian philosopher of the Apostle Paul’s quotation in Athens, narrated by the author of the book of Acts, of a line ostensibly spoken by Minos son of Zeus but attributed to the poet Epimenides of Crete by the work of an English scholar studying a commentary by a fifth-century bishop fragmentarily preserved in
an anonymous twelfth-century Syriac compilation. This alone is an astonishing construction, or reconstruction. But Paul’s assertions are challenging to contemporary architectural discourse in ways that as yet remain unexamined. Ours is, after all, a society increasingly skeptical about the Christian claim to have identified the unknown God. It is instead a pluralist culture, inclined to understand Christianity and even religion tout court as a human construction, replacing the figure of God the architect, deus architectus mundi, with the figure of a God who is a product, like architecture itself, of “the art and imagination of man” (Acts 17:29). It is a culture that is committed as never before to pouring its energies into the construction of environments of its own design; and if those environments are no longer always built, they are no less immersive for being immaterial. Here, too, we hear the word architecture invoked: in the architecture of those virtual worlds in which, increasingly, we are expected to live and move and have our being. Indeed, if the way we imagine our world has an impact on the way we build and vice versa, then the trajectory of Valéry’s text suggests that the relationship between architecture and theology deserves further attention. To assert that this relationship is not currently being thoroughly examined by the discipline’s leading voices would be an understatement. Yet it has a direct bearing on the articulation of architecture’s legitimate boundaries and ends.
© 2016 The Wheel. May be distributed for noncommercial use. www.wheeljournal.com
Kyle Dugdale is an architect and theorist, with particular interest in architecture’s claims to metaphysical significance. He is a graduate of Corpus Christi College, Oxford; of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design; and of the Yale School of Architecture, where he teaches history, theory, and design. In 2015 he received Yale University’s Theron Rockwell Field Prize for his doctoral dissertation, “Architecture After the Death of God: Uriel Birnbaum’s Der Kaiser und der Architekt.”
The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
The Last Supper, iconostasis of the Church of the Kazan Skete, Moisenay (France).
EARS TO HEAR, EYES TO SEE
Sister Ioanna Reitlinger (1898, St. Petersburg–1988, Tashkent)
Nikita Struve Translated by Michael Berrigan Clark Stalin, finishing her days in remote exile in Uzbekistan.
Note: This article uses, with permission, materials from the monograph Художественное наследие сестры Иоанны (Moscow and Paris: Russkiy Put/ YMCA Press, 2006).
Sister Ioanna (Julia Reitlinger until she took the veil in 1935)—one of the most remarkable icon painters of the 20th century—remains little known in the West, where she immigrated at the age of 23, as well as in her homeland, where she returned after the death of 16
Her vocation as a painter had been clear from an early age, but events did not allow her to complete her studies at the art school in her native city. Having withdrawn during the Russian Civil War to Crimea, where her mother and two sisters would die from typhus, she met Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, an encounter that would prove decisive in her orientation toward sacred art. The priest who was to become one of the greatest Orthodox spiritual masters of the modern era would be a crucial influence in her life: “He almost evokes fear, a look of fire, penetrating, a face of such extreme intensity. A prophet!” she wrote after their first meeting. She met with him again in Prague, where she painted her first icons, and
the noted art critic Vladimir Weidlé. “Iconographically and in their composition,” he wrote,
Portrait of Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, Paris, 1940s. “… Bulgakov—[seeing him] for the first time. He is almost frightening: burning, piercing eyes, stern face make a big impression on me. A prophet! … In a few days— cannot live like this anymore!—set out for Oleiz [a 28-kilometer walk], to Fr. Sergius.” —Sr. Ioanna Reitlinger, “Aвтобиография,” Вестник РХД 159 (1990): 91.
“these frescoes are connected to the only possible tradition, to the tradition of Byzantium and of old Russia, a tradition long since interrupted. But the frescoes are connected to that tradition very freely, looking to continue it, not to copy it. In the color scheme, in the representational techniques, in the craftsmanship, they do not deviate from the pictorial vision proper to contemporary art. Vast spaces of color, a condensed design, the transmission of light through color—all of these traits might appear incomprehensible and odd for many, but without these characteristics, painting would not be a living art, but a dead, mechanical styling, in other words, equally remote from both religion and art.”
then again in Paris in 1925. There they established a fruitful spiritual and theological collaboration that lasted nearly 20 years. Although she had learned the rudiments of iconographic technique in Prague from a disciple of the Old Believers, her dream was to give new life to iconographic representation, in the style of the great Russian masters of the 15th and 16th centuries, revitalizing it in dialogue with contemporary theology and modern painting (she frequently visited Maurice Denis’s studio of biblical art). In the early 1930s, Reitlinger was invited to decorate the interior of a rather large, sprawling building in the Parisian suburb of Meudon that had been made into a church. This would be her first great pictorial complex. Although little noticed by and large, it received a highly appreciative assessment from The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
St. John the Baptist, Holy Protection Monastery, Bussy-en-Othe, 1946. One of the first icons by Sr. Ioanna’s hand was the image of St. John the Baptist that she painted in 1924 using Fr. Sergius Bulgakov as a model. It is obvious that Fr. Sergius remained her model for the Forerunner in her later work.
SS. Zacharias and Elizabeth and SS. Joachim and Anna, iconostasis of the Church of the Kazan Skete, Moisenay. These small icons in the extraordinary church designed by Archimandrite Euthymius Wendt (See Valery Baidin, “Orthodox Architecture and the Avant-Garde,” The Wheel 3, Fall 2015) reflect Sr. Ioanna’s interest in Byzantine mosaic iconography as well as her intuition in developing the iconographic tradition through the techniques of modern times.
Apocalypse, Altar of the Chapel of St. Basil the Great of the Brotherhood of SS. Alban and Sergius, London, 1945–47. “The subject of the iconography [of the chapel] is the Church. Her history taking place in two dimensions, two tiers. The bottom one is her visible history synthetically depicted in the councils of the historic churches. The top row illustrates the vision of John, the Apocalypse, which relays in a language we do not understand the metaphysical history of the Church. Every new story is illustrated by the corresponding chapter of the Apocalypse. They are intentionally shown out of order so as not to allow one’s attention to imagine the sequence of events since they exist in eternity rather than along a temporal line. The visions themselves illustrate it. The top frieze begins with the depiction of the creation of the world, since it is the beginning of the historic Church—‘and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.’ In the bottom tier it is juxtaposed with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. It is unnecessary to look for further correspondence between the adjacent depictions of the top and bottom tiers. There isn’t and shouldn’t be a correspondence, since the iconography does not attempt to interpret the Apocalypse but to illustrate it, to translate it into the language of lines and colors.” —Sr. Ioanna Reitlinger, unpublished typewritten commentary to the iconography of the chapel, 29 April 1949.
Apocalypse, Church of St. John the Theologian, Meudon, early 1930s.
The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
Previous page: Story of Adam and Eve, Church of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, Paris, 1937. The composition, colors and even the general style of this work are reminiscent of Paul Gauguin and reflect Sr. Ioanna’s fascination with contemporary European art and her attempts at artistic fusion. It depicts one of her favorite subjects—the creation—and reflects her lifelong love for animals. Sr. Ioanna began drawing animals during her walks in the French countryside in the 1920s. In her icons, animals are painted with freedom, charm, and even abandon, and seem to compensate for the discipline of the canonical depiction of human subjects.
This danger J. Reitlinger has completely avoided. She has managed to find that rare point of intersection where the procedures of modern painting find themselves compatible with the tradition of Orthodox style. Those who have seen the ancient icons restored will not be surprised by the jubilant colors of Sister Ioanna’s frescoes!
Reitlinger working in the church of St. John the Theologian, Meudon, early 1930s.
