…there is a God and there is the devil; and world history goes on between these two adversaries. And man… man’s heart is the field on which it is played out. —Father Seraphim Rose
The Orthodox Survival Course is a series of lectures by Father Seraphim Rose which you can obtain in video or text format (DOCX | MOBI). The title may be a misnomer because what it provides is a history of the world that explains our modern times. I liken this work as a companion to The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit by Catholic intellectual Dr. E. Michael Jones’. They both provide an alternate history that explains the nature of the modern world better than institutionally-supported historians and “experts.” This pairing is not to be expected when you consider that many of Father Seraphim’s critiques are levied directly against the Catholic Church at the time of the Schism. Nonetheless, I see The Orthodox Survival Course as valuable to all Christians—Catholics included—who seek salvation.
The whole history of Israel is this history between belief and unbelief, between following God and turning away from God. And the history of Israel becomes in the New Testament the history of the Church, the new Israel. And the history of humanity from the time Christ came to earth until now is the history of the Church and of those peoples who either come to the Church or fight against the Church, or come to the Church and fall away from it. World history, from that time to this, makes sense only if you understand there is some plan going on, which is the plan of God for the salvation of men. And you have to have a clear understanding of Christianity, of what Orthodoxy is, what salvation is in order to understand how this plan is manifested in history.
Jesus Christ is the center of human history. Without him, nothing would make sense; we’d be flotsam in a ocean, blown randomly by the wind, colliding with other flotsam, all pieces going nowhere. Only with Christ can we understand that every being, every animal, every molecule in the universe serves a purpose to fulfill God’s plan of salvation for mankind.
The problem with “reason”
Kireyevsky: “The Roman Church fell away from the truth only because it wished to introduce into the faith new dogmas unknown to Church tradition and begotten by the accidental conclusions of Western logic. From this there developed Scholastic philosophy within the framework of faith, then a reformation in the faith, and finally philosophy outside the faith. The first rationalists were the Scholastics; one might say the ninth and the last rationalists are the Hegelians of his day, one might say that nineteenth century Europe finished the cycle of its development which had begun in the ninth.”
Scholasticism, human reason, becomes the measure instead of Tradition, and that is exactly where Rome went off.
…reason, once it is exalted above faith and tradition, continues and produces its own destruction. The reason which first produced Scholasticism then produced the Reformation because you were criticizing the religion itself; and finally — first it’s the Reformation that is a criticism of the Medieval Catholicism and then the criticism of Protestantism produces the atheist agnostic philosophers of the nineteenth century. And after Kireyevsky we’ll see that it produced the actual suicide of reason.
…between Orthodoxy and the West there is this gulf because in the West they are all talking in the same language, the Protestants, Catholics, sectarians, atheists; it’s all the same language. They’re all used to taking reason as the standard, even when they do not take it all the way, because they’re scared to go too far, most people; still, they have this rationalistic atmosphere in common. And in that atmosphere you cannot escape. You have to admit that reason is capable of truth; and, therefore, when your enemy has a very good argument, you have to grant that that’s true. If it’s true, he explains away your faith. But in Orthodoxy, reason has an entirely different function…
…the last 200 years is a continuation of a kind of dialectical process whereby reason overthrows everything in the past and finally destroys itself. That is, reason must destroy itself once it is given the license to be the standard of truth. That’s why this Enlightenment Age seems now so naïve.
The “Christianity without mystery” has now given way to actually non-Christianity with mystery.
The temptation to know
Because before the Middle Ages in traditional Christian times, in Byzantium, in the West before the Schism, in Russia and other Orthodox civilizations, there was no desire to unravel the mystery of the universe because we had the knowledge, sufficient knowledge of God for salvation. And we knew that the universe is — there are many aspects we don’t understand. We know enough to save our souls. And the rest of it is this sphere of magic, alchemy and all kinds of dark sciences. But now the Christian faith is being rejected, the religious interest is projected into the world.
