Please remember that the essays below portray a long and arduous Journey of Discovery, not set-in-stone opinions or even 'knowledge' - I reserve the right to change my opinions as much and as often as need be, provided there is sufficient evidence or intuition for such changes. In short, I reserve the right to personal development and growth.

 

 

 

On apokatastásis, Dante and 1812

 

 

    The ̉αποκαταστάσις-teaching (apokatastásis = 'putting all things standing as they once were', i.e. restoration, restitution) of the Alexandrian Church father Origen (Adamantius) (184/5-253/4), one of the greatest and most original geniuses of the Church and perhaps one of Her most prolific writers, has remained a hot potato until today! En bref, the teaching contends that because of God’s eminent qualities as Supreme Teacher and His immeasurable Grace during aeons of time, all creatures will gently but firmly be brought to a sweet surrender to His good will and in the end, 'all manner of things will be well with all', to freely paraphrase Julian of Norwich (c. 1342 - after 1416). This includes even the Devil himself.  Later (')saints(') of the Church, for example Jean Calvin and C.S.Lewis - to note a couple disparagingly different and perhaps not unambiguously saintly from the Vatican's or the Phanar's point of view... - amply concede that the doctrine of eternal Hell is so abhorrent that it can only be believed in on the basis of Scriptural teaching alone; the natural pity of human beings or our sense of fairness cannot possibly swallow it. Yet, Origen, a firm believer in the pre-existence of all souls, argues that since the intelligences (≈ souls) have spent aeons of time with God before their descent to earth, they have such an indelibly sweet taste-memory of that Presence and also because God has immeasurable time and methods to His disposal, He will finally bring all creatures around to repentance and His ways - 'To know Me is to Love Me', He says; Hell is thus ‘only’ an instrument of Divine paedagogics. Even though all souls have pre-existed aoens with God and have beheld His Beauty and enjoyed His Love, all except One became bored with this activity and fell into three categories depending on the state of their boredom; those least depraved became angels, the next category became material and thus human and the most fallen of all became demons. God in His foreknowledge and Love has allowed all souls to freely go their way - only to bring them back to Heaven by the One unfallen soul, that is Christ, God's Eternal Wisdom and Logos. Thus, even though respecting the free choice of souls, God's Love will finally conquer all and in the End, all will be Well, a creature is simply unable to escape from the Divine Lover because of  the True Origin and True Destiny of the souls: to be Loved Forever.

 

     As appealing as this view steeped in Platonism (?) was in some parts of the Eastern Mediterranean of the time - and perhaps still is in some circles of Modernity's Luuuuv-conquers-all attitude - it was later condemned as heretical first by a local church council in Constantinople in 543 and then by the Fifth Ecumenical Council, in the selfsame city, ten years later (the anathemas do however not appear in the official protocol and they specifically deal with the Platonism of the teaching). The free-flying speculation of Origen must be seen as an expression of the tentativeness and inconclusiveness of ecclesiastical thinking in these times (and anyone allegedly - although this was said by some of his detractors - self-castrated is perhaps lenient to a more Platonic point of view on these things...), but such freedom was not allowed later as the new religion was needed as a stabilizing underpinning of the Byzantine state and so high-flying ideas by (')intellectual(') monks who had all the time in the world to speculate on 'useless' things was not the sort of porridge that the general public needed it was felt in Constantinople, where the tiresome monks were a constant nuisance, both in the City and all around the Empire, the Southern shore of the Sea of Marmara alone having 58 monasteries in the 590s (Annala 31.10.2012). Also, before the beginning of the 4th century, the Church was forced to be underground during much of  Her existence and more complicated issues could not be considered in ecclesiastical plenum. However, the later condemnation of the thinking of Origen as heretical must not be seen as so radical as it may first appear; rather it was a sort of measure by the Church to say that ‘that path of thinking we have gone through already and it did not lead to any good so on pains of going astray please don’t go there’, rather as a wholesale condemnation of Origen as such, although his tendency as an outright genius to 'dangerous' speculation based on Platonism had to be officially condemned; only the very wise were allowed to trample such dangerous paths once again - what was privately thought and mystically experienced in monasteries was thus an entirely different matter, thus, what was officially forbidden could be somehow, somewhere, as it were tacitly discussed and practiced; the circulation of and old and new souls, the quality of the resurrection, the reality and eternity of Hell and other such dangerous teachings that were likely to cause upheaval in the general public. The spirit of Origen was never quite buried and his ideas were picked up time and again, for example in the Renaissance by Pico della Mirandola.

 The Ecumenical Council practically forbade the speculation on whether souls are old or new, but the categorical inevitability of our choices and their eternal consequences was strongly stressed, thus, a sort of moral vertebrae was inserted in the Byzantine state (the Emperor presided the proceedings, or at least his shadow was felt very strongly in the Imperial Capital), constantly in inner turmoil and with Barbarian threats from the outside. There was no time for speculative luxuries, as Kierkegaard would have said. ;-) The Church leaned towards a view that souls have a point-like, temporal, beginning and their eternal destiny is determined in tandem with God’s will, not by Divine decree alone, not even by God's 'irresistible' Grace. The eternity of a human being does however not necessarily mean that it be a good one, rather, one’s choices in the here and now have eternal and inevitable consequences.[1]

 

 

    The greatness of Origen, created in the crucible of the spiritual hotchpotch that was Alexandria of the first centuries where Hellenism, ancient Egyptian civilization and Semite thinking from Palestine mingled, could however not be forgotten or overlooked. In fact, even though his Platonism was condemned in the strongest possible terms (anathema), the fourfold Bible interpretation method that he developed survives to this day. His way of reading Holy Writ as first literal, then spiritual, then tropological (referring to one's walk in life) and finally anagogical (≈ eschatological) was the measure stick par excellence in the Church and in fact the sign of having any civilization or understanding anything at all. This method was eclipsed only starting in 1844, when David Strauß published Das Leben Jesu, thereby inaugurating the quest for the so-called historical Jesus and the historical-critical method of studying he texts in the Bible (Annala 31.10.2012), but the lens of Origen of looking at the Bible is still extant in the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. It is in fact the historical-critical method that is the upstart and we'll see how much vitality it will have in the long run.

    - Perhaps it is a mere passing ripple on surface of the Sea of Truth...

 

O o o ------------------- &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&& -------------------- o o O

 

 

    The complete and official view of the West on eternal matters was much later expressed in Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae from 1265-74. In the Summa, following the paths of many wise men before, notably Augustine and especially Pseudo-Dionysios the Areopagite, Thomas first outlines the nature of God's being (a problematic term in this context for many a Church father saw God outside of and beyond existence and being itself and were in fact groping for words to say anything at all about Him), the Three Persons of God and then the emanation of creatures from God. Then, comfortingly from our point of view, Thomas then focuses and elaborates on Man's Journey to God, The Ultimate Goal of Human Life, as he calls it. Through explaining how exactly the psychology of freedom, morality and emotions work, he goes on to the Theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Friendship [sic!] and the Classical virtues Prudence, Justice, Courage and Moderation on which the former build. As Man is clearly not up to the task of making the Journey to God all by himself, Thomas comfortingly concludes the Summa with The Saviour and the Sacraments of Salvation and the Resurrection and Eternal Life. In the spirit of 13th-century Little Renaissance, the picture is considerably more systematized and elaborated on compared to Origen’s times or at least expressed in a different, more Western way.

    The Summa was popularized in the mastodontic (34 cantos on Inferno, 33 on Purgatorio and 33 on Paradiso) oeuvre called Divina Commedia by Dante Alighieri, written between 1308 and 1321, also called ‘The Summa [Theologiae] in verse’ and much thought has gone into whether Dante actually made such a journey or not. Certainly Dante was able to beautifully portray what Man's Journey to God and away from Him meant in practice. The latter, with which he begins in his dark woods (perhaps symbolizing his own lack of direction and dangling close to the Despair in life), leads to an ever-tightening and more horrible downward spiral from which there is no escape. In Dante’s Journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, we see that there is suffering for most either eternally or temporally after death; which, depending on whether one considers oneself worthy of purification through the merits of Christ and the saints or not, that is, whether one has finally turned one’s back to God or not. In the upwards Journey to God there is however ever greater Light, Space and Time as a substance and quality that makes enjoyment ever greater for those caught up in the Great Dance. There is unimagined Glories in the Seven Spheres of Heaven as the Saints enter Paradise and Heaven unharmed by after-life suffering for they have no need for further purification, because they have gone through the Death of Self in this life already, thus, The Second Death, Hell, or even Purgatory, will not touch them. In the seven spiral layers of Hell, however, we see an ever deepening, worsening and hopeless suffering for all eternity, whereas on Mount Purgatory people are led upwards through the seven circles of that place of temporal purification and finally through the fire mentioned by St Paul to an earthly Paradise and from thence to the seven Spheres of Heaven, each to the place assigned to him. Here there is hopeful progression and (upward) movement, all of which is excluded in Hell.

 - We must remember the text above the Gate of Hell:

 

'All who enter here give up all hope'.

 

 

The Gate of Hell by Auguste Rodin at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris (Photograph by Martín de Madrid)

 

 

 

    Throughout the Great Journey, Dante is a true gentiluomo of the old school, always respectful, full of empathy and truly humble, understanding that only by Grace is he permitted on this Journey in the first place, let alone into the unutterable Glories of Paradise. On his way, he meets many a fellow-Florentine and -Tuscan; to his great surprise, even a sort of a spiritual father of his in Hell, suffering from the aftermaths of the 'unmentionable sin' on Mediaeval times. As his spirit-guide, Dante has Virgil, a truly noble soul, (')only(') confined to limbo for only those in Christ may enter Paradise, yet and perhaps even therefore a Great Soul. Later, he is taken Higher by Beatrice and even generally the numerous presence of noble women is conspicuous. And Dante certainly is not a stoic, for he many times 'loses it' emotionally, whether fainting, being flabbergasted, absolutely horrified by suffering or tricked by demons or just taken up to the turrets of High Emotion. In fact, he is very human, approachable and even likeable; someone one can identify with and aspire to be. Whether Dante actually, 'really', made the Journey or not - and perhaps it is left open even to himself and thus by extension to us in the manner of St.Paul's journey to the Third Heaven as the latter was not sure whether he was there in the spirit or not - the work beautifully resolves in a more popularly palatable fashion than the Summa the tension that arose from a seeming unfairness and unreasonableness of an eternal punishment and a good and omnipotent God, an extension of the theodicy-problem. We have here a shift to stressing the free volition of a person and that one’s choices had eternal effects. Dante also deals with the issue of how people who belong to the Church and are thus under Christ’s saving graces can sin so grievously and whether and how one should be punished and redeemed from such deeds. Many a time, the efficacy of prayers offered for the souls in Purgatory are stressed. It seems that Dante elegantly answers both the issue of whether sin ever is worthwhile (it clearly is not) and how the efficacy of Christ’s and the saints’ merits are put into effect in a person’s life. Thus, one gets a beautiful symphony from the consequences of actions, that is, God’s righteousness, and the efficacy and efficiency of God's Immeasurable Grace. It is indeed a harmonious but wild symphony where the many polyphonous sounds finally come to a beautiful conclusion after centuries of debate and débâcle, where many a distressful sound is heard in the process towards a gloriously harmonious conclusion - a bit like Tchaikovsky’s 1812; Holy Russia eventually repels the revolutionary French armies under Napoleon even though even Moscow is burned down in the process. So even here; the Commedia ends in beautiful praise and awe of God and harmony, justice and gracefulness of all things without impeding on the true liberty and glory of human beings. Thus, the proper name of this work is Divine Comedy - not Divine Tragedy, Divine Travesty or even Divine Comedy and Tragedy and it is True in the sense that a Myth or Work of Art is true; those who have true eyes to see and inner ears to hear will know the veracity of it. Even the Beauty of Horror. Perhaps....

 

 

 

     In the end, there is both a graceful and true ̉αποκαταστάσις, a wonderful Restoration of all things for those who hope in God, and an eternal condemnation for those who willfully turn Him their backs. Through the centuries that separate Origen and Aquinas/Dante, the Church had to come to terms with the complicated equation of free will, grace and justice and it came up with a teaching that is many-faceted, awe-inspiring and sensible. As with the complicated subjects of Christology and Mariology, it took centuries of theological discussions to reach a Summa and a beautiful conclusion that was both pleasing to the heart and mind and scripturally observant. Thus, it was no wonder that 50 years after the completion of Aquinas’ gigantic œuvre, it was time for the Muses of Art to take over and for Dante to conceive a True Poem that was as beautiful as it was harmonious and praiseworthy.

 

 

     On this Day of Saint Spiridon, Bishop of Trimithus, 12 - 12 - 12

 

 

     Ari Kovero

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

 

Diverse lectures 2009-12 by Associate Professor of Systematic Theology Pauli Annala, Theological Faculty of the University of Helsinki

Henri Crouzel: Origen, 1985

Dante Alighieri: La Divina Commedia, 1321

Encyclopaedia Britannica (on-line version)

Wikipedia, Origen, Dante

 

 

 


 

[1] Indeed, as pointed out by the eminent theologian Anne-Mari Nygård, there is a difference between the rather sharp dualism between Light and Darkness in the beginning of the gospel of St.John and the more

 

 gentle separation of them, and within God’s creation at that, in Genesis 1. Thomas Aquinas and the Church at large eventually modeled themselves on the former.

 

 

 

Jewish Foxtrot or Ménage à trois

 

 

 Mitä voimme ajatella Filonin ja Apostoli, Evankelista Johanneksen ajatusten välisestä erosta – vai onko ero sittenkin vain näennäinen, kreikkalaisen kulttuurin ja tulkinnan sanelema?

            Jokaiselle juutalaiselle oli (ja on edelleenkin) vettäkin selvempää että Jumala on ekhad, yksi ja Israelin credoa, Shmaata, toistettiin kyllästymiseen asti niin että asia varmasti meni perille. Sitten kuitenkin törmättiin etupäässä Antiikin Kreikan taholta juutalaiselta katsantokannalta vaikeuksiin kun alettiin huomata että jumalallisia hahmoja oli muitakin, kuten Viisaus, Hyvyys, Kauneus – oli taivaallisia sanansaattajia, ilmestyksiä, shekinaa, emanaatioita ja niin edelleen. Kreikassahan nämä eri hahmot nähtiin erillisinä ja syntyi, kenties jonkun hämärän ’perusjumalan’ taustaa vasten, jumalien plethora ja sen lisäksi esim. Kauneuden, Voiton ja Hyvyyden personifikaatiot, taiteilijain muusat, faunit ja kentaurit jne.

            Sananlaskujen luku 8 on nähtävä tätä taustaa vastaan koska se on syntynyt hellenistisenä kautena jolloin näitä asioita mietittiin juutalaisuudessa suhteessa Kreikan perintöön. Luvussa Viisautta ei todellisuudessa personifioida vaan sillä leikitellään, tyypilliseen juutalaiseen tapaan; ’Voisiko se olla näin? Leikkikö se Ekhadin edessä alussa? Milloin se syntyi, vai syntyikö ollenkaan?’ jne.

            Muutama sata vuotta myöhemmin Aleksandriassa olivat kristallisoituneet käsitteet logos ja sofia jotka olivat syntyneet tässä mutapainissa hellenismin kanssa. Niihin kahteen käsitteeseen/hengelliseen ulottuvuuteen/olentoon oli kiteytynyt koko monisatavuotinen traditio tästä aiheesta. Mielestäni on liian uskaliasta rakentaa kokonainen staattinen kolminaisuusoppi juutalaisen pohdinnan, mietiskelyn ja suoranaisen leikittelyn varaan. Juutalaisuudessa mietiskellään, pohditaan, kysellään ja asia esitetään sitten loruina, runoina ja kertomuksia. Missään ei kuitenkaan sanota 1. a), b), c), 2. a), b), c)-tyylisesti että näin näitten eri taivaallisten todellisuuksien ja olentojen suhde on Ekhadiin, Ainoaan Siunattuun nähden. Sanotaan vain, kuten Apostoli Paavali spekuloi Room. 9-11, voisiko se olla näin, kulkiko Jumala tästä ja vastaavaa.

            Apostoli Johanneskaan ei tee tästä poikkeusta vaan jatkaa juutalaista enigmaattista ja ratkaisematonta dialektista prosessia kohti tanssin huipennusta, mikä se sitten lieneenkin – hänen kannaltaan ilmeisesti Karitsan hääjuhlat. Meidänhän pitää kuitenkin loogisesti kysyä – niin luulemme – miten ’Logos, joka oli Jumalan, sen Ainoan, luona samalla voi olla Jumala?’. Johannes ei tähän suoranaisesti vastaa vaan jättää jännitteen elämään ja vaikuttamaan meissä, mikä on tyypillistä juutalaiselle dialektiikalle ja ajattelulle. On osoitus kulttuurin kypsyydestä ja hengellisestä realismista että se pystyy pitämään lähes diametraalisesti vastakkaisia kantoja koossa purkamatta tai selittelemättä niitä.

            - Sitä paitsi luodun olennon ’tietämisellä’ on taipumus tulla lyömaseeksi ja vääräksi turvallisuudeksi, eikä se ainakaan johda palvontaan ja ihmettelyyn, jonka voimme hyvin nähdä jo tietyissä nimeltämainitsemattomissa tiedekunnissa….

           

            Väitteeni on siis se että Filon ja Johannes ovatkin samalla puolella juutalaista traditiota. Kumpikaan ei (tietenkään) koske Ekhadin Pyhyyteen ja Ykseyteen vaan antaa Viisauden, sekä sen sofiastisessa että logosmaisessa muodossa ikään kuin tanssia Valtaistuimen ympärillä mutta ei kuitenkaan lopulta istaltaa sille.

           

-         Kertoohan jo uskontunnustuksemmekin että Jeesus Kristus istuu kirkkaudessa Vallan oikealla puolella….

 

 

 Ca’Coverossa, tänä huhtikuun 10:nä päivänä, Anno Domini 2011, Maria Egyptiläisen sunnuntaina

 

 Ari Kovero

The a ricovero list of Ten Do's and Don't's in Italy:

a ricovero's List of Ten Pieces of Advice on Italy

 

 

1. Don't ever drink a capuccino or caffè latte after a meal - you are considered un-Italian; the correct choice is to take a caffè, i.e. an espresso, instead, which helps with disgestion, energy-level and avoids the problems of dairy products not digesting well with for example meat. - The correct time to drink your capuccino or caffé latte is in the morning only.

2. Don't ever reheat or reuse your once-boiled pasta - you are considered a cafonazzo, that is, a boor! Even worse is to receive your guest in socks only at the door - your guests will most likely never again come to your house!

3. Don't get upset if you best efforts of practicing your Italian get frustrated by the locals' insistence of answering you in English - the Italians try to be accommodationg and your stay more enjoyable by helping you along; if the locals answer you quickly in Italian chances are you might not get it anyway - especially with my level of Italian. ;-) But they LOVE it if you try your Italian on them!

4. Make sure to compliment and admire everything Italian - and if the Italians themselves then start complaining about everything from the chaos and to Berlusconi to bad service at times - look at them with surprised bewilderment. You don't want to be the ugly and complaining and finally miserable foreigner. Italians are actually often kinder to foreigners than to each other - unless they gang up in some foreign land. - But then again, aren't we all like that...? ;-)

5. Especially if you are Finnish, don't allow yourself to be drawn into the cobweb of thinking what was 'really' meant and what was not when you speak with Italians - just enjoy the flow and beauty and elegance of the conversation and don't be quagmired by useless thinking. - Action will then show to you what was 'real'; why bother about it now when you have a good time practicing your Italian or them their English?

6. Allow yourself to be drawn into the wonderful game of complimenting each other when you speak with Italians; looks, eyes, hair or the lack of it, clothes, work and language skills. It is not pushy or crude. Rather, carpe diem and enjoy compliments when they for once are given (again, especially if you are Finnish...). Don't worry, you'll know intuitively when the border of decency and comfortable limits for you are surpassed; either by you or the Italians you speak with. So again, relax! When have you last gotten so much attention from so many beautiful strangers - who are not embarrassed at all to look you straight in the eyes?!

7. ENJOY looking at the plethora of beautiful and gorgeous things, people, buildings, views and sites! Remember however, it is one thing to visit here for a week or two, quite another thing to live here; there is much ugliness in every sense of the word too. - No amount of beauty cancels the injustices of life, for example.

8. If you are from a secular Northern Europe power, please allow the Church to be just as important as She really is here in Italy. It is for better or for worse, but the Church's influence and power is enormous. So why not learn about Her different sides instead of just being prejudiced and negative? After all, for example, what truly beautiful things has the secular government in your country built...?

9. Try every imaginable variety of food, with all the pastas, pizzas, prociuttis, cakes, gelatos, dolcis - you name it, and thus let yourself be conquered through the stomach by the world-famous cucina italiana and, thus:

10. Enjoy the wonderful, spontaneous, huggable, chaotic, emotional, hospitable and crazy people of Italy with all your heart! Is there any other place on earth quite like it?! I don't think so! ;-)

 

Villa Lante, Rome, 4th July, 2011,

 

a ricovero

 

 

 

Till We Have Faces

 

 

 In 1976 the historian Michel Foucault claimed that the homosexual identity is a social construct and that it did not exist in the 18th century and before - one only spoke of sodomy as the act of anal penetration, not as an identity. Although we might balk at quite such dire straits in terms of loss of identity and straightforwardness in these matter, we might still want to stop and think what we who identify ourselves as gay and society as a whole have really gained - and lost - with humanity being divided into heterosexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals?

 Homosexual, a hybrid word half Greek and half Latin, first appeared in 1869 in a pamphlet by the Austrian-born author Karl-Maria Kertbeny. In 1879 Kurt Jäger used the term in his book Discovery of the Soul (1880) and notably, Richard von Krafft-Ebing used it in his work Psychopathia Sexualis, a work which also generated the terms heterosexual (albeit in the 1892 translation of C.G. Craddock) and bisexual and which became widely-published and quoted all over educated Europe. (Source of the above: Wikipedia: Homosexuality, Heterosexuality and Bisexuality)

 

 In the 19th century, a consistent behaviour or personality trait would be classified as an identity, a classification called personality taxonomy, a way of thinking with roots all the way back to Aristotle. Then, in the next century, this would be connected with the genes and through them with chemistry and thus, determinism in these matters was born. Determinism however is hard squeezed between very different poles of Ultimate Reality; first of all it is at odds with the traditional and universal view of a human being as a Special Being with simply awesome freedom and responsibility; secondly, it is at odds with our experience of free will and freedom of choice, one of the cornerstones of our society and thirdly, perhaps most interestingly, the view is at odds with the newest of the new: quantum mechanics, which displays, to some, like Einstein (hence the famous quote 'God doesn't play dice'), an uncomfortable amount of uncertainty vis-à-vis and indeed freedom from determinism and even shows signs of the conglomerations of atoms being influenced by the choices of what we would call the subjects, that is, simply larger conglomerations of atoms from a materialist point of view. Indeed, from this perspective, it seems that materia and yes, even genes, are influenced by what we choose to do!

 

 Thus, we have again landed in the Judeo-Christian world view! Jewish thinking stresses above all the physical and practical doing of things with your own hands - is it then a surprise that the tendency of Hebrew sentences is to have the verb always in the beginning of the sentence? Even St.Paul specifically stresses the need of working with one's own hands in the pastoral letters. The Bible is completely foreign and inimical to the tendency of thinking one thing in one's head and then doing something completely different with one's hands; what you do, over time, determines who you are. In fact, such is the love of the Bible for physical reality that we are indeed admonished to give our bodies as a living sacrifice to God (Rom.12:1) - this is in line with the Jewish thinking that no matter what you believe in your head, you will nevertheless most certainly hold the shabbat holy and in practice refrain from work.

