Feb 22, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

I worry since Paul Kingsnorth has given a name to this version of Christianity, intentional or not, that it will be swallowed by the great marketing machine. Maybe that's the cynical American in me. I grew up in the shadow of Lifeway Christian Resources. I can see the products on the shelves in suburban America right now. And I really really don't want Martin Shaw to be seen as a new John Eldredge. I know the Wild Christianity being discussed today is not remotely the same as the Wild at Heart world but once filtered down through the marketing machine I wonder how it will be fed to the masses.

Jack, I greatly appreciate your practical steps to fostering a renewed vision of the world and ourselves. I believe its part of what is essential in breaking the spell we are living under.

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Feb 22, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

Good to see you reading “Hesychasm,” Jack. It’s been one of the most consequential books of my life, and not for the faint of heart.

The wilderness of old was not an escape from, a road away, so much as it was road within, towards the center of the heart where Christ could be found. It was a dying to this world so that a tiny piece of eternal life in this world could be found and cleaved to so that eternity in the next world might come by the grace of God. Is that possible in the un-wild? Yes, but infinitely more difficult. The world builds us up with its distractions and materialism, the wild breaks us down as we begin seeing ourselves as quite small and we begin looking outside our pride for mercy.

The wild, such as I live in it, is not an easy life and certainly not “romantic” in the way city folk imagine it. Yesterday we had a blizzard. Keeping the road open required all my effort and was mostly a losing battle. Today, absolute exhaustion, and more snow and wind drifting it closed again. Tonight 30 below forecast and -8 for a high this afternoon. The propulsion on my small tractor froze shut and I had to jump off just before going through the garage door. Luckily that triggered a safety option when the seat popped up and stalled out the tractor.

This is life in the (somewhat) wild of rural Montana if you don’t have much money and take care of things yourself. But you know what? In the exhaustion and defeat often comes the most beautiful and connected prayer. The Fathers tell us this, of course, though it is hard to believe until you live it. The turning over of one’s life to the God that materialism rips from our heart and chews up.

Is this the way forward for ascetically or hesychastically minded folks? It is, in my opinion, if eternity in heaven is the goal of life.

Another substack writer that has explored a Wild Christianity is Martin Shaw. If you haven’t come across him his “Seeking a Liturgy of the Wild” series is quite good. He’s another recent Orthodox convert: https://martinshaw.substack.com/?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=substack_profile

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Feb 23, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

Words by the Bishop Kallistos Ware in his book The Orthodox Way from the first chapter entitled God as Mystery. “he is personal and he is love”

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Feb 22, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

having kebard difficulies... sme kes brkn....will respnd lader.


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Feb 22, 2023·edited Feb 22, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

A great read all around. This bit hit me particularly hard:

“The road out to the wilderness of the desert yet remains open. In remembering who we are we see that the purpose of our lives is to be filled with the energies of the Divine, with the Holy Spirit, and not with material abundance. Not I, but the Wild Christ who lives in me.”

I love the addition of “wild” there. That was really something. Thanks for your contribution of this Wild Christianity idea. I stumbled upon Paul Kingsnorth’s larger article on it yesterday and your post today. Seems like the idea is certainly moving on its own. Praise God for that.

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I am a run-of-the-mill agnostic as far as my upbringing goes.

But more and more I believe (and I FEEL) that I need to get closer to God (that light, that gentle breeze, that mother to her chicks) and that getting closer to God is closely linked to one's proximity to the machine. I do not know which triggers what - does closeness to God trigger one's desire to run out of the machine, or is it the other way round, we run away from the machine to make room for God?

I am not sure, but I know this:

The machine never allows you time to breathe, time to listen, and time to think.

The machine never lets you wonder about your purpose, apart from being a consumer or a little cog of course.

When I pray, I realize that my body wants to breathe, breathe deeply, and it does, and it feels refreshed.

When I pray, I suddenly get still enough to listen, and there is space for thought.

When I pray, I am reminded that I am not just a consumer or a little cog.

When I pray, I am convinced that God (the light, the breeze, the mother with her chicks) is real, and is close by.

And last night, as I prayed, the final bit of "Fahrenheit 451" came to my mind: Montag, with his precious hidden bounty ("Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin" ") moves out of the city and into the wilderness, meeting others like him as civilization crumbles around them.

For the first time I realized that Montag's verse is a reminder of how the lilies are not consumers or little cogs, and God lavishes love, care, and beauty on them nonetheless.

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Feb 26, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

Once we know (with the desert fathers and their current disciples) that our calling is to prayer: it is time to pray. Invoking the Name of The Holy One. For as many minutes and hours as we can manage. Other occupations shrink --- without decision on our part -- because "the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace".

To re-coin a phrase, "Just do it".

