“The privation of love always generates angry denouncers or astringent prophets”

Love emerges like the dawn and dispenses all the fears of the night shadows. That is why a radiant fearlessness is also a sign of true love. He who has experienced blessed reciprocity does not fear because he does not demand. He has everything because he has renounced everything. “He has sold all that he had.” Everything. He has bought “the pearl of great price.”

At the opposite pole of the richness of erotic non-acquisitiveness is the loveless acquisitive passion for religious righteousness. The price of the tragic privation of love on the altar of greed for religious egotism. The loveless bigot suffers from privation, suffers from a manic self-passion for self-esteem. He is impaled hopelessly on the law to secure the apparent righteousness of his tragic privation. And the law transforms the privation into an overabundance of aggressive ardor. The unloving person becomes insensitive, a harsh judge of every weakness, every human failure. Rigidly hostile towards any who don’t suffer with him an unsatisfying privation.

Every “dogma” and “confession” produces its own type of person dedicated to God. But in every part of the world these persons are generally governed by fear in the same way. They are terrified by a fear of how easily shattered is the common recognition of their dedication. That their reputation should not be sullied, that their good name should not be doubted, or their spirituality, which is the consequence of their privation. They are in love with their dedication, with the idolized egotistic purity, not with God.

When “purity” becomes “bitterness” the inner life of a person is darkened. The darkness is dense but invisible to the person himself. In no other way can he endure the privation, the inability to love, but he does not see, he does not dare to see how unbearable it is. The collapse of his resistance, the dark shattering of his inner world, throws out a blind fanatical certainty of objective collapse. It is society or the world that is collapsing.

The privation of love always generates angry denouncers or astringent prophets. The former castigate the “rot of society,” the “dissolution of the family,” “the decay of morals.” The latter foresee the coming of the end of the world, general catastrophe, the approach of doom. They transfer to the world’s pulse the inverted standard of their own endurance. The endurance produces rigidity. The tragedy must come to an end, and with it the whole world unconsciously identified with their own ego.

How do you distinguish the real God from the phantasm embodied in trembling insecurity? A codified phantasm that haunts the labyrinths of the law measures our sterile privations with the thread of future requital, a thread leading nowhere. However much we want the thread to be a guarantor of our egotistic security, since it only measures, it is of its self only a threat. A fear of censure, a censure of fear, a dark nightmare in our inadequate lives.

The first glimmer of possibility for feeling our way to the real: the renunciation of every individual expectation and demand. “Let him punish me a thousand times, a thousand times, only let him exist.” The real is articulated only in the language of love. You strip off the panoply of meaning, and plunge, reduced to nothing, into the void, into nothingness. Then the freedom of ignorance proves to be “beyond all knowledge.” Beyond that, there is no longer the void, there is only the leap. To every one who makes this plunge with sincerity, the apocalyptic swallowing of the whale may always be applied. There in the depths of the ocean, in the abyss of the belly of the whale, God is called the Bridegroom. His truth is “the all of love.”

Christos Yannaras

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7 Responses to “The privation of love always generates angry denouncers or astringent prophets”

  1. Eric M says:

    I follow the first 3/4 but not quite the solution. A good confession can be genuine worship but can turn into an idol. The Jonah story speaks to the idols of purity in ones identity with the isolation of the other and then being closed to correction. Renunciation as a solution doesn’t work for me; rather in order to release to old idol, I must let go a grab onto a better one.


    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      I understand, Eric, and I share your concern. Whence do I find the freedom to renounce all and follow Jesus? Where do I find the faith to jump into the abyss? Only, I suggest, from the preached gospel, the good news of God’s absolute love and power in the death and resurrection of Christ. Apart from that, the summons to renunciation cannot be heard except as a summons to death.


  2. Eric M says:

    I like that. Praise God that he summons renunciation via the preached gospel and the offer of his love and power in the death and resurrection of Christ.


  3. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    It may not be obvious from looking at the first picture exactly what is being depicted. I have provided a hyper-link (hover your cursor over the pic) to take you to the biggest version of the picture that I’ve been able to find on the net.


  4. Nicholas says:

    You’re dangerously close to getting me to buy this book.


    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Variations on the Song of Songs is the third book by Yannaras I have read, and it’s my favorite by far, perhaps because it more approximates poetry than strict philosophical discourse. Yanarras can be exceptionally insightful and provocative and absolutely infuriating. But he’s never dull.


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