 - With such a stress on the actual and practical doing of things, we had better examine our lives in these terms....

 

 Going back to our discussion on homosexuality and what we have gained by this identity; is it not so that we who classify ourselves as homosexuals are constantly bickering and complaining about heteronormatism and homophobia? And how much have we not heard how bisexuals are complaining that no one takes them seriously and especially that homosexual people want to make them accept that they are homosexual only? And aren't many people classified as heterosexuals clearly uncomfortable with being identified with the oppressive majority? And what about those stylish, fashion-conscious metropolitan heterosexual men, the metrosexuals, are they not having to bend over backwards to find some kind of identity in the midst of this confusing wilderness of different x-sexual terms? Or what about the ideal of most gay men: a 'hetero-like homosexual man' or for lesbians, 'a straight-looking femme'?

 Now, what would happen if we would simply delete the labels homo-, bi- and heterosexual? One thing is certain and obvious: physical reality, our own eyes and hands tell us that we are all either men or women, with very few and indeed debatable in-between cases. What if we would return the dignity and dynamics to ourselves by deleting the in-practice cemented way of an identity locked into a sexual performance and sexual way of looking at a human being? What if we would simply stop classifying each other this way and let the person be who he or she is, including the inevitable process of becoming that this entails?

 What we would gain is the Mystery and the positive unpredictability of the Other, something we now feel we have lost.

 - Indeed, it seems to me that the Greek verb κατηγορέω [kateegoréoo] for example used in Mark 3:2 meaning 'to accuse' or 'to speak against' is the same one from which we get the verb to categorize and the noun category! Thus, not letting another person simply be who he or she is and to develop in an atmosphere of love and acceptance is the same as categorizing/classifying him or her and thus accusing  him or her and thus indirectly his or her Maker and condemning him or her to a less than authentic life, a mere existence in a 'safe' mold that we are ever so ready to pull out of our sleeve!

 

 My painting The Dance of Yin and Yang was chosen as the theme painting for the seminar Why Gender? organized by the University of Jyväskylä. No matter what the idea of the organizers was for the seminar, I would indeed suggest that now, on the threshold of a new decade, we would indeed leave all the different x-sexuals behind us, the stagnating -isms of our age, the yet-another attempt to narrow in, flatten and constrict the Mystery of the Image of God! Could we not simply look each other in the eyes - for that is indeed necessary! - and instead of putting a stamp of a preconceived idea into that face, give each other the chance of naturally becoming ourselves by looking into the eyes of Reflected Eternity and at the same time donating this very same Becoming to the Other? Would that not be truly revolutionary?! And after we have truly looked at the Other for some time, perhaps we would then be given a Name that would be unique for that individual who, by looking at us, has become a Person now, just like we too could be truly named in this way? Thus, from an ατομος, individuum, an individual, a προσωπον, a persona, a Face would be born!

 

 Time and again we as human beings are apt on getting stuck on identities that would fence in our freedom and indeed press a model of a face upon us instead of growing one patiently ourselves while looking at Each Other and the Truly Other. For it is indeed an awesome and even frightening business of growing a True Face and perhaps only a few succeed in it.....

 

 In this hope, I wish you all a Happy New Year and decade beginning with the Year of Our Lord 2010, once again a true and unique year for Humanity. For aren't Creativity and Unpredictability the Very Spice of Life? Indeed, I have been told that being creative is in fact synonymous with worshipping God....

 

 In the Palazzo Covero, on the 31st December, 2009, on the Day of Saint Zoticus, who cared for the Poor, fed the Orphans and served the Lepers, Saint Anysios, Bishop of Thessalonica and Hegumenia Melania the Roman

 

 Ari Kovero

 

 - The title of the above writing is taken from C.S.Lewis' parallel novel from 1956, Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold

 

 

 

 

Pyhä Birgitta ja Casa di Santa Brigida

 

 

            Euroopan suojeluspyhimys Pyhä BIRGITTA Birgerintytär syntyi vuonna 1303 legendan mukaan Finstan tilalla Norrtäljen lähellä Upplannissa. Sukunsa Folkungaättenin ja miehensä Ulf Gudmarssonin kautta hän kuului aikansa ruotsalaisen valtaeliitin piiriin. Jo 7-vuotiaana lapsena hän näki näkyjä joissa pääteemoja olivat Kristuksen kärsimykset ja Neitsyt Maria-mystiikka.la." 

 13-vuotiaana hänet naitettiin vasten tahtoaan 18-vuotiaalle Ulfille, mutta koska Birgitta halusi elää neitsyenä, hän onnistui sopimaan miehensä kanssa seksuaalisesta kanssakäymisestä luopumisesta, mutta tätä ei kuitenkaan jatkunut kauan vaan lopulta Birgitta synnytti kahdeksan lasta. Birgitan harras uskonnollisuus vaikutti kuitenkin voimakkaasti myös mieheen ja he tekivät pyhiinvaellusmatkoja mm. Norjan Nidarokseen ja Santiago de Compostelaan, jonne matkalla Ulf sairastui ja pelastui vasta Ranskan suojeluspyhimyksen Saint Denis’n ilmestyttyä Birgitalle. Tultuaan takaisin Ruotsiin Birgitta ja Ulf asettuivat asumaan Alvastran luostariin jossa Ulf kuoli joko 1344 tai 1346. Birgitta antoi hautajaisissa vihkisormuksensa pudota hautaan ja myi omaisuutensa ja ryhtyi Kristuksen morsiameksi. Hän vastaanotti yhä enemmän näkyjä ja yhä useammin niillä oli myös poliittinen luonne, kuten kuninkaan Magnus Erikssonin syyttäminen homoseksuaalisuudesta (’Magnus Smek’) ja kuningatar Blankan kritisoiminen Ruotsiin tuotujen pyhäinjäännösten halveksimisesta. Hän käytti kuvia omasta naisen elämästään ja hänen esimerkkinsä olivat suurtalouden hoidosta.

            Vuonna 1349 Birgitta lähti Roomaan saadakseen paavilta luvan perustaa luostarikunnan. Ongelma oli kuitenkin se että paavit vuodesta 1309 olivat Ranskan Avignonissa ns. babylonialaisessa vankeudessaan, mutta Birgitta ennusti että pian paavi ja keisari saisivat tavata Roomassa, asia jolle silloin naurettiin mahdottomana, mutta joka vastoin kaikkia odotuksia toteutui paavi Urbanus V:n palatessa ranskalaisten hallinnasta Roomaan ja tavatessa keisari Kaarle IV:n 1368 (Ranska ja Habsburgit olivat jo tuolloin vastakkain). Birgitta onnistui silloin saamaan paavin hyväksynnän luostarikunnalleen (kaikki säännöt eivät kuitenkaan miellyttäneet Birgittaa…), mutta kun paavi taas kerran lähti Ranskaan Birgitta ennusti tälle pikaista Jumalan iskua, joka sitten toteutuikin paavin nopeasti sairastuttua ja kuoltua. Hän pyrki myös vaikuttamaan muuhun maailmanpolitiikkaan ja yritti saada rauhan Ranskan ja Englannin välille.

            Roomassa suorasukainen Birgitta ei säästellyt sanojaan vaan ruoski verbaalisesti kaikkia erotuksetta hengellisestä lepsuudesta. Hän vietti paljon aikaa rukoillen eri pyhien haudoilla ja asui ensin eräässä palatsissa lähellä Basilika San Lorenzo in Damasoa, mutta vuonna 1371, 68:n vuoden ikäisenä, Birgitta lähti pyhiinvaellusmatkalle Pyhään Maahan, josta hän palasi vuonna 1373 hyvin heikentyneenä ja kuolikin sitten asunnossaan Piazza Farnesen lähellä 1373 – paikassa jossa siis vielä tänäkin päivänä sijaitsee Casa di Santa Brigida, jossa tällä matkallamme käymme. Hänen ruumistaan säilytettiin jonkun aikaa San Lorenzo di Panisperna-kirkossa, jossa säilytetään sarkofagia jossa hänen ruumistaan säilytettiin, mutta Birgitan toivomuksesta hänen ruumiinsa vietiin Ruotsiin jossa hänen pyhäinjäännöslipastaan säilytetään Vadstenan luostarikirkossa.

           Prosessi Birgitan kanonisoimiseksi käynnistettiin välittömästi 1377 ja 1391 paavi Bonifacius IX julisti hänet pyhimykseksi. Vuonna 1396 Birgitta korotettiin Ruotsin (johon myös Suomi siis tuolloin kuului) suojeluspyhimykseksi ja vuonna 1999 hänet korotettiin yhdessä Katariina Sienalaisen ja Edith Steinin kanssa koko Euroopan suojeluspyhimykseksi. On siis mielenkiintoista että kaikki nämä koko Euroopan suojeluspyhimykset ovat naisia. ityisesti naisten suojeluspyhimykseksi ja antoi oman elämänsä tyttärenä, vaimona, äitinä ja maallikkonaisena esikuvaksi. Hän vaikutti toimillaan arjen esimerkkien luomalla varmuudella, luomalla naiselle itsensä toteuttamisen mahdollisuuden luostareissa.

             Birgitta sai elinaikanaan ’hengellisenä ruutitynnyrinä’ kohdata voimakasta kritiikkiä eikä se laantunut hänen kuoltuaankaan.  Martti Luther kutsui häntä ’Hulluksi Birgitaksi’ ja Ruotsin reformaattori sanoi hänen näkyjään ’päiväuniksi’. Nykyään on sitten taas yritetty lääketieteellisin metodein julistaa hänen näkynsä hölynpölyksi – 1950-luvulla Ruotsissa hänen kallossaan olevaa koloa tutkittiin; sanottiin että siinä oli ollut kasvain joka siis olisi aiheuttanut hänelle hallusinaatioita. Ongelma oli vain siinnä että C-14- metodi osoitti pääkallon olevan aivan toiselta ajalta kuin Birgitan…

  Birgittalaissääntökunta kasvoi ja muodostui huomattavaksi Euroopassa; Suomeenkin kuten tunnettua perustettiin luostari 1440 Maskuun (1443 Naantaliin). Reformaation myötä luostarit kuitenkin kiellettiin Pohjoismaissa ja birgittalaissisarten uutta tuloa Ruotsi-Suomeen (ja myös Casa Santa Brigidaan Roomaan) saatiin odottaa aina 1900-luvun alkuun asti. Tämä liittyi Äiti Elisabeth Hesselbladin (1870-1957) kutsumukseen ja toimintaan. Tämä ruotsalaissyntyinen nainen muutti ensin Amerikkaan ja kääntyi katolilaiseksi 32-vuotiaana. Hän opiskeli lääkäriksi, mutta juuri kun hän oli suorittamaisillaan loppututkintonsa hän sairastui kohtalokkaasti ja kun lääkärit selittivät hänen tapauksensa olevan toivoton, hän päätti lähteä Roomaan ja viettää jäljellä olevat päivänsä maannaisensa Birgitan Casa di Santa Brigidassa. Kaitselmuksella oli kuitenkin toisenlaiset suunnitelmat hänen varalleen. Vuonna 1906 hän sai luvan paavilta pukea ylleen birgittalaissisarten puvun, kuitenkin vielä karmeliittasisarten piirissä, joille Casa di Santa Brigida vielä kuului tuohon aikaan. Vuodesta 1908 hän matkusti ympäri maailmaa tutustuen olemassa oleviin birgittalaisluostareihin ja 1911 hän perusti uudelleen birgittalaisluostarin Casa di Santa Brigidaan yhdessä kolmen englantilaisen nunnakokelaan kanssa, joskin koko talon he saivat karmeliittasisarilta vasta vuonna 1931. Tämä uusi verso birgittalaisluostariperheessä sai virallisen kirkollisen hyväksynnän vuonna 1920 ja nimen Ordi Sanctissimi Salvatoris vuonna 1942 joka on nimi vielä tänäkin päivänä. Tätä kutsutaan birgittalaissisarten ruotsalaiseksi haaraksi, johon myös Turkuun vuonna 1986 perustettu luostari kuuluu. Turussa on viisi nunnaa.

 

            Tänä päivänä maailmanlaajuista birgittalaissisarkuntaa johtaa Äiti Tekla Famiglietti, joka liittyi sisarkuntaan jo 14-vuotiaana ja on johtanut sitä jo vuodesta 1981. Häntä pidetään yhtenä Katolisen kirkon merkittävimmistä naisista; hän oli läsnä mm. paavi Johannes Paavali II:n kuolinvuoteella, jota voidaan pitää erityisenä kunnian- ja luottamuksenosoituksena. Tasavallan presidentti Tarja Halonen on myöntänyt Roomassa toimivalle äiti Tekla Famigliettille Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun Ritarikunnan I luokan komentajamerkin tämän ansioista Suomen ja Pyhän Istuimen välisissä yhteyksissä ja luterilais-katolisissa suhteissa. Äiti Tekla on Suomen evankelis-luterilaisen kirkon ja Helsingin katolisen hiippakunnan lämmin ystävä, joka on vieraillut Suomessa lukuisia kertoja. Casa di Santa Brigida on nimenomaan kohtaamis- ja majoituspaikka sekä katolisille että luterilaisille ja se ylläpitää kansainvälistä ekumeenistä keskusta Farfassa, tunnin matkan koilliseen Roomasta.

 

 

 Ari Kovero, huhtikuussa 2011, Rooman matkaa ennakoiden, jolla tehtäväni on pitää puhe Äiti Tekla Famiglettille Casa di Santa Brigidassa

 

 

 

 

A Modest Meditation on Faces and Facelessness

 

 

There are many advantages to studying the classical languages. One such thing is to discover the roots and origins of our thinking, with quite a possibility for self-reflection, both as an individual and as a culture.

            Take the Greek verb ̉εξίστημι (existeemi) for example! This verb, which consists of the prefix ̉εξ- and the so called great verb ̉ίστημι, together form a meaning ‘to come out of the place of standing’. This has then been carried to nearby Italy and Latin to form the verb exsistere and later existere, from which we of course get exist. To come out a stable place gradually came to mean also to give birth, and that which is born also exists, of course.

 

            Now, what did Kierkegaard and the existential philosophers have to say about existing vs. living? And wasn’t it C.S.Lewis who as one of his major themes had walking/being alongside oneself? As the human being is designed in such a way that he/she lives from his centre, from where alone or at least the clearest creativity flows, being alongside oneself or coming out of the stable place to somewhere not-so-good cannot be a good thing. Indeed, there are wise men who say that being creative is the same thing as serving God, and as one needs to be in one’s centre to be really spiritual and to meet God, then the natural outflow of that is of course creativity, even with a well within that never dies! Yes, didn’t Jesus say to the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar that he who believes will have a unquenchable well within and never be thirsty?

 

            I acquired quite a good habit last autumn. I read the Synaxarion every day. The Synaxarion is the story of the saints throughout the centuries until our own days. I would highly recommend it as reading as it is most challenging to the modern know-it-all, seen-it-all attitude and on top of that the book introduces us to a number, indeed thousands, of interesting personalities. In my previous writing I talked about the formation of person and personality through the interaction with Another and each other; that is, to become a person, one needs to be face to face with a προσώπον, another person, literally face. In the Synaxarion I have also learned how the slow and painful melting away from a personality happens: indeed, many tales from ahead-gone saints and sinners tells us that in Hell, the most intense suffering is not the unquenchable flames and the undying worm but rather the fact that those in Hell are arranged in such a way as to reflect how they lived already on earth: that is, they never see each other faces, and thus, little by little, with a logarithmic precision into all eternity, they disintegrate as persons.

            Let’s get one thing straight: No one ends up in Hell! No, to become Hell-bound, one needs to live a life of premeditated facelessness vis-à-vis other people. Take avarice for example: The person given to the love of money will not notice the one who looks him in the face asking for a penny or two but will rather hurry to the shop to get yet another thing he really doesn’t need. Or envy: the person given to coveting what the other has will not look the person having the things or qualities he desires in the face and really get to know him but will rather major on the possessions or qualities that he perceives the other as possessing. Or lust, as some see it, a subdivision of envy: I do not desire you in a way as to form a new entity of Love, no, I want to suck you out eternally so that what once was you, will become part of me.

            As horrified as we might be to look at our precious little vices as something so abhorrent, we’ll have to remember that with much time and resources, small things become big indeed and what started out as a small whispering voice gains the power and voracity of a hurricane when it is allowed to grow untampered.

 

            To be turned Heaven-ward, however, is to ever more behold the undying glory of the Maker in the creatures, in the faces covered by mud and masks to keep uncovering, digging and looking for the true προσώπον, the Face, the Reflection of Eternity, The Dawn Never Fading - the Mirror Image of the Only Source of True Creativity and Originality.

 

In the Ca’ Covero, sometime in the autumn of 2009,

 

Ari Kovero

 

 

Todellinen Renessanssi

 

 

 Euroopan liukuminen ns.Valistukseen ja sitä kautta Moderniin ja Postmoderniin on itse asiassa seurasta Kirkon liukumisesta askel askeleelta yhä kauemmaksi Totuudesta, Kauneudesta ja Hyvyydestä. Juutalais-kristillinen synteesi jossa nämä kolme Sulotarta tanssivat heleästi ja sulavasti yhdessä pirstoutui vähitellen luoden pohjan ja raon hajottavalle Tyhjyydelle. Tämä on se tilanne jossa me nyt elämme. Pimeys voi kuitenkin vallata vain sellaisen alueen josta Valo on väistynyt koska Valo on Pimeyttä voimakkaampi, Pimeys kun on pelkästään ja vain Valon poissaoloa. Siten tie takaisin voi olla yksinkertaista kuin pienen Valon kynttilän sytyttäminen.

 

 Juutalaisuudessa oli ainutlaatuinen Kauneuden, Hyvyyden ja Totuuden tanssi. Temppeli ja se kalusteet kuvataan Bezalelin tekeminä ennennäkemättömän kauniina, ja koska Kaikkeinpyhin oli luoksepääsemätön ja ainakin toisen ja kolmannen temppelin kaudella tyhjä ei mystiikkaakaan puuttunut. Tooran tutkiminen taas oli ensisijaista ja siitä saatiin sekä Totuutta että Viisautta, mutta profeetat ja esim. Sananlaskujen kirja ohjasivat jatkuvasti kohti käytäntöä ja Sanan toteuttamista. Hyvyys, esim. köyhien ylläpidon muodossa, oli itsestään selvä kollektiivinen velvollisuus juutalaisuudessa, ja on sitä vielä tänäkin päivänä.

 Kristinuskon astuttua kuvaan tuli myös kreikkalainen filosofia näyttämölle, uskohan ei syntynyt historialliseen tyhjiöön. Vaikka kirkkoisät onnistuivatkin tanssimaan foxtrotia Platonin ja Aristoteleen kanssa menettämättä identiteettiään, Kirkkoon jäi tietty, ennen kaikkea platoninen pohjavire joka jäi jäytämään sitä vuosisadoiksi. Se itsestäänselvyys jolla juutalaisuudessa suhtauduttiin Tooran ja lähimmäisenrakkauden yhteyteen, kuin ihmisen kahteen käteen, vaihtui puheeksi ’hyvistä teoista’ ja niiden merkityksestä pelastuksessa; abstrakti kudelma joka tuntuisi vieraalta juutalaisuudessa. Pelastushan on juutalaisuudessa yksiselitteisesti Jumalasta ja on tapahtunut jo ajat sitten, ihminen tekee sitten vain itsestään käsin velvollisuutensa auttaessaan lähimmäistään.

 Erityisen ongelmalliseksi muodostui suhde ihmisen langenneisuuteen – olento joka oli niin hyvä pystyi kuitenkin käsittämättömiin raakuuksiin ja toisaalta katsottuna niin paha ja raaka olento ylsi parhaimmillaan pyyteettömään hyvyyteen, ennennäkemättömään kauneuteen ja laserintarkkaan totuuteen. Miten nämä olivat yhteen sovitettavissa? Tämä olikin yksi vaikeimmista pähkinöistä purtavaksi joka ihmiskunnalle on koskaan annettu! Lännen kirkkoisä Augustinus kehitti kuuluisan perisyntioppinsa, joka poikkesi juutalaisuuden ’kahden koiran’(hyvän ja pahan)-näkemyksestä siinnä että periytyvä paha koira oli niin voimakas että se helposti, lähes automaattisesti, valtasi koko sielun ja sitä vastaan piti olla Vapahtaja, jatkuva hyvien tekojen lista ja liha, siis Augustinuksella käytännössä fyysisyys, jossa se asui, täytyi kuolettaa. Tämä olisi ollut aika radikaalia esim. Jeesukselle josta kerrottiin että Hän ’söi ja joi ja vietti aikaa syntisten kanssa’.

 Pyrkiminen pois pahan koiran runtelemasta ja syömästä lihasta sai yhä fantastisempia muotoja. Syntyi ihmisryhmiä jotka eivät menneet naimisiin eivätkä pahemmin syöneet ja juoneetkaan, nimittäin munkit ja nunnat. Ja heitä alettiin platoniseen henkeen pitää yhä hengellisempinä.[1] Rajankäynti juutalaisuuden painottaman hyvän kosmoksen ja sen ikuisen fyysisyyden ja toisaalta pahan maailman ja lihan välillä muodostui yhä ongelmallisemmaksi, mikä näkyi myös jo Uuden Testamentin[2] sisällä.

 - Pyhäpäivän käytön ero juutalaisuudessa ja katolilaisuudessa eksemplifioi tätä kahden perinteen eroa seikkaperäisesti: Katolilaisuudessa on erityisen siunauksellista juuri sunnuntaina pidättäytyä seksistä, kun taas juutalaisuudessa nimenomaan sapattina harjoitettavat aviolliset velvollisuudet ovat erityisen suotavia…

 

 Kirkon haljettua vuonna 1054 voidaan sanoa että Kauneus ja mystiikka lähti Itään ja käytännöllisyys ja hyvät teot Länteen – Totuudesta taas tuli Suuren Skisman ensimmäinen uhri. Päästyään lukemaan Aristotelesta, Tuomas Akvinolainen alkoi muokata Kirkon oppia käytännöllisempään suuntaan. Pakanat Platon ja Aristoteles olivat tehneet lähtemättömän vaikutuksen läntisiin teologeihin eikä niin suurta oppineisuutta ja viisautta yksinkertaisesti voinut jättää huomioimatta. Niinpä alettiin ajatella että maailma oli täynnä Jumalan yleistä viisautta ja valoa ja että pakanatkin, varsinkin viisaimmat heistä, saattoivat päästä hyvinkin pitkälle.[3] Kirkon ja pyhien viisaus, hyveet ja teot olivat vain astetta parempia kuin muiden. Augustinuksesta hieman poiketen jokainen saattoi nyt kivuta hyveen tikkaita yhä ylemmäksi eikä paheen koira päässyt repimään riekaleiksi jollei itse ehdoin tahdoin sitä halunnut; ihmisen omilla pyrkimyksillä oli voimakkaat vaikutuksensa.        