They testify to the new possibilities of sacred Russian art that one could not even imagine only recently. This complex of frescoes nearly perished completely when the abandoned church was inhabited by a group of homeless squatters who set it on fire, burning the iconostasis. Shortly before the final demolition of the building, we were able to save an important part of the paintings that, after restoration, will be exhibited in the permanent collection of the library of the Alexander Solzhenitsyn Center for the Study of the Russian Diaspora in Moscow. Weidlé, it seems, did not have the opportunity to see the monumental paintings completed fifteen years later by Sister Ioanna in England. These later works reveal an even greater mastery, boldness, and liberty, and are truly inspired by a prophetic vision. But in 1946, with the publication of a catechism for children illustrated by Sister Ioanna, Weidlé confirmed his judgment. “Sister Ioanna is a great artist, after twenty years of her work in the realm of icon painting and frescoes, no one can doubt it. . . If in the illustrations for children there cannot be the same level of intensity and concentration as in the icons, these qualities are nevertheless consistently present in the detail of the drawing, the choice of colors, and the interpretation of religious themes.” Nevertheless, the art of Sister Ioanna that found its expression in monumental painting as well as in icons of smaller dimension remained largely misunderstood: too
sacred for lovers of secular art, too free for adherents of a strict tradition. After her departure for Prague, where she rejoined her sister in hopes of returning to Russia (they would not be allowed to return until the détente of the 1960s), Sister Ioanna experienced a long spiritual crisis that led her to abandon the art of the icon for more than ten years. Her encounter with Father Alexander Men and his young community, during her summer visits to Moscow at the end of the 1960s, allowed her to find a second breath of inspiration. Her work during the last twenty years of her life (between the ages of 70 and 90!) was no less luminous and lively than that accomplished in the emigration, even if it was limited—due to
St. Mary of Egypt, Holy Protection Monastery, Bussy-en-Othe, 1946. Icons from Sr. Ioanna’s later period in France, before her return to Prague and then Moscow, reveal her deepening interest in the early Russian iconographic tradition, as well as her mastering of the “craft” of the icon which, paradoxically, became a source of frustration and contributed to a crisis and a long period of artistic silence.
religious persecution—to requests for personal icons. This later work has the merit, moreover, of a stunning victory over old age and its accompanying infirmities.
Fr. Sergius Bulgakov and J. Reitlinger, Menthon-Saint-Bernard, end of 1920s—beginning of 1930s.
Discreet, modest, detached from the necessities of life (as an emigrant and later in the U.S.S.R., she lived in total poverty), and extremely critical of her own work, Sister Ioanna was indisputably a great witness to Christian faith in the 20th century—both in her life and in “the theology in color” (to borrow an expression of Eugene Trubetskoi) that she worked to revive.
© 2016 The Wheel. May be distributed for noncommercial use. www.wheeljournal.com
Writer and editor Nikita Struve is one of the most prominent personalities of the Russian diaspora in France. For forty years he has led the Russian-language publishing house YMCA-Press and edited the bilingual journal Le Messager orthodoxe. He is a co-founder of the Library of the Alexander Solzhenitsyn Center for Studies of the Russian Diaspora and chief editor of the publishing house Russkiy Put. Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris X-Nanterre, Struve is the author of a biography of Osip Mandelstam.
The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
Le Corbusier’s pilgrimage chapel at Ronchamp, France. Photo: Groucho / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / https://www.flickr. com/photos/groucho/13556662883
The Vernacular in Church Architecture Alexis Vinogradov 1 Gregory Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy (Westminster: Dacre Press, 1945), 12–15. Kiprian Kern, Евхаристия (Paris: YMCA-Press, 1947). 2
Marcel Jousse, L’Anthropologie du geste (Paris: Gallimard, 2008).
The liturgy of the Early Christian era was about doing rather than saying. This distinction is borrowed from Dom Gregory Dix by Fr. Kyprian Kern, who was responsible for the first major Orthodox investigation of the sources and practices of the Christian ecclesia.1 The Jesuit scholar Marcel Jousse reinforces this assertion in writing of the early Christian practice and understanding of “eating and drinking” the word, rooted in a mimesis of gestures passed on through generations.2 “Do this in remembrance of me,” says Christ at the last gathering with his disciples (Lk. 22:19). The present essay is about the vernacular in church architecture. It is not an examination of those earlier Church practices, but no exploration of religious art and architecture can be meaningful without consideration of
the heart of worship that is ultimately to be expressed and enhanced by both art and architecture. Of course this consideration must include literature, music, and ritual movement and gesture. Our earliest archaeological discoveries substantiate the nature of the “doing” performed by the Church. The celebrants did not initially constitute a distinct caste, for all who were gathered were involved in the rites. One can therefore understand the emergence throughout Christian history of anti-clerical movements, which have pushed back against the progressive exclusion of the faithful from areas deemed “sacred” in relation to the “profane” precincts of the laity. Already at the close of the first century, Clement of Rome speaks about the liturgy of the bishop, the liturgy of the priest, the liturgy of the deacon, and the
liturgy of the laity. In this designation is presupposed the appropriate training (as much as three years for the laity!) for all the ranks of faithful. Liturgy, for Clement, refers to actions performed in a kind of ritual choreography of a harmonious whole. For the most part, we have today a bifurcated liturgy, in which a trained and active clergy perform the celebration according to arcane rules that exclude an essentially passive “audience,” no longer engaged in the sacral choreography. Whether tethered in immobile pews or rows of chairs or somewhat liberated in a clear floor space, the faithful nonetheless remain in basically fixed locations as passive observers of the cult. This is not to say that silent standing in church is not a form of participation—in a non-stop age, such opportunity for pious standing may be the one antidote to be treasured, and not countered with concocted liturgical “ministries” designed for dubious aims of inclusiveness! It would not do justice to the depth of liturgical theology and history to make any summary assertion about how liturgy was once and now ought to be done, and on its heels to institute a quick liturgical reform. Liturgy is not a game for scholars and experts. Its evolution reflects a slow appropriation of precisely those gestures and forms examined by Dix, Kern, and Jousse. A certain ritual conformity is not a slavishness to form, but what they call a unitive “language” that speaks across the province of precise verbal semantics. By the same token, neither the iconographer nor the architect is free to pull arbitrary elements out of a file of “Orthodox styles” and apply them at whim for the sensual satisfaction of the community. The Roman Catholic scholar Aiden Kavanagh, arguThe Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
ing against the excessive carpeting of churches, writes: “One comes to the liturgy to transact the public business of death and life rather than to be tucked in with fables and featherpuffs.” In describing the late medieval introduction of pews into worship, he likens it to the placement of bleachers directly on the basketball court, writing that “it changes the event into something entirely different.”3
While today we are rarely, if ever, able to experience what the early liturgical practices felt like, we can still examine what we know about them and create a language of architectural space that provides, at the very least, an opportunity to restore the spirit of those practices. There is absolutely no need to ape what we discover in archaeological research, because the Church’s tradition is a living reality, informed continually by the Holy Spirit. Early history already perfectly demonstrates this dynamism and resistance to the dogmatization of forms and materials.
3 Aiden Kavanagh, Elements of Rite: A Handbook of Liturgical Style (1966; New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1982), 21–22. In the same volume, Fr. Kavanagh explores the great decline in ritual beauty: see especially the chapter “Some Common Mistakes,” 72–80.
The purpose of both church architecture and iconography, as they combine with music and aromas and light, consists not in bringing us to an exalted perception of external delights, but rather in a transformation within the hearts of the assembled faithful. The question for architecture is how it can serve its own iconic purpose. In the icon we must pass through the paints and lines to the prototype, just as the pieces of a parable must move us beyond the immediate story towards its central revelation. Architecture cannot satisfy participants by dazzling with formal and technical gymnastics. The forms themselves must move us toward their hidden content, bringing us to Paul’s affirmation of “Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). 25
is the potential word and manifestation of its creator. The Savior arrives in a humble setting. Nothing remains “common,” and that means that distinctions between vernacular and sacred are artificial in light of the incarnation.
Church of St. Gregory the Theologian, Wappingers Falls, New York. Deisis mural behind open iconostasis.
