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Unpublishing One’s Writing

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Written by Basil on 08/20/2006 5:06 PM. Filed under:

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What would have become of the world if Dostoevsky’s spiritual father told him, “I really don’t like your latest book. You don’t understand monasticism or true spirituality at all. That young monk — what is his name? Alexei Feodorovich? Yes, Alyosha! — not a proper monk at all! You must UNPUBLISH this book at once!”

Luckily for the world, such unpublishing was not possible then.

What a loss for us all that it is now. Thank God for the Wayback Machine and Google cached pages.

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4 Responses to “Unpublishing One’s Writing”

  1. James Says:

    No, but Martin Luther, as well as others I’m sure, was asked by the RCC to renounce his books. Do we give spiritual fathers that much power in our lives? Does Christ wish us to do so? You will undoubtadly (sp?) say yes. I say, no.

  2. Basil Says:

    The “spiritual father” bit is an example, and irrelevant to the point. Whether one deletes the contents of their webserver by direction of their spiritual father or on their own direction, the point remains. I dare say that, were I asked to “unpublish” everything I’ve published to date in the last three years, I would reply that it is impossible. To be told to stop publishing would be one thing, but to “unpublish” what has already been published does not really help anyone and is pointless anyway, since the material is already cached elsewhere. One is just being an ass and making it more difficult to find what others have linked to.

    Obedience to one’s spiritual father, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, is obedience to God. Obedience to the voice in our own head can be prelest; obedience, like confession and everything else in the Christian life, must be incarnate. We must be obedient to a real man of flesh. It is only then that the spiritual muscles required to overcome our pride and self-sufficiency are exercised.

    Can the spiritual father make mistakes? We are not saying that the spiritual father himself is God. God forbid! The obedience is offered — here is the important part — as to God, much like veneration to an icon passes to the prototype, so says St. Basil. This can lead to abuse, and each person must determine when the pain of submission becomes death and not life. It is fantasy to believe that we can be obedient to a disembodied God. Never submitting to any spiritual father’s instruction is a fairy-tale salvation that will not end happily ever after.

  3. James Says:

    “It is fantasy to believe that we can be obedient to a disembodied God.”

    Hmmmmm … that troubles me on so many levels, but then again due to the Incarnation …

    I have no trouble with “the Church” as a whole, but I have trouble with the one man issue. It’s why we don’t have a pope.

  4. Basil Says:

    I have read two things on this: 1) obedience to one’s spiritual father, even when he’s wrong, leads to salvation when done as unto the Lord; 2) each person is responsible for determining when obedience is or is not life-giving. The problem I have with the second is that it is too easy to be slothful and disregard instruction because it is too painful. The spiritual father is usually farther along in the journey than we are, and we often cannot see where the path leads. He is a guide along the way, like a spiritual sherpa.

    The spiritual father is entirely unlike the pope. However, it may be possible that the local parish priest, when acting in a role as a confessor/spiritual father (the two terms are sometimes used synonymously), should not be given quite the same level of authority in our lives as we might give to an elder/starets.

    Just thinking out loud here; as always, bounce these ideas off of your spiritual father. 😉