 Kokonaisvaikutelma oli siis Aristoteleen vaikutuksesta valoisampi kuin pelkkä Augustinuksen lukeminen olisi edellyttänyt (kirkonmiehet olisivat kuitenkin saaneet tämän kaiken juutalaisuudesta jos vain olisivat nöyrtyneet sen vastaanottamaan). Tämä johti kuitenkin vakavaan mietintään monien (proto)reformaattoreiden piirissä siitä mikä Kristuksen rooli sitten loppujen lopuksi oli. Martti Luther veti tästä johtopäätöksen että Jumala itse asiassa ikään kuin laittoi kätensä siihen tahdottomaan hanskaan joka kapinallisesta ihmisestä oli tullut ja pelasti hänet; Jean Calvin lisäsi tähän että sekä pelastava armo että kadottava tuomio olivat vastustamattomia. Näin Totuus oltiin saatu dramaattisesti halkeamaan ja sen moninaisuudessa olevan yhteyden sijaan jota Paavali ja varhaiset kirkkoisät olivat saarnanneet oli syntynyt keskenään kilpailevia ’kirkkoja’ jotka eivät kaihtaneet keinoja toisiaan vastaan taistellessaan.[4] Kauneus taas oli relegoitu irrelevantiksi pintakuorrutukseksi (reformaattorit), propagandakoneistoksi (Trenton konsiili) tai läpipääsemättömäksi ja irrallaan roikkuvaksi mystiikan verhoksi (Ortodoksinen kirkko). Kaikilla suunnilla tuntui sitä vastoin olleen vaikeuksia integroida Hyvyys luonnolliseksi osaksi ihmisyyttä ja systeemiään; ortodokseilla se oli tosin osa yli-ihmisten (lue: askeettisten pyhien) elämäntapaa (kunhan ensin oli vietetty vuosikymmenet yksinäisyydessä…); katolisilla osa pelastuksen ansaitsemista ja näyttämistä ja reformoiduilla epämukava umpisuoli jota ei oikein poiskaan voinut leikata koska oli itsestään selvää että hyvää oli tehtävä, mutta pelastushan tuli yksin armosta Jumalalta joten teot saattoivat vain olla merkki siitä että pelastuu ja/tai niiden piti tapahtua automaattisesti. Se mikä kaikilta puuttui, jollei muuten niin ainakin painotuksena tai implikaationa, oli että ihminen joka tajuaa Totuuden ja jonka sielu on kaunistunut itsestään selvästi tekee hyvää lähimmäisilleen. Puuttui siis eräänlainen eurooppalaisen ihmisen sielun integroituminen, joka kenties löytyy kuin löytyykin juutalaisuudesta – pahaa ja itsekkyyttä vastaan oli tosin kilvoiteltava mutta kun Jumalan kansa kulkee yhdessä, Valossa ja Totuudessa, se ei voi olla tekemättä hyvää sekä lähimmäisilleen että vihollisilleen, aivan kuten Kristus ja Mooses olivat saarnanneet.

 Näihin Euroopan sielun vakoihin pääsi iskemään ns. Valistus, jonka parempi nimi olisi Pimennys. Koska Totuus oli hajonnut keskenään tukkanuottasilla oleviksi ryhmittymiksi, se voitiin ensin relativisoida kollektiivisella tasolla (eivätkä uskonsodat todellakaan vieneet tätä prosessia oikeaan suuntaan) ja sitten Descartes’ista lähtien yksilöllisellä tasolla.[5]

 Kauneus, joka olemukseltaan on lähes tuskallisen viiltävää ja ihmissielua värisyttävästi penetroivaa, oli ensin hajonnut pelkkien mittasuhteiden palvonnaksi renessanssissa, draaman hallitsevuudeksi barokissa, pikkusievyydeksi rokokoossa ja lopulta sentimentaalisuudeksi 1800-luvulla romantiikasta lähtien.[6] 1800-luvun lopulla itse kuvallisuus ja esittävyys hajosi pirstaleiksi, kenties siksi ettei todellisuuteen sinänsä Kantin mukaan enää millään päässyt käsiksi ja siten ei enää ollut muuta näytettävää kuin ihmissielun pimentynyt peilitalo tai koska kuvan takana ei yksinkertaisesti enää ollut mitään transsendenttia todellisuutta. 1900-luvun alusta taide onkin hajonnut taivaan tuuliin ja kauneudesta on lähinnä tullut piinallinen, nolo ja lapsellinen sivujuonne.

  ’Ecrassez l’infâme!’, Voltaire oli julistanut Katolista kirkkoa vastaan. Kirkon passiivisuus tekojen, apologetiikan ja suoraan actionin suhteen räjäytti aikanaan esiin filosofin jolla todellakin oli esitellä konkreettinen ohjelma maailman muuttamiseksi ainakin tuhatvuotiseksi onnelaksi, nimittäin Karl Marx. Hänen oppinsa oli mitä juutalaisinta eskatologiaa ja uskomatonta kyllä se sai puolet maailmaa hallintaansa 1900-luvun kuluessa.

  - Kirkko näytti siis kaikilla alueilla olevan auttamattomasti vanhanaikainen ja puolustuskannalla.

 

 Nykyään elämme tilanteessa jossa jokainen on oman totuutensa seppä – mutta silti on luotava yhteiset pelisäännöt että voimme elää yhdessä. Valtiosta on ainakin Pohjois-Euroopassa kasvanut ennennäkemätön hyvyystuottaja sosiaalivaltion kautta ja sen roolista tunnutaan olevan yksimielisiä. Niin, ja kauneus, sehän on vain katsojan silmässä, jos sielläkään.

 Mitä lieveilmiöitä voimme havaita Totuuden, Hyvyyden ja Kauneuden kadon myötä? Jatkuvat riipivät yhteiskunnalliset keskustelut osoittavat että ihminen etsii ja kaipaa Totuutta ja ettei se suinkaan ole jotakin jota jokainen voi vain vapaasti spekuloida omassa päässään vaan että sillä on mitä kauaskantoisimmat seuraukset yhteiskuntaelämässä. Onko ihminen luonnontilassa hyvä ja normaali ja pitäisikö siis kaikkia hänen mielihalujaan edistää? Onko kaikki pahuus vain strukturaalista alkuperää, ja jos on, mistä se sitten sai alkunsa? Kaikki näyttävät olevan yhtä mieltä siitä että hyvyyttä on ’tuotettava’ yhteiskunnassa, mutta mikä on tärkeintä ja mitkä ovat siis prioriteetit? Ja voiko taiteessa olla minkäänlaisia kriteereitä ja mikä on kauneuden rooli? Nämä ovat niitä keskusteluja joita jatkuvasti käydään.

 Koska ulkoinen hyvinvointi on päämärä josta kaikki tuntuvat olevan enemmän tai vähemmän samaa mieltä, siitä onkin tehty nykyisten länsimaisten yhteiskuntien raison d’être, pienin yhteinen nimittäjä. Epämukavat ja näennäisesti ikuista ristiriita tuottavat totuuskysymykset on sysätty syrjemmälle, niin, on jopa ivallista kysyä mikä muka on Totuus tai elämän tarkoitus. Taiteessa kauneus näyttäytyy lähinnä sentimentaalisena reliikkinä ja taiteen paremmuus on lähinnä äänestysten ja sisäpiiriklikkien varassa. Tämä on käytännössä johtanut siihen että se mikä on raflaavinta, eniten öklöä ja eniten himoja herättävää kerää eniten huomiota. Voisiko kuitenkin olla niin että yhteiskunnassamme vallalla oleva pornografia ja himo on itse asiassa pohjatonta mutta väärin suuntautunutta ja pintakerroksiin tyytyvää Kauneuden kaipuuta? Ja voisiko taloudellisen turvallisuuden perässä juokseminen pohjimmiltaan olla väärin suuntautunutta ja pinnallisuuteen tyytyvää Ikuisen Turvan hakua? Jokaisen ihmisen sisäinen totuus joudutaan testaamaan elämän ja toisten ihmisten yhdessäolon alasimella. Siksi Totuus ei koskaan ole vain yksityisasia. Kirkon ei tulisi koskaan pelätä apologeettista keskustelua yhteiskunnassa ja eri totuudet tulisi todella pistää kilpailutilanteeseen, ad hominem-argumentteihin sortumatta. Hyvyyden, jota kaikki niin kaipaamme ja jota suuresti arvostamme, tulisi olla jokaisen totuuden koetinkivi. Kristushan saarnasi ehdottomasti hyvien tekojen ja totuuden yhteyttä. Hänen metodinsa oli kuitenkin keskusteleva ja jokaisen omaan päättelykykyyn perustuva, mikä tarkoittaa ettei koskaan tulisi syntymään mitään yhtä monoliittista Totuutta - Hänhän on kristinuskossa Persoona - vaan keskusteleva ja vuorovaikutteinen elävä organismi joka olisi elävässä suhteessa ihmisten todellisuuteen. Yhteyden ja yksilöllisyyden jännite pysyy koossa vain Pyhän Hengen mysteerin kautta. Kristus ja juutalais-kristillinen perinne edellyttää diskurssissaan Totuuden, Kauneuden ja Hyvyyden itsenäistä eksistenssiä joihin jokainen pimeyteen pyrkivä ennemmin tai myöhemmin törmää ikään kuin fyysisenä ulottuvuutena, mutta joka näyttäytyy murskaavana Seinänä väärään suuntaan meneville. Kauneus, Totuus ja Hyvyys eivät ole vain subjektiivisen keskustelun päätettävissä vaan osa olevaisen ja Jumalan, ο Ών, olemusta ja säteilyä ja ovat itse asiassa konkreettisempia kuin tämä fyysinen maailma. Meidän tulisi kuitenkin voida keskustella mikä tämä olemus on ja miten se ilmenee eikä vai sysätä sitä ratkaisemattomaan subjektiivisuuden sfääriin tai julistaa että ’millään ei ole mitään väliä’.

 - Pikemminhän on niin että kaikella on jotain väliä.

 

 ”Sillä Hänessä me elämme, liikumme ja olemme”  Paavali julistaa Jumalasta Areiopagilla pakanafilosofeille.[7] Näin voisimme yhtä hyvin sanoa myös Kauneudesta, Totuudesta ja Hyvyydestä, jotka ovat ikään kuin Jumalan olemuksen säteilyä ja Hänen viittaansa, ominta omaansa. Niinpä kulttuuri joka on vajonnut niin alas että se halveksii Totuutta ensin relativisoimalla ja täysin subjektivoimalla sen ja sitten nostaa valheen kunniaan, nauraa ja pyllistää Kauneudelle ja palvoo rumuutta ja völlyy siinnä sekä pitää Hyvyyttä vain omien itsekkäiden himojensa itsestäänselvänä tyydyttäjänä, on kaukana Jumalan sydämestä. Vain syvä katumus ja Todellisuuden nälkä voi johtaa Euroopan takaisin tielle joka johtaa Isän taloon. Voimme kuitenkin luottaa siihen, että kuten Tuhlaajapoika joka Jumalan armosta tajusi oman tilansa vihdoin kääntyi takaisin kohti kotiaan, Taivaallinen Isä tulee meitäkin vastaan juosten kun näkee katuvan Euroopan jo kaukaa. Jumala on vuodattanut päällemme ennennäkemättömiä Viisauden, Tieteen, caritaksen ja Taiteen aarteita, mutta jollemme tuota sitä Hyvyyden satoa koko maailmalle jota Jumala odottaa olemme vajonneet apostasikseen, luopumukseen, aivan kuten Paavi Benedictus XVI julistaa.

 Itse uskon että meidän pitää epäitsekkäästi etsiä ja rakastaa Totuutta, antautua pelastusarmeijalaisen Hyvyyden vietäväksi ja etsimällä etsiä ja rukoilla kaikkein herkintä, Kauneutta, palaamaan keskuuteemme. Vain siten teemme tiet suoriksi ja tasoitamme kukkulat Kunnian Kuninkaan käydä sisälle raunioituneeseen maanosaamme, joka edelleen kuitenkin nauttii menneiden sukupolvien hyveellisyydestä.

 

 Tänä adventtipaaston aikana ei kenties ole sattumaa että elämme hyvin historiallista aikaa. On nimittäin niin että historiallisesti katsoen hyvin lyhyen ajan kuluttua, vain 44 vuoden päästä, Kristuksen Kirkolla on edessään hyvin kyseenalainen ’juhlavuosi’. Vuonna 2054 tulee nimittäin kuluneeksi tasan 1000 vuotta Kirkon halkeamisen, Suuren Skisman tapahtumista. Olisiko Kirkon, Ortodoksisen ja Katolisen, aika taas kerran siirtyä johtamaan Eurooppaa pimeydestä Valoon tekemällä kaikkensa jotta Kirkko voisi eheytyä ja yhdistyä taas Yhdeksi?[8] Itse asiassa, juuri tämän eteen nämä Kirkot tekevätkin kaikkensa, tällä hetkellä kuitenkin suhteellisen salassa ja suurilta massoilta tietämättömissä.

 Voimme kuitenkin varmasti yhtyä rukoukseen että se joka toi suurimman mahdollisen Kirkkauden Israelin maasta maanosaamme, Kirkko, voisi taas kerran nousta Voitokkaasti, mutta tällä kertaa Nöyryyden läksyn opittuaan, jaloilleen ja johtaa prinsessa Euροπη’n kohti ennennäkemätöntä Totuuden, Kauneuden ja Hyvyyden tanssia, Tieteen, Taiteen ja caritaksen riemuvoittoa.

 Se olisi tämän Pimeän 'Valistuksen' Keskiajan jälkeen todellinen uudestisyntyminen, todellinen Renessanssi, aikakausi jonka sopivasti tänä adventtina voisi aloittaa sytyttämällä yksinkertaisen Valon kynttilän ja rukoilemalla, ’Tule Herra Jeesus!’.

 

 

 Ca’ Coverossa, joulupaaston aikaan, tänä 1:nä päivänä joulukuuta, 2010, profeetta Naahumin, Pyhä Filaret Laupiaan, Konstantinopolilaisen ja Martyyri Ananias Persialaisen muistopäivänä

 

 Ari Kovero

 

 

His Holiness Pope Benedictus XVI and His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople victoriously in Unity in the Phanar, Constantinople in 2007


 

[1] Tosin oli juutalaisuudessakin ollut tällaisia hahmoja, kuten esim. Johannes Kastaja, mutta he olivat aina kuuluneet pieneen vähemmistöön. Kristinuskossa luostareista tuli organisoitu massaliike.

[2] Ja itse asiassa Vanhankin Testamentin sisällä.

[3] Niinpä Dante sijoittaa Jumalaisessa komediassaan Platonin ja Aristoteleen Helvetin ylimpään kerrokseen, heti Paratiisin alapuolelle. He eivät kärsi mutteivät ole saavuttaneet autuuttakaan joka löydetään vain Kristuksessa..

[4] Tosin yleensä kirkkojen johto ei saarnannut toisten kirkkojen nöyryyttämistä ja halventamista mutta massaliikkeissä aatteet helposti vulgarisoituvat.

[5] Juuri tämä oli se mistä Katolinen kirkko oli varoittanut protestantteja uskonkeskustelujen käydessä kiivaimmillaan 1500-luvun alussa; jos jokaisen omatunto on lopullinen totuuden arvioimisen kriteeri, harhaoppien määrällä ei ole mitään rajaa.

[6] Vaikka Kant yrittikin tuoda käsitteen subliimi taiteeseen, se ei siinnä kauaa pysynyt koska sillä ei ollut pohjakosketusta todellisuuteen.

[7] Ap.t.17:28

[8] On kutakuinkin varmaa ja ainakin mitä suurimmassa määrin toivottavaa että kun Äitikirkot eheytyvät ja yhdistyvät, protestiliikkeiltä putoaa pohja pois ja ne voivat taas, 500 vuoden tauon jälkeen, liittyä Kirkon valtauomaan, unity in diversity-hengessä.

 

 

 

Eleistä ja peleistä

 

 

 Tässä esseessä saamme matkata ilmapallon kyydissä, tutustua hansikkaan ja käden yhteistyöhön sekä pelata Jumalallista flipperiä. Reformaation teologiaa ja sen taustaa tukiessani kiinnostuin nimittäin Tuomas Akvinolaisen, Martti Lutherin ja Jean Calvinin käsityksistä ihmisen tilasta, hänen langenneisuudestaan ja hänen tahtonsa mahdollisesta vapaudesta.

 

 

 Skolastiikan perusnäkemyksenä oli luoda kokonaiskuva kosmoksesta ja siihen kuuluvasta ihmisestä, mikrokosmoksesta. Jumala ymmärrettiin luomattomana alkuvalona, joka luomansa valon välityksellä läpäisee koko maailmankaikkeuden; Kristus on ikuisen ja luomattoman valon säteily joka johtaa ihmisen takaisin omaan alkuperäänsä. Mm. riippuvuus pelkistä aistikokemuksesta on lankeemuksen seurausta. Aristoteleen näkemykset tulivat tunnetuksi Euroopassa arabialaisten ja latinalaisten käännösten kautta. Niiden kautta ajateltiin voitavan luoda kokonaisnäkemys sulattamalla ne yhteen Kirkon oppien kanssa, tai pikemminkin kirkastamalla Kirkon näkemykset Aristoteleen logiikan kautta, jotka jo puolestaan olivat tietyssä määrin Platonin vaikutuksen alaisia.

 

 Tätä taustaa vasten Tuomas Akvinolainen (1225-74), dominikaanimunkki, loi oman teologiansa. Perusnäkemys vaikuttaa sangen valoisalta ja optimistiselta: ihminen on tosin langennut alkuperäisestä kirkkaudestaan ja hänen näkökykynsä asioiden todelliseen tilaan on olennaisesti heikentynyt, mutta hän omaa silti aikaa paljon energiaa ja uskoa ja hyviä pyrkimyksiä, vaikkakaan ne eivät aivan riitä Jumalan taivaanrantaan asti. Usko joka ihmisellä on, kurottautuu automaattisesti ylöspäin ja hapuilee kohti jotakin tai jotakuta, mutta Jumalan rakkauden täytyy ikään kuin informoida se jotta se löytäisi tiensä Hänen luokseen. Tuomas puhuu vuodatetusta rakkaudesta (caritas infusa). Maailmassa on myös paljon Jumalan valoa luonnollisen moraalilain muodossa, jonka pääilmentymä on prudentia, ’käytännöllinen järki’, joka taas koostuu hyveistä iustitia, fortitudo, temperantia ja mansuetudo, lista, joka voisi hyvinkin periytyä vaikkapa Cicerolta. Jo näidenkin hyveiden kasvattamisella päästään pitkälle ja tämä kenties selittää miksi Vatikaani tänäkin päivänä on sangen avoin esim. uskontojen väliselle dialogille – kaikillahan oletetaan olevan valmiudet samanlaisiin luonnollisen moraalin mukaisiin hyveisiin.

 Kirkolle on kuitenkin vuodatettu myös kolme yliluonnollista hyvettä jonka avulla se voi ylittää prudentian, nimittäin usko, toivo ja rakkaus. Nämä liittyvät yliluonnolliseen onnellisuuteen l. autuuteen, ja siten suoraan Taivaaseen. Kun henkilö ensin puhdistuttuaan synnistä täyttyy näistä vuodatetuista hyveistä hän alkaa yhä selvemmin nähdä jumalalliseen todellisuuteen ja autuaallistua, olotila joista muut saavat aavistuksen vain uskon ja jossain määrin myös (aristoteelisen) logiikan kautta. Luonnollisella ihmisellä on Tuomaan mukaan sisäänrakennettu pyrkimys onneen ja ikuiseen täydelliseen elämään – ’päämäärä josta ei voi kieltäytyä’, kuten hän sanoo; ihminen on kuin synnin kiveen sidottu heliumilmapallo joka automaattisesti pyrkii ylöspäin, jonnekin, mutta vasta vuodatetut hyveet usko, toivo ja etenkin rakkaus joka informoi  intellektuaaliselta sisällöltään epätäydellisen (luonnollisen) uskon vapauttavat ilmapallon kohti taivaallisia sfäärejä. Kristillinen logiikka, rakkaus, oikeus ja usko ovat aina parempia kuin pelkät maalliset joskin niissä on jatkumo.

 Millä tavalla ihmisen tahto sitten on sidottu pahaan ja pimeyteen ja mitä hän voi ja mitä hänen tulisi tehdä tilassaan? Ottaen huomioon että kokonaiskuva on sangen valoisa ja että siihen on integroitu paljon luonnollista valoa omaavilta Platonilta ja Aristoteleelta, jotka eivät koskaan Kristuksesta olleet kuulletkaan mutta jotka olivat silti päässeet fantastisen pitkälle ihan omin voimin (ainakin intellektuaalisella tasolla jota Rooman kirkko suuresti arvostaa koska sen mielestä oikea ajattelu on välttämätöntä oikeaan toimintaan), on täysin loogista että ihmisen omille ponnistuksille, hyveiden harjoittamiselle ja paheiden välttämiselle (bonum est faciendum et malum vitandum), annetaan paljon tilaa ja kannustusta. Lankeemusta ei nähdä ehdottoman perusteellisena, eikä se voi missään tapauksessa kumota Jumalan luomistyötä. On siis luonnollista että ihmisen pitää ainakin pyrkiä ja nähdä vaivaa kohti minimiä, enemmän tai vähemmän prudentiaa – tämä on ohjelmoitu jokaiseen ihmiseen – mutta koska Kirkolle on sen lisäksi vuodatettu uskoa, toivoa ja rakkautta, sen on pyrittävä kohti korkeinta vapautta ja onnea, beatitudo, itse Jumalan katselemiseen ja autuuteen Hänessä (Augustinus). Jumalallisen valon etsintä on nimenomaan kollektiivinen prosessi Kirkossa, vaikkei yksilön ponnistuksia kielletäkään. Kirkon sakramentit ovat keskeisessä asemassa vuodatetun armon vastaanottamisessa, etenkin Kristuksella ’täyttyminen’ ehtoollisessa, vaikkei Tuomas paradoksaalisesti uskokaan että Jumala voisi olemuksellisesti olla läsnä ihmisessä. Synnit ja paheet vetävät kyllä helposti ilmapalloa kohti maata, mutta sen luonnollinen päämäärä on ylöspäin joten vaikka kilvoittelu on ajoittain hyvinkin vaikeaa, jumalallinen sfääri on kuitenkin ihmisen luonnollinen suunta ja hänen kotimaansa. Ilmapallo-vertaus on kenties hyvinkin osuva, sillä katolilaisuudessa on aimo annos ylimaallista ja suorastaan eteeristä Taivas-platonismia kerrostuneena hyvinkin tämänmaallisen juutalaisuuden päälle.

 

 Ihminen ei siten joudu menemään omaa luontoaan vastaan pyrkiessään kohti Jumalaa; on kuin hän olisi vain osittain sokaistunut ja eksynyt, mutta ensin luonnollinen prudentia (nämä hyveet on usein personifioitu sekä Antiikissa että Katolisessa kirkossa) ja sitten ecclesia johdattavat eksyneen kohti Jumalaa. Täydellinen metamorfoosi ei ole tarpeen koska luonto ja armo toimivat tandemissa – gratia non tollit naturam sed perficit – armo itse asiassa jopa edellyttää Jumalan luomistyötä, luontoa. Synti ei siis missään vaiheessa ole päässyt tunkeutumaan ihmisen ytimeen, substanssiin, ei ainakaan kovin radikaalisti. Ihminen voi ja hänen tulee pyrkiä hyveiden avulla kohti Jumalaa ja toisia ihmisiä ja silloin Jumala tulee häntä vastaan vuodattaen armonsa, faciendi quod in se est Deus non negat gratiam suam. Tätä ei esitetä matemaattisena kaavana eikä ihminen ole missään nimessä tasavertainen kumppani Jumalan kanssa mutta hänen on valittava suuntautuvansa kohti Jumalaa tai ainakin vastaanottavansa caritaksen joka informoi hänen uskonsa oikeaan suuntaan. Vapaa tahto ja sen liike on kuitenkin mystisesti jumalallista alkuperää, mutta Jumala toimii aina kunkin luonnon mukaisesti, ts. kun Hän on luonut ihmisen vapaaksi, vaikka tämä on langennut syntiin Hän saattaa nykäistä ihmistä mutta ihmisen on tehtävä liike/näytettävä tahtonsa vastaanottaa vuodatettu armo, ja silloin Jumala tulee häntä vastaan juosten kuten isä Kristuksen Tuhlaajapoikavertauksessa.