Gothic cathedrals such as the one in Cologne tower 50 stories into the sky trying to reach that kingdom which the Savior says is actually within each of us. In my small parish church, the 16 by 17-foot Deisis mural icon in the sanctuary depicts some 26 figures from sacred tradition surrounding the glorified Savior enthroned. He is there among them, and yet their individual gazes are not focused adoringly on him in expression of a sentimental delight, but are rather oriented inward. They are calm, at peace, knowing that he is in them and they in him. Iconographers and architects may debate styles and schools, but the living tradition offers a challenge at every moment to transfigure the historical “flesh” that is presented to the Church. The Christian Church is material because its savior is the Word and Son of God become incarnate. All matter
The Church’s decline in history began when, from her goal of the salvation of the world so loved by God, she shifted her attention onto herself. One can be a specialist in ecclesiology with little or no interest in one’s surrounding culture. From a living historical and eschatological body reaching outward in mission, Christians made a “choice” (which is the meaning of “heresy”) to idolize particular historical expressions of their religious life in self-satisfied tribal enclosures. Hence, we can speak of a kind of Byzantine or Russian or Greek captivity regarding liturgy, dress, art, music, architecture, and even an ethos of daily discipline and life unrelated to the prevailing culture. It is in fact a denial of history not to see that these forms had their “place” and expression adequate to that historical moment and no other. Our work is to examine how those architectonic “words,” that particular language of architecture and art, “spoke” in and thereby transfigured their context— but all this in order to know what to do with the cultural word particular to our own time and cultures. Students and theologians of early Christianity insist that Christians did not create new rites and symbols, but rather filled old symbols with the new meaning imparted in Christ. All subsequent ecclesial evolution implied this now familiar duality of the continuity of the old and the discontinuity brought about by the radical newness of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. So how are we to find an expression adequate to
worship today, somewhere between the third-century house church of Dura-Europos on the one hand and the grandeur of cathedrals and Byzantine domes on the other? A short essay is not the place to delineate principles shaping an architecture that can take what is perceived as vernacular and render it sacred. Often we must look at architecture purely, putting aside for a moment its specific programmatic purpose. Good music, good literature, and good art have an “epiphanic” quality, revealing divine truth by stirring within us the experience of the transcendent for which other words may often prove inadequate. What better summary of the failure of medieval theology and ecclesiology is there than Ivan’s tale of the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov? In architecture, an epiphanic character is evident in Henri Matisse’s Rosary Chapel and Le Corbusier’s pilgrimage church at Ronchamp. Such examples cannot be adopted outright for Orthodox worship, but both reveal architectural sensibilities that can be experienced and “translated” for Orthodox liturgical life, for the simple reason that each resulted from efforts (however imperfect) to express contemporary liturgical experience in form and light. The vocation of church architects and iconographers is not to cater to a client’s whim but to interpret tradition—a tradition in which they must therefore of necessity be immersed. In the late fourth century, Christian architecture adopted the model of the Roman basilica, which lent itself to the form of the liturgical synaxis around the clergy. But the basilica itself was in some sense the vernacular, albeit prominently civic, architecture of the time, intended simply to accommodate large gatherings. Once Christian The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
worship could become public, this form proved exquisitely accommodating to Christian mural art—whose origins had appeared already in Dura and the catacombs—and evolved primarily in its internal articulation. Only one major variant ever evolved to rival this type: the Greek cross, the arms of which accommodated antiphonal choirs and eventually subsidiary chapels, memorials, baptisteries, confessionals, and the diakonikon or place of proskomide (the preparation of the Gifts). A lesser-known but unique and liturgically important contribution is found in Georgian churches, with their prominent narthexes and sensitivity to the vertical “ascent” from there in the Liturgy of Catechumens to the nave to complete the Liturgy of the Faithful. It would be helpful to examine those sources that had not come under the influence of Western liturgical changes (which ultimately impacted the Mediterranean East as well). In light of this history, it is a shame that in any given culture its prevalent architectonic features and elements are not engaged in the service of church architecture. I have written elsewhere of my disappointment in missed opportunities in places like Japan, rich with a history of architecture, art, and dress which would have been remarkably appropriate to Christian worship, but where the lure of different and “exotic”—in this case, ironically, Western—styles gave rise to an architecture that simply opposes the given culture rather than transforming it. To begin a conversation on architecture, it might be profitable to suggest an “apophatic” approach—that is, to describe what should be avoided. This could at least give us a head start in recognizing a counterfeit idea when, for example, it is suggested by 27
a wealthy benefactor desiring to “leave his mark.” • Don’t import a foreign building that has no relation to anything built in the area already. • Avoid architectural firms that offer a hybrid composed of elements you choose from a pictorial buffet and then throw into a computer—and out comes your camel that began his journey as a horse! • A place of worship is not a rubber stamp, but evolves from the consciousness and (often unarticulated) desires of a very specific community. Do not introduce many distractions; keep things inherently simple at the outset; allow the iconography to develop; and don’t leap into final decisions. • The liturgy emphasizes forward movement and ascent. Static architecture without clear axial direction or vertical transitions through Holy Wisdom Church, New Skete Monasteries, Cambridge, New York. Templon.
structure and light oppose that movement. Economics often play adversely on this point. Best, then, to build in stages. • By the same token, don’t arrest the sense of movement at the altar wall or iconostasis. I believe that the plane or planes articulating the boundary between nave and sanctuary deserve profound study and deliberation, as they set the tone for the engagement of the worshipping body. Many of the assumptions generally accepted today are deeply problematic. Theologians will argue until the Parousia about the symbolism of the veil and about whether icons are a “window” or a “wall,” but historically the screen developed for crowd control and only later received its official theological “rationale” as averting the eyes of the impure (even though, tragically, this impulse began very early in the history of the Christian empire). The monastery of New Skete
in Cambridge, New York shows how the precursor of the modern iconostasis, the templon, worked as an open yet still space-defining colonnade that, through its U-form, invited the faithful to surround and envelop the clergy gathered around the altar and the Gifts. This architectural feature was already evident in the church of St. Euphemia, built in Constantinople around 416. • Don’t design the building from the outside in, beginning from a cocktail of domes, cross shapes, arched windows, and roof vaults. Rather, allow liturgical needs to shape the building from the inside out. Many historical monuments show how organically building shapes evolved, as necessary functional spaces were added over time. Byzantine models in particular suggest a marked disregard for the exterior, often blending into the surrounding architectural masses. • While avoiding exaggerated exterior forms, don’t forget that in our contemporary context, the building must still “speak” to the community, inviting inquiry and interest. The fact that our worship includes gathering, procession, and the sanctification of the world outside means that exterior zones and spaces, platforms and stairs, barriers and plantings form an integral extension to the building in both liturgical and evangelical dimensions. This is why there is no single building model that can be placed at will on any site, as each site has peculiarities that must inform the architecture. • Size matters, and budget is not its sole criterion. We can no longer build as big as we can afford, even The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
if money falls from the sky (or the lottery). Communities need to reflect on “optimal” numbers, which means considering and perhaps defining what constitutes a viable worshiping community in which members can interact with one another and grow together.
It is possible that we are now experiencing (though perhaps not often admitting or seeing) a critical transition in the nature of the parish church. This transition should be examined by all who are engaged in the process of sustaining and building faith communities. If we are moving towards the model of Dura-Europos, it is not necessarily a step back in time or spiritual development. The return of the housechurch invites us to reconsider what Jesus said to a woman from Samaria: “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). If such a process means cleaning house, putting away inessentials, then should not such a house-cleaning also involve the very house in which we gather to worship the Father? The defining “moment” in Christian liturgy can never be reduced to architecture or iconography or beautifully rendered liturgy. That moment— clearly visible in the faces of the faithful during Holy Week, during Pascha, during feast days—is the gathering of “two or three” in the name of Christ. Everything else exists to serve and support it. In effect, however, it is complete by virtue of the One who promises to be with the two or three. The early Christian gathering understood this—understood that Christ is among us, and therefore gathers us around the the gifts of his body and blood on the altar. Fr. Alexander Schmemann 29
lamented the decline that occurred when theologians began thinking in reverse, presuming that the gifts are on the altar and Christ in our midst through what we have said and done. We wrongly imagine that it is we humans who set up the conditions for God to be present. We have forgotten the Liturgy’s opening assertion: “It is time for the Lord to act!” We imagine that only in the “proper” performance of liturgy, with the proper music and texts, with the proper iconography, and inside proper architecture can Orthodoxy be manifest.
