Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The early life of Seraphim Rose

A correspondent, Alexandra Koltun, has drawn my attention to an interesting detail in the early life of Seraphim Rose, the Russian Orthodox monk in America who was not exactly a Traditionalist, but for whose spiritual life and teachings Traditionalism was of great importance.

According to an article in the Pomona College Magazine (the magazine of Rose's alma mater), as a young man, Rose was gay. As a monk, of course, he would presumably have been celibate. Koltun wrote, "it may be that people who feel out of synch with the surrounding world may unconsciously welcome an ideology that validates their unease." Indeed.


Anonymous said...

A minor but important correction.

One can be homosexual but not be gay.

It is only possible to be 'gay'

1)if one is aware of being homosexual and

2) One self affirming of this does not hide this from others.

It is possible to know one is homosexual and to despise oneself for this--which, according to the Pomona College article, was the predicament Seraphim Rose was in.

In such a situation, one can be a self aware homosexual, but not a self affirming homosexual...and one therefore is not 'gay.'

Homosexual orientation is a matter of neurology.

Being gay is an act that requires first, self awareness and then...self acceptance. Both require a great deal of conscious effort.

To be closeted and gay is therefore, a contradiction.

But there is often confusion about the term 'gay' because the non gay media do not yet understand this nice distinction.

Thus, many media sources will refer to someone as gay, merely because they were detected in compromising circumstances, such as the US Senator Larry Craig who was caught cottaging in a men's restroom at the Minneapolis Airport.

AK, San Francisco

Anonymous said...

I'm a little lost as to how this is significant.

Anonymous said...

If you're in the situation Eugene Rose was in, it is very significant.


Must mention my biggest objection to the biography of Rose, written by Damascene Christensen, which I read in its first edition (Not of this World) is that it purported to be a biography, but covertly was a polemic and did not state clearly to readers what the actual intellectual and social loyalties of its authors were.

I'd looked forward to reading that book because I'd heard many good things about Seraphim Rose and was moved by his sincerity.

Suddenly finding that biography was one long list of squabbles and quarrels, and the sudden and strange introduction of the Toll House doctrine was jarring.

It was like visiting a house and finding oneself in the middle of a vicious family feud..and not even being told there was an ongoing feud or what the issues were.

I had a lingering sense of utter puzzlement about the biography and it was not until years later, when I read Professor Sedgwick's book, Against the Modern World and learned about Traditionalism, that the unspoken biases in the Christensen biography at last became clear to me.

With the best of intentions, Rose and his disciples used the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile as a vehicle to live out a traditionalist agenda and did not clearly state that this was what they were doing.

And this matters, because anyone who sincerely converts to Christianity and does so via this group will risk becoming cannon fodder in the covert traditionalist squabbles that this group considers important.

This hectic atmosphere would not be conducive to prayer.

In Sufi terms, traditionalist feuding would merely aggravate and stir up the 'nafs' while at the same time giving a very misleading boost of energy derived not from God but from ego.

This intensity could be very addictive to anyone who is trying to suppress an underlying depression and worst, could easily be confused with spiritual attainment.

Anonymous said...

An Orthodox Christian who had the priorties straight said, "I want to be part of a church where the focus is on Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ and the saints, not part of a church where the first question asked is,'Who is your bishop?"


Anonymous said...

Isn't this not a strong reason to imangine how fundamental Father Seraphim's conversion was? After he kept chastity and distance! I think there are men created who by birth have to be chaste ...

Anonymous said...

It is hard to understand what Fateher Seraphim did with his life and for others. Orthodoxy is hard to undertand when you are outside. Orthodoxy is hard to live when you are inside.
Father Seraphim saved many souls with his true otrhodox words, that is why no bad word about him or his life can't change this.
First go and see what Orthodoxy is or can be.

A.I., Romania

Anonymous said...

To the poster who said things like:

"Suddenly finding that biography was one long list of squabbles and quarrels, and the sudden and strange introduction of the Toll House doctrine was jarring."

The Toll House doctrine has been an unchallenged part of the Orthodox Church since at least Cyril of Alexandria. Two individuals, a Deacon (now Archbishop) and a priest, standing against the unbroken witness of the Church... I know which side I want to be on, Fr. Seraphim's and the Church's. And how could any serious biography avoid such important events in the life of subject? Such a biography would be complete fluff.

Anonymous said...

To say that homosexuality is a matter of neurology, is to demonstrate that you are under modernist influence. Also, I got nothing but good out of the book "Not of This World." All you saw was negative. I sensed nothing from that book. The toll houses are patristic. Archbishop Lazar is a liar.

Benjamin of Wight said...

Gay is heterosexual and happy, sad is homosexual and unhappy. Using cultural Marxist family destroying language is not on...