 

Yleinen armo riittää informoimaan ja voimauttamaan kenet tahansa maan päällä hyviin tekoihin – ne ovat ikään kuin itsestään selvä osa ihmisyyttä johon ei tarvita mitään erityistä, Kirkon monopolissa olevaa armoa. Siksi Katolinen kirkko voi hyvinkin saarnata vaikkapa ihmisoikeuksista koko maailmalle koska jokaisen ajatellaan ymmärtävän ne ja pystyvän niitä enemmän tai vähemmän toteuttamaan; Jumalan yleinen moraalilaki on kirjoitettu jokaiseen sydämeen aivan kuten apostoli Paavali kirjoittaa. Käsiteparilla fides implicita – fides explicita Tuomas Akvinolainen opettaa että usko ja ihminen on yhtä olemusta ja että se joka on vastaanottanut caritaksen vahvistamaan ja informoimaan fidestä oikeaan suuntaan sydämen hyvään maaperään muuttuu myös Kristuksen todelliseksi kuvaksi ja kaltaisuudeksi maan päällä. On ikään kuin empiiristä todellisuutta että sellainen usko näkyy hyvissä teoissa eikä Tuomas antaudu spekulatiiviseen keskusteluun mikä olisi teoreettista pelastavaa uskoa vaan heijastaen Paavalia ja apostolia Jaakobia hän toteaa vain että todellinen usko näkyy teoissa. Hyvissä teoissa on luonnollisuus ja yhteys ihmisen intellektiin ja niiden tekemisestä tai tekemättä jättämisestä ei tarvitse spekuloida sen kummemmin.

 

 

 Tämän keskiaikaisen synteesin ja tandemin ihmisen uskon ja tekojen välillä kaatoi Martti Lutherin (1483-1546) omatunto. Kuten kaikissa uskonnollisissa ja muissakin liikkeissä monesti käy, Katolisen kirkon kirkkaimpien teologien ja pyhien opetukset alkoivat olla yhä räikeämmässä kontrastissa osaan kansanuskomuksista sekä ns. renesanssipaavien ja tiettyjen anekauppiaden käytäntöjen kanssa. Sitä paitsi historiassa sattuu aina silloin tällöin että esiin putkahtaa henkilö jolla on poikkeuksellisen tarkka omatunto ja näkökyky kulttuurissa tapahtuviin prosesseihin joka pakottaa hänet tiettyyn ulkopuolisen asemaan siinnä historiallisessa tilanteessa ja tällöin henkilö voi saada ainutlaatuisen perspektiivin ikään kuin ajan ulkopuolelta. Augustinolaismunkki ja teologian professori Luther lähti liikkeelle täysin keskiaikaisesta, lähinnä via modernaan nojaavasta teologiasta, mutta 1514-19 hän siirtyi reformatoriseen teologiaansa. Tuolloin, kuten hän sanoi, ’mietittyään asiaa yöt ja päivät’, hän tuli siihen tulokseen että uskovan ns. disponoiminen sellaiseen tilaan että hän voi vastaanottaa armon on myös armon aikaansaannosta - Jumala siis jo toimii uskovassa ennen varsinaista saapumistaan. Aikaisempi, Tuomaan, teologiahan oli ensinnäkin olettanut ettei Jumala olemuksellisesti voi olla läsnä uskovassa ja että esim. Augustinuksen viinitarhatyöläisvertauksen samasta palkasta kaikille-tulkinnassa skolastiseen ajatteluun saatiin ajatus että ihmisessä itsessään on jotakin mikä vetää Jumalan armon puoleensa. Luther kumosi tämän Roomalaiskirjeen ja Galatalaiskirjeen luennoissaan ja sanoi että Jumalan vanhurskaus on ilmestynyt vieraana lahjana ihmiselle ja että se ilmestyy ihmiseen ja hänen ylleen lainavaatteina uskosta uskoon; Paavalin Abraham-tulkinnan mukaisesti iustus ex fide vivit. Lutherin tulkintaan vaikutti hänen oma uskonkriisinsä ja erittäin herkkä omatuntonsa koska esim. Bielin mukaan ihminen ei koskaan voi tietää oliko hän tehnyt kaikkensa ja oliko hän siten armon tilassa suhteessa Jumalaan vai ei. Tämä itseensä tuijottaminen osoittautui ylivoimaisen hankalaksi Lutherille jonka omatunto jatkuvasti todisti ettei hän ollut tehnyt kaikkeaan ja siten, ainakaan itseään katsomalla, hän ei koskaan voisi saavuttaa pelastuksen varmuutta. Rippi-isänsä neuvoa seuraten Luther käänsi katseensa radikaalisti Kristukseen, josta oli seurauksena erinäisiä räjähdysalttiita ajatuksia Katolisen kirkon sisällä - Lutherillahan ei ollut aikomustakaan tässä vaiheessa perustaa mitään omaa ’kirkkoa’ – pelkkä ajatuskin olisi varmasti ollut hänelle absurdi. Lutherin mielestä se mielen liike, vaikkakin heikko ja pieni, joka suuntautuu hyvään ja ikuiseen elämään ja Jumalaankin, on pohjimmiltaan ihmisen lyhytnäköisen itsekeskeisen agendan sanelema, joten tällaista ’uskoa’ ei voi vain antaa caritaksen hieman korjailtavaksi vaan täytyy nähdä ihmisen radikaali langenneisuus ja incuruatus in se, itseensäkäpertyneisyys, ja ne radikaalit toimenpiteet joita Jumalan siis on tehtävä pelastaaksen ihminen. Ihmisellä ei siis ole nöyryyden häivääkään koska hän ei pysty sydämestään rukoilemaan edes kaikkein yksinkertaisinta rukousta, nimittäin ’Tapahtukoon Sinun tahtosi’. Ihmisessä, siis hänen lihassaan, luonnollisessa ihmisessä, Paavalia mukaillen, Luther opettaa, ei mitään hyvää asu. Hän on myös käytännöllisesti katsoen maalannut vain itselleen sopivan kuvan Jumalasta taivaalle.[1] Ihminen ei siis milloinkaan tee hyvää pelkästään Jumalan takia, ei vapaasta tahdosta tai ilolla, non voluntate et hilaritate, vaan aina joko pakosta tai oman voiton tavoittelemiseksi. Tällöin Jumalan on vaihdettava taktiikkaa ihmisen tavoittamiseksi. Hän kätkeytyy ikään kuin hyvin lähelle ihmistä, mutta rumuuteen itse asiassa Kauneutena, valheeseen Totuutena ja pahuuteen Hyvyytenä. Lutherille Kristus ja varsinkin Risti oli se minkä prisman läpi kaikki muu oli nähtävä. Ja siinnä näemme että se Israelin kansaa ei komeutensa takia miellyttämä tuskien mies, lähes muodottomaksi runneltuna ja raastettuna, kaikkien pilkkaama ja naurama olikin Itse Kauneus, Hänet joka oli valheellisesti kavallettu Jumalanpilkkaajana ja rikollisena olikin Itse Totuus ja se ääretön pahuus joka päästettiin Hänen päälleen valoilleen kääntyikin Jumalan Hyvyydeksi koko maailmalle. Jumalan on toimittava tällä tavoin ihmisen kierouden takia ja koko luomakunnan langenneisuuden vuoksi.

 Vastauksessaan Erasmus Rotterdamilaisen polemiikkiin De libero arbitrio Luther kirjoituksessaan De servo arbitrio, Luther kumoaa sen mahdollisuuden että ihmisellä olisi joku korkeampi tahto joka suuntautuisi Jumalaan, Kauneuteen, Totuuteen ja Hyvyyteen. Näin ei ole, hän kirjoittaa, koska ihmisen tahto pyörii kuin hyrrä hänen oman napansa ympärillä ja siksi Jumalan on ikään kuin alusta asti laitettava Kätensä tyhjään ja Häntä kohtaan kapinalliseen ’hansikkaaseen’ joka ihmisestä on tullut ja vietävä hänet Jumalan valtakuntaan asti; ihmisestä itsestään ei ole kurkottelemaan kohti taivaita tai pyrkimään mihinkään pois itsestään vaan hän on ja pysyy impotenttina Jumalan valtakuntaan nähden. - Loppujen lopuksi on mysteeri, mikä osa pelastuksesta on Jumalasta ja mikä ihmisestä ja Luther vetoaakin tässä Khalkedonin kirkolliskokoukseen jossa puhutaan Kristuksen jumaluudesta ja inhimillisyydestä termeillä ”sekoittamatta, erottamatta, yhdistämättä ja erottamatta” – nämä termit voidaan yhtä hyvin soveltaa Jumalan ja uskovan ihmisen suhteeseen. Kun käsi jolla on hansikas kädessään tekee kauniin eleen ja auttaa vanhan Daamin kadun yli, on mahdotonta sanoa kumpi teki mitäkin; hansikashan itse asiassa otti Daamia kädestä ja koski häneen ja saattoi hänet kadun yli, kun taas toisaalta käsi teki kaiken. Täten Luther voi yhtyä Paavaliin joka sanoi ettei enää itse elä vaan ’Kristus minussa’.

 Tämä johtaa kuitenkin siihen että Lutherin näkemyksen mukaan Jumalan on erittäin aktiivisesti valittava ne jotka pelastuvat koskapa ihmisestä itsestään ei ole itseään pelastamaan; hän ei näe tilaansa eikä halua Taivaaseen vaan on avoimessa kapinassa Jumalaa vastaan. Hän viittaakin Room.9 Jumalan salatusta armosta joka ’armahtaa kenet haluaa’ – uskovan tehtäväksi näiden ahdistavienkin teemojen keskellä jää keskittyä vain Kristukseen eikä siihen kuka pelastuu ja kuka ei, ei edes oman itsensä suhteen, sillä se on loppujen lopuksi vain hyvän ja pahan tiedon puun kiellettyä hedelmää – vain Kristukseen katsominen pelastaa ihmisen.

 

 Sarjamme viimeinen teologi, Jean Calvin (1509-64), ei kuitenkaan malttanut olla ajattelematta sitä kuka kuului pelastettuihin ja kuka ei ja, hänen omasta mielestään, siten vahvistamasta uskovan asemaa suhteessa pelastukseen. Kyse oli nimittäin Jumalan kunniasta, alusta loppuun. Jumala on luonut olennon jolla on todellinen valinnanmahdollisuus, mutta se miten Jumala voi ’vaikuttaa tahtomisen ja tekemisen ihmisessä’ syyllistymättä pahojen ihmisten pahoihin tekoihin mutta saaden kaiken kunnian hyvien ihmisten hyvistä teoista jää loppujen lopuksi mysteeriksi.[2] Synti on vain se väline jota Jumala käyttää valittujen pelastamiseksi ja kadotukseen joutuvien hukuttamiseksi. Jumala saa kaiken kunnian kaikista hyvistä töistä, mutta ihmiset ja Saatana ovat syyllisiä pahoihin tekoihin, vaikka Jumala on niidenkin takana olematta itse vastuussa pahasta. Calvin tangeraa Bieliä joka sanoo että hyvät teot ovat indikaattori siitä että ihminen on pelastunut, muttei varma sellainen; on siis keskityttävä Kristukseen ja pelättävä Jumalaa ettei ala luottaa itseensä. Kenties voisi sanoa että ihminen on pelinappulana valtavassa kosmisessa flipperissä jossa jotkut kuulat saavat pisteitä Jumalalle ja toiset menevät hukkaan, mutta nekin kirkastavat Jumalaa. Jumala pelaa peliä ja vaikka jokainen kuula luulee liikkuvansa omasta voimastaan, mutta itse asiassa Jumala on pistänyt ne kiertoradalleen ja ohjaa niiden kulkua, kuitenkaan vapaata tahtoa kertaakaan kumoamatta. Concurrence on termi jota Calvin käyttää ilmaistakseen Jumalan ja ihmisen ym. samanaikaista toimintaa käden ja hansikkaan kaavan mukaan. Mutta koska Jumalan kunnia ja tahto on keskiössä eikä mitään toista Häneen verrattavaa tahtoa ole, ainoastaan Hän on todellinen Luoja ja Vapaa sanojen varsinaisessa merkityksessä, Hän aktiivisesti määrää toiset pelastumaan ja toiset palavan vihansa kohteiksi. Siten sekä Hänen armonsa että Hänen tuomionsa ovat vastustamattomia. Peli on Jumalan ja Hän pelaa aina voittaakseen ja saadakseen kunnia Nimelleen ja jotta Hänen rakkautensa, oikeudenmukaisuutensa ja armonsa ja oikeutettu vihansa pääsevät loistamaan koko kosmokselle. Yksikään ihminen ei kuitenkaan voi valittaa kohtalostaan, jokainen helvetissä oleva on sinne pahojen tekonsa kautta itse aktiivisesti pyrkinyt ja jokainen Taivaassa oleva on siellä Jumalan käsittämättömästä armosta.

 

 

 Ca’ Coverossa, tänä 1:nä päivänä marraskuuta, 2010, pyhien palkatta parantajien Kosmaksen ja Damianoksen muistopäivänä.

 

 Ari Kovero

 

 

 

Lähteet:

- Reijo Työrinoja, Reformaation teologia, Helsinki 2010 (?), sivut 1-61

- Günther Gassman ja Scott Hendix: The Lutheran Confessions, Minneapolis, 1999

- Wayne Grudem: Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids, 1994

- Raamattu


 

[1] Freud olisi ollut tyytyväinen… ;-)

[2] Room.9-11, jossa Paavalikin jää sormi suuhun tämän mysteerin edessä mutta kuitenkin lopuksi puhkeaa  doksologiaan Jumalalle.

 

 

 

 

95 miinus 90 teesiä Luterilaisen kansankirkon tilasta

 


 1. Miksi Kirkko kynsin hampain pitää kiinni kansankirkon asemasta?
 - Valta ja rahahan tunnetusti turmelevat
 - Kirkon painolastit:

                - ristiretket ja pakkokännytys
                - kansan kurissa pitäminen
                - valtiovallan kätyri, civil religion jotta olot olisivat rauhalliset
                - pakkojäsenyys ja sen sanktiot
 - Tarvitseeko Kirkko todella Valtiota ja Valtio Kirkkoa pysyäkseen koossa? Eikö olisi parasta leikata ne irti toisistaan ja katsoa mitä tapahtuu?

 2. Painolastista huolimatta, Kirkko on pyrkinyt johtamaan kansaa HERRAn ja herran
pelkoon ja sitä kautta Kristuksen armoon. Ei armoa ilman Jumalan pelkoa ja synnin
tajuntaa. Ilman Kadotuksen realiteettia ei tarvita Vapahtajaa eikä Armoa. Jumalahan opetti Israelin kansaa vuosisatoja ensin synnistä ennen kuin personifioutunut Armo, Jeesus Kristus, astui näyttämölle.

 3. Kristinusko ei kenties koskaan ole imeytynyt syvästi kansaamme vaan on suureksi osaksi tullut pakkokäännytyksenä viholliskansoilta - etenkin jos vertaa vaikkapa entisen Rooman valtakunnan alueen kansoihin, joihin kristinusko saattoi imeytyä rauhassa vuosisatojen kuluessa - ehkä olisi siis
viisasta päästä kansa täysin vapaaksi ja antaa sen kokeilla omia siipiään; jos se tulee
takaisin vapaaehtoisesti (ehkä hyvinkin kauan ajan päästä) on sitoutuminen sitäkin
lujempaa - Venäjän esimerkki osoittaa että 70 vuotta ilman Kirkkoa toi osan kansasta rukoillen ja polvillaan takaisin Kirkon helmaan.

 - Nykyinen 'liitto' Kirkon ja kansan välillä on onneton ja teennäinen molemmille.
 - Miksi pitää kiinni opista että lähes kaikki pelastuvat - tätähän 'kansan kirkko' nimenomaan tarkoittaa - kun Kristus taas puhuu
päinvastaista - ihmisille tulisi antaa tilaisuus nauttia oman maailmankatsomuksensa
täysistä hedelmiä, darwinismia ja ateismia pitäisi soveltaa esim. vanhusten- ja sairaanhoitoon ja liike-elämään 100 %-sesti. Ehkä Kirkko tarvitsisi nyt tällaisen tumman taustan jota vasten se voisi loistaa sitä kirkkaammin - Jumalan ja lähimmäisten rakkaus alkaa kummasti maistua kun on ensin saatu maistaa keskinäisen kilpailun karvaat hedelmät oikein olan takaa.

 4. Pakolla ja pinnallisesti 'kristillistetty' Suomen uppiniskainen pakanakansa on nyt
uuspakanallistettukin pinnallisesti. Onko kummallakaan puolella  todellisia apologeetteja
vai onko vastakkain vain protestiliike (joita protestantit jo nimensä puolesta nimenomaan ovat) ja protestiliikkeen protestiliike, maallistuminen - yhteensä siis hyvin
negatiivinen energia!
 - Tämä johtaa siihen että yksinkertaistetut ja vulgarisoidut 'totuudet' kuten tasa-arvo ja ihmisoikeudet ovat ihmisten mielessä lähes mitä tahansa ja minkä tahansa oikeutus

 5. Oliko 300-luvun keisari Konstantinus itse asiassa yksi historian
kaikkein ovelimmista antikristillisistä hahmoista? Kun Perkele ei saanut Kirkkoa nujerretuksi vainolla, se muutti taktiikkaa ja lähetti sovittelevan hahmon, keisari Konstantinuksen ja tarjosi Kirkolle Valtaa, Rahaa ja Suojelua.

 Tämä syötti napattiin...

 

 

 Ca' Coverossa tänä joulukuun 28:na päivänä, armon vuonna 2010, Nikomedeian 20.000:n marttyyrin ja Donnan, Teofilen ja kanssakilvoittelijoiden sekä apostoli Nikanorin muistopäivänä

 

 Ari Kovero

 

 

 

The Three Graces

 

 

 

 It seems to me that much of history is a headless-chicken race of Humanity waking up in a drunken stupor of violence and blood in a ditch of the Golden Road, realising that something is wrong, getting haphazardly up to the road but then falling over right into the other ditch of the Road, with blood still pouring all over the place. We can see this for example in the escape of Enlightened Europe in the 18th century from Mediaeval Catholic 'superstition' to the supremacy of Reason and the totally unreasonable Revolution that it entailed including a horrific Reign of Terror and then on to the excesses of Romanticism including a wave of  young men's suicides across Europe following Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werther and then of course the horrors and follies in the beginning of the 19th century. The Bible, however, is full of pairs, triplets or even quadruplets of foci that together have the effect of keeping one on the Road. Thus, in Jewish thinking, God is at the same time Love personified and full of mercy yet we are also to fear Him as His judgements last forever. A true believer of the Scriptures can never settle for just one of these opposing poles when it comes to God.

 Another pair of foci is the relationship between Man and Woman. On the one hand we are told that Woman was given to Man as a 'helper suitable for him', yet male supremacy in terms of leadership is also a clear message of the Bible (although exceptions to the rule exist).

 The Ditch of stressing equality only, as we are doing in the contemporary West, is to open up the door for the comparing, opposition and a race between the Sexes and a quest for a middle, mixed sort of being, a Manlady or a Butchwoman, that supposedly has the best of both worlds, but in reality turns out to have none of the good of either - God does not create in theory but always in actuality. Or one can look at the Marlboro Man as a role model for both sexes... - what a travesty!

 The other Ditch however leads us to an oppressive and static Patriarchy that most of the Islamic world is suffering under even today. Thus, it would seem that true balance comes only when simultaneously holding both of these principles at hand. In fact, when one looks at this issue from the point of view of compatibility and complementarity and uniqueness, and indeed humility and serving - not comparing and competing and scratching each other's eyes out - that usually resolves these deep-seated, heat-generating issues. In fact, the word 'suitable' for each other says it all - including the unspeakable Mystery of the Dance of Man and Woman. And, so I've been told, Waltz has nothing to do with democracy or equality, but everything with Beauty, Elegance and Charm.

 

 Within the Worlds of Man and Woman, another pair of juxtapositions and Bridges of Tension exists: Woman is held in suspense between the One who in blatant disobedience to God listened to and obeyed the Serpent and thus caused all the world to be plunged in Darkness and whose womb was cursed with Pain, Eve, on the one hand, and the One who also listened to an angelic being, this time a good one, and in voluntary submission and humble obedience to the Word of God gave up her Virginity in order for God's will to prevail, Mary, on the other hand (in fact, God preserved her Virginity completely, as the Church teaches). Man, on the other hand, lives in the tension of the One who would not take care and protect his Wife against the Serpent and thus caused all the earth to be cursed and who consequently became an oppressor, wife-beater and workaholic, Adam, on the one hand, and the True One who in voluntary submission and humble obedience to His Father even washed the feet of his disciples, fed the hungry, healed the sick and protected the weak, yes, indeed, the God-Man Jesus Himself, on the other. In fact, both for Man and Woman, there is a four-layered tension that forms one's identity as a whole - Eve before and after the Fall and Mary before and after her Glorification and Adam before and after his Fall and Jesus before and after His ascencion to Heaven. And because Man and Woman are called to be face to face in this world and then turn and work together and side by side in this very world, there are manifold possibilities of fruitful tensions - including some rather tragic ones, as can be seen in History.

 

 The point of all this is that although black-and-white 'truths' easily sink into the general public, such as a flattening and levelling 'Equality' (read: 'be the same', in turn an extraction from the triplet égalité, fraternité, liberté), Reality is far more complex and nuanced and needs qualifying poles in order for us to stretch out the full colourful canvas of Beauty, Truth and Goodness.

 - In the best Jewish thinking, there is never a static or dead moment but rather a caleidoscopic Beauty that is presented to the Viewer of the each new generation, indeed, a Beauty that he or she can participate in by offering his or her own contribution.

 

-----

 

 Being an ardent admirer of the Divine Fjodor Dostoyevski, I have always loved 'his' triplet Beauty, Truth and Goodness. Indeed, it is particularly wonderful for an artist to hear his 'Beauty will save the world'! Here too there is however the danger of stressing any one of the Three Graces, as it were, at the cost of the others instead of having them as three poles of reference. Indeed, it is their very Dance together that constitutes Supreme Beauty, Supreme Truth, Supreme Goodness:

 

 

 

The Three Graces by Antonio Canova from 1814-17, now in the Hermitage, St.Petersburg. The Graces are: Euphrosyne ("Good Cheer"), Agleaea ("Beauty"), and Thalia ("Festivities"). Also known as the Charites in Greek or Gratiae by the Romans

 

 

 Postmodern 'thinking' has largely relegated Truth into the quagmire of Absolute Relativism (what a contradiction of terms!). Goodness on the other hand is a euphemized and neutralized form of Social Selfishness if one really is to be a thorough follower of Darwin as we all indeed should be or into an existential or religious self-comforting nonsense with no basis in Reality. Thus, we are left with Beauty. Our alienation from Nature, the reduplication of basically anything by machines (even now I'm thinking it would be much more beneficial both for me and for the Reader to read my handwriting instead of this machine-script!) and the freefloating, elusive concept of Beauty beginning with the Renaissance has degenerated into either Kitsch, Something-nice-that-you-can-buy-now or an object of naked and outright Lust.

 As old-fashioned as speaking of Beauty, Truth and Goodness seems to us moderns, it seems to me that the only way back to Paradise is to be humbly guided by them.  That is because I would say that the way directly to God is almost totally shut for us today as we have destroyed most of the steppingstones, philosophical and theological presuppositions, to even understanding such a concept as 'God' - let alone conceiving of Him and celebrating Him as a personal Being.

 (I have noticed that one gets a lot of sneering when one even mentions Beauty, Truth or Goodness - our culture is in such a state of decay that the only time one may legitimately speak of anything noble without being thought of as ridiculous is when, say, a French wine or cheese is discussed! This was pointed out by one of the members of the Swedish Academy in a speech at the University of Helsinki a few years ago.)

