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1  7  2008

 I spent the year 1990  working  on a "restart"  labour department  programme  as  a teacher aide  in a local primary school. I was received with great kindness by the teachers generally, and  went in and out of their classrooms  quite easily.  On  one occasion I was  delivering some  supplies to the teacher's desk  while the  Bible-in-schools  volunteer  was  teaching. The dialogue went something like this: 

Teacher: how do we know this? 
Class: because it is in the Bible.
Teacher: and? 
Class and teacher:  EVERYTHING - IN - THE - BIBLE - IS - TRUE!  

 There would have been some  among the staff  who would have been a bit alarmed by this,   but I  just went quietly on my way and never referred to it publicly until now.  The fact is that although the ecumenical committee that runs religious classes in NZ schools is pretty liberal, and its syllabus books are pretty vague, many of the volunteers on the spot are Open Brethren and other
conservative Evangelicals, often known as Fundamentalists.

 The word Fundamentalist has been badly used in the general sense of fanatic, and applied even to fanatics in non-christian religions. Originally, it arose by reference to a list of doctrines that were believed by their supporters to be fundamental to Evangelical Christianity, and which were believed to be under threat in the nineteenth century, especially by the teachings of the Darwinists, (which have now come to be dominant in most Western education systems.)

 The obvious threat was to the literal interpretation of the book of Genesis, the first book of the "Law" in the Old Testament.  This was not the first threat - the first had been to the old understanding of astronomy. From the days of Plato on, the earth had been understood to be a sphere (YES!) but the sun, moon and all the planets had been thought to travel in orbit around the earth. These orbits had even been equipped with crystal spheres on which the planets were thought to be mounted. And then telescopes were invented, and moons were seen, orbiting around Jupiter, crashing in and out, supposedly, of the crystal spheres. The old cosmology, romantic as it was and beloved of poets, could not survive, except  in a  poetical sense.  The music of the spheres, whereby each planet sang a different note and they all made an harmonious chord, remained as a nostalgic metaphor. 

 No great damage was done to christian thought, because there was no great challenge to christian teaching and the Bible, although there was a bit of fuss about the words of the Psalm: He hath made the round world so fast that it cannot be removed;  Galileo was compelled to admit this, and then added through his teeth: And yet it does move. The challenge, however, was not so much to faith, as to  a long held philosophy of science,  propounded by pre-christian Greeks.

 The impact of Darwin's Origin of Species, however, on accepted christian attitudes
was serious, in two ways: on the literal understanding of the beginning of Genesis, and on the philosophical support of faith through what is called the argument from design.

 The literal, historical truth of all parts of Holy Scripture had not always been so intense an issue. Among the early Fathers  there was a calm  acceptance  of the occasional mistakes  that were noticed:   misquotations  of  the Old Testament in the New Testament, variations between the Greek and Hebrew Old Testaments, even arithmetical approximations such as the statement that King Solomon's pool was round, 10 cubits across, and 30 cubits round (making therefore   pi  equal to 3.0 instead of 3.1416). More serious were the problems the early christians perceived concerning some of the moral attitudes attributed to the LORD in the Old Testament, and stated by the Lord  in the Sermon on the Mount.  The early Fathers usually did not attempt to justify  the  barbarisms  they found, but rather used allegory  and typology  to  give them  a  christian significance.  This interpretation became a significant part of the  Church tradition that was generally held at the end of the first millenium.

 The Church tradition underwent a certain degree of corruption in the West after Rome lost contact with the Eastern Churches. The anchor of catholic consensus was replaced to a large degree by the supposed supreme authority of the Roman Pope, and in support of this notion there arose quite an industry of forging of documents purporting to prove it. Although a good deal of the theological results of all this still remain in the Roman Church, the fact of a forgery industry is admitted by Catholic historians, and a considerable effort has been made to meet the objections of the Protestant Reformers.

 One event, however, seems to me to have been very influential on Western thought:  Constantinople fell, and Greek clergy fled from the Turks, bringing with them manuscripts of the Scriptures and other documents that they wanted to save. For the first time the Latin transmission of documents could be compared with an independent source. One thing was plain:  in spite of many  forgeries, the Scriptures had been acccurately transmitted  in both East and West.  It seems to be  obvious  that  this  is what underlies  the stand  taken by  Martin Luther and the other Reformers, refusing to trust anything except the  Holy Scriptures.  And for the same reason, they insisted on understanding the Scriptures not in a typological, or allegorical, but in a literal sense. 

 We are not concerned at this time with the result of this sola scripture attitude on Protestant unity, although the Catholics pointed it out with some relish. The point for our purpose is that the Protestant reaction to Darwin was so much stronger than the Catholic reaction to Copernicus and Galileo because the Protestants were more desperately dependent on the literal interpretation of Scripture as the source of their authority.

 We are all aware that some groups of Protestants are still investing an enormous amount of effort in defending the literal truth of "everything in the Bible". One must admire their tenacity, but for those of us who hold to traditional Christianity it is possible to hold to a more rational middle ground. A middle ground, however, is what many of those who use Darwin to attack faith do not want. They are very determined to persuade us all that arguments for "intelligent design"  are nothing but a smokescreen for literalist creationism.

 Whereas "intelligent design" is nothing other than one of five very old arguments for believing in God. It was enjoying quite a lot of favour in the eighteenth Century, when a man called Haley put forward his analogy of a watch found on the sea-shore. His argument was simple: a man who found such a watch would not think for a moment that it had sprung into existence spontaneously and by chance. Observing its construction,  he would perceive that it had been designed to indicate  the hours and minutes of the day.

 Now Haley's watch  was not compared only to living things. The argument was equally valid whether the watch was still ticking (living), or had run down (dead). It could be compared to a whale found on the beach, alive or dead, or to an amoeba, that is to the beginning of an "evolution", or to its end.  It could be compared even to a stone found on the beach, for even a stone obeys regular physical laws, and contains a complex structure. If the universe were not animated by the spirit of reason,  then  nothing in it  would  be observed to act regularly.  I should think that  Darwin  did not suppose  his theory  disposed of the argument from design,  since he was explaining  only one aspect  of  one  part of the universe, namely the development  of differentiation  amongst  living  things.  Of life itself,  of Newton's  Laws  of Physics,  he did not claim to explain anything;  which  is why it is generally thought that he was a christian believer, and had no idea  that his theory would be seen as a hindrance to faith.

 The argument from design has been  used by many Christian apologists since Darwin (as well as before)  notably in the 20th Century by Chesterton and Lewis.  In his "Orthodoxy"  Chesterton puts it (from memory) like this:   The sun  comes up  one morning  and you think nothing very special of it. It comes up the next morning and you begin to take notice. It comes up a third day and you begin to suspect a plot.