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Feb 25, 2023·edited Feb 25, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

It seems to me that wild Christ-Like Christians would be openly talking about and praying to the Father like Jesus did and pointing others to that same walk and talk he had. Yes, saying, Father, for as Jesus said, “the mouth speaks what the heart if full of” and he was full of the reality of the Father. Shouldn’t we also if we are full of the Holy Spirit? I don’t feel or sense in the authors you quote the robust spirituality I read in the Gospels or Acts or Psalms. It feels enervated and remote and not for the ordinary person. I have read Christ the Eternal Tao and many other Eastern Orthodox writings.

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Thank you for this post, Jack. I think you are articulating this dynamic well. It's remarkable to me to hear you say that this is based very little on your own direct experience, given how much what you're writing resonates.

I think the role of the Wilderness and of lay contemplative communities can go hand in hand. Time in the truly wild lands can support the movements of inner purification, break from the 'spell' of the world and its systems (ever more pervasive in the digital age), and awakening to the life of God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, etc. Very few can live in the wild lands permanently, but I think most serious Christians would benefit immensely from time spent in wild retreat. The key question then becomes where to land ourselves, physically, after the wilderness immersion. As you mentioned, many people don't really have much agency in this regard. But for those that do, it seems crucial for there to be communities and systems of daily life that can carry on the same dynamics of inner work. What is wildly intense in the wilderness can then be supported in a slower, ongoing way in a community grounded in prayer.

This is one of the dynamics we are trying to work out at Metanoia - the ongoing dynamic between wilderness and community/daily life. Before Lisa and I had children, we'd each take a roughly 5-day wilderness solo each year to keep that aspect of faith 'hot'. We're trying to figure out ways in which it will be possible for each person in the community to lean in to the wilderness, in a way that is in harmony with their current state of life.

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"unworkable schemes for happiness" hahahahahahahaha!

About 2 minutes before reading this I was trying to crunch the numbers (for 50th time!) on how I can quit my job in a year.

Spoilers - its just not doable yet. But maybe an overdue break is :)

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Feb 23, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

Jack, interesting because I have an MFA in Poetry and published a book when I was younger. Let me flesh this out a bit.

Poetry, like almost everything else in our culture, has been commodified (or sucked into the Machine). Students take on enormous debt to learn the art of writing, get out of school and also try to become teachers in MFA programs charging the next round of students enormous sums of money. Teachers also have consumers for their poetry in their students, because who else reads or buys poetry anymore? Round and round it goes…

And poetry as a result has become cheap (think Bonhoeffer’s cheap grace as an analogy), politicized, and worst of all boring in its fake revolutions.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe you mean something deeper. The great poets (generally speaking, not just writers of verse) whose hearts have been softened and have touched their own souls in a way that they can universalize that and communicate it to others so that their hearts also soften and perhaps touch something eternal.

If I’m almost correct in your thinking, I agree wholeheartedly. The world needs softer hearts touching the eternal. You saw Paul’s essay today. I don’t disagree with what he’s saying at all, but the idea of “poets” and caves and hermitages (even connected in clusters of not too close micro-sketes) is more appealing to me personally than political answers, even if the politics is only superficial. The problem of political structures, even on a small human scale, is that the devil easily corrupts through power and pride. Political structures are the epitome of power and pride. And so, even soft political structures can become too easily corrupted and corrupting destroying the project. And lastly I don’t think God has set any of us out to change the world. Christ’s call is to change ourselves. We know what the world is, and we know how it ends. None of us are going to change that except on the most tiny scale. Perhaps ourselves, our family, a few friends. Any larger project is dreadfully close to filling oneself up with pride.

I think, broadly speaking, we can think of God as a poet. Christ and the Holy Spirit as well if we dig in. Perhaps we can become poets too (true poets) by touching a piece of the heavenly home we are all called to through the intense prayer and the grace of communion that only a hesychastic or ascetical life brings? I don’t know the answer to this. It’s what I’m exploring in the last chapter of my life though.

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Feb 22, 2023Liked by Jack Leahy

Merely Being Silent is fleeing the World

“What must we do to do the works of God?” is the World’s question, that of those enslaved to Moloch.

“Trust is the one He has sent”

Discover Psalm 131 and The Peace of Wild Things. The Kingdom is after all, a discovery, no?

Trust you are well - Eric

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I sent this to my Kindle to read later, and I’m so glad to have come back around to it. Religion has played no role in my life but the underlying messages here, I think, speak to the essence of our place in the world and also our place within ourselves. Bill McKibbon having already declared the end of nature in 1991, the concept of hyperobjects, the fact that there are around 3000 tons of built environment for every human being on the planet—Wild Christianity may not only be desirable but necessary if we want to make it through the next decades with any degree of sanity. Or at all, for that matter.

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