© 2016 The Wheel. May be distributed for noncommercial use. www.wheeljournal.com
There is absolutely no doubt that we ought to apply our efforts at bringing the best symbolic language to bear in all spheres of church life. There is also no doubt that there exists bad architecture, bad literature, bad art, bad music. This is not because its consituent elements are bad, but because they are misapplied, without prayer, without understanding, and above all without reference to the one thing needed. That reference is the essential ingredient of all artistic, musical, and architectural creation. It is reference to the eschatological dimension of life, or, more simply put, to the experience known to the Church concerning the kingdom of God in Christ, and thus in the Eucharist. Here, finally, the answer in favor of the vernacular is revealed in the fact that the Church finds her true experience of the mystical notion of “home”
in the Eucharistic gathering, for which she establishes the sacred space in the first place. This “home” is no bourgeois idea of a sentimental, cozy living room, but rather a home conjoined to the Father’s house, in which there are many “mansions” (as there are many diverse and unique faithful). The age of the immigrant ghetto in America is over. That means that the national styles of Russia, Greece, Macedonia, and Romania no longer need to be enlisted to hold together a transplanted culture in a foreign land. In America at least, while Christians can indeed remain eschatological “strangers” and aliens, they are commissioned to transform the “flesh” of their own historical context just as Christ labored within the flesh of Palestinian culture. We are not at the point of answers, but merely at the stage of exploration and discovery. It is important for us to say with humility that we are still finding out what we must do among new paradigms. Every new church building should be an experiment—one whose success will not be measured in architectural critiques but by the fruit of a genuine life in Christ that is facilitated within it. Will it promote the glory of the community, the glory of its designer, the glory of its builder? Or will it show forth the glory of God’s kingdom, spilling from its walls into the heart of the neighbor and travelling stranger?
The V. Rev. Alexis Vinogradov studied architecture at McGill University and theology at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. Fr. Alexis has designed new Orthodox churches around the United States, several buildings at St. Vladimir’s, and a studio and residence for writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn in Vermont. He has translated a number of Russian works by Frs. Alexander Schmemann and Alexander Men, and is currently translating Fr. Schmemann’s Radio Liberty broadcasts to the Soviet Union in the 1970s. From 1978 to 2015 he was rector of the church of St. Gregory the Theologian in Wappingers Falls, New York.
The Rebirth of Saint Nicholas Church Santiago Calatrava Last year, I had the honor of being part of the blessing ceremony of the ground on which St. Nicholas National Shrine is currently being built. Very inspiring words were spoken during that ceremony, and it could be sensed that the foundations of this project are being formed of something more than just concrete and steel. Hope, a spirit of renewal, and an aim for reconciliation were bound into the site and materials during that ceremony. That ceremony reaffirmed my belief that this project will become much more than just the reconstruction of the church that was destroyed during 9/11. It will become a phenomenal symbol of unity, a symbol of overcoming adversity and re-emerging from difficulties. The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
As I mentioned during that ceremony, on September 11th I was in Athens working on the projects for the Olympic Games. I like to draw a parallel between what I saw in Plaka on one of my visits and the renaissance of this church in New York. In Plaka, it is noticeable how the ancient Greeks integrated the columns of the destroyed Parthenon into the walls of the Acropolis. A new Parthenon was built and it was so extraordinary that it not only survived until the present day but became undoubtedly the paradigm of classical architecture.
Note: Originally published at Huffpost Religion, http://www. huffingtonpost.com/ santiago-calatrava/ the-rebirth-of-thechurch_b_8180514. html. Reprinted courtesy of Santiago Calatrava.
In confronting the challenges of the design of a new church that had to respect the traditions and liturgy of the Orthodox Church, but at the same time reflect that we are living in the 31
21st century, I gathered inspiration from the symbols of the Orthodox Faith, and particularly from the Hagia Sophia, which I consider to be the architectural paradigm of the Orthodox Tradition (similar to what the Parthenon is to classical architecture). The new church is organized around a central dome. The skin of the drum and cupola is divided into 40 faceted panels in recognition of the 40 windows under the dome of Hagia Sophia. The corner towers are clad in alternating large and small horizontal bands of white and grey marble, reminiscent of the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora. Taking the Church of the Rotunda in Thessaloniki and the Hagia Sophia as models, the nave of the church lies under the all-embracing span of a central cupola, at the center of which is the Image of Christ Pantocrator. Although St. Nicholas is very different from its historical predecessors, the singularity and clear expression of the cupola, the subtle treatment of the exterior faĂ§ade, and the strict implementation of the liturgical procession establish it in the great tradition of Greek Orthodox church architecture. It is entirely fitting that St. Nicholas, perched above the canopy of the oak trees at the the World
Trade Center Memorial, shrouded entirely in stone and the only non-secular building on the reconstructed site, occupy its raised position within Liberty Park. As such, it will be a spiritual beacon of hope and rebirth for the congregation and the city, embodied through the hundreds of thousands of visitors who will pass through the World Trade Center site.
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Santiago Calatrava is a world-renowned Spanish architect and engineer with offices in New York City, Doha, and ZĂźrich. In 2005, he was awarded the Gold Medal by the American Institute of Architects. Calatrava was chosen in 2013 to design the rebuilt St. Nicholas church adjacent to the World Trade Center.
The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
Eva Kaiser, Crucifixion (2005).
EARS TO HEAR, EYES TO SEE
Showing Modern Art In Austria’s Historical Monastery Interview with Wolfgang Huber Andrei Zolotov, Jr. Visitors come to the magnificent Klosterneuburg Monastery outside Vienna—which recently celebrated its 900th anniversary—for many reasons: to celebrate the foundation of the Austrian state (which more or less began here), to pray in the imposing Baroque church, to tour the ornate imperial residence built around it as a kind of Escorial, to see the crown of the Archdukes of Austria, to venerate the relics of the monastery’s founder, St. Leopold of Babenberg, and to contemplate the world-famous masterpiece of medieval art housed here—the gold and enamel reredos made in 1181 by Nicholas of Verdun. Last but not least, they come here to visit the cellars and 34
buy wine from one of the country’s largest estates! What casual tourists stumble upon rather unexpectedly, after passing through the exhibits of Baroque paintings and ancient books, is a rather stunning gallery of modern art, the Galerie der Moderne. Here there are four halls dedicated to the 20th and 21st century treatments of Christian symbols, beliefs, and values. One hall is dedicated to the creation, another to the resurrection and the ascension, the third to the passion, and the fourth to the cross. The oldest work dates from the 1900s—a ceramics crèche by Julie Sitte, an artist of the Wiener Werk-
stätte, one of the main laboratories of the Jugendstil movement. The newest piece was purchased last year. Wolfgang Huber, the curator of the art collections of the monastery, told The Wheel that the gallery was opened four years ago, when the monastery inherited the private collection of the Roman Catholic prelate Dr. Alfred Sammer, former director of the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, who was ordained a priest at a mature age and served as a military chaplain while continuing to champion and to collect modern Christian art. Around the same time, the monastery also came into possession of the estate of an important Austrian expressionist painter, Adrienne DoxatFistravec. Since 2008, the monastery has awarded the St. Leopold Peace Prize for modern art, giving a 10,000-euro award every other year for a work which Huber describes as “contemporary art with a certain claim to humanist social criticism based on Christian ethics.” The winning work becomes part of the museum’s collection. “Besides all of this, there was an idea coming out of our canons that during its 900 years, the Abbey of Klosterneuburg used art to bring the Word of God to the people. According to some of the canons, this tradition had
The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
been neglected in recent decades, but the Abbey should now allot a certain amount of money to buy modern religious art and encourage artists who want to do something in this field,” says Huber. “It was perfect because it all came together and the Galerie der Moderne opened—at first only with an exhibition of the collection of Dr. Sammer. But this was now the third season in which we have shown a mixture of works that are part of the collection of the Abbey and loans both from artists themselves and from the families of artists who have died. The news is now spreading that we are doing this. People come and say, ‘Oh, I am the son or grandson of a certain important Austrian artist—and he also did religious works. We were not able to sell them, because this market is not so strong. Are you interested in showing them?’ Often I say yes, sometimes I say no; and sometimes parts of these exhibitions are also bought for the museum’s collection. Meanwhile, this is a wonderful collection that has been started and that will hopefully grow over the years.” Strictly speaking, Klosterneuburg is not a monastery, but a community of Augustinian canons, which means that the order has always been outward-looking and involved in pastoral
Ludwig Gebhard, Celestial Sign (1992).
care. One of the late members of the community, Pius Parsch, was a pioneer of liturgical renewal in the Roman Catholic Church, including the moving of the altar into the middle of the church, and thus substantially influenced the decisions of the Second Vatican Council. This open-minded atmosphere at Klosterneuburg has certainly contributed to the modern art venture. Huber has worked at the monastery for 25 years. For most of this time, he has cared for its enormous collection of historical art, encompassing, he said, about 50,000 pieces, including more than 1000 paintings. In terms of numbers, the roughly 200 pieces of modern art now in possession of the abbey, of which about 70 are exhibited, are just a fraction of his work—but a beloved one. “It is interesting to deal with artists who died 500 years ago. But, I have to say, it is even more thrilling to deal with artists that you can phone and meet and talk with. You can ask them: why did you do this? What did you mean?”