 Or let us invert the argument:  Let us suppose there is no rationality inherent in the universe. So,  I  take  the stone up from the sand  and I let it go.  The first time it falls  to the earth.  The next time it falls upwards.  The next  time it falls sideways, and  the next time it stays where it is.

 When we say:  I believe  in One God, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible, by  invisible we mean not only angels, but  electro-magnetic fields, gravitation,  and all  the truly invisible things that physicists are firmly convinced are really there;  and by  visible  we mean  that  what we see would not be there to be seen, unless it had been called into existence by an invisible One outside of itself.

 If Darwin, as is generally understood,  was a believer, why was his theory so generally thought to have abolished the reasons for faith?  Because of the  efforts  of those who built a mythology  around it.  If you  argue with one who  uses modern science   against faith, it will  not be long before he is supporting his  position by  denying the  validity  of reason itself - thus abolishing all thought, including science.

 S. Paul tells us that all Scripture is written for our learning. Note, please, that he does not say: the Bible.  Bible is quite a modern word; it is Greek for "books".  "The Bible"  consists of many books:  the Law, the Prophets, the Writings, the Gospels, the Epistles, etc.  We are so used to having them bound up by printers in large volumes that we forget this.  S. Paul is right: they were all written so that we could learn about God, and their focus is in the Gospels where He himself appears most clearly. We should always be reading them so as to know Him better and better.

 We are so used to the Gospels that "in the beginning was the Word"  gets taken for granted.  But its philosophy is profound: before there was a world, there was a spirit of reason / logic (logos). The universe was built on and around this rational spirit and we were given a similar spirit so that we would see Him in His world and be raised by grace to union with his immortal essence.
Fr Jack

address given in Christchurch on Pentecost, 15 6 08

 My vision is for a club for those Orthodox women who wish to have a forum where they can discuss issues important to us as Orthodox  women, especially for those of us who are converts and have had difficulty in integrating our spiritual needs into our present protestant/atheistic/pagan society, and have at times felt isolated in our church life.

  As Orthodox women we have an important role in church life. Women can be theologians; teachers, mothers who pass on the faith to their children, - some of us are called to be priests wives. But, in what ever place we are as nurses, engineers, librarians, neighbours etc.,  we are called to pass on the faith.

  In Dunedin we had a coffee group which met the social side of our Orthodoxy and was made up of the various ethnic groups that worshipped at St. Michael's. (the oldest Orthodox church in N.Z., built about 1912). At present in Wellington a womens' group called "The Myrrh Bearing Women" is a positive example of what I envisage could happen here in Christchurch.

  Visiting my youngest daughter in Wellington, I went with her to her womens' group and was most encouraged by what I found.  The group starts with prayer, then has a book review in English (but not necessarily an English book) and the effect it has had on the reviewer and if it has taught them something that will improve their life. (My daughter is working through the Narnia Chronicles, doing one a year.)   This is followed by  intercessory prayer, then occasionally by a talk  by their priest or a guest speaker on a given topic . They have also done some craft e.g prayer ropes or the making of church breads. They finish with supper.
  As women hold key positions in the church, it is important that we can encourage each other as we study and grow in our faith. I am sure we can make a similar effort in Christchurch which will benefit our church as we get to know one another better, and understand where we are in New Zealand despite whatever ethnic background we belong to. We are all one in Christ. We might not be able to meet frequently, although monthly would seem a good thing to aim for. We are able to use these facilities, and the Canterbury Womens' Club President is keen to support us in developing this group. English would have to be the uniting language but I would hope this would not hold back anyone who would like to join us.

  Please include in your prayers the work women can do for the church here in this country to show forth that the true church is alive and well and cares about all who seek the safety of her arms.

Khourieh Julia

 This address was scheduled as fourth but was moved forward at Mother Julia's request as she became aware that the majority of those to whom it was addressed were not planning to stay after lunch. They were persuaded to stay to hear it, and there was a positive response for which we are most grateful. It will be followed up. The second talk scheduled was by Fr Michael, but he had exhausted himself by bearing  so much of the burden of the Liturgy that he was unable to stay.  By this time most people had left, and in the absence of any expression of a desire to continue, a decision was made to postone the rest of the programme. This apparently disappointed some,  but we were not aware of that at the time, and in face of a meeting that appeared to be turning into a Haydn Farewell Symphony, I did not see what else could be done. We are sorry  if  some would have liked to continue. I wish especially to apologize to the President of the Canterbury Women's Club who because of family sickness had to arrive late, and who came about 1 pm  for the above address, and found us all gone. Fr Michael's address  and those by Fr Dn  Dr  Keith  and myself appear below.
-Fr Jack

Rev Dr Keith Morrison
This address was given at the Wellington Retreat, and was scheduled to be given at the Christchurch Mini-Symposiumn at Pentecost
St Isaac House of Prayer /
Sustainable Community Development
 Research Institute
52 Ollivier Ave Upper Selwyn Huts
RD4 Christchurch New Zealand

 The Kingdom of God cannot be considered separate from the Holy Eucharist. The Kingdom of God has its source in the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist uses language in the present tense as it is participation in the “Holy and Blessed Mysteries” that are the act of redemption and salvation offered and made available once and for all time, and for all, in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Eucharist is our participation in this one life of our Lord and God, Jesus Christ. Our participation in the Holy Eucharist is more than a memorial in the sense of remembering and re-enacting. It is a mystery precisely because it is entry into the world of divine energies deeper and beyond this Creation, into the source and toward the fulfilment of this Creation. It is entry into the infinite and eternal horizon of hope that provides meaning for all life. It is opening the door, simultaneously as having the door opened for us, to see the purpose for life and where life is going. It is enabling of us to be fully ourselves, to the depth of our being, liberated from socio-cultural expectations, good as and helpful as they maybe. It brings us to know ourselves, and to know that we are made to be in communion with God for all time, and to grow in love and ever deepening communion with others through and in this divine communion of ever deepening and illuminating love. This is the mystery of Christ-life and what the Holy Eucharist invites us to participate in. We are offered to eat Christ’s body and to drink His blood so that our whole person, body, mind and spirit is nourished with divine energies; the same divine energies that made all Creation, nurture and fulfil all Creation. We are invited to be ever further healed, enlightened, and fulfilled without end, into eternal infinity. Moreover it is a gift which is continually offered to us, as our will has to be slowly taught and nurtured to become united with the divine Will, to grow into the likeness of God, to become part of Christ’s Body living in the Kingdom of God.