 

 Indeed, I have made it my habit to evaluate any phenomenon in contemporary culture or in my own life with these categories:

 Is it True?

 It is Beautiful?

 Is it Good?

 So, how about contemporary art? Certainly, in the art world, Beauty is out! I would tend to think the reason for this is that Our Blind Age is neither capable of giving birth to nor even recognizing True Beauty any longer, as the Creative Womb of this culture is about to die, if not already completely atrophied. Indeed, the Roman philosopher Seneca's criteria for calling anything Fine Art was that it engendered virtue in the viewer - how much of what you see at the museums of contemporary art today satisfies this criteria? Indeed, in ancient Greece, revelling in your own wounds would not qualify for Art at all but instead one needed to be truly inspired, in-spirited, in-breathed, by one of the nine Muses, the daugthers of Zeus and the personified memory, Mnemosyne, thus indicating the importance of a connection both to the Divine and Supernatural as well as to History, something wholly forgotten in the contemporary art world.

 

 Or how about homosexuality and the novelty, a 'gender-neutral marriage'? Need I even comment on this newest trend of cultural Marxism in the light of everything I have said and painted in these pages?! To make a long story short, Cultural Marxism is a set and an evolution of ideas that denies the Judeo-Christian teaching that God has given us an identity but that there also has been a radical Fall in Man's own heart; in modern times it goes back to John Locke's view of the human being as a tabula rasa, from thence to Rousseau's view of the noble savage and then on to Marx's view that corrupt and decayed societal structures need to be removed to free the Good Original Man - 'good' in fact being relative as this sort of analysis doesn't open itself up to the axis of good and evil but rather to power.

 (In the following section, I shall rely heavily on Theol.Dr. Juha Ahvio's analysis in the radioprogramme Ristitulta on 21.8.2010.)

 When one considers the ideal society, the Weltanschauung of who Man is stands in the centre of discussion. Perhaps one can best pick out that view by the question, 'Is Man fallen or not, and if he is, in what way?' The view of Man in Marxism is constructivistic - that is, Man can and should create himself by his own reason, which in fact has led to political or cultural elites doing it for the 'ordinary' people. Cultural Marxism is in fact a heresy of Marxism that first got going in the 1920s. The Great War, WWI, had been a great disappointment to the Marxist theoreticians; instead of rising up against their bourgeois oppressors, most of the proletariat fought for Tsar, Kaiser or King and thus, so the Marxist theoreticians maintained, behaved against their true nature and self-interest. This was explained by the Marxist heretics Georg Lukács and Antonio Gramsci in the 1920s in a way that the old European, in fact Judeo-Christian family- and sexual ethics was so entrenched in the hearts of the proletariat that they could not behave differently. Thus, they reasoned, although the Revolution had succeeded in backward Russia, in the rest of Europe it was necessary to woo the population by not so much concentrating on the economic side of Marxism but on religion, morality, and aesthetics through first infiltrating and conquering the cultural institutions - such as schools, art, science, media, the church - and only then, once the indoctrination in most of the population would be strong enough, infiltrate the political institutions and finally go out in the streets and make a True Marxist Revolution. With this patient technique of cultural hegemony, society would fall as a ripe fruit into the hands of the Marxists, indeed, in a best-case scenario, an outright Revolution would be even unnecessary. In the heart of this infiltration was to break the false and bad model of Judeo-Christian family- and sexual ethics. To this end, an institute of Social Research was founded in Frankfurt in the 1920s, the so called critical school, under Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer et al, a school that driven out by the Nazis in the 1930s went vie Geneva to New York City and was associated with Columbia University from where it influenced much of the world - there was also an equally important school in Birmingham.

 At the heart of this teaching, indeed social engineering, lie three leading atheistic philosophers, Marx, Nietzsche and Freud. Indeed, it was the teaching of Freud that Judeo-Christian sexual morals through its prohibition of sex outside of marriage produces psychopatology akin to psychological constipation which in turn makes people aggressive fascists. Thus, to make everyone a liberated and free true humanist, all forms of such 'sexual repression' must be broken down. All forms of couples, indeed copulating in any form with anyone is to be recommended as a way of liberating oneself, triplets, quaduplets, harems, whatever, indeed pansexuality, as Freud called it - as long as its not the old patriarchal family system. The special legal status of heterosexual marriage should be broken down to give liberty to all (except of course for those who would stand by the old family and sexual values). Indeed, Herbert Marcuse, a dominant prophet of this movement, especially among the hippies, in the 1960s in America proclaimed that the new proletariat was now women, homosexuals, teenagers, students, artists and minority races and they should all rise against their oppressor, the patriarchy, and in the fruitful atmosphere of the 1960s make not war (against helpless - ? - Vietnam) but rather love and then join in the revolution with the oppressed masses in the Third World (the so called Bandung-movement) to overthrow capitalism and the hegemony of the West. Marcuse also spoke for so called repressive tolerance, meaning exactly as Freud that all other forms of pansexuality should be tolerated and celebrated except for the old Judeo-Christian family and sexual values, which were to be suppressed, if need be, violently. The manipulation of the masses through the cultural institutions, not least the schools, would finally achieve a change in legislation - just like we are seeing today. This way, the righteous and good values of Marxism would come to power. All other talk would be labeled as hate-talk, exactly as is happening today, like 'sexist', 'homophobic' or 'racist', which would prove that those engaging in it would have a deep-seated aggressive psychopathology à la Freud and in today's terms, would need to be force-treated by suitable psychopharmaca to force their mind to the right way of seeing things. A central tenet in this psychological warfare is the use of euphemisms - indeed, Lenin and Stalin were convinced that the dictionary is the most important tool in the Revolution. He who controls the words and thus thoughts in people's minds controls reality, and this is not so far from the truth. The plethora and ubiquitousness of politically correct language is the norm today - anything contrary to this righteousness is hate-talk and war-mongering. The truth is of course that it is the the language police itself that is the true revolutionary and suppressor in Marx's spirit. Everything is tolerated as long it is in alignment with their point of view.

 The constructivistic view of Man of Cultural Marxism is in fact ultra-individualistic and rationalistic: Man is creating and defing himself by his reason. In fact, it is a matter of first deconstructing the traditional way of seeing Man and then constructing him in a brand new way - a bit like first drowning yourself in your own bathtub and then miraculously resurrecting yourself; if the results would not be so tragic it would simply be pathetic. As the traditional family falls apart and an ever increasing amount of new ways of living together or against each other and having sex proliferate, society and life become ever more unstable and thus people are forced to turn to the state in an ever increasing way, making the results of this philosophy also ever more totalitarian and socialist. That really spells the end of hard-fought and now already traditional Western freedom and indeed the breakdown and self-inflicted suicide of the whole culture from within - let alone a relative weakening vis-à-vis for example the Moslem states where family values stand strong. (I can also point out that this sort of social experimenting and engineering with the family was practiced in the Soviet Union, though not tolerating homosexuality, but this course of action was abolished in the end of the 1960s when it was seen how destructive it was for Soviet society. It would be the irony of ironies if the ex-Soviet Union would watch the West weakening and destroying itself with Marxist values...)

 

 What the constructivist view of Man really is saying is that a few decades of rationalistic 'thinking' can and should overthrow the most successful system of living together, the family, that has ever been 'designed', some 6,000 years ago if you are a literalist in terms of the Bible - or millions of years of genetic development resulting in exactly two sexes if you believe Darwin. In either case, the Marxist constructivists are displaying an astonishing amount of hybris!

 In the church, in the Protestant churches in particular, the move has been away from classical natural law, which in terms of marriage concurs with the Judeo-Christian patriarchal system, to what is called 'modern natural law', which, surprise, surprise! arose in the Anglican church in the 1930s under the influence of the Birmingham school mentioned above. Step by step, in a mere 2-3 generations, the church has moved away quite a bit from the traditional Judeo-Christian view, so much so that many parts are now ready to embrace even a 'gender-neutral marriage'! I think the church will indeed be split in this matter, because we are now dealing with the very heart of society and the church. The dream that the two views could peacefully coexist in the church or society at large is just that, a dream - Marxism is a totalitarian, repressive ideology that will not settle for anything less than total control as we have already seen in the Soviet example. (Here ends my leaning on Mr.Ahvio.) That the West would be more 'civilized' and not sink into such an abyss of depravity and repression is wishful thinking - it is precisely the Judeo-Christian worldview that holds us away from that bottomless Abyss - with that destroyed in people's hearts and minds nothing will stop a free fall to a state lower than the cruellest animals. At stake is the survival of Europe and America, nothing more and nothing less! It seems that one of the factors still holding this development back is the so called Yuck-factor; even though most people don't use Christian or natural law arguments any longer, many are still repulsed by the level and depth of promsicuity and perversion in the gay scene - if they indeed would know about it; the media-conscious gay community is smart enough not to show this to the masses.

In my lifetime, I have seen homosexuality develop from a mortal sin and a deadly vice to be avoided at all costs to an in-born, celebrated and charming quality that now is waiting to be blessed by the Church. It seems to me that a typical 20th century way of dealing with perceived problem-cases is Humanity genetisizing and medicalizing uncomfortable conditions - thus turning them first to sicknesses and then to blessings, if for no other reason than to aggrandize itself in turning a nasty 'necessity' into a virtue, all in a deterministic spirit of lifting up your hands in front of an 'unsolvable problem'. There is in fact a lot of similarity between alcoholism, homosexuality and paedophilia how they have seen by people over the past two centuries and one can indeed see the development of the thoughts of our times in them. In the 19th century, all three were certainly moral deficiences that society and the individual had to do their outmost to fight against; thus it was a matter of the free will, however much weighed down by these vices, that decided the fate of an individual. Certainly, it was thought, there was Divine help available if one sought it. In the course of the 20th century, however, beginning with alcoholism, people started to think of these moral deficiences in terms of genetical coding and thus sicknesses that you can do little about - many people, however, even to this day think that moral dilemmas lead people to excessive drinking. Alcoholism has to most people's minds so obvious and blatant accompanying negative elements that few will feel hunky dory about those who have this 'disease' full blown. The primary way AA certainly treats alcoholism is through the epithet disease - perhaps this is felt to alleviate the guilt people feel about it, but since it does not completely take into account the Judeo-Christian view of the free will's responsibility to deal with any deficiency in the human character, however dominant, it misses the mark. And because AA has no mechanism for truly dealing with people's sin, such as the Cross would be, it leaves people in a permanent cycle of self-flagellation, that is atoning for one's own sins, and thus never restores full self-confidence and freedom. Instead, one is trapped by a rather cult-like 'friendship society' into eternal guilt and fear. Thus, it seems to me that the best way of looking at alcoholism is seeing it as a combination of a disease and moral failure that has crept into the victim's flesh, whether by birth and/or a rough upbringing and/or successive moral failures, but a condition that one is morally obliged to take care of by strengthening the will to resist, either by going to AA meetings and/or to church - no one who has seen alcoholism in close quarters will claim that the victims have a strong enough will on their own, without help, to resist this bad behaviour. They almost never do once the condition has eaten itself sufficiently deep into the victim's psycho-physical being.

 Homosexuality went through a couple of decades of science's hunting for the 'gay gene', and however inconclusive that search in reality was, rather like after a war of attrition, the general view of enlightened society is now that it is inborn and thus, as a matter of logic, people born with this condition should be treated equally to those who have the 'heterosexual gene' and they should also be blessed by the Church in their relationships. (What about those born with the 'alcoholism gene' - why do they need to fight it? The state should supply ample quantities of brandy to keep the alcoholics happy!) For most people, however, it does not matter anymore whether homosexuality is inborn or not; as the Church has lost its hold on people's minds and hearts, it really is of no concern to anyone what people do with their bodies, hearts and minds, or souls, if you like. The main argument these days is of course that everything is allowed that does not hurt anyone, alcoholism clearly hurts people, homosexuality doesn't, the argument goes. Who is to be the judge of this, however? As knowledgeable and smart as we human beings might be, and indeed we are masters of deception when it comes to our selfinterest in the short run, we rarely see over our immediate experience over and into several generations, let alone into Eternity. God, however, does. Furthermore, us being His created beings and Him being the Lord and Master, He should have at least a say in the human drama. And it seems that he has spoken quite clearly about this issue.

 Peadophilia however is still under a ban and is looked upon as in the 19th century - a vice that you are responsible for yourself and must keep in check. Or is it? Do not children have a 'right to their sexuality' and should not those wonderful uncles who have the gene of helping them to explore it be accepted into the fold of comme-il-faut society and blessed by the Church? Utopian? Not as much as you might want to think - homosexuality was totally banned as recently as in the 1950s and 1960s, with even the porn magazines deriding it (unfortunately I have seen some of them...).

 Needless to say, these are complex issues involving a lot of tragedy, but my view is that it is important to keep the poles of our earthbound humanity , tied to a glorious but fallen creation in tension with our will to freedom, Heavenwards and God-bound in balance and it is ultimately our free will that decides what our lives will look like, not totally, as we live in a society with many lines streched across the canvas, but the bottom line of the Judeo-Christian faith is that there is a loving God ever so willing to lead and assist us in our quest for being better people to ourselves and each other, if we ask and accept His help. The Greek Platonic anti-material, anti-sexual and overly ascetic teaching that crept into the Church in the first few centuries and replaced Jewish embracing of the material, created order, including sexuality, must however be rejected. Thus, our way is neither Victorianism nor rubbing-your-dick-in-my-face of the gay pride parades. God help us,,,,, 

 At the heart of the Judeo-Christian worldview is the teaching that Man indeed is created in the image of God. The most important characteristic of that is free will. Any deterministic system - be it based on economic impulse (Adam Smith), class (Marxism), sexual impulse (Freud), race (Hitlerism), aggression (Darwinism), genes (the contemporary Western world view) - must therefore be resolutely rejected as inimical to the true nature of Man. It is however also true that as the result of the Fall, Man's will may be more or less weighed down by these forces, but it is our calling to strive ever more God-wards so that our will, by practicing it like a muscle, will be more and more free and thus choose the Good, the Beautiful and the True. All of the best of 19th-century literature basically deals with how individuals with a free will act in different difficult moral dilemmas - how refreshingly interesting and unpredictable, and indeed life-like and awesome, compared to say sexually, genetically or racially pre-determined robots?

 Or what about the cityscape of our cities and the way people dress and behave these days? I have come to fear being in big crowds these days, people don't seem to respect any personal sphere any longer, and I am simply stunned, indeed repulsed by how many young people dress and behave; style and which colours and shapes go together has been thrown out the window a long time ago! This is because all the sensitive, inbuilt categories of Beauty that Immanuel Kant talks about have been ravaged by contemporary 'culture', another symptom of people just 'hanging in the air' at the mercy of a constructivistic, and indeed, deconstructivistic media, without being rooted in kin and family, in the Sacred Here and Now.

 Why is the Judeo-Christian marriage to be so celebrated? In answering this question, St.Paul uses the heaviest theological arsenal available: He writes that the creation of Man and Woman and their union in Holy Matrimony is a foreshadowing and a symbol on earth of the Mystical Union of Christ with His Bride, the Church. Thus, it is holy, exclusive, fruitful and between Man and Woman only. I also believe along with Theol.Dr. Juha Ahvio that the Christian marriage provides a unique forum to encounter and celebrate The Other, the Truly Different Humanity in a harmonious and lasting way, growing into 'one flesh', as Scripture says. This encountering between Man and Woman is so Unique that it even produces New Life in a tangible, eternal form called Children. Yes, indeed, as clear as it has been in previous generations, in the utter confusion of contemporary Western society, there is need to remind us of the obvious: No New Life is born without the encountering of Man and Woman. Even if a person does not have a poetic soul, please believe this at least for Darwin's sake! Touching one of the oldest institutions of Mankind in the name of the 'thinking' of some lightheads in the past few decades seems to me more than a dubious course to take. A disastrous project of social engineering that there is still time to stop. To think that accepting the euphemism of a 'gender-neutral marriage' is to enhance the rights of a miserable and ill-treated small minority is to be gravely mistaken; touching the God-given and age-proven marriage institution is to cause a society to collapse as all such experiments in the past have shown.

 

 Finally, what then have been the sins of the Patriarchy so that this hybrid of a Monster has been able to be born and grow? In attacking and basically cussing out the Pharisees and Sadduccees for hypocrisy, Jesus nevertheless tells the people that even though these groups did not practice what they taught, they still had Divine authority to sit in the Seat of Moses and tell people what to do. Thus, it seems that Christ's teaching is not the way of Revolution but rather humble submission to authority, until it crosses the line of flat out telling people to disobey God. Prayers offered to God will be efficient and finally God Himself will get rid of any such authority that greatly displeases Him - as indeed happened to the Pharisees, Sadducees and much of the people when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD exactly as Christ had foretold.

 With this background, let us look at the sins of the Fathers. It is a wellknown fact that nothing hurts like the truth - and perhaps especially so if one is banged in the head with the Bible itself. If indeed the fathers had, as Scripture admonishes, 'loved their wives as themselves', 'not provoked their children to anger by too harsh discipline' and 'taken care of the stranger and alien in your midst, for you yourselves were once slaves in Egypt', there would hardly have been breeding ground for these kinds of teachings like (Cultural) Marxism. After the horrors of the Great Revolution starting in 1789, the leading classes in Europe tightened their grip instead of serving better and ameliorating the conditions of the oppressed and introduced a lifestyle based on stonish selfcontrol later called Victorianism instead of healing and binding the wounds of those who suffer. Power and control had become far too dear for the European elites and, most tragically of all, the Church as well. Studies I have read here in Finland for example show that the workers were not so much ready for Marxism and Socialism, but as the Church did very little, for example simply not enough churches were built in the poorer regions of the capital, there was a spiritual vacuum that the Marxists could walk right into.

 If the Fathers had blessed, served and lifted up women to become True Ladies, kids to Beloved Children, those hated strange people, queer, fucking faggots into their true vocation as Celebrated Artists and Cultural Personalites in the spirit of geisha (meaning 'artistic person' in Japanese) - or shall I rather say gaysha...- in fact, in a lot of cultures, a person who has a special spiritual and artistic sensitivity is perceived of as being half-man, half-woman, or shall we say perhaps participating more vigorously than others in The Dance of Yin and Yang, say, a shaman; in Finland, until a couple of generations ago, there were still quite a few names that could be either male of female, like Vieno and Kaino; is this a reminder of this sort of sensitivity?- the downside of this sensitivity is however that it can also easily lead to painful sexual confusion and promiscuity, but no one ever promised that the path to virtue and hence one's true vocation would be easy... - racial minorities to enrichments of society, students to potential and real new thinkers and leaders, the too old to Wise Old Sages, and the poor to the Faces of Christ, much of this Marxist nonsense could simply have been neutralized and in the process, mere men would have been ennobled to True Lords of the Good Mother Earth , but alas, it didn't happen and now we have to live with the dire consequences of the negligence, laziness, fear, sins of omission and control-sickness of the Fathers.

 Even though the situation today looks rather dim and dismal from the Church's point of view, society being on the very verge of accepting 'gender-neutral marriage', and thus the heart of the Church being at stake, we can rely on Christ's promise that not even the Gates of Hell can conquer the Church of Christ.

 

 

 ------------------------

 

 

 In order for us to go back to Our Three Graces in the beginning of this essay, if we go far enough back in Time and further up the ladder towards True Culture, we can see that the Three Graces start to merge. Indeed, in the 18th century, if one spoke of a true lady with grace, one most certainly, at least in the right circles, spoke of an aesthetic, 'outer' Beauty and attractiveness combined with inner beauty, that is Goodness. Indeed, is it then a coincidence that the words Beauty and Beatitude, supreme blessedness or happiness as mentioned in Matthew 5, are so close to each other?

 

 

 And if we go even earlier in time, there was a moment in human history when Grace and Truth merged and indeed walked in visible form on this earth. As we can read in the Gospel according to John, the name of Grace - that is, Beauty and Goodness - and Truth combined is Jesus Christ.

 

 

 Let no man separate what God has put together.

 

 

 

 In the Ca' Covero, on this day the 2nd September, 2010, on the Day of the Martyr Philadelphos, the name meaning 'brotherly love' or 'lover of the brothers', Patriarch of Constantinople

 

 

 

 

2054

 

 

 Few are perhaps aware of the fact that as part of  ‘returning to the faith of the fathers’, the Lutheran reformers actively sought contact with what they perceived to be the original faith ‘once and for all handed down to the fathers’, that is the Orthodox East! Indeed, already in 1520, Luther exclaimed that the Orthodox ‘believe as we do, baptize as we do, preach as we do, live as we do’. Therefore, it hardly came as a total surprise, but indeed it was an enormous effort of epic proportions, that the Augsburg Confession was translated into beautiful Greek, and not only that: the text was explained with incisive Byzantine theological terms that the reformers were sure the Greeks would be familiar with. This work, called the Augustana Graeca was done by Philip Melanchton and Paul Dolscius and was ready in 1569. However, due to the vicissitudes of history, the actual dialogue through correspondence and even some personal, cordial meetings on the highest level between these so called Tübingen theologians (of whom Melanchton and Dolscius were only two) and the Ecumenical Patriarch Jeremias II, took place between 1574-82.

 Whereas the reformers used the heaviest spiritual, verbal arsenal on the pope, ‘Antichrist’ being perhaps the heaviest accusation, throughout the correspondence with the Ecumenical Patriarch, he was addressed in the most venerating language, in terms such as "Most Honorable Lord," "All-Holy Sir," "Most God-Beloved Sir," and "Your Holiness." This respectful tone was also reciprocated from Constantinople to Tübingen, but as the contact and correspondence grew on, to the disappointment of the Lutheran Reformers, it became increasingly clear that the Patriarch and the Reformers did not see eye to eye on a number of issues and the call from the City on the Bosphorus was uncompromising, ‘Return to the Church of Jesus Christ!’ Nevertheless, it was an ecumenical rapprochement of staggering importance, striking a tone from which it is easy to continue today, and indeed, today, some of the best ecumenical work is done in this very spirit; not compromising one’s most dearly held beliefs, yet listening to the other, treating him or her with respect and Christian charity and responding to any questions and addressing points of contention.[1]

 

 In the remainder of this essay, I will address a central point that the Reformers and the Patriarch did see eye to eye on and I’ll even give in to some speculative thinking about that issue. What I have in mind is the position of the papacy in Christendom. There is a quite a bit of agreement between the reformers and the Christian East in this matter.

 If we think how the faith started, we had of course Jesus, but then a team of The Twelve of whom Christ promised that they would one day sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. It is however equally clear in the gospel accounts that especially Peter but also the two sons of Zebedee James and John had a sort of leadership role in the gang, perhaps for no other reason than for their boldness (and at times, audacity…). This is however how all group dynamics works – there is never a static and constant level of strength and leadership in a group but some are simply stronger and natural leaders, in one way or another. The way Christianity and these apostles then spread all around the Greco-Roman world guaranteed that when they had died[2], some sort of centres and later sees were founded where they had worked, mostly in

 

mother-cities, that is metropolises, like Rome, Jerusalem, of course, Alexandria, Antioch and later Constantinople. It was clear from the beginning that these five sees, called the Pentarchy, would have a special position of honour and importance, and especially Rome where both Peter and Paul were martyred and which was the imperial capital, and later Constantinople as well when it became the imperial capital – but nevertheless the faith business was a family business and things were still to be decided together, whether in councils or by correspondence, but together. Due to political vicissitudes, cultural and linguistic, indeed language, differences and geographic distances, the only Western patriarchate, that of Rome started however to slide ever further from the other ones, or they from it, depending on one’s point of view, and then it all came crashing down with the great schism of 1054, a final point in a development that had continued for centuries. From then on, it was clear that the family business would continue as usual in the East, with the Ecumenical Patriarch (N.B. the name!) as the foremost (in honour), but the West was going to go on a trajectory all its own without anyone to challenge the Holy Father in Rome.