Gerd Paulicke, Emergency Exit (2012).
In the exhibition hall dedicated to the cross, Huber shows several works fashioned from rubbish. Here are crosses by Alfred Virant made from mustard-colored tubes of plumbing pipes. Above hangs a large blue cross by Johann Lengauer made from shattered empty bottles. “The idea is that God is the creator of everything, and part of his presence is present in all parts of the creation. And the material that people think they don’t need any more and throw away also has the sign of God in it,” he says. Next is a cross by the Viennese artist of Bulgarian origin, Peter Atanasov,
who made a cycle of colorful crosses from garbage. “He did them in Italy, where he lived close to Assisi, and his idea was that if St. Francis of Assisi lived today, he would also take the rubbish and make a picture of God out of it. All his crosses are bright and colorful and not at all negative, because the cross bears in itself the revelation,” explains Huber. A large number of paintings here date from the Expressionist movement of the 1920s, including a major work by Adrienne Doxat-Fistravec, At the Foot of the Cross. The artist’s son became a canon at Klosterneuburg and brought with him almost all his mother’s art that his family possessed. But At the Foot of the Cross stands out because of its size, expression, and significance. According to Huber it was exhibited only once, in 1928, before it appeared in the Galerie der Moderne. Another series of works, by artists from the 1960s and 70s, came from the collection of Dr. Sammer, including the Resurrection of Günther Kraus, which
View of the exhibition space of the Modern Art Gallery (Gallerie der Moderne).
is remarkable for its spectrum of bright yellow to red colors, interpreting the resurrection of Christ as an explosion. Others are on loan from the artists’ families, such as the giant triptych Creation by Robert Kell (1972). Some modern works demonstrate the quest for innovative means to express theological ideas. Emergency Exit by Gerd Paulicke is a green metal box with a light inside, hanging high up near a door. Instead of the word “Exit,” a crucifix and upward-pointing arrows are painted in white, while an electric cable (containing three wires) represents the Holy Trinity giving power to this depiction of ascension. Occasionally, the gallery engages in collaborative art projects. In 2013, the Museum of Lower Austria organized an exhibition dedicated to the state’s patron saint (and the founder of Klosterneuburg), St. Leopold. The museum’s director and Huber invited thirteen artists of different ages and genres to create works about St. Leopold. “He lived in the 12th century and was proclaimed a saint in 1485. At the time, no one knew what this person looked like. So artists had to invent a figure—and they did it very The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
successfully, because now everyone here in Lower Austria knows how St. Leopold has to look,” explains Huber. The same is true of Leopold’s wife, Margravine Agnes, who came from a royal family and whose wealth stands at the foundation of the monastery. She had eighteen children with Leopold, in addition to three children from her first marriage. Agnes Prammer, a young Viennese photographic artist, created a series of portraits of bearded men and pregnant women, made black and white using a 19thcentury technique, and chose from them a modern Leopold and a modern Agnes. Three sets of portraits were assembled in a traditional three-part folding altar, offering viewers the chance to pick their saintly couple. According to Huber, when the project was conceived, he thought many artists would turn down the proposal. But no one did. “Everyone said, ‘Oh, how interesting!’ Some said: ‘It’s a topic I’ve thought about and it’s great that I can now do it.’ Some of the ideas were so interesting and so fresh, and it is evidence of the fact that artists more or less wait for the opportunity to do something on religious topics,” the curator says. 37
The most prominent presence in the halls of the Galerie der Moderne are the winners of the St. Leopold Peace Prize. The latest is Funny Games by a young German sculptor, Peter Müller. The theme is Cain and Abel, and the artist interpreted an episode of brutal beating by young men that occurred in the Berlin metro and was captured by video cameras and widely publicized by the media. “He took still images from the video, abstracted the figures, monumentalized them, and built them out of wooden spikes. It is not possible to touch this sculpture—you will hurt yourself! He portrayed brutality, but he used wood, a natural material, because he said brutality and murder are part of human nature, which we cannot deny: even in the Bible we see that already in the second generation one brother kills the other,” says Huber. Mariele Bergmann, Leidkultur (2011).
The most controversial item in the entire exhibit is the winner of the 2011 St. Leopold Prize. It is a life-size sculpture by the Berlin artist Mariele Bergmann of a barefoot woman wearing a burka, her face fully obscured by the veil, holding a naked child—an allusion to a Madonna and Child. The title is Leidkultur, a pun on the German word Leitkultur. This word, which translates as “leading culture,” is meant to suggest that German culture is in some sense paradigmatic, but it is debated whether it is also paradigmatic for immigrants, who are mainly Muslims. Leidkultur means rather “culture of grief.” “Mariele Bergmann is one of the artists who decline to talk about their works. She does not use the word ‘Madonna’ for this. But everyone who sees it makes his own reflection. It’s a beautiful example, because, of course, it causes discussion. From my experience, many priests, many members of the Church want discussion. And even very conservative priests have said to me that it’s wonderful that you show something like this. ‘I don’t like it,’ they say, ‘I am a conservative person. But so many people don’t want to know anything about the Church, and this is a means for me to bring them in and to discuss faith with them. And if you showed only boring things here, which I might like, it would not be good for my work.’ We get very positive reactions and I am sometimes really surprised that we are encouraged to be more provocative,” says Huber. “Of course, there are frontiers and there are works which it would not be possible to show here at the gallery. But in this case everyone, 100% of our priests said that this is a wonderful work of art and the basis for discussion. The boundaries of acceptability are not overstepped here.” What are the frontiers, then? “It is difficult to
say. Perhaps if she were not wearing a burka but were naked, it would be impossible to show,” answers the curator. But don’t people see a reference to Our Lady depicted as an observant Muslim woman as blasphemy? When the sculpture won the St Leopold Prize back in 2011 and was exhibited near the grand entrance to the monastery, there was a guest book nearby. “There were a few remarks in the guestbook saying that it was a shame we put up something like this. But they were so few! Such an attitude exists, but it is negligibly small.” Huber is familiar with cases, in particular in Russia, in which contemporary artworks reinterpreting Christian imagery were vandalized by Orthodox Christian protesters. But he doesn’t see any active conflict between the contemporary art scene and the church in Austria—rather, an isolation. “I am sure that there are some parallel worlds that don’t have any contact with each other. Sometimes, I go to the museum of modern art and I see things… If I told them to come and see what we show here, they would not understand this. And I don’t understand what they are doing either,” says Huber. The pieces that he selects to be exhibited in the gallery need to receive a blessing from the provost of the Augustinian community. Is there ever debate or a conflict between the curator and the superiors of the Abbey? Huber
says such a clash is theoretically possible, but hasn’t happened so far, since he has a good feel for what is acceptable. “I have worked here long enough to know what is possible and what’s not,” he says with a smile. What encourages him is the fact that the gallery seems to be fulfilling one of its missions: to cultivate a demand for modern Christian art. Last year, three artists whose works were purchased by the gallery—painter Gottfried Hula, sculptor Johann Lengauer, and photographer Wolfgang Sagmeister—met at the monastery and decided to form a group, called Hymnus (“hymn”). “They want to do what we want to show— modern religious art,” says Huber. “I am very glad the tradition lives on.”