 It is truly a great mystery that the Divine Liturgy, comprising of people, vestments, icons, incense, candles, bread, wine, vessels, books, drama and singing can be the doorway to the whole meaning and purpose of why there is a Creation. But this is what the Church has known for the whole 2000 years of history, and what we continue to live today. The Kingdom of God indwells in the Liturgical tradition of the Holy Orthodox Christian Church. This is the treasure we have been entrusted with. This is the experience of being an Orthodox Christian and what we must pass onto the next generation and must share with all we are able to. All of us who participate in this most precious of all gifts that life offers, are asked by God, who has chosen us to be given this gift, to pass it on to others as a gift of His love for others. He is asking us to do this for Him. We must start with our own children and family and spread out from there. Our family must shine the life of divine peace and joy to be a holy icon revealing the purpose and meaning of what life is truly about for others who live in states of confusion and anxiety. We are asked to be hope-giving yeast in the cold dough of a society that is desperate in its need for warmth and light.

 The Holy Orthodox Church does not however leave it a mystery about how to answer to the call to live in the Kingdom of God and to pass it onto others. Holy Tradition has been created by saints living
in the Kingdom of God for 2000 years, ever moulding and modifying and developing it so as to as best as possible communicate and nurture people into the mystery of the Holy Eucharist and the Kingdom of God. But the reason it works is because God honours the work. God pours out His mercy to reach across the infinite gap of what we are able to do, and to open the door for us, even allowing us to open it with Him. This is the covenant he has made with His Holy Orthodox Church because we are the Church—continuation of the life—of His only Son, Jesus Christ. Moreover He does so consistently so that we are not terrified by Him. We know that we can Trust Him. He allows us to know how He shows His mercy. He is gentle and kind to us, even though we tremble before His absolute power, truth and glory. Holy Tradition provides a sure and trusted way to be guided and nurtured to come to participate into the Kingdom of God; through participation in the Holy Eucharist. This is not to say that God does not also teach and heal through other traditions, as God is God and can do anything, but in the Holy Orthodox Christian Church He provides a sure and trusted way for all.

 From the earliest centuries we have been taught, for example by St Irenaeus, that the path starts with the Holy Spirit blessing us by guiding and teaching us to come to know Christ, and Christ then brings us to the Father. This is the sure pathway that Holy Tradition brings us along. The first stage, the work of the Holy Spirit to bring us to Christ is the way of repentance. It is to transform our way of living to bring it to confirm to how God has commanded us to live. Its most rough outline is the Mosiac law of the Ten Commandments. More fully it is to live the two commandments of love, to love God with our whole being and to love all others as ourselves. This is a fulltime life-long task and it would be a hopeless task of frustration and despair if we did not have the Holy Eucharist to enable us to do so. Not long after St Irenaeus taught about the three stages of entry into the Kingdom of God, St John Chrysostom taught about the “sacrament of the brother”–though we would add nowadays “and of the sister”. It is the continuation of the Holy Eucharist after the church service of the Divine Liturgy, to live the transformed life of meaning and purpose given to us when eating and drinking the divine body of Jesus Christ during the divine liturgy—it is to put it into practice. We are inspired and enabled through the healing and illumination of divine energies from eating and drinking the divine life into us, and in this inspiration we are able to modify our life in steps of growth toward being better able to fulfil the two laws of love.

 The divine life of the Holy Spirit comes first as a flame of love in our heart which inspires us to think and act lovingly. Holy Tradition teaches us how to nurture this divine flame so that it does not fade after receiving communion. This is the way that came to be called “hesychasm”—the path of stillness. The burning flame of love in our heart lifts up to illumine the mind with insights into what is Reality and hence into what needs to be transformed so that we truly repent and start to live in tune with the Will of God. As we learn to do so, the Holy Spirit brings us to come to conform to Christ-Life: we are brought to come to know Christ, and as we do so we come to know the Will of the Father; Christ brings us to know the Father and to enter the Kingdom of God where He, Jesus, is the King and Master of his Father’s New Creation of eternal and infinite life.

 Even more than this, Holy Tradition also provides us with a way with which to fan the divine flame of the Holy Spirit within “hesychasm”, through the use of the Jesus prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me a sinner”. It is said continually, which is literally true. At first however it is only said verbally for certain periods during the day, but slowly through dedication becomes mental and the rhythm of our life, enabling us to avoid reverting back to old habits. It enables us to continue to bring the divine life, given to us during the Holy Eucharist, into the world. Slowly it becomes the reminder to us of what we truly value, when for example we feel tempted to just socially conform because it is easier than continuing on our path of “hesycahsm”. Even though we are no longer even consciously saying the words of the Jesus prayer in our mind, when we need to be reminded of how we are to live, our heart will start beating the words to us to bring us back to remember the path of “hesychasm” we have chosen to be on. The Jesus prayer is now continually being said unconsciously in our heart to protect it. This is what every Orthodox Christian can and should strive to do. It is not something reserved for monks. St Gregory Palamas at the glorious end of the Byzantine Empire, when he was archbishop of Thessalonika, taught it to everyone during his sermons; to lay men and women as well as monks, nuns and clergy. The Jesus prayer in our hearts becomes the witness of the Holy Spirit alive as our true conscience fanning the divine flame of love to inspire us to always keep growing, nurtured by divine energies given to us in the Holy Eucharist. This is how we come to live in the Kingdom of God.

 Our growth nurtured by the divine energies provided by the Holy Eucharist, is a “theandric” life, meaning a union of divine and human. We are united to God within and through our humanness, because of the divine life we fan alive, after receiving it in the Holy Eucharist. This is the great Orthodox Christian mystery and revelation. We are able to know this and achieve it because Jesus Christ revealed it and continually offers it to us through the Holy Eucharist. It is also why we venerate holy icons, as they truly reveal the image of God. But even more importantly, it is what Jesus taught us, as communicated through the Gospels, that we are to love everyone as Himself, that is, to see the potentiality of “theandric” life in everyone. To see this potentiality is to love another. Every parent and teacher knows that a child will grow into the expectations we have of them. So to love another person is to see the potentiality of life in them and to relate to them as this potential. This is also why we are told by Jesus not to judge others. Our work is to nurture the growth of others by forgiving them everything and to keep seeing the potential which is there, which our love may eventually spark and then fan into a flame. This is how we live in the Holy Spirit and nurture others to as well. It is to compassionately guide, teach and correct. This is how we live, and simultaneously nurture in others, the fullness of “theandric” life—to live Christ-life in the Kingdom of God. It is to see everyone as an icon. It is to see everyone as they potentially can become, through our love for each other in an Orthodox Christian community. It is why not only the holy icons, but all of the people present at the Eucharist, are incensed. But it goes even further than this. The great theologian, St Maximos the Confessor, also pointed out that the image of God we can perceive in everyone when we love with a pure mind able to see God, is also seen in all of Creation. In his words we are to gather together all these innermost essences of nature into the one Christ image. In other words, we are to see the unity of all in Christ that Christ prayed for. We are to see the wholeness and fulfilment of all Creation in its beauty and goodness, and to know that this is the Truth about Life. It is to live in the Kingdom of God not only in community with others but also within all of Creation. This is why Orthodox Christian buildings are created beautiful by artists who express the innermost essences of Creation which they have gathered together; to reflect back to God the glory of His Creation, and to help nurture us to come to the door of the Kingdom of God in our hearts.