 

 I believe it is a law in spiritual, temporal, business and other organizations that they abhor the dictatorial position of One Leader just as much as the indecision and weakness of a level- and flatheaded faceless Board that is not courageous and dynamic enough to take bold steps. With as much charity and kindness as I can muster up – and by necessity simplifying history somewhat - I still need to say that to me it seems that with the Great Schism and its aftermath and the preceding development of several centuries, Christendom as whole got the two bad burned ends of an otherwise fine bread, the extremes of a papacy gone wild with no checks and balances and a gang of weak patriarchs in the East that were unable to stop the sweeping power of islam (and later Communism). The leadership team of Christ, you see, as it seems to me, is one of dynamic relations, strong bonding and brotherhood, done as a teamwork under the leadership of Christ but with nevertheless bold and courageous leaders even inside the leadership group!

 Perhaps the phrase primus inter pares tries to catch the somewhat contradictory message of Christ’s leadership teaching! For the fact is that the Bishop of Rome had no pares in the West and therefore there was simply no one to keep him on the ground anymore!

 

 Especially a spiritual organization like the Church of Jesus Christ would abhor an abnormal situation where one person is leading the Church and where that one person is not the Head, that is Christ Himself. Therefore, already in the 14th century, the Catholic Church as it were duplicated its leadership, perhaps in a subconscious effort to duplicate ‘the popes’ and thus create multiple leadership. What I am talking about is the so called Western Schism of the Catholic Church in 1378-1417 when there at times were three claimants to the see of Rome – sounds just like Peter, James and John, doesn’t it? Furthermore, there was also an attempt by some cardinals to make the councils more important than the popes, but this too proved a failure as one person is certainly more agile and flexible and dynamic in action than a whole council, which it might take centuries to assemble (N.B. the Christian East!).

 Then the reformers came along! There had been many attempts over the centuries, but this time, with papal indulgencies flying right and left and money pouring in for a magnificent new church to Saint Peter (the poor fisherman must have turned not a few times in his grave…), it was simply more then enough for many people and half the Germans and all the wild Northern Europeans left the papal church en masse. As Finns or Swedes or whatever, it is hard for us to imagine what a blow this was for the Pope! I mean, first the Church of Christ is, it seemed irrevocably (?), split in two in 1054, then, some 500 years later, half of what was left went its own way, with a centrifugal force and a tendency to ever new splits, a tendency that continues to this day.

 

 But back to the Tübingen Reformers and Patriarch Jeremias II! One of the things that all parts of the conflict, pope, reformers and Constantinople were very careful not to fall into and hence be accused of was the very word that we so love today, that is ‘innovations’! Everyone did their outmost to represent or unbury The Original Christianity of Jesus Christ – nothing added, nothing subtracted. Thus it was that Martin Luther, as if to bypass the ‘novelties’ added by the popes, wanted to identify and tie the Lutherans to the Orthodox of whom many agreed that they were closest to the original, or at least, closer than the pope. So you can imagine their shock – and they must be complimented on keeping such good manners all the way through the correspondence! – when instead of the ‘Welcome to the fold, we are all the same!’ from Constantinople there came a list, and an uncompromising list at that, of things where the East was simply not in agreement with the Tübingen theologians. And to quote Bishop Kallistos Ware of Thyatira and Great Britain, even if they would have been in agreement, not even that would have been good enough as those things would not have been decided in a church council together with the Greek fathers! So there was really no graceful way for the Reformers to ‘win’ – the time-and-space capsule between Constantinople and Tübingen was simply too great. And perhaps especially so as they were faced with Jeremias II Tranos, meaning a ‘person of penetrating intellect’.

 There were a number of issues that the Patriarch fished out of the Augustana Graeca, points of contention, such as the position of Holy Tradition, the ever-present, painful bone of contention, namely the filioque, free will, divine predestination, the number of sacraments, the meaning of change in the Holy Eucharist, the veneration, feasts, and invocation of saints, and their icons and relics, and a few others[3]. These

 

matters to this day remain the raw meat of ecumenical talks and I am thankful to know that some of the greatest minds of Christendom are having to unravel the Gordian knots that have been tied by previous generations – thankful, that I don’t need to be among them!

 

 Nevertheless, I have a Dream…. All my life, I have been steeped in history and have learned to love it and be absolutely fascinated by it! Art history, political history and perhaps most intriguing and challenging of all, church history, a history that has elements of all the rest thrown into it! In my devotional life, I have wandered from the Lutheran church, to Methodism, a short flirt with Catholicism, the Vineyard, non-denominational churches, back to the Lutheran church, and now landing in the Orthodox church two years ago. Perhaps because of these two factors, gradually, over the years, a Vision has been given to me: What if we all really, I mean really, would so be equipped by the Holy Spirit in Our Generation that we would indeed be given the wisdom, skill and Christian charity to untie the Gordian Knot par excellence in the history of the Church, mend the Great Schism of 1054!? Just imagine! Because, you know, the millennium ‘feast’ for this event is ‘fast’ approaching – yes, I did say fast, for that is exactly what 44 years is by historical standards. See, I believe if we could heal this rift, with God’s help, all else would come along with it easily!

 As a Christian, I believe, one can never, ever settle for anything less than the words in Christ’s Farewell Prayer, John 17, ‘that they would be one’!

 That is why I would now solemnly hereby like to found the society 2054: The United Kingdom of Christ!

 

 Instead of the dismal expectation in the Vatican and in Constantinople, above all, of this Year of a Truly Questionable Jubilee, 2054, in the Church’s history, just imagine, in the midst of persecution, the one that I think is sure to come, in St Peters, the Pope standing in the middle, hand in hand with the Ecumenical Patriarch, a Methodist bishop from North America, a Pentecostal leader from Peru, the Coptic Pope of Africa, the Lutheran Archbishop of Sweden, a leader from the Chinese Church, with a Sunday school from Australia, all singing:

 

We stand United, We stand Together, Forever, in Love!

 

---------------------------------------------------

 

 Well, you may say I’m just a dreamer

 

 But I’m not the only one.

 

 I hope one day you’ll join us

 

 And the Church will live as One

 

 

 In the Ca’ Covero, on this Day the 13th March, 2010, the Day of the Translation of the relics of Saint Nikephoros, Patriarch of Constantinople, to that selfsame City

 

 Ari Kovero

 

You may register your membership in 2054: The United Kingdom of Christ on these pages

 

  


[1] Most of the hard facts in the section above come from Eve Tibbs: 16th century Lutheran & Orthodox Exchange, Patriarch Jeremias II, The Tübingen

 

Lutherans, and the Greek version of the Augsburg Confession, A Sixteenth century encounter, Fuller theological seminary, 2000

[2] And few of us perhaps understand what power the relics of these holy people really hold!

[3] Ibid, 2/3 of the way down the essay….

 

 

 

 

Pyhä Johannes Damaskolaisen näkemys ikoneista

 

  Vuosina 680-749/750 elänyt kirkkoisä Pyhä Johannes Damaskolainen avaa meille ainutlaatuisen näkymän ikonien salattuun maailman ja tapaan jolla niiden käytöstä keskusteltiin ensimmäisen ja toisen ikonoklasmin aikoihin.

 Teoksessaan Πρός τούς διαβάλλοντας τάς αγίας εικόνας (suomeksi käännetty nimellä Kolme puhetta ikonien syyttäjiä vastaan) Pyhä Johannes ensinnäkin hyvin seikkaperäisesti paneutuu ikoneista käytyyn menneeseen keskusteluun, jonka jälkeen hän siirtyy suoraan empiriaan ja täyttää sivun toisensa jälkeen esimerkeillä Kirkon historiasta miten ikoneita on kunnioitettu ja käytetty; miten niistä on keskusteltu ja millaisia rangaistuksia niitä halventaneet ovat jumalallisen intervention kautta saaneet.[1]

 

 Johannes Damaskolaisen argumentointi on, kuville mitä sopivimmin, kolmiulotteista:

 

 Ensinnäkin hän argumentoi niitä ikonoklasteja vastaan jotka vetoavat Vanhan Testamentin kuvankiellon pohjalta ikoneita vastaan. Hänen mielestään tämä käsky oli annettu tilanteessa jossa Jumala todellakin oli täysin näkymätön, hahmoton ja kuvaamaton ja jossa kaikki israelilaisia ympäröivät kansat olivat tehneet konkreettisia kuvia ja patsaita jumalistaan, joita sellaisenaan palvottiin. Johannes argumentoi että nyt Jumala on kuitenkin Pojassaan ilmestynyt konkreettisessa, fyysisessä muodossa ja että Hänestä nyt ei ainoastaan saa tehdä kuvia vaan että se on teologisesti peräti välttämätöntä, inkarnaation todellisuuden havainnollistamiseksi ja reaalipresenssin edellytysten luomiseksi. (On siis kuin ikoni olisi eräänlainen Stargate meidän elämämme Matrix’in ulkopuolelle…) Tämän lisäksi ihmiskunta on noista ajoista Johanneksen mukaan noussut epäjumalanpalveluksen konkretiasta hienostuneemmalle symbolitasolle, kuten jo antiikin Kreikan esimerkki osoittaa; eiväthän johtavat filosofit välttämättä uskoneet jumaliin.[2]

 

 Toiseksi Pyhä Johannes Damaskolainen argumentoi nimenomaan tästä ihmisen symbolifunktiosta käsin. Kirkon on kuljettava kapeaa keskitietä aineen ja sitä kautta ihmisen alhaisten himojen palvonnan, jota konkreettinen kuvien ja epäjumalien palvelus ilmentää, ja taas liian abstraktin reduktionistisen ihmisen symbolifunktion kuristamisen välillä jota ikonoklasmi ja tähän aikaan ajankohtainen islam edustivat. Ihminen on orgaanisesti ja peruuttamattomasti aineen ja hengen symbioosi (kuolemahan on Kirkon näkökannalta luonnoton, sielun ja ruumiin erottava tapahtuma), joten häntä ei saa sitoa liikaa konkretiaan tai hän muuttuu järjettömien eläinten kaltaiseksi, mutta häntä ei myöskään saa (’)abstrahoida(’)/platonisoida/hengellistää liikaa, jolloin hän haihtuu pois tästä maailmasta. Ihminen on ja pysyy kahden maailman hedelmällisessä mutta jännitteisessä kiasmassa.[3]

 

 Kolmanneksi Johannes keskustelee siitä, miten ikoneja pitäisi kunnioittaa. Hän erottelee ainoastaan Jumalalle kuuluvan λατρέια’n, ehdottoman palvonnan, ja ikoneille niiden symbolifunktion takia annettavan προσκυνέιν’in, kumartaen kunnioituksen. Symboli on Kirkon käytössä erilainen kuin esimerkiksi liikennemerkki koska symboli sitoo yhteen Taivaan ja maan ja siten itse materiaalisessa olemuksessaan tuo symboloitavan palvojan ulottuville, ympärille ja sisään. Koska ihminen on symboloiva olento, ei niinkään kyse ole siitä, käyttääkö ihminen symboleja vai ei – niiden käyttö on väistämätöntä - vaan siitä, että ihmisen symbolijärjestelmä on (hyvän) hengellisen Todellisuuden mukainen.[4]

 

Juuri tämän Kirkko vahvisti 7.:ssä ekumeenisessa konsiilissaan Nicaeassa v. 787.

 

 - Esseessäni Kirkon kirjoittaminen isolla K:lla on dogmaattinen valinta.

 

  Palazzo Coverossa, Töölössä, Pyhän marttyyri ja palkattaparantaja Tryfonin muistopäivänä, 1.2.2010

 

 Ari Kovero

 

 Lähde:

 Pyhä Johannes Damaskolainen

Kolme puhetta ikonien syyttäjiä vastaan (alkuteos: Πρός τούς διαβάλλοντας τάς αγίας εικόνας), Ortodoksisen kirjallisuuden julkaisuneuvosto, ensimmäinen painos, Pieksämäki, 1986.


[1] Pyhä Johannes Damaskolainen, 1986, esim. 98-123.

[2] Ibid, 12-16.

[3] Ibid, 74-77

[4] Ibid., 91-97

 

 Ylläoleva essee kuuluu kirkkohistorian opintoihini keväällä 2010.

 

 

Kaunein tanssi

 

 

 Mietittäessä yksilöllisten tarpeiden huomioonottamista jotta yhteiskunnallinen oikeudenmukaisuus toteutuisi on ehkä käyttökelpoisinta lähteä liikkeelle Paavalin käyttämästä seurakunnan ihmisruumiiseen vertaamisesta ja laajentaa kuva käsittämään koko yhteiskunta. Me olemme kaikki erilaisia mutta kuulumme orgaanisesti ja kohtalokkaastikin yhteen; jos yksi kärsii kaikki kärsivät, tavalla tai toisella. Sitten täytyy miettiä mikä on koko tämän organismin ja jokaisen sen jäsenen τέλος, telos, lopullinen päämäärä ja tarkoitus. Tästä nimittäin pitkälti riippuu miten vastaamme ylläolevaan kysymykseen.

 Uskaltaisin väittää että yhteiskunnan telos on keskinäisen rakkauden, kunnioituksen, luovuuden ja pysyvän kehityksen ja toivon löytäminen. Tämä tarkoittaa implisiittisesti sitä että sen jäseniä kohdellaan oikeudenmukaisesti, mutta tämä oikeudenmukaisuus ei tarkoita tasapäistämistä vaan jokaisen ihmisen ja ihmisryhmän teloksen yhdessä ja erikseen etsimistä ja, Aristotelesta noudattaen, samanlaisia on kohdeltava samanlaisesti ja erilaisia eri tavalla.

 

 Jokaiselle on taattava oikeus toteuttaa telostaan yhteisöllisesti (esim. harrastukset, poliittinen yhteenkuuluvuus) ja yksilöllisesti (esim. työ ja koti) ja viimeksi mainitun sisällä sekä sielullisesti (vaikkapa uskonto/uskonnottomuus) ja ruumiillisesti (vaikkapa terveydenhuolto, urheilu); seksuaalisuus taas koskettaa sekä yhteisöllisyyttä että yksilöllisyyttä, sekä sielullisuutta että ruumiillisuutta ja on siksi niin keskeinen kysymys. Koska yhteiskunnan resurssit ovat rajalliset (mutta suuremmassa aikaperspektiivissä kylläkin kasvavat) ja koska ihmiset vaikuttavat toisiinsa, heille ei voi antaa rajatonta vapautta tehdä mitä tahansa. Keskinäisen kunnioittamisen periaate ja ns. hopeinen sääntö (älä tee toiselle mitä et haluaisi itsellesikään tehtävän) on minimivaatimus.

 Kun nyt pyrimme löytämään itse kunkin teloksen – ja jokainen on toki vapaa sitä nimenomaan ihan itse etsimään, sehän nimenomaan kuuluu teloksen olemukseen – mitä suuntaviivoja voimme antaa siitä mitä siihen voisi sisältyä; mitä siis ovat yksilölliset tarpeet? Yksilölliset tarpeet liittyvät siis läheisesti oman päämääränsä, teloksensa, toteuttamiseen elämässään ja sen kenties voisi kiteyttää Yhdysvaltain itsenäisyysjulistuksen sanoihin ’freedom and liberty for all …in the pursuit of happiness’, jokaisen itse määritelmällään tavalla, yhdistettynä koko yhteisön tarpeiden ja oikeudenmukaisuuden huomioon ottamiseen. Kun meillä kaikilla ei selvästikään ole omasta mielestämme mahdollisuuksia toteuttaa telostamme haluamallamme/optimaalisella tavalla, täytyy miettiä miten yhteiskunnan resurssit voidaan jakaa jotta oikeudenmukaisuus toteutuisi ja mitä on pidettävä miniminä ja/tai ’normaalionnellisuuden’ tilana.

 Täten tullaan siis väistämättä käsitteisiin terveys ja normaalius. Jo Aristoteleshan määrittelee esim. käden teloksen siten että hyvä käsi toimii niin kuin käden pitää toimia – tässä on pakko nojata sekä Aristoteleen empiriaan eli siihen miten käsi yleensä toimii ja Platoniin ideamaailmaan miten käden mielestämme pitäisi toimia. Mutta miten sitten selitämme ja tarkastelemme poikkeamia tavallisuudesta tai ideasta? Tässä kohdin joudun nojaamaan antiikin kahden mahtikielen ja -kulttuurin meille jo kadonneisiin kulttuurisiin merkityksiin ja sanoihin. Kysymyksessä ovat käsitteet/sanat καλός Kreikastaשָׁלוֹם ja  Israelista. Sanan kalos merkitys on kaunis, kiitollinen, hyvä[1] - yhtä aikaa ja erikseen - kun taas shalom tarkoittaa asiatilaa, joko kollektiivista tai yksilöllistä, jossa

 

Jumalan rauha ja tarkoitus hallitsee. Jos esimerkiksi tarkastelemme yllä mainitsemaani kättä, se on kalos eli hyvä ja kaunis kun se toimii kuten sen pitää toimia; kiitollisuus-merkitys taas lisää aspektin lahjasta joka ei ole itsestäänselvyys. Käsite shalom taasen lisää aiheeseen jumalallisen aspektin jolloin hyvintoimiva ja kaunis käsi on Jumalan lahja ja Hänen tarkoitusperiensä mukainen. Tämä aspekti lisää aiheeseen myös hiukan mysteeriä, koska emmehän voi tietää mitä kaikkea Jumala tällä lahjoittamallaan kädellä on tarkoittanut tehtävän….

 Tässä kohtaa argumentaatiota on lisättävä kristillinen käsite lankeemuksesta jotta voimme ymmärtää että maailma ei ole optimaalinen eikä telostaan täydellisesti toteuttava vaan, lainatakseni apologeetti Francis Schaefferin termiä, maailma on a glorious ruin. Käsite on rikas; toisaalta maailma on ihana ja suorastaan loistava, toisaalta taas rauniotilassa. Täten, kun katsomme ympärillemme näemme paljon käsiä joka ovat fyysisesti vammautuneita, ts. eivät toteuta kaunista/hyvää/Jumalan siunaamaa telostaan ja toisaalta näemme käsiä jotka tosin ovat fyysisesti kunnossa mutta niiden käyttäjä on jostain syystä psyykkisesti niin huonossa kunnossa ettei hän käytä niitä kunnolla. Jos tarkastelisimme maailmaa vaikkapa vain tiettyjen darwinististen teorioitten kannalta, tässä ei olisi mitään ihmeellistä vaan heikot vain raivataan pois tieltä jotta voimakkaammat saavat jatka elämäänsä, mutta kristillinen ja luonnollinenkin etiikka opettavat meille että on tasattava niiden ihmisten polkua joille elämä on erityisen haasteellista. Tämä ei kuitenkaan tarkoita sitä että voisimme luopua hyvän, kauniin ja täydellisen ideaaleista – itse asiassa ne ovat välttämättömiä – mutta niitä on nimenomaan sovellettava sisältä käsin korostamaan esimerkiksi sitä että keskeinen osa ihmisenä olemisen telosta on empatia; toisen asemaan asettuminen ja toisten auttaminen. Pitäisi siis aivan erityisesti auttaa niitä jotka ovat heikoimmassa asemassa, mutta se ei tapahdu sen kautta että sellainen epätäydellisyyden tila julistetaan kalokseksi, hyväksi, kiitollisuutta aiheuttavaksi, tarkoituksenmukaiseksi ja kauniiksi. Päinvastoin, on tärkeää pitää täydellisyyden, kauneuden, tarkoituksenmukaisuuden ja hyvyyden ideaalia yllä jotta me kaikki pyrkisimme kohti sitä, kukin tavallamme ja toisiamme auttaen.

 Mutta miten tämä eroaa Natsi-Saksan rotuhygieniasta? Oikeastaan meillä on nyt vastakkain kaksi antiikin Kreikan kaupunkia ja niitten filosofia, nimittäin yllämainitut Platon ja Aristoteleshan vaikuttivat Ateenassa, kun taas Sparta sovelsi eräänlaista eugeniaa eliminoimalla heikot ja sairaat, vanhat ja ’tarpeettomat’ ja vaikka Sparta voittikin Ateenan sotilaallisesti, siis lyhyellä tähtäimellä, nimenomaan Ateena on saavuttanut ylivoimaisen voiton vuosituhansia kestäneen maailmanlaajuisen filosofisen vaikutuksensa kautta. Miksi?

 Syy siihen on ateenalainen termi kalos joka nimenomaan yhdisti kauneuden, hyvyyden,  kiitollisuuden ja tarkoituksenmukaisuuden ja ymmärsi että ihmisen syvin olemus nähdään katsomalla häntä kokonaisuutena muistaen että fyysinen olemus on vain osa häntä, ehkä vain kuori. Tähän yhdistettynä juutalaiskristillinen painotus Jumalan kuvaan ja jokaisen ihmisen arvoon tuottaa meille filosofian jolla on kestävä perusta ja jo vuosituhantinen elinaika.

 Kuten pikku prinssi Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’n teoksessa sen sanoo, On ne voit bien qu'avec le coeur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux’[2].

 

 Oikeudenmukaisuuden kannalta kalos tarkoittaa ennen kaikkea kiitollisuutta – mitä hyvää, terveyttä, toimivuutta tai omaisuutta meillä onkin, se on aina ainakin osittain lahjaa meille joten meidän tehtävämme on jakaa omastamme niille, jotka eivät ole yhtä siunattuja; ja on vieläpä autuaampaa antaa kuin saada. Ihmisen arvo on mittaamaton koska kukaan ei pysty näkemään sydämen syvyyksiin kuka kukin loppujen lopuksi on. Siihen pystyy vain Jumala – ja Hän on antanut meidät toisillemme jotta hyvyys, kauneus ja totuus kasvaisivat maailmassa.

 - Olemme kuin junassa jossa on vain rajallinen määrä tavaraa mutta jotenkin se on sisustettava niin että kaikki viihtyvät - ja olemme ’vain’ matkalla joten koskaan optimaalista mukavuutta ei saavuteta eivätkä tavarat riitä kaikkien tarpeiden huomioonottamiseen, mutta pyrimme jakamaan tasaisesti, heikot erityisesti huomioon ottaen. 

 

 Suurin oikeudenmukaisuus ei välttämättä ole täydellinen tasajako vaan yhteiskuntaruumiin kyky tanssia kauniisti – ja kuka paitsi Jumala tuntee sen tanssin todellisen kauneuden ja tarkoituksen?

 

[1] Kummisetäni Joseph Roilidiksen mukaan; kyseessä on kreikkalainen arkkitehti ja filosofi.

 

[2] ’Näemme vain sydämellämme. Olennainen on näkymätöntä silmille.’

 

- Tämä essee muodosti osan etiikan kotitentistä Miten yksilölliset tarpeet pitäisi ottaa huomioon jotta yhteiskunnallinen oikeudenmukaisuus toteutuisi ja muodostaa osan Helsingin yliopiston Teologisen tiedekunnan etiikan ja filosofian opintoja. Kirjoitin sen lokakuussa 2009

 

 

 Of Ants and Crickets and the Like

 

 Eilen minulla oli suuri nautinto nähdä ja kokea ja olla mukana Svenska Litteratursällskapetin 125-vuotisjuhlassa Oopperassa jota myös Tasavallan Presidentti kunnioitti läsnäolollaan. Ilta huipentui Uljas Pulkkisen säveltämään ja Bengt Ahlforsin sanoittamaan juhlalliseen ja hupaisaan ja varsinkin huikean sisältörikkaaseen kantaattiin Syrsor och myror, joka hyvin hauskalla ja mukaansatempaavalla tavalla polemisoi ja käsitteli taiteen ja ns. tuottavan työn välistä jännitettä. Mielestäni kantaatti huipentuu muurahaisten dialogiin sirkan kanssa jossa nämä, ihan aiheellisesti, siltä tuntuu, kysyvät ovatko he todella vastuussa sirkan elättämisestä ja mm. tämän Eliten ja Kosmoksen kosteiden ravintolailtojen maksamisesta. Silloin sirkka vetääkin hihastaan yllättävän kortin, 'Vai vastuu...?', se kysyy ja jatkaa:

 

"Att ta ansvar för sitt steg i dansen

och för krukans form och lerans lyster

Ärligt söka sanningen i ordet

Lyssna till den enda rätta tonen

Vara noggrann i sitt val av färger

Följa linjen på det tomma pappret

uppmärksamt, som om det gällde livet...