Adrienne DoxatFistravec, Adoration of the Magi.
© 2016 The Wheel. May be distributed for noncommercial use. www.wheeljournal.com
Andrei Zolotov, Jr. is Executive Editor for Europe at Russia Direct. A writer with long-standing interest in media policy, the arts, and relations between church, state, and society in Russia, Zolotov has worked at Ecumenical News International and The Moscow Times. In 2004, he launched Russia Profile, an English-language expert magazine and website, and ran it as chief editor for eight years. In 1998 he was named the John Templeton European Religion Writer of the Year, and in 2008–09 he was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.
The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
Robert Kell, Creation (1972).
After an argument Christopher Sprecher and the thought came and the well-tended gardens of speech were drowned in the deluging silence. those neat rows of syntax and fruits of eloquence ready to burst forth all quelled in sour quiet.
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and the thought came again but no harbor of tongue was found not even my hands could speak. if only I were deaf (but my hands are struggling to get to the surface of this stillness) I would not hear the crash, the waves, that utter annihilating avalanche of silence.
Christopher Sprecher is a linguist, translator, and editor living in Manhattan and working on texts primarily in German, French, Latin, and Ancient Greek. He prepared the English translation of Jean-Claude Larchet, Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses (2012). His current poetic interests are the crafting of a collection of sonnets and researching the development of Christian figures and themes in Arabic literature.
The walls of Antioch, 19th century lithograph.
THE CHURCH ACROSS TIME
An Eastern Church Amid the Struggles of Rome and Constantinople: The Patriarchate of Antioch During the Crusades Sergei P. Brun The Age of the Crusades is by far one of the most popular subjects in the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue (or rather, in the ongoing Orthodox-Catholic polemics), a time period which constantly arises in the field of historical as well as theological deliberation. The Christian East, suffering from the aggression of the Latins, is indeed a popular image, constantly present in the Orthodox perception of history and in Orthodox historical memory. This image is, in fact, one of the principal generators of the ‘victim complex’ in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox mindset. In many ways, this complex derives from the fear of change: the fear to be changed by the other and, ultimately, by communion with the other. That is why in the Eastern Christian communities one may find an overly protective attitude in which the Catholic West is perceived as a force of subjection, latinization, The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
and a threat to the traditions and spirituality of the East that is protected and harbored by Byzantium. Yet in the case of the Patriarchate of Antioch in the age of the Crusades (11th to 13th centuries) we see an Eastern Orthodox Church that was beset equally by prolonged, intensive periods of Latin and Byzantine intervention, episodes that had immense consequences for its history and tradition. The position of the Chalcedonian Orthodox Church of Antioch during the period of the Second Byzantine (969–1084) and Latin rule (1098–1291) in Syria is often entirely overlooked, since most authors concentrate exclusively on the conflicts of Rome and Constantinople, seeing the latter as the single voice of Orthodoxy. But is the Orthodox Church bound to the position of Constantinople, and the Orthodox world to the Byzantine
Note: Based on a paper delivered at the international conference “History and Theology: Historical consciousness as a way to Church Unity” in Bose Monastery, Italy on October 23rd 2015.
Empire? This is a fundamental question, pertaining to Orthodox Christians’ identity and perception of history.
1 In this period, the designation “Melkite” refers to Eastern Chalcedonian Christians allied with the Chalcedonian Byzantine church, rather than its contemporary application to Eastern Rite Middle Eastern Christians in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. 2
This subjugation of the Church of Antioch to Constantinople is described in detail by Nikon of the Black Mountain, one of the most prominent Byzantine ascetic writers of the late 11th century. See Willem J. Aerts, “Nikon of the Black Mountain, Witness to the First Crusade?” in East and West in the Medieval Eastern Mediterranean I (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 147; Leuven: Peeters, 2006), 164. 3 The reinstatement of the Orthodox Patriarch as the sole canonical “Prince of the Church of Antioch” by members of the First Crusade is described in: Historia Ierosolimitana: History of the Journey to Jerusalem, trans. and ed. Susan B. Edgington (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007), 338.
In the seventh century the Byzantine Empire lost immense territories to Arab conquerors, including Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. The end of the 10th century marked the start of the Byzantine Reconquista in the Levant; under the emperor Nicephoros II Phocas and his successors, Byzantium reclaimed the lost cities and vast regions of Cilicia, Cyprus, and Northern Syria (with Antioch and Edessa). For more than a century these lands were safely held by the Empire. At the end of the 11th century, Byzantine Northern Syria and Cilicia were briefly lost to the Seljuk Turks, only to be reclaimed by the “armed pilgrims” of the First Crusade, who established Frankish states and Latin Patriarchates in the East. Thus, the coastal regions of the Levant, as well as some inland territories, remained a predominantly Christian region, under Frankish and, in the north, Armenian rule. The fall of these Crusader States to the Mameluke sultans, who personally oversaw and initiated the destruction of numerous Christian cities and monasteries, marks one of the greatest tragedies and cultural catastrophes in Medieval History. Now, to the question of the Church of Antioch in this time period. Orthodox theologians and church historians often remind us that the Crusaders imposed a foreign, Latin hierarchy in the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Antioch. Seldom do they remind us that during the second period of Byzantine rule in Syria (996 onwards), Syrian Melkites1 and even the Metropolitans of the Antiochian Church had neither the right to vote in patriarchal elections nor the chance to become the Patriarch of Antioch, since their primate was always selected directly by the Emperor from
among the clergy of Hagia Sophia.2 Until the late 11th century, Orthodox Patriarchs were sent to Antioch from Constantinople. The last of these was Patriarch John V the Oxite, imprisoned by the Seljuks and reinstated with honor by the Papal Legate Adhemar of Le Puy and the leaders of the First Crusade in 1098.3 In 1100, John was forced to abdicate by the first Norman Prince of Antioch, Bohemond I, and was replaced by a Latin Patriarch. In the following century, a line of titular Orthodox Patriarchs of Antioch persisted in Constantinople, yet these patriarchs never left the imperial capital and had little or no contact with their flock in the East. Meanwhile, Byzantines, Syriac- and Arabic-speaking Melkites, Georgians, and Chalcedonian Armenians in Antioch, northern Syria, and Lebanon remained under the jurisdiction of Latin Patriarchs. The revival of the truly local Church of Antioch was made possible only under the patronage of the Crusader Prince of Antioch-Tripoli, Bohemond IV, in 1206. This fact is often overlooked by contemporary church historians, who prefer to focus exclusively on the traditional Byzantine imperial patronage over all the Orthodox in the East. Trying to appease the Orthodox population of Antioch, Bohemond allowed for an Orthodox Patriarch—a Syrian, Simeon ibn Abu Saib—to be elected and consecrated as Patriarch, and transferred the Byzantine and Syriac Chalcedonian Rite parishes and monasteries to his care. Throughout his long tenure (1206–ca. 1242), Simeon proved to be an able politician, ready to make alliances with any Christian ruler that proved to be the most potent patron of the Church of Antioch. He offered Holy Communion to Bohemond and his nobles (all excommunicated by the Latin Church) in 1206–1208. From 1210 onwards he sought refuge in the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and won
the patronage of its king, participating in ceremonial processions alongside allegedly “heretical” Armenian and “schismatic” Latin clergy. Yet on arriving at the Byzantine imperial court at Nicaea in the 1220’s, he changed his policy, opposing any idea of reconciliation with Rome. Simeon’s successors (with one exception) were all elected in the East, either in the Crusader Principality of Antioch-Tripoli or in the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. These Patriarchs were elected and consecrated by Metropolitans of the Church of Antioch; only after ascending the patriarchal throne would they seek recognition from the Byzantine Emperor and the Ecumenical Patriarch. Thus, the resurrection of the Church of Antioch as a local Church was made possible only due to the initiative and political action of the Crusader Princes of Antioch-Tripoli and their Armenian rivals. Even after the fall of the Crusader States, the Patriarchate remained in the East, with Syrian (or Greek Cypriot) Patriarchs ascending to the throne of Antioch and sustaining complete independence from Constantinople. This changed only in the 18th century, with the so-called Melkite Schism of 1724. The periods of Byzantine and Latin domination in Syria can, in many ways, be seen as periods of great prosperity for the Church of Antioch. Cathedrals, churches, and monasteries were founded or rebuilt; Greek and Syrian iconographers worked on murals, mosaics, and panel paintings; books were filling the monastic libraries, being copied and translated in the scriptoria; religious houses enjoyed a steady and generous income from their gardens, wineries, villages, and city property. But one cannot miss the striking fact that, for the Patriarchate of Antioch, continuing Byzantine intervention proved to be far more destrucThe Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
tive than the ecclesiastical dominance of the Latin Patriarchs. For if the Latins were focused primarily on questions of ecclesiastical (or more precisely, administrative) unity, the Byzantines yearned for the complete assimilation of the liturgical life and traditions of their Eastern brethren to the rite of the Great Church of Constantinople. It was only in Frankish, Armenian, and Muslim-ruled territories that the Chalcedonian Orthodox were able to preserve their ancient Eastern rites—most notably the Antiochian Rite and the original Liturgy of St. James.