 The opening of the heart to this vision of the Kingdom of God as the innermost essence—source, pathway and fulfilment—of all reality, is to come to oneself. Often this is accompanied by tears. Indeed St Isaac the Syrian says it always is. It is a realisation of what one has been and what has not achieved and it is a complete turning of oneself toward the divine Light of God shining now in one’s heart, loving everyone and seen shining in everyone’s faces and in the beauty of Creation. This divine rest is the stillness of “hesychasm”. It is our touch with Reality—these blessed tears.

 This resting in the Spirit, where we are not active with our will, does not however last forever. We have to continue to use our will and return to the “theandric” life of working to unite our will to the Will of God. And we can never do this perfectly. We need to recognise that we cannot. We need to recognise that precisely because we are working with our will we have to explore and continually learn to become and to remain attuned to God’s Will. Only when resting in the Spirit do we stop this. God does not give us merely a set of rules to obey as an authoritarian figure, but rather the creative will to choose to seek to be united with His Will by learning to love so that His life lives in us. So it is important we recognise both when we are doing it right and when we are doing it wrong. It is our responsibility that He wants us to take hold of. We need to recognise the anxieties which indicate we are running off the side of the pathway, just like the judder lines do on the edge of a motorway. We also need to recognise the pathway ahead, that St John Climacus termed the divine ladder of ascent. It is a journey steadily upwards. It is not an easy slide downhill. It is steady uphill work; never impossible, but always work.

 The steady uphill pathway can be discerned in three complementary ways. First as the One Light that shines out of every face when we love them, and that shines out of the beauty in Creation, and which is the clarity of our mind to see the truth. Second in the communion of personal relationships with others and with all of creation, where we respect and nurture the creativity and growth of others and of all creation. Third it is the warmth of compassion to love and not to judge others even though we can see the lack of fulfilment in others’ lives and in the destruction of Creation. Our job is to nurture its healing and growth; to overcome evil not to judge it.

 We are called in this way to share and to pass onto others this the greatest gift; the Christ-life maintained by the Orthodox Christian church in the Holy Eucharist. We do so by bringing knowledge to them about the Holy Eucharist and Holy Tradition first and foremost through our everyday life, by how we love them. But we need to do so with discernment. We need to be able to maintain our life in the Spirit if we are to help others. If we are not able to, it is better that we do not start to help them according to St Isaac the Syrian. To be able to help others we have to prepare to struggle and suffer. We need to be prepared for this. Whenever we do something to share the truth we must expect and plan to suffer. Whenever we do this we are living Jesus Christ’s life, which in this world is to suffer, and this suffering is His glorification. Even though it may not be seen, such life of suffering shines the divine life. This is how we live most fully the life offered to us in the Holy Eucharist, but we need to prepared to be able to do so. To do so we need “hesychasm”; to become balanced and stable to know what we truly can offer at the stage we are at. We need to dwell in the Kingdom of God if we are to pass it onto others.

 This article is not an academic discussion and is rather based on experience. Nevertheless it has been cross referenced to, and the experiences guided by written works that have worked as vehicles of grace. Some of the most pertinent literature pertaining to what is covered by this article in the experience of the author can found in the Select Bibliography below.

Select Bibliography

Mathew the Poor, 2003. Orthodox Prayer Life: The Interior Way, SVSP: Crestwood New York.
Palamas, Gregory, 1983. The Triads, Paulist Press: Mahwah New Jersey.
St Isaac the Syrian, 1984. The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian, Holy Transfiguration Monastry: Boston.
St Maximus the Confessor, 1981. The Philokalia Volume 2, Faber and Faber: London, pp 48-305.
Chryssavgis, John, 2000. Soul Mending: The Art of Spiritual Direction, Holy Cross Press.

10 6 08

  When we first settled at Ashley, we began to collect various sorts of fowl. Quite early, we had a couple of geese, and they soon had a family. At that time there was a lot of talk from the feminists against what they supposed to be a Victorian notion concerning the human family.  The behaviour  of our   family of geese made us think the feminists  had set themselves  rather an uphill battle, for  the gander and his wife and children looked for all the world like a Victorian  father  taking his family  on a walk in Hyde Park.  They followed  him  dutifully and he kept them  in order with little pecks.

  Physical or mental cruelty is a serious evil, whether within families or elsewhere.  But the behaviour of our geese, and many other animals, makes it difficult to believe that the origin of this terrible violence is in some Victorian (or traditional human) notion of hierarchy.  The concept of "peck order" is so familiar that we must regard hierarchy as a general characteristic of animals.  If we think human beings ought to be above that, and more "rational", then we are resorting to the idea that human beings are above other animals because of their capacity (or very much greater capacity) for reason.  We are using the concept expressed in the Greek liturgical texts which refer to the human race in the Church as the Lord's "rational sheep"  "or reason-endowed flock". And this is interesting, since the philosophy of liberal humanists is usually unwilling to admit such a concept. Can it be a sign that the dominant philosophy of our age has a chance of escaping from the secularist mindset? One can only hope so.

 Those who drive  public opinion have now  expanded their attention to address  bullying in schools.  I can only rejoice at this.  I  know  from personal  experience  what it is to  be  attacked, especially in  secondary schools, both as a pupil and as a teacher. I will not attempt to improve on Mr C.S. Lewis' account of his experiences, for which account, even though he had by then become
an adult writer of considerable repute, he earned further attacks . I will only say that my parents were aware of my problem, and discussed it with one of my teachers for whom I had a very high regard. I learned later that he was aware of it, but did not know how he could intervene without making the situation worse. My parents could only suggest that I "stand up for myself"  which I could only interpret as advice to return violence with violence. I can therefore understand the feelings of despair experienced by many pupils in our day, both in secondary and in primary schools, and in the psychological battleground of cyberspace.

