anglomedved: (Default)

As a professional translator, most of what I translate got in one ear and out of the other. Rarely does it stick.

The job I have been doing for the last week for the trade unions did. It is basically a 90-page jeremiad on how the organized working class has been (and in my mind will continue to be) squeezed out of the relatively privileged socio-economic position it enjoyed in much of European society until the mid-80s. It has left me pretty depressed, the depression compounded by the present Greek financial crisis, which I am following like a thriller series.

What distresses me is not so much on the actual situation of European policymaking that the text describes rather one-sidedly, but a ghastly feeling that the European structure (‘Brussels’) as presented to us citizens contains too much intellectual dishonesty, with high-sounding principles being used to mask power (the contours of which are often far from clear), and a pseudo-religious tone covering a void of meaning.

I do not much like the Russian system, which is often of blatant power, of dubious legitimacy other than ‘Macht ist Recht’ (might is right). But at least it has the virtue of being obvious. The European system is weasel-worded, fine words rather than real spiritual or moral content, faked legitimacy and a refusal many times to look hard facts in the face, including what our much vaunted democracy is and is not, can and cannot do.

anglomedved: (Default)

Standing in the very naked St Klara Kirche in Nürnberg (Germany) last Monday, I was asking myself as an Orthodox: if I were a priest (out of the question as I am a divorcee) and was asked to celebrate the eucharist in a form of my choosing (again very hypothetical), in this building and for a majority native population (i.e. not the largely refugee populations of most Orthodox parishes in the west), what would it look like? Answer:

- liturgy:

- a traditional western rite (possibly reworded to de-emphasize the sacrificial aspect), or St John Chrysostom with some judicious cutting between the Gospel and the 'Lift up your hearts'

- all prayers, other than the priest’s prayer of confession, said out aloud

- communion of the faithful immediately after the priest

- priest’s position: west facing

- vestments: simple, of modern western cut, in good material

- utensils: plain but of good quality

- music: Gregorian or derivative, eventually znamini (if it works with the language)

- language: as much Latin (the traditional Church language of this part of the world) as I can get away with. But every word said, in Latin or the vernacular, to be understood and believed by the speaker, and intended to be understood by the congregation

- sermon: prepared beforehand, maximum 7 minutes

- other decoration: four or five large, good icons, eventually with an early western medieval feel to them

- movements: well defined and controlled (in particular any processions). Rehearsed where necessary

 While this is all totally hypothetical, and would feel culturally strange to a Russian or Romanian Orthodox visitor, I do not think there is anything inherently non-Orthodox in it. It would not be to everyone's taste, and would not suit every building either. But dare I suggest that this is perhaps what Orthodoxy is going to have to look like, and the quality it is going to have to aim for, in the west if it is ever to get beyond its ghetto status?



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October 2015

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