Coin of St. Peter, minted in Antioch during the reign of the second Norman Prince Tancred (1100–1112).
This precious part of the Eastern liturgical heritage was tolerated by the Franks, yet despised by Byzantine canonists and reformers such as Patriarch Theodore IV Balsamon of Antioch, who would become one of the key figures in Byzantium’s war against the non-Byzantine rites within the Chalcedonian Orthodox Church. Balsamon was a brilliant scholar and codifier of canon law, a cleric and the librarian of the Great Church (Hagia Sophia) who became Patriarch of Antioch in exile, and whose entire life (including his patriarchal tenure) was spent in the heart of the Byzantine Empire in Constantinople. For him, the only true and acceptable practice was that of the Church of Constantinople and he made no distinction between theology and rite. Distressed by the diversity in liturgical practice between the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and 43
4 Theodore Balsamon, Responsa ad Interrogationes Marci (Patrologia Graeca 138:954–55). 5 This fact is attested to by a German pilgrimage account of the 1160s; see A. Stewart, Description of the Holy Land by John of Würzburg (Palestine Pilgrim Texts Society: London, 1890), 48.
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Jerusalem, Balsamon simply ordered the ancient eastern traditions to be forbidden, excluded, and forgotten. When asked by the Patriarch Mark III of Alexandria whether his clergy and flock could continue to serve the ancient liturgies of St. James and St. Mark, Balsamon was quick to reply that these liturgies should be forbidden, “because the Catholic Church of the Most Holy Ecumenical Throne of Constantinople does not recognize them. Thus, we consider them unacceptable. . . . For all Churches of God must follow the Rites of the New Rome-Constantinople, and serve the liturgy following the rules of the great teachers and lights, St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil.”4 Balsamon’s Frankish contemporaries —the Latin Patriarchs of Jerusalem, such as Amalric of Nesle (1158–1180) and Heraclius (1180–1191)—showed a totally different attitude towards the ancient rites of the Middle Eastern Orthodox population. These Crusader clerics never questioned the right of their Eastern (Orthodox) flocks to follow their own individual rites. And while Balsamon forbade his Eastern brethren to celebrate the ancient liturgy of St. James, Patriarch Amalric of Jerusalem allowed it to be served, according to the Antiochian Rite, on high altars erected in the center of the Cathedral of the Holy Sepulchre.5 And it was in the regions ruled by the Franks, the Armenians, and the Muslims that Chalcedonian Orthodox of Antioch were able to sustain their old Eastern rites at least until the late 13th century. When the Crusader states fell to the Mameluke sultans, and Antioch itself
was completely destroyed—along with its churches, monasteries, population, and the entire patriarchal diocese—the Antiochian Orthodox Church (as well as her sister-Churches of Alexandria and Jerusalem) had no choice but to comply with Byzantine policies; the Orthodox of the Levant found themselves stranded between Mameluke oppression and the spiritual dictatorship of the Byzantine imperial and ecclesiastical authorities. A local Church which united Greek-, Arabic-, Syriac-, Turkish-, Sogdian-, Georgian-, and Armenian- speaking Chalcedonian Christians, and followed two diverse rites (Byzantine and Antioch), went through the last and final phase of Byzantinization. Byzantine intervention proved to be much more detrimental for the Church of Antioch than any administrative intrusion initiated by the Crusaders, for Byzantium yearned not only for hierarchical domination, but also for the chance to rewrite the traditions of its Orthodox brethren in accordance with its own practice. It was not the Franks, but the Constantinopolitan imperial and ecclesiastical authorities that were to blame for the “lost” Eastern Rites in Chalcedonian Orthodoxy. Frankish rule in the East allowed the Church of Antioch to regain its independence from Constantinople in the 13th century and to sustain its ancient traditions for at least a century following Balsamon’s reforms. This period in the history of the Church of Antioch has immense importance for Orthodox historical consciousness as a countervailing corrective to the ‘traditional’ views on the role of Byzantium and on Latin interventions in the East.
Sergei P. Brun is a Russian historian specializing in the history of the Latin East and the author of several articles, papers, and translations, as well as the two-volume monograph The Byzantines and the Franks in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia (Moscow, 2015). Currently he is a research fellow and lecturer at the Museum of the Russian Icon in Moscow.
Illustrations by Anastasia Semash.
Meeting Maria Batova Translated by Olga Jarman For Dr. Mark Burno The grey-haired physician is standing head bowed near a monastery church in Zvenigorod with his eyes closed the Orthodox Christians are nodding their heads well, come along you are a Christian Anonymous arenâ€™t you come on follow us and you will be like us pious Thou shalt not write or listen to any poetry Thou shalt not meditate about God Thou shalt not read anything of Chekhov, Bulgakov, or Elliott The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
Thou shalt not listen to anything by Mozart or Mahler. Thou shalt not watch anything by Fellini or Bergman Thou shalt not see any Botticelli and the nudes Thou shalt learn how to make the sign of the Cross to kiss the priest’s hand to frown upon modern morals theatre and democracy to praise the Russian idea— oh your surname isn’t Russian we’re perfectly okay with that for you belong to us you have got the main possession of yours – that is your beard your materialistic ideas are no trouble they will dissolve by the way Thou shalt be doctoring away now in an Orthodox manner no poems only the Holy Fathers Lo! you’re a rummy old bird, you fellow, you are getting old fancy thinking about the hereafter but the doctor couldn’t hear anything of that as he was contemplating the silence deep in his thoughts 46
well he tossed his head back looked once again at the cupolas and went to the patient’s home she was crying in despair all last night praying Lord, if you exist, send me a doctor! the physician walked along his path Christ looked at him kindly through the eyes of a baby with a blue cap from her baby carriage Christ looked with the eyes of a sad old lady with varicose veins she was wearing a second hand outworn cardigan the last bunch of those cheap flowers of the fall in her hand the physician has bought the flowers Christ looked at him from his memories with the eyes of a schizophrenic who kept carrying buckets of feces with joy thinking himself unworthy of anything else “delusion of culpability, but what moral sanity!”— the physician thought at the same time this patient was praying for him looking at the physician from Heaven —he was a great Saint, you know Christ was showing the doctor The Nettle and The White Dead Nettle and funny tricks of The Pup and The Kitten keeping him warm with food and clothes giving him books as a present helping to meet people caressing with the sun’s warmth The Wheel 5 | Spring 2015
rejoicing with the aroma of the forest tickling the finches to make them sing louder helping with the zoom of the doctor’s old camera giving a cue what to say to whom and was smiling all the time – “It doesn’t matter that you don’t believe in Me, O Physician I can shine through you it is perfectly OK with Me I can for you are transparent absolutely transparent it is OK that you have no idea that you are Mine – you had a painful experience of people abusing you that’s us, my lad, that’s us you are missing Me so much your soul is sore isn’t it but here we are I am with you
every day this makes you so happy inside but guess what when we get together at last and no one will take your joy away from you you will not question Me about anything but it will be I who will share secrets with you do you remember that little fish bowl of your childhood when you had risen and saw that bowl full of colorful guppy fish we were so happy you and Me we were laughing with joy Hark! hereâ€™s My secret guppy revelation I had made them with My own hands on the occasion of your seventh birthday brought them up tried My best to make the colors match I see I did it not too bad You still remember them donâ€™t be angry my sonny with the Orthodox they are My beloved children especially those of post-Soviet Russia they are in pain, too they are unhappy The Wheel 5 | Spring 2015
sometimes they can’t see Me sometimes let alone each other by the way here is a patient for you she has been bullied at the same parish and she’s lost Me but you will help her to find Me a delicate work nobody would do it for Me please don’t let Me down I’m missing her terribly coming to My Holy Cup the priest there is very kind, too I’ll introduce you to him one day you are from the same mould”
© 2016 The Wheel. May be distributed for noncommercial use. www.wheeljournal.com
the physician was walking along the lane hurrying to catch the train thinking “what a special kind of wind this is a sound of a gentle blowing! I’ll make a note in my diary as soon as I come home” Maria Batova is a classical musician and poet. She is the founder of the early music ensemble Musica Humana, an educator in early music performance at the Moscow Conservatory, and one of Moscow’s preeminent church choir directors. Her poetry has been published in various journals, including Le Messager orthodoxe. Her first book of poetry is being prepared for publication.