 The secular humanist remedy for this, as for most problems, is "education". Appeal is to be made to reason, and an attempt  is being made to tip the power balance against the bullies.  One can only hope that  this may have some effect. But, as our reformers  are accustomed to say, it is necessary to look into the roots  of bad behaviours. Is it not rather obvious that in many cases this bullying is just another example of general animal behaviour?  We are  accustomed to the idea of a "herd instinct" amongst many animals.  The norm of the herd is imposed on any non-conforming individual. Is not  bullying in schools an example of this?  And is it not, as has been said about other matters, a reflection of a general attitude in society? New Zealand is not alone in having a strongly conformist mentality, but from the early days of the colony the tendency has been reported, to close ranks against the newcomer, even those only 10 years more recent than the first.  It would be  unjust not to  mention  those  who succeeded by some sort of excellence in standing against the herd; but so often they first had to make space for themselves by leaving the country.   If they returned,  it was  sometimes  with  sufficient  strength of experience to  resist  the herd and even influence it a little. Nevertheless I suggest that even in its somewhat more enlightened state,  our society is still highly conformist, and the very people, who are directing our attention against "bullying",  are active in bringing pressure to bear on any who dissent from their ideology; especially if the dissent is based on traditional Christianity. The law change which was recently engineered, in order to make physical correction equivalent to child abuse, is an obvious example of a herd mentality triumphing over sweet reason. We may not wish to defend "smacking"; but we must surely be worried by those who showed themselves so impervious to all reason, and so unwilling to recognize any range of differences, in their commitment to the cause. And there was recently an unedifying debate on "climate change"  in which reference to logic and facts was mixed with intimidation even of scientists by scientists, not without smirking faces.

 Can we hope to see our society evolve into one where the conclusions, that each reaches by his thinking, are respected by all?  For surely that is the true meaning of a liberal society.  Not a society  in which all  submit blindly to a "liberal" code, but one in which the same minority rights are accorded to Christians, as to Hindus and  Mahommedans  and  Buddhists, and even to practitioners of pre-christian Maori religion;  where amongst Christians you do not have to be a fundamentalist or a liberal to be accepted; where the christian clergy receive their proper titles just like other professionals; where a TV discussion of topical issues becomes an exploration of reasons instead of a contest in intimidation.

 Then we may hope that a general attitude of mutual respect may even filter down into the nation's playgrounds, and even (dare we hope) into the dark streets where the nations's dispossessed congregate.

 There is also, of course, individual  bullying or intimidation
("one on one", to use our charming contemporary idiom).  In this also, I remain  unhappy  about  my parents'  advice.  If there  is anything  that  marks off the teaching of our Lord  from  all other,  it is that we should not  "stand up for  ourselves".  That is, that  we should absolutely  refuse to be drawn into "power games". Of course, Our Lord does teach us to stand up for the truth, and to stand up for him. Some of us used to sing a hymn about this: "Stand up, stand up for Jesus". Yes, indeed, for the truth, for Jesus, for righteousness, for others who suffer injustice;  - but not  for  ourselves.

 In my youth  there  was some popular writing on  what was called "one-up-man-ship". It was amusingly written, and some of us may have been seduced by the humour into thinking that power games were amusing and therefore acceptable. For myself, I cannot get over the plain drift of our Saviour's teaching, even if I do not always manage to follow it. It is summed up in some words that I  was sent recently, and sent on to others, about "Learning Jesus":  "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls".

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners.
Fr Jack

Andrei Rublev Trinity Icon

   God cannot be grasped by the mind.   If God could be grasped God would not be God. – Evagrius of Pontus

  Let us love one another, so that with one mind we may confess Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Trinity, one in essence and undivided.
- A prayer recited during the Orthodox Liturgy.

 In the framework of the O.T. theophanies I would first of all mention especially that of the apparition of the three "Angels” to Abraham because of the place  this event has received in Christian tradition.

 In Genesis Chap 18.2 “So he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men stood before him …" 18.3  "O Lord, if I have now found grace in your sight ….”

18.8 "and he stood by them under the tree as they ate."   This evokes the text of St Gregory Nazianzen: “No sooner do I place before the mind the One, than I am surrounded by the splendour of the Three.   No sooner do I distinguish the three than I am brought back to the One”.   (Sermon 40). they talk, or rather one of them talks, while the other two remain silent; then they set out for Sodom, where they will act in the house of Lot.   It illustrates a decisive moment in the life of Abraham and Sarah.   In this early Christian community it was recognized as a revelation of the Holy Trinity; three Persons within One God.

 After the division of the Kievan kingdom in Russia In the 13th Cent, the divided country was unable to withstand the onslaught of the Mongol invaders.  It was St Sergius of Rodonezh who rallied the forces against the invaders and who founded the great Monastery of Sergievo Posad, he died in 1392. St Nikon, St Sergius successor built the stone church of the Holy Trinity 1422 over the place where the remains of St Sergius lay. On St Nikon’s orders. Andrei Rublev and his old friend Daniil, monks from the Andronikov monastery in Moscow were to decorate the interior of the Holy Trinity Church, between 1422 and 1427. In the chronicles of the monastery it is remembered how on feast days, when they rested from their work, they would “sit in front of the divine and venerable icons and look at them without distraction …..they constantly elevated their thoughts to the immaterial and divine light.

 (1) Before the three figures is an altar on which stands a gold chalice containing, in miniature, a blood-red lamb's body symbolizing the sacrificial death of Christ, the Lamb of God. (Later in life, Abraham was to sacrifice a lamb in place of his son Isaac). The image reminds us that, through the chalice, Christians are brought into communion with the Holy Trinity.  There is a sense of silent conversation among the three figures. The biblical text most often linked with their exchange comes from the Gospel of John: "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:16-17).  If one were to search for a single word to describe the icon, it is the word "love." The Holy Trinity itself is a community of love so perfect that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one. All creation is a manifestation of God's love. The Incarnation of Christ is an act of love as is every word and action that follows, even if at times it is what Dostoevsky calls "a harsh and dreadful love." (1)

 The Angels are grouped in the order of the Symbol of Faith, from left to right.   I believe in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. To the total impossibility of depicting the first Person, who is referred to in a reserved and reticent manner, corresponds the sober and indefinite hue of the upper garment of the Angel on the left (a pale pink cloak with brown and blue green lights.) Testimony concerning the second Person is extensive compared with the others and even precise to the point of historical indication (in the time of Pontius Pilate); to this there corresponds the precision and clarity of colouring in the Central Angel whose garment has the customary colours of the incarnated Son of God (a purple chiton and a blue cloak).   Finally the principal colour of the third Angel is green – the colour of his cloak – which according to the interpretation of St Dionysius the Areopagite signifies youth, fullness of powers. This specifically indicates the properties of the third Person of the Holy Trinity, reviewing all the things and giving them life.   The subtly conceived harmony and relationship of colours is one of its chief attractions. Each head is submissively inclined toward one of the others; none of the three assumes an imperial attitude.   There is an atmosphere of love, freedom, timelessness, rest, and the most intimate communion.   The sense of oneness is achieved primarily through the gentle attentive engagement of the three with each other, the joining of eyes. Due to inverted perspective, there is no vanishing point.   The three figures are not part of a disappearing plane but rather seem to move ever closer to the person before the icon, showing that God is here and everywhere.