Det är också ansvar, ska ni veta."

 

 Ihanaa...!! Täytyy sanoa että pitkään aikaan olin eilen ensimmäistä kertaa niin kosketettu jostakin näkemästäni teoksesta että kyyneleet valahtivat silmiini. Miten ihana onkaan se Maa, joka taiteilijalle suodaan... - tai miten kammottava, sellainen, jossa hengellinen isäni 'hoidettaviensa' kokemusten mukaan ei haluaisi päivääkään asua...

 Kuitenkin, muurahaiset laulavat sotaisasti salkuistaan, säätiöistään, tuotoistaan ja talletuksistaan ja rahoistaan ja sirkka kysyy ihan aiheellisesti onko se kaikki muka konkreettisempaa kuin hänen runoutensa, hänen poesi'nsa...?

 

 Todellakin! Onko? Taas meillä on apua antiikin viisaista kreikkalaisista - sana poesi kuten myös englannin sana poem tulevat nimittäin antiikin kreikan verbistä ποιέω joka yksinkertaisesti ja kenties vähän epädramaattisestikin tarkoittaa - tekemistä! Näin siis kreikkalaiset tekevät runoudesta ja taiteesta ylipäänsä kenties jotain paljon vähemmän dramaattista kuin myöhemmät ajat.

 - Meidän nykyihmisten on hyvä muistaa että käsite taide sellaisena kuin se on nykykäytössä syntyi vain noin 200 vuotta sitten, pitkälti Immanuel Kantin vaikutuksesta. Siitä ovat sitten kehittyneet käsitteet kuten l'art pour l'art, käsitetaide, performanssi jne. Tätä ennen taas taide oli hyvin läheisessä yhteydessä nimenomaan käsien taitoihin, käsityöhön, ja siten kenties ei ollenkaan ollut niin helposti irrotettavissa puhtaaksi eetterissä roikkuvaksi abstraktioksi, jota useimpien nykyihmisten on vaikea lähestyä - vaaditaan erityistä 'koulutusta' ennenkuin tämä taide 'avautuu'. Vaikkakin ei ole yksinkertaisimpia tehtäviä päästä entisaikojen ihmisten pään sisään, voi otaksua, ja sen taidehistoriasta tiedämmekin, että vahva käsityöperinne ja taiteen 'valjastaminen' palvelemaan ihmisten yleistä maailmankuvaa auttoi tekemään siitä hyvin paljon läheisemmän osan elämää, integroitumaan siihen, kuin mitä erityisesti nykytaiteen osalta on tapaus tänään. Käytin sanaa 'valjastaminen' tarkoituksellisesti - meillä nykyihmisillä on the sickness unto death, introspektio, niin yleisenä maanvaivana että jollemme saa asettua itsemme ulkopuolelle, jollemme edes jollain tavalla pysty halkaisemaan itseämme ja tarkasteltavia [sic!] asioita, emme tunne oloamme kotoisaksi ja pelkäämme kuollaksemme että oikeasti tulisimme niin kosketetuksi että ympyrät alkaisivat levitä sydämistämme - sitähän con-centrare loppujen lopuksi tarkoittaa! - että huomaisimme ettemme olekaan Virtojen Hallitsijoita, vaan paremminkin niiden vietävissä... 

 

 Ehkä pääongelma on kuitenkin, kuten olemme taidemaalari Ville Löppösen kanssa todenneet, että nykytaide ei osoita itseään syvempää; nykykuvasta ei pääse mihinkään toiseen maailmaan, ei edes vaatekaapista Narniaan... Vielä 1800-luvulla oli tärkeää päästä Kauneuden, Totuuden ja Hyvyyden Maailmaan ja sitä ennen itse Taivaalliseen Kuningaskuntaan, josta meillä on ikäänkuin reliikkinä jäljellä Ortodoksisen kirkon ikonit, joista vielä on pääsy pois teille tietymättömille tähtien taa....

 Siksi väittäisin että taide ei välttämättä itsenäisenä ilmiönä jaksaa kiinnostaa ja innostaa tarpeeksi ilman transsendenttia Todellisuutta - muuten se saattaa muodostua vain makkarankuoreksi joka lysähtää kasaan ruokkimatta ja innostamatta ketään - paitsi tietenkin Keisarin uusien vaatteiden hännystelijöitä jotka jo hengellistä ja henkistä nälkää normaalitilana pitävinä ovat totuttautuneet sirkushuveihin ja leipään... ;-)

 

 Ironiallahan siinnä sitten jotenkin pysyy kasassa... 

 - Vai pysyykö...? Mielestäni alkoholi-, psyykelääke-, seksiaddiktio- ja elämyshakuisuustilastot puhuvat toista kieltä.

 

 Palazzo Coverossa, 6:na päivä helmikuuta 2010, Gazan pyhittäjäisä Barsanufios Suuren päivänä,

 

 Ari Kovero

 

 

 

From Feebleness to Φυσιόω - or to Fullness

 

 

 I can't get the verb φυσιόω (fysio-oo) off my mind... To my mind, you see, it seems that this verb speaks volumes about the state of our culture. This Greek verb, in its medial or passive form, means to get blown up, the enlarge oneself, in short, to become proud. The root here is φυσ- (fys-), from which we get all words connected to physics, the physical etc. What the wise ancient tongue is trying to tell us, with other words, is that if you leave your proper place, The Sacred Here and Now, as I call it, where you are called to Be Just As You Are, and are indeed accepted as such - if you are humble enough to 'celebrate your smallness' (Leanne Payne) - you are indeed heeding the lure of the Serpent which in fact said, 'Step outside of yourself and you will become like God'. With the help of another Greek verb, ̉εξιστήμι, ('existéémi), to step out of one's standing, proper place, from which we get the Latin exsistere, existere and then exist (later in opposition to the verb live), the picture thus becomes fuller and we understand that if we by the allurement of the Enemy of Our Soul leave our proper place in our very centre, our con-centricity, as it were, we must needs be start to φυσιόω, to physicalise, to blow up ouselves, to be proud. For the human being cannot stand to be small and insignificant forever, not even for a very long time; no, we were truly made for Greatness! It is just the way and pace of it that needs some discussion...

 

 A very concrete example of how this works, this at the same time contemporary and ancient device, you can find in the paintings of Ville Löppönen, also presented in these pages (see www.villelopponen.com), where he shows how the Spirit of This Age blows up, devours and attaches to oneself and sucks the lifeblood out of us - and even for aeons to come, if we let him. These paintings have a simply awesome prophetic quality to them, both as far as the present and future are concerned. So take a close look at them!

 It is no coincidence that the very motto of the Gods of this Age is citius, altius, fortius (faster, higher, stronger), the slogan of the Olympics, where no achievement is never enough and godlikeness is ever more elusive - one can never be satisfied as there is always another God to surpass or another record to break. This is of course the same spirit that works in the market economy, where growth and competion - not cooperation - is the norm, or in Darwinism, where the strong eat the weak.

 For me, with experience from the gay scene, I see this same spirit acted out to the maxxx - without a moderating Other, the Female, one is left to an ever accelerating drive to become bigger, better and more muscular and larger-dicked and get laid by so many as possible. The irony of it all is that in spite of practically limitless access to life-generating sperm, there is no Fecundity whatsoever - indeed, never has New Life been born in this way. No wonder there are so many mental and alcohol- and drug-related problems and seldom a liberated, satisfied smile to be seen on the faces of the guys in the Scene.

 To paraphrase Saint Augustine, we were indeed created to be life-generators and creators, just like Our Heavenly Father, and are dissatisfied as long as this does not happen....

 

 

 There is a Swedish saying that one should not throw stones if one sits in a glass house....

 Well, as true as that might be - and it is true if one's motive is to accuse and condemn people - I also think that it is equally true that one should try to analyze and understand the conditions that one and other people live under if there is room for complaint. That is the first step to change them, isn't it? Besides, it is especially the task of artists to unearth conditions and ways of thinking that have become mere skeletons and hindrances for Creativity and Life. Thus, it is in this spirit that I treat these matters - I am in no fashion myself exempt from the gardening measures suggested by the Swedish doctor-preacher Sven Reichmann: 'one should not be appalled and paralyzed if one finds the Garden of one's Heart full of the Weeds of Vice - just because your Garden needs some work done in it you should not fall into despair'.

 Swedish optimism...;-)

 We certainly can apply this both on a personal level and the level of a culture and society as a whole.

 

 Thus, the more one is empty on the inside, the more one needs to compensate for it on the outside - you know how the saying goes about insecure people that they keep decorating themselves on the outside so that the Awful Truth on the inside should not become known. It's like a crab with a weak and fragile inside that has to put stones and shells around itself in order to survive. Perhaps this has happened to us as a culture; sure, people have always been vain and it has always been looked upon as a vice, but now, it seems that the culture as a whole has been taken over by the φυσιόω - we make ourselves more beautiful, stronger, faster, bigger, more efficient, all on an epidemic scale!

 And addiotionally, it is like everything is determined by speed! I have personally long ago determined that hurry is one of my worst enemies. I mean, what else is so certain to guarantee that I don't think properly, that I don't rest,that I don't eat well, that I don't paint well enough with afterthought and feeling, that I don't have time for the people whom I should have time for and that I don't have time to think about and prioritize the most important things in life? What or who has so permeated the very air and atmosphere of our culture that we don't even have time to breathe properly (we have to have gurus from India to come over and teach us this elementary skill!)? What or who is it that tries to unroot us from the Sacred Here and Now so completely that now we are, 'thanks' to the Net, all over the place all at once, the orange-slice life, as I call it! Thus, we have been pulled away from our proper place, the Sacred Here and Now to the Profane There and Everywhere, Anytime, With Anyone!

 

 Yes, who indeed is lacking Time...?

 It certainly is not Our Heavenly Father who created the thing in the first place! ;-)

 

----------------------------------

 

 I have long held the opinion that each time and culture invents the devices and gadgets that are called for by its philosophy and way of life. The Protestant Reformation certainly had a need to produce tangible, efficient results vis-à-vis the old, slothful religion as it was seen (let alone Eastern Orthodoxy which must seem the epitome of inefficiency and unpracticality from the Protestant point of view...). The Seven United Provinces of Holland soon rose to prominence as the very showcase of Protestant efficiency and cleanliness. In fact, there are those, to whom I belong, who consider 17th century Holland the very prototype of the free market economy and thus for the contemporary European Union and the United States. Efficiency Now was the motto there - and is so today too, but today, we have realized that those very forces of rapid change and unorganic growth have lead to the fact that we and our planet are simply not coping with the pace and exploitative thinking.

 It is said that during the few times that Israel truly followed the LORD's commands it was a rather backward, slow agrarian society in which everyone more or less had what he needed but it was a bit slow and boring compared to the splendours and riches of the true Empires of the Middle East, Egypt and Mesopotamia. Those societies were however based on glaring inequality - and speed. So it seems that the Good Lord has designed us and Mother Earth in a way that requires s---------l---------o---------w----------n-----------e--------------s------------s !!!! Neither we nor the earth can cope with the ever-increasing speed of everything, augmented and now grown out of control 'thanks' to computers, mobile phones, airplanes, cars, dishwashers, washing machines, radios, TVs and on and on.... Few of us would perhaps like to return to the old ways, but the fact is that we in the West especially are in total danger of losing our contact with the Good Earth, with Reality - and there is no other and never will be. Even the words of St.John the True Theologian in the Book of Revelation can be interpreted in a way that Heaven and Earth will be renewed, not totally new.

 

 The teaching of the Orthodox Church have never been such that we are to stay in a state of feebleness and smallness forever. No, quite the contrary! The Church teaches nothing less than that 'God became Man so that Man could become god'! (St.Athanasius of Alexandria; note the lower case of the second god - there is only one True God.) This, in the Eastern tradition is called θέωσις (theoosis), which could be translated as deification or divinization. From a state of fallenness and feebleness we are to attain to the likeness and union of God through the stages of καθάρσις (katharsis), purification, and θεώρια (theooria), illumination. Compare this to the Western teaching of St.Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109): from fides (faith), we are to proceed to intellectus (understanding, knowledge) and further to species (not far from θεώρια). N.B. that the Great Schism between the East and West happened at this very time, 1054, and already here we can see that a difference in stresses had developed - the West stresses the power of the intellect to attain to the beholding of God whereas the East stresses personal purification. The former would lead to universities (the first founded in Bologna in 1088) and the latter to stressing the monastic life (which there had been plenty of since 4th century Egypt).

 

 Differences as their might be between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches - and the tragedy of course is that both views are needed in fruitful sacra conversazione in the Church of Christ - at least neither would be given to the utter folly of today: to escape the uncomfortable state of feebleness and fallenness by succumbing to a program of self-aggrandizement, to φυσιόω!

 

 It is no mean task to render The Desert of Loneliness of the Heart to The Garden of Solitude of the Selfsame. But, to quote a dear friend of mine, it is indeed 'a labour of love, and one may venture to add, of the outmost necessity...'. Prayer, beholding things Divine, θέωρια in Byzantine parlance, and the community of the saints in the Χώρα τω̃ν ζωντω̃ν, the Land of the Living, that is, the Church Triumphant and Militant, in Heaven and Earth, is part and parcel of the best Gardening known to me....

 

 Thus, would we all now have the humility in This Day, in This Sacred Here and Now, to be united with the prayers of the Good Old Very S----------------l------------------o-------------------w and Unfashionable Orthodox Catholic Church of the East, the One who Today guides us in this fashion:

 

"O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely upon Your holy will. In every hour of the day, reveal Your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray, and You, Yourself, pray in me.

 

 "Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.

 

 "Amen."

 

 In the Ca' Covero, on this day of 11.2.2010, at 6:17, a.m., on the Day of Saint Gregory II, Bishop of Rome and Saint Theodora, Empress of the Byzantine Empire

 

 Ari Kovero

 

 

 

The Schluck and the Child

 

"Go to Hell!" - and you will find a deadening monotony of things

"Welcome to Heaven!" - and you'll meet some True and Dazzling Personalities.

 

 This is an idea that I heard in a somewhat different form some years ago. Like I've mentioned elsewhere in these pages, I cannot sufficiently express my admiration and love for the Art of Mr.Ville Löppönen, a young Finnish artist now living in California, USA, see www.villelopponen.com. Much of his art has the same Judeo-Christian foundation as my work, but the technique and look of it is considerably different. In bodies and torsos melting into each other with perplexing complexity, yet forming one solid Mass of a body, his images carry a disturbing message from a spritual realm. Could it be so that seen from another perspective, our world is being divided into two camps: On the one hand, there is a senseless, massive, monstruous, schlucking Thing that is collecting and absorbing into itself more and more people to form a Mass of Things (see the article From Feebleness to Φυσιόω - or to Fullness above), and then on the other hand a gathering of Free People, bound together by Love, yet as separate Persons. The group of these free people are thus faced with a Faceless Army, a Faceless Schluck.

 

 Working as I am now at the Sinebrychoff Museum of Old European Art, we are celebrating an exhibition on the Carnival of Venice. Surprisingly enough, the Venetians wore these masks not only during a few days during carnival, but almost all the time from October to June! Only the lent season and church holidays were exempted. Thus, it was possible, in the guise of someone other than yourself, to do a lot of tricks and treats - so you can imagine what the morals of the city were... (In fact, it is said that Dante Alighieri, a Florentine, put the immoral Venetians in Hell with their masks...)

 

 The difference of Heaven and Hell is that of a Face and a Mass. The Sherlock-Schluck-Divide-and-suck you-out faceless mass army is one of rape, cruelty, slavery, debasement, a Monster that worms itself around its victims and devours them. The only eyes it might have is to estimate your material value and weight and how to suck you up into itself. It is a terrible Monster, a Schluck from Hell!

 

 On the other hand we have people with faces. God has indeed turned His face towards these people and let it shine upon them. Therefore they have each come alive and become a Person and can indeed multiply that effect through looking each other in the eyes. Thus, ever new people are invited to join The People. And it is a People that is always looking to discover the Uniqueness of each new Face!

 

 However, what match is this People for the Monster, the Schluck from Hell!? More than you'd think! For indeed, what power does the Monster have when it does not even have a face or eyes to see where it is going?! Like the blinded cyclope of Greek mytology, even a small child will bring it down, for the child can see but the Monster cannot!

 

 Indeed, next time you see a small child, look at the power of eternity in that little face! You might be quite surprised...

 

 

 On this day, 28th February, 2010, in the Ca' Covero, on the day of Saint Nikolaos Salos of Pskov, the Fool for Christ (one of the favorite Saints of The Jester, I might add...)

 

 Ari Kovero

 

 

 

 

 

Innocent Pipilotti?

or

On the True Elixir of Life

 

 

 Last Sunday, I had the opportunity of visiting the Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist's video exhibition Elixir in the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma here in Helsinki. The exhibition proved however to be anything but the panacea for the soul that the exhibition's title seemed to promise - let alone the innocent paradise without a fall as was proclaimed on the national news.

 

 Whoever said that the size and shape of a work of art automatically changes its contents and its message? This however seems to be part of the creed of post-modern art and society in general. To me, however, an ant is still an ant, be it the usual size, the size of an elephant or even microscopic. Most people on the other hand seem to be taken in but such visual tricks, I am sorry to say.

 - The relationship between the content and the form requires a deep analysis per se, but may the above suffice for starters.

 

 In the inner sanctuary of the exhibition, behind protecting (?) veils, the female organ is worshipped as the revelation of the fruit of life par excellence as projected from a video gun the shape of a ball on to a screen the shape of a drop whereas the rest of the image falls in a moon-crescent shape on the wall behind it. One of the proclaimed aims of Pipilotti Rist is to free us from the limiting and life-sucking constraints of religion 'that make us feel ashamed of our own bodies'. Does this work achieve that goal for us?

 Since the mid of the 19th century at least, it has been the aim of some artists to make the (female) nude innocent and permissible to be looked upon as art or biology alone without moral (')constraints('), that is no relationship to the person portrayed. The change of contexts and in Pipilotti's case, size and perspective, tries to achieve just this; a return to an innocent, paradise-like state of mind where we can look at each other 'without shame', as the Big Book says. Agreeing with C.S.Lewis, if I remember his thought correctly, transposing us to the microscopic or macroscopic level does not however change the fact that we are indeed placed here on earth to look at each other in the eyes and it is on that level alone that the moral imperatives are the clearest, 'thou shalt not lie', 'thou shalt not use', 'thou shalt not kill' - in fact, 'thou shalt love and respect me as yourself'.

 Also, at the latest beginning from cubism, it became quite clear that the viewers knowledge of and thoughts about the subject matter are as important as the visual side of the object/subject looked upon. Thus, after the initial insecurity and perhaps indeed even shock of looking at this strange lump of flesh moving back and forth, it became clear to me that it indeed was the female organ portrayed and from that point on, my viewing changed and started to be pulled to the eye level, seeking for the Person portrayed - or so it should if Paradise indeed would not have had a Fall. Indeed, it was rather disgusting to look upon mere 'biology' whereas one had a feeling one is looking at one of the women on the videos in the exhibition.

 

 Be that as it may, let's move over to the Paradise section of the exhibition. In this Paradise, Pipilotti tells us, there is neither a snake nor a fall. Let's however take a closer look if this is so. Instead of Adam and Eve, we have here two Eves, two very much alike ones, intertwined - I think they are even twins, red-headed ones (incidentally, the name 'Adam' can also mean the red one in Hebrew). The sister-Eves engage in running around in the lush Paradise, squeezing over-ripe fruit to the point of bursting between their breasts, running on the beach - but never really looking us, or even each other, in the eyes. The twins are in a state of self-absorption - not even with one another but with themselves. Thus, they are alone together. Or shall we use somewhat more dramatic language: Sunk into the Hell of Self with no one to pull them out.

 And suddenly, in the midst of the lonesome and destructive fruit-squeezing orgy, there comes the clue to it all: Just of a sudden, one of the twins has the testicles of a man in her hand (the first time a man ever appears on the 'show', by the way; I assume they are still attached to the poor man...). Then the image changes rapidly and, probably because it would, for the time being, be forbidden to do this to the actual testicles of a man, she holds two testicle-sized-and-shaped fruits in her hand and squeezes the seeds out of them quite violently.

 Need I say more....?

 I am just wondering, what kind of violence is this preparing the way for...? In Nazi Germany they were first burning books, then burning people - today, we have videos, of course...

 This was a 'paradise' with a very cunning snake...

 

 Pipilotti's name is fashioned from Pippi Longstocking, a Swedish fictional character who is a red-head like the above-mentioned twins and who is such a strong girl that she would easily beat any grown-up man. Thinking about one of the meanings of the word 'Adam', perhaps Pippilotti has chosen the red-headedness to show origin, not needing anyone else, uniqueness. Pippi Longstocking is a strong girl whose destiny is to remain a little girl forever and never marry. As lovely as that might be in a fairy-tale, for a grown-up 'girl' it is more of a tragedy than a blessing. It is a dream of trying to make it on one's own - without the Other that one has been disappointed by in the past and now will never trust again. That is however to curse oneself from the only path of fecundity that there is and thus to be doomed to forever look for one's identity within oneself and for the one that would make one whole and complement one in an mirror image of oneself - a quest which is doomed to failure.

 

 What would be the true healer of the soul, the true elixir of life? Perhaps a start would be to gently walk through all the wounds that the Other has caused to the point where one is able to turn one's face to him/her and take his/her hand and walk towards the destiny that alone promises spiritual and physical fecundity - even to the ones that are called 'children' in the English language, to name but one, but perhaps the supreme, example of true Fruitfulness.

 

 The Book of Revelation of St.John (2:17) promises the 'hidden manna' and the secret white stone (of the philosophers, perhaps; the stone that all wise men of antiquity sought in order to make the true elixir that would give eternal life) to him/her who overcomes. That is something that we will however gain only by the death of Another, the True Lover of our soul. By drinking of His blood and eating of His flesh we will receive the True Elixir of Life and as we remain in Him, we are promised true abundant life forever. Not in separation or self-absorption but in Togetherness with Another and Each Other.

 

 

 In the Palazzo Covero, on this day of 9.9.09, the day of the righteous Joachim and Anna, who are some of the best symbols of True Love. A life-long marriage of love produced no children and only after 50 years was the Theotokos, the Mother of God, Mary, conceived by Anna after an appearance of the archangel Gabriel to both parents. They dedicated the child to the Temple of God for her entire life. Thus, they became the grandparents of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

 - Significantly, the Biblical meaning of the number 9 is 'judgment or finality', 'used when judging man and all of his works. This number has also been used to describe the perfect movement of God.' (www.christian-resources-today.com/biblical-meaning-of-numbers.html)

 

 Ari Kovero

 

Sex Wars, Act 2010

 

 

 No, kävinpä katsomassa Stiina Saariston näyttelyn Ein kleines Monster Amos Anderssonilla. I was bored almost before I entered the first hall.... Mitä voisin sanoa....?! Kaikki ne teoriat ja ajatukset joita olen esittänyt Sukupuolten Sodasta näilläkin sivuillani osoittautuivat taas kerran oikeiksi. Siis siinnä mielessä ei mitään uutta, ei mitään shokeeraavaa, ei mitään raflaavaa eikä mitään kiinnostavaakaan - ja ehkä mielenkiintoisinta, ei siis nykykäsityksen mukaan mitään taidettakaan... ;-) (Anteeksi, en täysin pysty pidättelemään vahingoniloani... ;-)) Mutta tietysti, eihän sitä nyt voi kieltäkään miten traagista se kuitenkin on kun ainakin fyysisesti aikuinen nainen tuo kaiken maailman infantiilit vääntönsä ja kääntönsä kaiken kansan nähtäväksi - tuon miesvihan ja naisvihan ja käsittelemättömän suhteen omaan ruumiiseensa ja vihan luonnon tiettyjä järjestyksiä kohtaan kun olisi asiantuntevalla terapeutilla voinut käsitellä muutamassa kuukaudessa ja sitten käydä vaikka välillä kurkku suorana huutamassa psykodraamassa - ja sitten siirtyä johonkin mielenkiintoisempaan ja syvällisempään hommaan. Vaikkapa vakuutusvirkailijaksi....