At the present day, scientific knowledge is felt to be almost an intolerable weight upon men. And many people feel that the rise of modern science has as its ultimate aim the bringing of mankind to total slavery. And even today we have people seriously in American universities teaching that man is entirely determined, that scientists must sort of govern his future, that you can put a little calculator of some kind in the pocket, hook it up to the brain; and whenever anyone performs an act which is anti-social, against whatever the leaders want, they will get an impulse from the brain which will give them such a pain that they will stop acting contrary to society.
But the movement of reason, once they got started, you can’t stop it wherever you please. The Scholastics thought that they would accept the whole content of Christianity and simply make it logical. Those after them rejected many of the small points which they were arguing about and said there was a certain essence you could retain. Then the essence grew smaller and smaller and finally they wanted to do away with mysteries altogether. And now we shall see that the idea of religion at all begins to be attacked.
Father Seraphim, who died in 1982, well before the age of the internet, accurately predicted the oppressive tyranny that science would come to hold on our lives. He even seems to have foreseen projects like Elon Musk’s Neuralink, which aims to attach computers directly to our brains (it recently heralded the achievement of a monkey playing video games with its mind). Father Seraphim was able to understand his times and how man’s lack of faith was driving him into the wiry arms of technocrats and other so-called scientific experts.
The temptation of revolution
… revolution is the historical process which has produced the world of today.
The revolutionary acts are often the work of a small organized group, but they succeed because they have the support of the common mind, that is, the spirit of the times, which is willing to excuse any kind of excesses. Without this support of the common mentality of the times, the revolution, all revolutions would collapse as soon as the plotters are killed off. Even today we see very clearly that Communism continues to exist and to have half the world precisely because the West shares the same basic ideas and, therefore, is willing to excuse the crimes of Communism.
And we Orthodox Christians know that one who removes revelation, tradition, the Church, and accepts whatever his mind tells him, or whatever his feelings dictate to him, opens the way for what? — for Satan to enter, because Satan enters by means of thoughts, by means of feelings. And we’ll see that in these revolutionary outbursts you cannot explain what happens except by the fact that Satan is directing things. He’s inspiring these people with all kinds of plots, all kinds of ideas.
Everybody comes up with a new plan for society; everybody’s dreaming about who they are going to bomb, how they are going to make a name for themselves, how they are going to bring about the final revolution; and they’re all extremely shallow and posing. And they have no basis, no idea of responsibility before God, no idea that they are going to be called to account for their life — nothing but this senseless fever they have to spread the revolution. And they don’t even know what it’s all about. They’re obviously just puppets in a play which is being played. They don’t know who is the author or where it’s going. And when they’re finally shot down themselves, they just become, as even the Communists say, “manure” for the revolution, the future happiness of mankind.
Is Father Seraphim referring to revolutions of the past or the one like we have recently encountered with Black Lives Matter, whose minions are obviously confused about what they’re fighting against, or the veiled revolution advanced by doctors and scientists who implore us to mask and vaccinate ourselves unto suicidal obliteration while they get paid by the revolutionary controllers at the top under false pretenses to accomplish the same ends of the racial revolutionaries—the destruction of our society, our souls, and whatever meager traditions we have left. Both revolutions will merge and end in a tyranny that, when aided with digital IDs and chips, will pale in comparison to the wars of the 20th century.
The spirit of revolution
Nechayev, this young anarchist, was at first a disciple of Bakunin. And then Bakunin began to see that he was rather more revolutionary than he had suspected. He helped Bakunin to write what is called the Revolutionary Catechism which says, among other things: “The revolutionary must let nothing stand between him and the work of destruction…. For him there exists only one single pleasure, one single consolation, one reward, one satisfaction — the success of the revolution. Night and day he must have but one thought, but one aim — implacable destruction…. If he continues to live in this world it is only in order to annihilate it all the more surely.”
Bakunin wrote in his Revolutionary Catechism: “Our task is terrible, total, inexorable and universal destruction.” Again he says: “Let us put our trust in the eternal spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unsearchable and eternally creative source of all life. The passion for destruction is also a creative passion.” And once when he was asked what he would do if the revolution was successful and the new order of his dreams came into being, he said, “Then I should at once begin to pull down again everything I had made.” In him we see a primordial human will to destroy and to rebel. This is the passion for rebellion which we see even in recent writers like Camus, the existentialist who says that the only thing that proves that I exist is the fact that I have a will to rebel.