 (2) One can say without fear of contradiction," Paul Evdokimov has written, "that nowhere in the world is there anything like it from the point of view of theological synthesis, symbolic richness and artistic beauty." But the light of the icon slowly dimmed. As decades passed the smoke produced by thousands pf candles blackened the image. Twice the image was repainted, but each time in darker colors and with the addition of new details. Finally the whole icon except the faces and hands was covered by a golden oklad - an embossed metallic sheet. What had once been visible in paint was rendered in cluttered relief.  It was only in 1904 that a restoration commission freed the icon from its oklad and began the slow and painstaking removal of the overpainting that masked Rublev's work. What their effort finally revealed has ever since amazed those who have been privileged to stand in front of the actual icon. The uncovering of the Holy Trinity icon was a momentous event, doing much to inspire the return to classic iconography.  The miraculous grace of its colours and translucence defies even the most exacting efforts at reproduction. (2)

 When Churches were being desecrated by the Bolsheviks many icons were destroyed but the Trinity Icon was placed in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

 Saint Pavel Florensky said: “an icon remembers its prototype.”  And again: “What the words of the sermon are for the ear, so the icons are for the eye – both have as their subject the same spirituality.”
 “The honour of the image”, says St Basil, "is raised to the archetype. Therefore, we venerate relatively the images of Christ the Saviour and all the saints, and clinging to them, we shall never now be dragged down to impiety.”

 St Gregory of Nyssa: “The person who contemplates the beauty of the image also achieves knowledge of the original model.”
“In the icon the body is simply the support for the face; the face but a setting for the gaze.

(1&2) Quotes from "Praying With Icons"  - Jim Forest.
Suggested reading: " The menaing of Icons" - Ouspewnsky & Lossky. "The Art of the Icon" - Paul Evdokimov.

May, 2008

Fr Jack's thoughts as an amateur philologist

   After some fifty years during which the christian world has been energetically updating everything, we are beginning to see the publication of liturgical texts and biblical versions in the Orthodox world in what is usually called "modern English." I am becoming aged, and my reaction could be seen merely as the result of that age ; but on reflection I believe there is more to the matter.

 Of course, it is true that as a child I was immersed in the language of the Book of Common Prayer. On the authority of  the choirmaster (" I think perhaps that boy ought to be an alto")  I  should think  I often sang flat; but I remember no time that the language gave me any difficulty, apart from the odd phrase

"Christ the Royal Master
Leans against the phone"
which I apparently misquoted to my parents once. But I remember no time when the meaning of  thou, thee, thy, thine, ye, you, your, yours were not quite clear to me; and of course that is what people mean when they talk of modern English: a language in which these words, and the distinct meanings appropriate to them, have become disused.

 There is also a more general meaning conveyed by the term "modern English":  it refers to the general shift in style and syntax, and in the meanings of a number of words, which are thought to render the English of the 16th century obscure to us of the 21st. In so far as this is actually true, I see no difficulty in  updating  these expressions.  But  in so far as  these changes  merely give the earlier language a certain antique  flavour,  it seems to me  that they do no harm, and  some good: they remind us that the words have come to us through a considerable period of time, and in order to understand them properly, we need to tune in to the culture within which they were said and recorded. Of course the evolution of English since Shakespeare's time is not the  same as the evolution of Greek from the time of the Septuagint to that of S. John Chrysostom;  but it can convey an air of cultural remoteness which Greeks, used to the language of the marketplace  or the racing arena, might sense in texts which had been written by Greek-speaking Hebrews conveying a Hebrew original (old or new testament) a few centuries earlier. In this regard I think Mr  Lewis did us a disservice  in his  preface to J.B. Philips'  modern English  version  of the Epistles. He managed to give the impression that the Epistles, being written in koine Greek, would have sounded as "common" as a race commentary. Perhaps he was overcompensating for his own supposed antiquarian bias; yet when discussing C. of E.  updates  of the  Prayer  Book, he  ridiculed  the replacement of  "indifferently" by "impartially"  in an anecdote  in  which  an uneducated man was  asked the meaning of the two words: "impartially" he did not understand at all;  but "indifferently"  he understood readily in its  16th-century sense, not in its  modern educated sense.

 The decades after J.B. Philips  were full of modernizations of  bibles and of prayers; typical was the New English Bible, in which every effort was made to make the language sound "contemporary"  (with the 1950s, of course, not with the first century).  I was fortunate to attend a lecture to the Otago University Classical Society by one of the translating panel of the New English Bible.  He  conveyed some  discouraging facts about the  Septuagint which amounted to the probability that the only "dictionary" that the LXX elders had was a fragment of Homer a few pages long; and possibly excursions into the street to interrogate passing Greeks.  I found this rather convincing at the time, but I have since learned to be cautious  of western scholars who approach ancient christian sources from the angle of their own classical studies. However,  the story I really want to repeat from him is this: in their concern to be contemporary, the New English Bible committee had made lists of possible equivalents of the Greek words, and taken them to those who might be thought to be experts on the particular concept. So they had made a list for "fatted calf", and they took it to a butcher at Smithfield. This gentleman examined the list with care, and declared that the expressions were very suitable (I cannot remember the list now).  "But", he said, "there is really only one expression that we use in the trade for exactly this animal, and it is  'fatted calf' ".

 Thus the "authorized version", like Luther's bible and others, has left its imprint on everyday language.

  When I joined the Orthodox Church in 1971, I was content enough to leave behind me all the pressure to be up-to-the-minute; better to be 2000 years out of date, we were saying, than six months. There seemed to be no prospect that the Orthodox Church would join this rush for modernity. Some jurisdictions were not bothering about English at all; we and the Russians had settled for Miss Hapgood's  Prayer  Book style;  and  the American Western Rite  was settled on  the  Prayer  Book  texts. As we in NZ organized ourselves with materials from the NY Archdiocese,  we found ourselves using the same Hapgood language or something very similar. We were encouraged by the thought that the Orthodox Church had respect not only for her own historical culture, but even for that of the English. Until booklets began to be printed in Australia in the 90s using a translation by a heterodox academic, in which the style now called "modern English" was used.  We now have quite a body of Arabic-English booklets, in which the English is in the same "contemporary" style, and I understand that many are very happy with it.

