Today I wish to direct your attention to a post from Fr. Stephen Freeman. Freeman is one of the largest and most influential Eastern Orthodox bloggers, and he blogs at Glory to God for All Things. This post is entitled “Living in the Real World“.
Things do not exist in general. They only exist in specific instances in specific places at specific times, so that we can see and hear and know them. Yet in our media-saturated world we are trained to think of things in the general. We are trained to follow media feeds as they present first one thing, then another, then another…, to live in a state of distraction and passive concern for things in the abstract, things happening far away which the media tells us is important but which we can do nothing about. This is what we consider “real life”. Yet it does nothing except distract us from the people, places, and things which are directly in front of us, from the existence which we are living in.
It is in the life that is directly in front of us that the life of Christian virtue is to be found. Anyone trained in the habits of following the distraction that is our shared media experience will experience frustration when attempting to acquire the Christian virtues, and small wonder. We were created to live in a real world, in the life that is directly in front of us, not in some shared media abstraction. Grace cannot exist in the general. There is no sacrament of the abstract, no sacrament of the general. It is only in the life that is real, the life that is directly in front of us, that we can meet God.