“In Christ There Is No East or West”: A Response to Gregory Hallam’s “A Phony War” Anastacia Wooden
Dear Editors of The Wheel, As a new subscriber I congratulate you on creating a fine journal which strives to cover all aspects of faith in the public square—political (including ecclesial politics), sociological, spiritual—with openness, professionalism, and elegance. I would like to appeal to these characteristics in sharing with you my critical comments and thoughts on the essay “A Phony War” by the Rev. Gregory Hallam.1 Throughout the essay, the author ventures to present “Eastern” views of the relationship between faith and science in a stark contrast to what he perceives as its “Western” (the term he uses interchangeably with “Catholic” or “Roman”) counterpart. The following quotation is representative of the author’s position with which I disagree in fact and in principle: In the Christian West, science only flourished after the Catholic Church’s inflexible intellectual control had been broken. That never seems to have been such a problem in the Christian East, and for good reason. The phony war between science and religion never broke out beyond Rome’s dominion— nor could it, because Roman Catholic theology was so radically different. I am not qualified to speak for “the West” as a whole, but I can clarify The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
some facts regarding the relationship to science of the historical Roman Catholic Church and its theology. I do not offer a comprehensive answer, but only bring up enough points to illustrate problems with the author’s sweeping remarks.
The Wheel 4 (Winter 2016): 26–31.
The Roman Catholic Church and Science In the Soviet Union, where I grew up, this relationship was stereotypically illustrated by the image of Giordano Bruno burning at a stake. A more careful historian may ask to what extent Bruno, a Dominican friar, was persecuted by the Inquisition specifically for his views on astronomy and not for his theology and philosophy, which alleged pantheism and denied core Catholic doctrines on the Trinity and Virgin Mary. Still, a lot has changed since the sixteenth century, and in recent times Pope John Paul II has apologized for many of the crimes of the Inquisition, including its treatment of Bruno’s predecessor in astronomy, Galileo, himself a devout Catholic. Going back to the author’s assertion that science really only took off after Roman dominion was loosened, I have a few concerns with the underlying chronology of this assertion. When was the Catholic Church’s “inflexible intellectual control” broken? What 51
historical events is he talking about? As can be readily demonstrated (just look at Wikipedia’s “List of Christians in Science and Technology”), science steadily developed after Bruno’s execution through the efforts of predominantly Catholic and Protestant scientists for almost two centuries until the French Revolution finally dealt a severe blow to the institution of the Catholic Church (and also cut off the head of the “father of modern chemistry,” Antoine Lavoisier, another devout Catholic). In the end, the author simply fails to demonstrate a meaningful correlation between any measurable weakening of the Catholic Church and a flourishing of science. Similar questions of chronology arise with the statement that “after the Great Schism in 1054, when the West began to lose touch with Greek Christian culture, this vital insight [of St. Gregory Palamas] was gradually lost.” Did the schism mark the beginning of a disconnect between the Christian East and the West or did it happen because of the already existing disconnect? In any case, the schism predates Palamas’s insight by more than three centuries. As to the author’s assertion that the conflict between science and faith did not and could not happen in “the East,” it lacks clarification of where exactly “the East” was and exactly what science flourished there.
On Catholic Theology The author objects to the theology of so-called Neo-Thomism in which “divine intervention is a more subtly conceived additional layer of supernatural causes.” Certainly such a position at some point dominated Catholic theology. It treated nature and grace as two 52
autonomous aspects of human existence to such an extent that the former could be conceived without the latter (hence the “withdrawal of God” from creation). However, the question remains whether St. Thomas himself or the Catholic theology today maintain this approach. At first glace, the author’s evaluation seems justified by a standing Catholic assertion that “grace perfects nature,” as formulated by St. Thomas Aquinas, who wrote in his commentary on Boethius’s On the Trinity: “Although man is inclined to an end by nature, yet he cannot attain that end by nature, but only by grace because of the exalted character of the end.” Interpretation of this statement hinges largely on the word “nature.” Intuitively, we call nature, or natural, what exists in reality. Grace then can be seen as something desirable but optional. In Thomas’s technical vocabulary, however, what he called “nature” never actually existed or could exist in reality without grace. Pure nature was a mental abstraction created as a tool to make a certain argument. Those with further interest in the shifts in meaning and implication of the words “natural” and “supernatural,” are encouraged to consult the groundbreaking work by Catholic theologian Henri de Lubac Supernatural, first published in 1946, which provides an excellent historical investigation into Thomas’s thought. It is as fascinating and important for theology as the history of the shifts in meaning of the Greek words physis and prosopon and it provides ample evidence that the difference between Catholic and Orthodox views on the matter is not in essence, but in form of expression of the same faith. In sum, the author seems to compare the perfidy of a late 19th century form
of Western European Catholicism with an idealized “Orthodoxy” that never had a historical manifestation. I object in principle to this polemical method, which often betrays ignorance of the “other,” creates an impression that there are “sides” to be taken in the Christian search for truth, feeds the triumphalism of one side while alienating the other, and ultimately prevents the necessary dialogue that is so well spoken for by Gayle Woloschak (in the same issue of The Wheel). This polemical method has no positive value and should be completely avoided. Fr. Cyril Hovorun’s contribution on the nature of Christian fundamentalism is a perfect example of how one can compare and critique concrete theological views without referring to idealized labels such as West (the side that never had it right) and East (the side that always had it right and never changed)—and still get the point across convincingly. In conclusion, I want to challenge you as representatives of the Orthodox theological world. Often, the Orthodox mode of engagement with the “heterodox” is described in terms given by Fr.
George Florovsky: you witness to Truth to the world that is in need of it. I can assure you that the Catholic part of the world certainly appreciates this witness and, moreover, has already benefited from it greatly. What about you? Do you believe that you live out completely the vocation of the Church to preach the Gospel to every creature? Do you believe that you can fulfill this vocation by yourselves? Do you acknowledge the possibility that, in the words of the Decree on Ecumenism of the Vatican Council II, “the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brethren can be a help to our own edification”? In contrast to Florovsky’s definition, the Silver Jubilee Symposium brochure of the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris speaks of ecumenism as “first of all, interest in each other, the study and comprehension of the spiritual life and religious expression of other churches.” Is it not time to show this interest genuinely and to be open not only to give but also to receive witness to truth? Peace and blessings,
© 2016 The Wheel. May be distributed for noncommercial use. www.wheeljournal.com
Anastacia Wooden is a Ph.D. candidate in Historical and Systematic Theology at the Catholic University of America. She is researching ecumenical interactions between Catholic and Russian Orthodox theologians on the eve of the Second Vatican Council. A native of Belarus, Wooden resides with her husband and four children in Maryland, where she also works as an Adult Faith Formation Coordinator at the parish of St. Francis of Assisi.
The Wheel 5 | Spring 2016
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“The worship of the Church is art: it is the work of a communal use of material reality, building and shaping the earth’s material so as to render it capable of serving life, that existential fullness of life which is communion and relationship.” — Christos Yannaras, Freedom of Morality
In the next issue reflections on Orthodoxy, human rights, and civil liberties