 I don't want to offend those who are using these translations. But I would like them to understand, not that I am a fuddy-duddy who likes  an air of antiquity,  but  that  in at least one matter  the  contemporary  language is  unequal  to its subject.  The air of antiquity  is only a matter  of  taste. But every other language used for  Orthodox services has a clear distinction between singular and plural in the second person;  and "contemporary"   English does not.

 One modern translation, the first American Revised Standard Version, thought to compromise by addressing God as "thou" and everyone else as "you". Some of the Antiochian Byzantine Project service materials went down that line, although the WR Vicariate did not. It was possibly due to a short-lived ecumenical agreement to make the RSV into a "Common Bible". In the end only the Orthodox honoured that agreement, and it lapsed.  And just as well. For the question is not that of having a holy pronoun for God and a common one for everyone else. It is  a matter  of knowing whether  one person is being addressed, or more than one. One ought not to have to have recourse to the original to find this out.

 When I was in university, one of the popular theological works was "I and Thou"  (Ich und Du) by the Jewish philosopher Dr Martin Buber.  In order to write this article I have borrowed and read it. I am sorry to say that much of it is quite obscure to me and that is probably my fault; I cannot even be sure whether I have read it before.  But  the general drift appears to be what those who discussed it then believed it to be:  there  are two  relationships we can  be involved in, one "I-Thou"   and the other  "I-It".  "I-Thou" is a personal relationship,  and  "I-It"  is  a  relationship to an object.  Relationships to other persons, including God, are appropriately "I-Thou", yet  they often degenerate into "I-It".

 Before leaving Dr Buber, I should say that I was impressed at how far he, as a Jewish philosopher, was able to view sympathetically not only Buddhism and other religious traditions, but also Jesus and Christianity. I should guess that  renewed reading of his famous book would be of considerable benefit to today's academic world. This thought is intensified by the discovery that there is now a second translation in which "I-Thou"  has been replaced  by  "I-You". (thus introducing again the confusion between singular and plural: the relationship "I and thou"  is not the same relationship as "I and ye", no matter what "intimacy" the later translator may have thought he found in "You").

 Now we must come to the real point:   Thou or  ye,  thee or you,  thy  or your, etc. Why have all these been reduced in "modern English" to you, your, yours? 

 Because of snobbery.  Because of what the holy Apostle James denounces as "respect of persons". Because people came to believe that some people were more important than others, and that making this distinction was more important than  distinguishing  between singular and plural. I  used to think that  this custom was invented by the  French,  who  wrought so  much other  damage  to English (and the English, and their Church) after the Norman Conquest. The difference in spelling systems between Old English and Middle English are due to the imposition by the invaders of the Norman French system, which is responsible for at least half of our present spelling chaos.  But recently I have learned that "the style of using a plural to show high respect came into Latin by at least the 6th century
"  (e-mail  from Fr Aidan).  So perhaps  it made its way  into  the modern European languages  by descent from Latin.  In any case, the custom  of using the plural  for the singular  is now in use not only in the romance languages, but also in Russian, German and Dutch,  and probably others that I don't know of.  It  is found in Shakespeare alongside the earlier usage; when it began in popular speech I do not know. The Quakers, to do them credit, resisted the custom on Christian grounds for some time, but eventually they succumbed. But only in English and Dutch, so far as I know, did this silly affectation go so far  as to suppress entirely all the original forms of the singular.  My knowledge of Dutch is limited, but the grammars I have consulted and the native speakers I have interrogated have yielded no form cognate with thou and (Fr. & Lat.) tu and (Russ.) ty and (Germ.)du and (Gk) sy, etc. Instead Dutch appears to have coined a new plural "jullie" (you people) just as the Texans have coined "y'all"  and Mickey Mouse's nemesis Black Pete used to say "youse guys".

 It may be thought that having a second person pronoun that may be singular or plural is of little importance.  As for the dative/accusative form, it may seem unimportant too, but we all use it (usually correctly) with all the other pronouns, and we understand the meaning.  The fact is that, contrary to what is often said, not all changes in language are natural and therefore to be accepted. Some of them obscure the meaning, and one of the few good things I can find to say of the French is that they have an Academy to protect their language from debasement (especially by borrowings from English).

  The part of my article that follows is actually the most important, as in it  I shall explore the  nuances of meaning  that are  lost  because, of all the languages used by the Orthodox, English has no way of showing clearly whether one  is being addressed, or many.

 On the one occasion that I pointed this out to an Arabic congregation that had the new English form in front of it, they understood me immediately, even though I think I was using the Hebrew forms as I remembered them; but I have obtained what I hope are the correct forms for the Arabic words in question in the following well-known example:
                                                                  Dominus vobiscum.                                    Et cum spiritu tuo.
           The Lord (/Peace) be with you [ma'akom]    And with thy spirit [ruhika]

 Whether in Greek, Latin, Slavonic, Arabic, or any other language including English up to about 1700, it is quite clear that the first speaker is one, and the second are many. For the last  40  years  the  Catholics and the Anglicans  have  been  saying:   And with  you  (also),   but now the catholics are replacing the word spirit because it has a doctrinal significance (the grace of holy orders),  and we may hope  they may soon remember that singular and plural have a meaning too.

 In my copy of the Altar English Missal there is a curious usage in the prayer before the blessing, in which the priest says: "acceptable to thee, O holy Trinity"; but then goes on:  "before the eyes of your majesty". There is nothing in the Latin to justify this, and I can only suppose that in that year the editors were trying to be cute about the doctrine of the Trinity.  Apparently they thought better of it, as I find it nowhere else. Let us leave that curiosity, and consider some ways in which the wealth of expression in holy Scripture and the liturgies  can be lost if everything is reduced to "you"

1.Hosea 11
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
As they called them so they went from them; they sacrificed unto Baalim,
and burned incense unto graven images.
I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love:
He shall not return unto the land of Egypt.

2. Amos 3
You only have I loved of all the nations on earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.

3. Micah 6
O my people, what have I done unto thee, or wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against me.
For I brought thee up out  of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants;
and I sent before thee Moses, and Aaron, and Miriam.

4. Good Friday Liturgy
For thy sake I smote Egypt with her first-born;
and thou hast smitten me and delivered me up.
Agios o Theos, etc.

