In my flutterby conversation, there are at least three different objections to Christianity. The first is that violence and evil are, in fact, promoted by Christianity itself — that you cannot claim they are somehow distortions of Christianity’s core message. I think I dealt with that adequately in my last entry. The second objection is that Christianity invites repression and induces guilt. The third objection is that Christianity calls us to be “super-human” in some way — that Christianity is not satisfied with mere humans. In Mountain of Silence, Kyriacos Markidas (a Cyprian sociologist) asks Fr. Maximos (an Athonite monk) about repression and the answer Fr. Maximos explains much better than I can that Christianity is about returning to our humanity and freedom from guilt:

“Can we say that the heart is what is commonly understood as the subconcious where people store their unfulfilled desirfes? Is the heart the depository where what Freud called ‘repression’ takes place?” Father Maximos shrugged. “The holy elders were not using such terms. So I cannot really say much about it. But as I understand it, the subconcious is a storage space into which human beings pile up, so to speak, those memories and experiences they don’t want to be aware of. You may call it whatever name you wish, but one thing is clear to me. From the point of view of the true spiritual life we must eradicate the subconcious.” “Eradicate the subconcious?” I exclaimed. […] “What you called ‘repression’ is totally unacceptable in real spiritual medicine,” Father Maximos replied. “In the spiritual arena of the logismoi, we aim at the transmutation or metamorposis of our passions, not the actual storing of them in the so-called subconcious. “Now let us take sexuality, for example,” Father Maximos continued. I was taken by surprise. I had assumed that sex was a sensitive if not taboo suubject with ascetics. “We monks do not try to repress our sexual passions by storing them in our subconcious. I remmember reading and interview given by a married priest who stated that the central problem of the monks is sexual. That, in order not to think aboout sex we work all day long in the fields, clean the yard, wash the floors, and so on.” Father Maximos scoffed and shook his head as the monks that surrounded us burst into laughter. “This is sheer nonsense. So what do we do at night? Continue to was the floors and dig ditches in the fields, or gobble up pills to overcome our insomnia? “Woe to those monks and nuns,” Father Maximos went on after we stopped laughing, “who shovel into their subconscious their sexual passions. In such a state they would tremble and sweat in the presence of the opposite sex. There is no spirituality in that. What happens, and what we aim at, is the transmutation of erotic energy from earthly attractions to God, the way human beings were in their primordial natural state.” (emphasis minehexmode) “Eros turns into agape,” I muttered. “Right. Such persons love all human beings without distinction to their sex. Such persons do not have much to do with what belongs to the after-the-Fall state of humanity. Do you understand? The love of God totally transforms human beings through Grace. Therefore, we monks as a rule, and ideally of course, do not repress our desires in our subconcious. What we attempt to do is force ourselves to bring everything out from the subconcious and clean it up.” […] “So,” I murmured, “if the work you do here led to repression of desires…” “We would all be psychopaths, neurotics, and schizophrenics, Kyriaco! For how long can you repress your passions? Lunacy, that’s what is going to be the inevitable outcome, and that’s why the saints are truly liberating in their very being. They are the freeest people on earth. […] You may go meet saints and tell them the most horrendous sins. They will not be touched in their innermost core. Persons who have repressed their passions will get angry, will get into the punishing mood. If you tell them that you committed some sinful act, they will become very upset and judgmental. They will become intolerant without a trace of compassion. Do you know why? Because they themselves are suffering. They ahve a lot of repressed emotions and anger inside them, a lot of repressed logismoi. Such persons are morallistic and pious, but they are no saints. Their hallmark is not utter humility.”

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