This desire for rebellion, we must understand, is a very deep part of this whole revolutionary movement, not just some accidental part. The revolution is not caused by idle dreamers who just want to blunder their way into a better order of things or to revise the government, the deepest motive for rebellion as we see clearly in these radical thinkers of the last part of the nineteenth century, is really the idea that everything must be destroyed. And they didn’t much think about what was to happen after that. They have this satanic inspiration to destroy.
The first duty of man,” he [Proudhon] says, “on becoming intelligent and free is to continually hunt the idea of God out of his mind. For God, if He exists, is essentially hostile to our nature. Every step which we take in advance is a victory in which we crush the Divinity. God, if there is a God, is the enemy of humanity.” Bakunin also said something similar: “If God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish Him.” And we see now in [the Soviet Union] after sixty years, the government is not really atheistic, it is anti-theistic; it fights against God.
A person who is very conscious of the currents going on in the world could already by the end of the nineteenth century have said that the twentieth century is going to be something frightful because these things which are ideas are not simply the property of a few crazy people, but are getting into the very blood of the European people and are going to produce some terrible effect when it all filters down to the lowest level, to the common people. In fact Nietszche even said: “When my ideas, the ideas of nihilism penetrate to the last brain of the last person, then there will be such a storm as the world has never seen.”
The violence of the revolution and this love of violence, of burning and destroying — is not only for the sake of overthrowing the old order. There is another purpose. Marx says: “Both for the production on a mass scale of this Communist consciousness and for the success of the cause itself, the alteration of men on a mass scale is necessary; an alteration which can only take place in a practical movement, a revolution: this revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society… “In revolutionary activity, change of self coincides with the change of circumstances.”
…it turns out that going through all those experiments of the apostasy, man cannot develop anything for himself. He tried everything and each time he was confident that he’d had finally found the answer, he overthrew more and more from the past. And always whatever he made was overthrown by the next generation. And now he comes finally to doubting even whether the world exists, whether he, what he is. Many people commit suicide. Many destroy. And what is left for man? There’s nothing left except to wait for a new revelation. And man is in such a state, he has no value system, he has no religion of his own that he cannot but accept whatever comes, as this new revelation.
Revolution is a manifestation of apostasy and rebellion against God. If you hate God, if you want to crucify His Son anew, you will become a revolutionary under the guise of being a “good” person who stands against “racism” and “extremism,” and as more of society apostatizes on the approach to the end of human history, it does not take a theologian to predict that things will get worse for us, beyond the level of what our recent ancestors saw in the past, and the only way to endure is through faith, because there will be no human coping mechanism or “mind hack” that will come to your aid as the revolutionaries, far greater in number than last century, come to burn down your city and your home.
The ego of the Western man
And so, in the mainstream of Western thought, we see the beginning of the formation of a new deity, the Self. The world previously went around God, and now the world begins to go around the self. And this idea will go very deep into Western man.
In a previous interview I said:
To serve God through your spouse, however, not only takes faith but maturity, of which I can’t say I ever had before Christ. I was always focused on my own desires and needs, never wanting to make a sacrifice that impeded my pleasures. My narcissism, pride, and self-centeredness were such that I saw myself as a little god with which the world revolved around. Unfortunately, that’s the default outlook of a young person today.
Satan has elevated the idea of self among those in the West to such an extent that it effectively blocks us from seeking God, for why do we need God when I have made myself out to be one?
A world without God
One man can be lost in an infinite universe. We don’t know what’s going on, because the sun has gone out. God is gone. And of course, if you don’t believe in God, the world becomes a very miserable place. Indeed, you don’t know where you’re going, what you’re doing, because God gives meaning to everything else in life.
If there’s no more God, then our whole outlook on life becomes free. You can be a beetle, you can be a man going to the stars. You can have advanced civilization. There’s all kinds of new possibilities open up. This is what the more recent writers, in the last twenty years or so, call the “art of the absurd.”