 The Prophets are alternating between singular and plural:  he, them, them, him; you, thee; treating the nation of Israel now as many, now as one person, (united in the person of their forefather Jacob/Israel), with whom the Lord is in an I-Thou relationship. The language is all the more poignant because of this choice of words; but it becomes invisible if only you can be said, and not thou. I used the RSV for many years, and so I still have to find a passage in it, and them look up the reference in the AV, to find out whether the singular or the plural is used. This should not be necessary. In Amos the people of Israel are many, but in Micah and the Good Friday reproaches they are addressed as one. The nation of Israel, designated by Isaiah as God's suffering servant, is also understood by Christians as becoming one person in the Messiah, who unites the whole nation in himself, and then expands again into the new Israel, the Church.

 The  above illustrations may seem a little obscure. The following passage is unmistakeable, and famous; it is the subject of a well-known icon of the holy Trinity,
[see above, at the head of Fr Michael's address]

because of its curious alternation, while speaking apparently of the same person/persons,  between  singular (1) and plural (3):                          Genesis 18

 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day: 2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw [them]*, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground. 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort your hearts: after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. 6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead [it], and make cakes upon the hearth. 7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave [it] unto a young man: and he hasted to dress it. 8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set [it] before them; and he stood by them under the tree. and they did eat.

9 And they said unto him. Where [is] Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. 10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard [it] in the tent door, which [was] behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; [and] it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child which am old? 14 is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. 15 Then Sarah denied. saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh. 16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
* The translators of the AV, wishing to be totally transparent to the original, italicized all words that had had to be inserted to conform to English idiom. This has sometimes been misunderstood, so I have placed the words in question in square brackets instead. - FrJ

  The Church Fathers very soon noticed this very curious alternation between one and three, and found in it a prophecy of the holy Trinity. O course, it is also possible to rationalize the alternation by saying that the one Lord appeared through the three angels, his representatives, and that one of them is a spokesman, and the dialogue alternates between him and them.  Nevertheless, it still strikes one as very curious, as you can see from the red print with which I have marked the words in question. It would also be possible to explain the alternation as an example of the JPD document editing theory;  but I doubt if we should learn anything of value from that, even if true; what we have to learn from is the canonical text, not some hypothetical reconstruction of sources. No, this is a very strange piece indeed, and we can learn much from it, and mainly along the lines of 1) Isaac as the son of promise, 2) Typology of the holy Trinity. But for my present purpose it is enough to observe that translation into any language that cannot distinguish between 2. person singular and 2. person plural will make (excuse my language) a dog's breakfast of the whole thing.

 I hope I have said enough to convince you that we have a serious defect here in our much-vaunted "modern English". Never mind about the charming antiquity of the AV, which, as you can see from the examples above, does not present any serious obstacle to understanding.  Our language ought to make clear whether one or many are being addressed, and in its contemporary state it does not. Ought we to do something? is there anything we can do?

 Well, our  self-confident journalists find no difficulty in carrying out experiments on our language.  One of the latest is the omission of "the" where it occurs in some place-names. Presumably on the absurd ground that some languages do not have a word for "the"?  but we have known that, for as long as Latin and the Slavonic languages have existed, and still we have said "the Ukraine" etc.

  Why should we not show the same boldness, but for a more worthy reason? and begin to restore thou, and ye, etc., and the corresponding verb endings, whenever we need to make clear whether we mean singular or plural? If we don't, it will only be a matter of time before we are all saying "youse"; and doubtless some other monstrosity  for the singular.  And if we simply  lack the nerve to do that  (the English lost their belief in themselves  about a century ago, so I suppose we  shall   lack the nerve)  then AT  LEAST let us display the holy Scriptures and the holy Liturgies in a language worthy of their sacred content.  A capital Y on You is just not good enough, for the reasons I have given. 

  I think these remarks apply equally to the holy Scriptures, and to the Eastern and Western liturgical traditions. But I have confined my examples to the tradition that is native to me, and in which I feel confident. Many of you are aware that I have spent some years constructing a version of the Western Office and Mass intended to be Orthodox in doctrine and authentic in its detailed content. I began with the English Missal (Knott's) and the Monastic Diurnal and Matins (Canon Douglas, and the Welsh nuns), because these had been authorized by the North American WR Vicariate. All these were in Prayer Book English and the AV. I had to change many things in editing a non-monastic Breviary; and now I am correcting the monastic one by reference to more ancient sources.  But I never had to alter the "Elizabethan" style, and I have come to love it more and more dearly. In my postgraduate year Julia and I lived in Germany, and since then I still feel a greater kinship with my somewhat profligate immigrant grandfather than with my one English and two Welsh grandparents. Two things  I can never forget:  that many Germans still today learn English in order to read Shakespeare, not in German, but in his original language, which they find easier than modern English;  and secondly, that English even today is a Germanic language. A pastor in Hanover who corresponded with me for a few years told me that he was very comfortable with my liturgical English, as it had more in common with German. He went on to say that it was not usually appreciated that, when our S. Winfrid (Latin Boniface) went to Germany as a missionary, he had no need of an interpreter, but spoke in his own Old English (Anglo-Saxon) and was understood by his hearers in Saxony and other parts of Germany, just as the Scandinavian nations still understand one another to this day.  That is, our languages, in spite of different histories, have had a parallel development, and preserved much of their family relationship, for 1500 years, so that if we want a word for the diction of the Book of Common Prayer and the "King James" version, we should not call it "Jacobean"  (the Stuart Jameses and Charleses define precisely the time when the modern ambiguous "you" was beginning to displace the forms which go back to Old English and Indo-European), nor "Elizabethan", since we also are Elizabethans)  but, what it was commonly called in the 1950s:  "timeless English". Its style is not that of a particular age of English, but more than anything else, it simply reflects the diction of the original languages, as translations always did until 20th century academia became obsessed with making the ancient authors sound as if they had just stopped watching TV. Fortunately I was trained in translation before that idea had got very far, and so I have little use for versions that are not so much a reflection in comprehensible language of the whole meaning of the original, as a chain of clichés giving an illusion of meaning based mainly on familiarity. Which is another way of saying that our modern translators make their readers captive to their own interpretations, and imprison them in their own purely contemporary minds. In rather the same way as (?Albert Schweitzer?)  said: Harnack looked down the well of history for the historical Jesus, and saw his own liberal protestant face reflected in the water.

  Please forgive me if I am insufficiently sensitive to the needs of those who know no language but their own. I cannot remember back far enough to understand what that is like. But since we first decided against using "baby-talk" to our children, I have had a fierce dislike of the patronizing custom of "spoon-feeding" people by underestimating their intelligence. And since I do have something in common with other "translators",  I dare to think  that  they often seem to be doing exactly that.
Fr Jack