The Systemic Nature of Orthodox Monasticism’s Culture Cover Image

Системний характер культури православного чернецтва
The Systemic Nature of Orthodox Monasticism’s Culture

Author(s): Olga Olegivna Smolina
Subject(s): Sociology of Culture, Biblical studies, Eastern Orthodoxy, Sociology of Art, Sociology of Religion
Published by: Національна академія керівних кадрів культури і мистецтв
Keywords: culture of monasticism; a systematic approach; monastery culture; monastic culture; cultural studies approach;

Summary/Abstract: Traditionally culture of Orthodox monasticism is studied in the context of historical, socio-economical, art history researches, which in this case gave fragmentary or summed, but not systematic knowledge. However, the culture of monasticism is a system that meets these important terms of the system’s research, as the presence of the qualities of the integrity of the object, its internal independence and relative autonomy. From the point of view of systematic approach the culture of Orthodox monasticism is a subsystem of the Orthodox religion, which, in its turn, is a subsystem of an even broader thing – culture as a whole. World of monasticism’s culture is much broader than the world of secular culture. Monasticism’s culture world includes all the people – the alive and dead, those who are in hell or in Paradise, as well as a host of the heavenly powers, their hierarchy. In the framework of the culture of monasticism there are also negative interpretation of the notion of "world" as a synonym of the secular culture, which sets itself in opposition to God, has changed its purpose, is only one-dimensional. Based on this understanding, the culture of monasticism does not place itself in such world, but separated itself from it, describing itself as a "Heaven on earth". The main system factor of the culture of monasticism is the text and ideas of the Gospel. Orientation to this canonized text provides the structural stability of the system. But the text of Gospel is not born in this culture, rather the culture of monasticism is an answer to the text of Gospel. The culture of monasticism is the answer to the call of the Gospel. In Orthodox religion the Tradition is considered as a source equal to the Gospel (the Scriptures). The Tradition can be defined as the experience and the adaptation of the Scriptures. The goal of the monasticism’s culture in the religious system is the security, the "escorts" of height and purity of Teaching, creating a point of reference, the proof of the possibility of living according to the Gospel, "salvation" as a radical restructuring of the human personality and the attainment of the eternal life after death. Culture of Orthodox monasticism is an example of the system, which is given by the information (of the Gospel). This information determines not only the goal, the present and the future of the system, but also is a "lens" through which the system performs the evaluation and does a selection of information from "the world". We can say that there are two types of information: sacred and secular, or canonical and situational. In this system the sacred, canonized information sets a goal for that system. Proceeding from it, the system produces a selection of information from the outside of the monasticism’s culture. We can also say that in the culture of Orthodox monasticism purpose for its existence and the information, which the culture produces and broadcasts, in fact, coincide. The culture of monasticism is most often characterized as a closed system, which is solving its own narrowly confessional problems. However, it is often emphasized that here a full "withdrawal from the world" is not observed, but, on the contrary, there are numerous communication with it. The ability of the system to adapt and the ability to save and keep their characteristics are inseparably linked with each other. In the culture of Orthodox monasticism, by reason of the inability to combine the ideas of "rejection the world" (full closeness) and "active care of the world" (openness, work for the transformation of the world) these ideas are embodied in its two types, or subsystems. The ability of the system to adapt ("external homeostasis") is implemented in the social type that can be defined as "the monastery culture". And the ability to preserve itself ("internal homeostasis") is implemented in contemplation type or "the monastic culture". If there are a threat for the system of monasticism to loss these characteristics because of too strong external pressure (or "the secularization"), the contemplative type will provide its stabilization, will "feed" the system from the inside. And when there take a place "a closure in itself" of the contemplative type – the social type provides a connection with the environment. For the monastery culture of the external environment is a factor contributing to the achievement of the goal (through perception of work as a prayer, through helping others to be closer to the Kingdom of Heaven). For the monastic culture the external environment is the factor that hampers the achievement of the goal (here is relevant the concept of the replacement of the life by prayer; an assistance for the world by prayers about it). Thus, the culture of Orthodox monasticism can be seen as a cultural system, which represents the experience of the materialization of other cultural systems – ideal – the Gospel Teaching. In contrast to the secular culture, the culture of monasticism in general is not the end for itself, but means to achieve the purpose for which it exists – deification, synergies, exact incarnation of the Gospel Teaching (as much as possible) with a goal of personal spiritual salvation (Eternal Life).

  • Issue Year: 2013
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 82-87
  • Page Count: 6
  • Language: Ukrainian