For example, in Kafka’s The Trial, someone is brought up for trial for a crime he doesn’t know what it is; He’s not guilty, he doesn’t know whether he is guilty or innocent. He’s announced to be, “You go on trial tomorrow at 10 o’clock.” “On trial? What did I do?” “We don’t know. Just show up.” And he goes and he finds these very shadowy figures. It’s all very mysterious. He doesn’t know who his judges are. He doesn’t know what his crime is, who his witnesses against him are, what he did. And this is presented in such a matter of fact way that it is as though he is living in a nightmare. And it turns out that apparently just for existing he’s guilty. He doesn’t know quite how to answer it and they kill him off someplace. And it’s just this idea that there’s no sense any more, no logic, just that, because there’s no more God, you’re in a state of being hounded.
The “clown world” meme is a recognition within the zeitgeist of the “art of the absurd.” Nothing in the United States makes sense today. A fat Jewish man pretending to be a woman is the Assistant Secretary for Health on the Federal level. Doctors are giving drugs to children to change their sex. Revolutionary blacks, communists, and homosexuals have free reign in our major cities to commit mob crime and sodomy. Honest and hard-working men are getting fired for speaking the truth, not during work hours but outside of it. Institutions that historically were made to protect citizens are now used as weapons to directly attack them. Imagine the most absurd human scenario you can come up with. How many years (or months) will we have to wait for a shade of that imagination to manifest in these times?
Lack of faith leads to chaos
Max Picard: “There no longer is an outer world which can be perceived, because it is a jumble — likewise, there is no longer in man a mind able to perceive with clarity, because his inner world, too, is a jumble. Therefore, man no longer approaches objects by an act of will; he no longer selects the objects of the external world and no longer examines them: the world is fluid; disjointed objects move past disjointed man. It no longer matters what passes by; what counts is only that something should pass by.”
…it is we the ordinary people who are living this very kind of life of disjointedness and used to the very phenomena which we see around us — the newspapers, the radio, the television, the movies — everything which is oriented toward pieces which do not fit together. There’s no God; there’s no overwhelming, underlying pattern to things, no God, no order. And the order which we see in our life is only left over from the previous time when people still believed in God. And that’s why Solzhenitsyn can look at America and say, “It’s coming here.” You are sort of cut off; you don’t see it. But it’s coming here because that’s the way, that’s what’s happening in the world. And of course, Americans are blinded because we’re used to having our food and very much cut off from the reality. And the reality that’s happening in the world is this here, these crazy people, who are not crazy people, they’re expressing what the devil is planning for us next.
And even all this sexual revolution and so forth, some of it’s just, you know, looseness but quite a bit of it is people looking for love. They do not find love in God, in the family, in church, in the society. And so they grasp at this ideal of sexual love, which gives a temporary warmth and then fades away to nothing. That also is needed to make a millennium: people who are enlightened, away from any standard. And it will give the appearance, therefore, of a kingdom of love, and the Antichrist will be, he, the one they worship, while worshipping themselves, because their god is themselves.
I repented before God. Maybe you have repented also. Maybe you know a friend or neighbor or family member who has done the same. Many of us have repented, and thank God for that, but we are a tiny minority. People in the world are convinced of the latest scheme, the newest revolution, and see no need for God. Until we see repentance on a massive scale, until we are greeted by our fellow countrymen with a “Christ is Risen!”; we will simply have to endure the tribulations—the blasphemy, the violence, the grotesque mutilation of children, the psychological torture before the voluntary mass suicide—while maintaining our faith in God, for if the ultimate plan of Satan is to condemn as many souls as he can, to look to Our Savior Jesus Christ at the very end and say, “See, all of them are sinners too!” then our mission becomes that much clearer. We are children of God, not Satan, and we must live it every day of our lives, no matter how evil things get, and yes, it will be so evil that you will wonder if Earth itself has become hell, but God will help us get through it.
Father Seraphim’s Orthodox Survival Course, alongside Dr. Jones’ work, has satisfied a lot of my curiosities about why the world has become the way it is. I clearly discern and understand the revolutionary spirit of the times and where it must end for God’s plan to be achieved, and while I am utterly weak and feeble to battle directly against evil, I know that my soul will be preserved if I call upon Lord Jesus Christ for aid. Blessed is Father Seraphim and may we see him glorified during our lifetimes.
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