 - Niin, sillä voihan se hyvin olla että taidetta ei silloin ei olisi syntynyt alkuunkaan - ja ehkä hyvä niin, koska jos siteeraan Pyhä Serafim Sarovilaista käänteisesti voisi sanoa että 'jää völlymään käsittelemättömiin ja märkiviin sielunhaavoihisi niin tuhannet ympäriltäsi hukkuvat'. Niin suuri vastuu on Taiteilijalla - ja Ihmisellä ylipäänsä.

 

 En voinut olla miettimättä miten mehukasta olisi sulkea Stiina Saaristo ja Jukka Korkeila samaan häkkiin (molempien ihanteenahan on tavalla tai toisella länsimaisen ihmisen itsepäisyyden ja muka itsenäisyyden ideaali: The Marlboro Man - ja kaikkihan me tanssimme sen Almighty Kyrvän ympärillä, tavalla tai toisella...), roikkumaan jonnekin katon rajaan, yleisön nähtäväksi vaikkapa Kiasmaan ja antaa heidän act out koko draama rajoituksetta: Sex Wars! Kyllä yleisöä riitäisi!! Mutta se että lisäisikö se vai vähentäisikö se väkivaltaa yhteiskunnassamme sukupuolten välillä on kyseenalaista. Ainakin siitä olen kuitenkin varma että aivan pian tämä pinnan alla kytevä sukupuolten välinen VIHA räjähtää nähtäväksi meille kaikille, niillekin, jotka eivät sitä nyt oikein vielä hiffaa.

 Ja silloin ei ole enää ihmiskunnan loppunäytös kaukana - me emme nimittäin tule toimeen ilman toisiamme.

 

 Mutta täytyyhän Käärmeen koko juonen onnistua - päästä hännäksi tai hännästä pääksi. Mies jolla piti olla se hengellinen vastuu on nyt pian naisen talutusnuorassa kokonaan (käy läheisimmässä hengellisessä, uskonnollisessa tai kulttuuri-instituutiossa tarkistamassa tämän asian todenperäisyys jollet usko minua!) ja sitten onkin pian aika siirtää viestikapula itse Päänaamiolle.

 Mutta onneksi siitä Loppunäytöksestä tulee sentään lyhyt - muuten meistä ei kukaan pelastuisi - ja sitten onkin aika heittää kaikki naamiot pois ja siirtyä Ikuiseen Kohtaamiseen; ken sinne sitten haluaakin....

 - Eivät näköjään kaikki.

 

 Ca' Coverossa, 8.2.2010, Profeetta Sakarjan, joka kehotti kansaa palaamaan Jumalan luokse, muistopäivänä

 

 Ari Kovero


 

 

 

 

Star-bergasted!!

 

 How is it for you, my dear reader: does your worldview stay more or less the same or does it keep expanding and changing, at least a bit at a time? This it keeps doing for me. I used to think that one should ideally be sorted out in this life by the age of 30, say, and then live on with that worldview happily ever after. For me at least it hasn’t worked out that way – unfortunately at times, it feels. Because it is a suffering to be insecure and groping your way forward…

 Then again, should one not be ready to process ever new information and integrate that into one’s worldview to form an ever-widening circle? That to me seems a more fruitful approach rather than being too certain when that has not been granted to us, mere mortals that we are...

 

 Take astrology for instance! Growing up as a Protestant Christian it has, quite naturally, been something sinful and dangerous at worst and nonsense at best. Over the last few years, however, I have gradually picked up courage to find out more and more about the subject and I have at least tried to be open to new things.

 One pivotal step in the process happened two and a half years ago in March 2007 when I was participating as the representative of Finland and Christendom in the prestigious international exhibition Fusion des Cultures by ArtRain in the Musée de Marrakech in Morocco. Little did I know that one of the panels that I had painted here in Finland already months before for the Morocco event actually turned out to predict and show the total lunar eclipse that happened in all of Morocco the very night of the exhibition opening - an opening that was changed two times while I already was in Marrakesh before an actual day and time was settled upon! The painting process itself was most interesting too: I first painted a yellow moon crescent and then gradually, little by little covered it with a finally impenetrable 'shadow' - just the way an actual eclipse happens. Here is the painting:

 

006

 

The Due End of All False Stories

November-December 2006, 75 x 55, oil on very fine canvas, panel five in the series Les Déstinées des Nations which represented Finland and Christendom in the ArtRain exhibition Fusion des Cultures in the Musée de Marrakech, Morocco, March 2007 - although the lunar eclipse is not easily seen in this photograph of the painting, it is nevertheless there to the left of the green eye, a potent symbol in its own right… - let alone the other symbols in the painting!

 

 That means that in painting this work, I had unbeknownst even to myself functioned as an astrologer - even accurately predicting an actual celestial event! (It is by the way very interesting how different people interpret this event differently: 'coincidence', 'nonsense', 'Providence'... - in doing that people are only revealing their own view of the true nature of the Universe, their basic Weltanschauung, their worldview; there is no neutral ground here.)

 

 In the last year or so, I’ve had time to read more and more about the parting of ways of astrology and astronomy. This diabolical rift and paradigm shift (remember that diabollein means to cut in two/split) in thinking/feeling/seeing the world happened primarily in the West beginning with the Renaissance so that the unity in the world of the ancients, so full of magic, the mystic but also the ‘hard facts’, all of them intertwined and united; an animated, One Universe, one with a Purpose, Direction and imbued with the Spirit – yes, all this fell apart. The split between astronomy and astrology was just one part/symptom of that Great Rift. Today, we are very schizophrenic as a culture – if you go to a doctor, for example, you will be treated to the best and newest of biological, medical treatment, but at the same time you might not be treated as a person at all, because 'the illusion of personality is but a bi-product of the chemical processes of the brain'. As Whole People, we abhor this! In the case of astronomy-astrology this means that we are left with a universe that is mechanical, atomic, molecular, strapped down by the laws of physics – no one has started it, no one controls it and it is going from nothing to nothing without any purpose. That there would be a wonderful and indeed beautiful Spirit-imbued Living Clock as the best of astrology teaches is relegated to the sphere of silly old aunts and gullible children. Yes, today most of us are even so uncivilised as to think that astrology offers a deterministic, laid-down worldview with little or no room for human freedom. This certainly was not the view of many, many of the popes, scientists and doctors prior to the modern age – everyone was aware of the mechanical and as it were materialistic side of the Universe, but one was equally aware of the fact that God had created everything and had laid down his purposes and clues in the Cosmos. As recently as in July this year I had a first-hand experience of this as I visited the beautiful and charming island of Ven in the Sound between Denmark and Sweden; here, the 16th century astronomer-astrologist Tycho Brahe had established one of the most prominent scientific centres of Europe at the time - a centre where everything was in harmony within the Creation and Lordship of God. Here, Tycho Brahe and his team studied the stars with state-of-the-art equipment, both the physical side of their movements and consistency and then taking that a step further to the level of significance and purpose; what might those movements mean for us here on Earth. As the psalmist says ‘all of my days were written in Your book before one of them came to be’ – one of the common interpretations of this ‘book’ was the stars. Indeed, in all times, mainstream Jews and Christians have thought that there definitely is a concurrence between the Two Books of God, The Scriptures and Nature - even though there has been a Fall. The Bible however happily lives with the tension of free will and a security expressed in somewhat deterministic terms – and never resolves these issues for us on this side of the grave…. Creation however is One, with One Author only, although we as actors definitely have our say in the Grand Play as well.

 

  On the very first page of the entire Bible we are told that God indeed created the Heavens and the earth, but that He also put stars in the sky for signs; that is, a synthesis and a tandem of astrology and astronomy, you could say! So important is this statement that on the second page of the New Testament we are told that the very first who found their way to worship the newborn King of the Jews and the Saviour of the world were those who had this selfsame integrated worldview: the astrologers in the East!

 

 It is perhaps now time to reveal (even to myself…) the essentially eschatological and astrological character of much of my œuvre. Christ said that as we look for His Second coming, we should look up into the skies and there would be various signs in the Sun, Moon and stars that would point to the imminent end of the Age and to cataclysmic world events. Not that one should be frightened by all this but rather encouraged that the God-Reign shall start soon!

 

 In August 2007 I was invited to wonderful Nykarleby, Ostrobothnia, Finland to have an exhibition on the local Week of Culture in the Juthbacka manor there and I chose the theme The Upside Down exhibition for the event. One quote that I used in the exhibition text was of Albert Einstein, saying that ‘the illusion of the past and the future is very hard-living, but nevertheless an illusion’. This is what he had concluded on the nature of time (and space, implied) based on his theory of relativity.

 Thus, one way of seeing reality is that we are as if walking with our feet backwards into the future – or even coming from the future! (This by the way gives very interesting implications for the age-old dispute between free will and determinism). For me it has brought the staggering Grand Canyonesque viewpoint (with my feet backwards into the future, of course!) of realising that many, many of my paintings look like astrological charts or maps of the heavens! I myself have however at the time of painting not had a clue of what I was doing – I have only followed my intuition, which has served me very well all these years! I mean there is even a whole large section/series of my paintings called Celestial Celebration! Doesn’t the Big Book tell us the very thing, that the Heavens declare the Glory of God! So here am I, the painter himself, wondering with you, my dear reader and viewer/seer, what for example the following paintings might be telling or predicting for us!! See how the planets and stars, the Sun and the Moon wander across the surfaces of the paintings:

 

 

0166 

 Celestial Celebration – part 1

March-April 2004, about 105 x 78 cm, oil, acrylic and watercolour on canvas (in a private collection in Chicago, Illinois, USA)

 

 

0001

Celestial Celebration - part 2

December 2004-February 2005, 110 x 81 cm, oil on canvas (in a private collection in Nummela)

 

 

0185

 Celestial Celebration – part 3

July-August 2004, 116 x 85 cm, acrylic and oil on canvas (in a private collection in Nummela)

 

 

 What kinds of events might the three paintings above be telling us about? Who would have enough astrological expertise to help us to decipher them? Or what about the following ones:

 

0169

 The Maelstrom – part 1

April-May 2004, 75 x 75 cm, oil on canvas (in a private collection in Chicago, Illinois, USA)

 

0168

The Maelstrom – part 2

August 2004, 81 x 65 cm, acrylic on canvas (in a private collection in Koski, Tl)

 

Can you see that there clearly is a city in the foreground – could it be St.Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, for example? This actually resembles the so called Vädersoltavlan in the Storkyrkan in Stockholm, Sweden containing enigmatic celestial happenings:

 

 Vädersoltavlan

Storkyrkan, Stockholm, Sweden, depicting a celestial event in 1535 above the city of Stockholm

 

Or the following ones:

 

0113

 Darkness Falls

May 2005, 84 x 49 cm, oil on hardboard  (in a private collection in Helsinki)

 

The one below is called

Once in Blue (or rather: Striped) Moon

tetratych, March-April 2008, 45 x 30 x 4 cm each, pastel and beewax (in a private collection in Chicago, Illinois, USA)

 

03 The Moon

 

 

 

 0179

The Pendulum

late 2003, 60 x 43 cm, acrylic, watercolour and pastel on paper (in a private collection in Turku) - here the two dominant forces in my personal horoscope, being a Cancer, the Sun and the Moon, reveal themselves

 

 

 I must say, my dear friend, that I am absolutely flabbergasted – or shall I say starbergasted!! - as I am writing this - for I have never really looked upon them as heavenly happenings, per se, but perhaps, of some inner happenings in me, or alternatively me being connected to some unseen spiritual realm. But as with the zipper of the painting above, the zipper of the symbolic function (opposite meaning of diabolic - symballein meaning to bind together/unite) that beautifully reunites the two worlds of the microcosmos and the macrocosmos, the outer and inner, the spiritual and mechanical, voilà, the two worlds are one and interconnected and the paintings could portray both worlds! Or as we have seen in the case of Morocco, some very real celestial events highly pregnant with symbolic meaning that first showed themselves in my humble little microkosmos - and were then shown to the world in the exhibition and on these webpages. Clearly, signs are in the heavens - but who can read them, that is the question!

 

 - Here one can echo the words of the Old Testament Joseph and Daniel: ‘the secret things belong to the LORD and he reveals them to whom he wills’.

  

 Oh the bliss of being an artist!!!!

 

 In the Palazzo Covero, Töölö, Helsinki, Finland, 17th August, 2009, on the feast of the Martyr Myron and holy Feoderit, enlightener of the Sami people

 

 Ari Kovero, by the grace of God, painter

 

PS. The first-century historian Flavius Josephus states that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, in the Holy Place, had the twelve signs of the zodiac inlaid in its floor. Josephus also stated that the twelve loaves of showbread in the temple was a reference to the zodiac. He also tells us that the Menora in the temple represented the sun in the middle and the five planets and the Moon. That was set in the West part of the Holy place right next to the zodiac signs incarved on the floor

 In modern times, Israel has issued stamps with the zodiac signs identified with the twelve tribes of Israel and the astrological symbolism of the temple.

 

PPS. Do you want to start uncovering the meaning of this one: there are the starsign of Virgo to the lower right; the male and female triangles on top of each other and in conjunction forming the Magen David (the Jews are ‘under’ Saturn, incidentally); and what appears to be a large Jupiter, king of the planets, to the upper right - and the Sun blessing it all to the upper left…And what are those flying hats, or saucers? The one between the planet of Love and the Jewish triangles seems particularly ominous!!

 

002

 

In the Beginning…

November-December 2006, 75 x 55 cm, oil on very fine canvas, panel one in the series Les Déstinées des Nations which represented Finland and Christendom in the ArtRain exhibition Fusion des Cultures in the Musée de Marrakech, Morocco, March 2007

 

 

Reflections stemming from the Pekka Halonen exhibition in Ateneum, Helsinki (7.3.-24.8.2008)

 

 The art of Pekka Halonen was pretty much completely out in this country in the 1960s. Why? I believe the 1960s was a decade during which the development of the crassest materialism culminated, both in the East and West. The art of Pekka Halonen on the other hand has a rather strong spiritual element to it and therefore it was condemned as non-suitable art at the time – probably the epithet ‘naïve’ or something like that was used about it. Many of his works were condemned to an existence in some far-away country like Ethiopia – or the cellar of the UN International Labour Organization in Geneva, as I have been told.

 Realism in art, by which I mean an attempt to paint things ‘as they are’, reached its peak in the late 1800s and as photography was invented at about the same time, this led painting into a crisis. If one already had reached the peak of painting reality ‘objectively’ as it is – and on top of that a device had been invented that did the same thing, and even better (albeit at this stage still without colour) – what was the point of painting like this anymore? Obviously, one was in a cul-de-sac and could go no further. Additionally, many thought, wasn’t there anything deeper and more profound that one could paint – is three-dimensional ‘reality’ all there is to Reality?

 These were some of the questions that the painters at the end of the 19th century were struggling with. In the West, there were basically three responses one could take at the time.

 

 One was to metamorphose the realistic painting with a tinge of idealism, perhaps preferably history paintings as the Salon in Paris appreciated most. Pierre Puvis de Chavannes was a very much appreciated artist in France at the time. His paintings were a kind of idealized paintings in this manner, he however reached back to the art before the Renaissance painter Rafael (as indeed did the Pre-Raphaelites in England) and so there was a mixture of elements here. Anyway, it was a spiritualized, developed and upgraded version of realism, one could say.

 A second approach that was taken at the time was impressionism. Instead of depicting an objective reality, a reality ‘an sich’ as the philosopher Immanuel Kant would have said, here was a focus on the visual sense of the human being, what actually happens in your eye and brain when you see something - mere ‘retinal shudder’ as the painter Delauney contemptuously called it. It was a celebration of reality ‘für mich’, albeit the observational side of it only, peacefully resigning in front of the ‘fact’ that we can never know objective reality. Pointillism also falls within this category, but it was even more radical in its scientific approach.

 - As scientifically and retinally as the impressionists worked and as rejected as their work was at the time (hence Le salon des refusés) it is actually quite amazing that today, their œuvre is considered the epitome of beauty.

 The third approach, the one consciously or subconsciously chosen by Pekka Halonen, was symbolism. This is a term quite difficult to describe, but perhaps one could summarize it by saying that this approach rejected the claim of realism of ‘objective reality’ or at least that the three-dimensional, this-worldly ‘realism’ was everything there was. Indeed, there was a much deeper Reality beyond and deeper than the mere surface of this world and therefore the Symbolists thought that this was something much more worthy of artistic endeavour. Furthermore, it also rejected impressionism as too superficial and as not catering for the need and indeed reality of the ‘Other’, a deeper, more comprehensive Reality. As the Church had basically lost its credibility in ‘enlightened’ circles since the 18th century, the symbolists sought this deeper and more real world in the four corners of the globe: occultism was one source, Japanese art with its (seemingly) deep spiritual dimension, theosophy, and as Picasso later was to show, ‘primitive’ cultures as well.

 - The Church was an acceptable source for a few only for this spiritual nourishment.

 

 The three main spiritual sources for Pekka Halonen’s art, in its more mature form, were his teacher Paul Gauguin himself, Japanese art and the art of Fra Angelico. Or put in another way, Tolstoian nature-‘worship’ and simplicity, Japanese woodcuts and pre-Renaissance art, notably Fra Angelico, (the name means angel-like brother, by the way). One should also not forget that Pekka Halonen’s mother was part of the so called ‘heränneet’, the Awakened, in northern Savonia who in turn had some distant connections to the Orthodox church across the centuries (shown by Father Pentti Hakkarainen among others). So the spiritual sources of the Pekka Halonen were quite varied. Perhaps he too was as rootless and confused as many people at the time; indeed ‘seeking harmony and equilibrium by painting nature has become my religion, as it were’, he said in an interview to Svenska Pressen in 1932, a year before his death.

 

 

Pioneers in Carelia, Pekka Halonen, 1900

 

 One feature that is quite typical of Pekka Halonen’s mature work and some of his most celebrated pieces is an oscillating movement between the flat, two-dimensional surfaces and, as a whole, a three-dimensional image. It is as if he is dancing around on top of a fence not knowing which side to jump on! In Japanese art and the art of Fra Angelico, one can find a similar kind of thing. In both of these, however, the balance is fixed and found and there is no insecure and individualist oscillation between the two – rather the totality and wholeness of the art is a decorative and balanced and indeed beautiful whole – if one dares to use such old-fashioned and politically incorrect terms these days…

 

 

 Deposition from the Cross, Fra Angelico, ca 1435

 

 What if Pekka Halonen would have dug a little bit deeper in the roots of the Western culture? One can find all kinds of interesting things there. In 787 the seventh ecumenical and universal church council was held in Nicaea; for the second time in fact in this town close to Constantinople itself (the first time was in 325). This was the last church council of the Church Universal, East and West. There, after the bitter iconoclastic dispute of many centuries, the Church agreed that the veneration of images, known as icons, was part and parcel of its teaching. The Church wanted however to regulate how these images were to be made. ‘Theoria’ which actually means ‘beholding God’, was crucial in the process, both for the artist and the worshipper (note: not just viewer). On a more technical side, the Church regulated or rather gave guidelines for how these images were to be painted – and this is where the relevant part for the art of Pekka Halonen emerges. It seems that the Church statutes stated that indeed the image should first of all be representational - as opposed to for example islam which only allows non-figurative, non-depicting art, and which had been a supportive element for the iconoclasts. Second of all, the images were to depict the holy persons and events in such a way that the image formed a beautiful and decorative whole, combining and oscillating between the three-dimensions of this world and how one perhaps best could describe the spiritual reality, two-dimensionally. This draws us right back to the usage of symbols. Symbols, like traffic signs or letters or flags are almost always two-dimensional. The function of signs is not so much to point to themselves, although we of course see them and they can look more or less appealing and beautiful, but rather their main function is to point beyond themselves, to some other realm of being and meaning. Perhaps one could summarize the difference between signs and symbols in this way: Signs point beyond and away from themselves to something else or to some other reality; Symbols on the other hand bring within themselves the actual presence of the thing they are pointing at (cf. icons). The Hebrew Scriptures contain no pictures in our sense as such but are rather full of two-dimensional signs, that is letters and numbers (each Hebrew letter is also a number in our system) that point to God. When however the Scriptures are recited, as they indeed are both in the Orthodox Church and in certain branches of Judaism, through the miracle of synergy of God and Man the miracle happens and the Scriptures become living and symbolic carrying within themselves the very breath of God.

 

The Church quite knowingly rejected a mere three-dimensional art (of Antiquity) in its holy imagery as showing only the reality of the flesh or this world. No, a wider Reality must necessarily include the spiritual realm and that is perhaps best represented by two-dimensionality. As Christ Himself and the departed saints indeed hover in both spheres, in this world and the spiritual one, where God, angels and demons are, an image of worship acceptable to the Church must thus have both of these dimensions in the same image. In addition, the image must be beautiful to behold and form a decorative whole. Combing two- and three-dimensionality in the same image and weaving the totality into a beautiful, decorative whole actually requires extraordinary skill compared to painting mere three-dimensional images such as the Renaissance painters did, for example. Also, the perspective is one of theoria and not a mere this-worldly phenomenon. All that the Renaissance artists ‘discovered’, such as linear perspective and how to paint the different hues of flesh had already been known to the Church for centuries and knowingly rejected in favour of a deeper and more comprehensive view of Reality. In the West, however, the spiritual roots and a comprehensive understanding of this was lost, perhaps due to lacking skills in Greek in which most of the Church fathers of the East had written and argued – all due to the Great Schism of 1054 and the anterior and subsequent developments.

 

 Through Scholasticism in the West, God became a more and more distant and abstract concept to be speculated upon. As the human being however is created for a relationship and indeed intimacy with God, artists could not cope with this development and beginning from the Giotto, artists of the West tried to make God and the Holy Realm ever more accessible to people. Thus, there was a schism within the human being, one could say. And not just one schism, in fact, Western Man was split into ever smaller parts; for example, science (the rational way of knowing) was more and more separated from art (the intuitive and emotional way of knowing) and both ever more from religion (the spiritual realm). Philosophy and religion were not comfortable with each other either. Born were concepts such as the secular and spiritual. In this situation, was it indeed surprising that the Church too was split in the beginning of the 16th century, with an accelerating centrifugal force as the centuries rolled on? Also, as a result of these splits, there was also a disagreement as to where the source of ultimate power lay, with God or Man – this disagreement exploded in the French Revolution beginning in 1789. (This is something that I will elaborate on in my doctorate thesis The Role of the Monarchy in Contemporary Western Europe.)

 In order to try to make sense and find a unity in this diversity, universities were founded in the West, the first one in Bologna in 1088, not much after the great Schism, it must be added. As it was an attempt empowered by the rational, they became more and more focused on the rational and later empirical way of knowing only, leaving out the intuitive (art, for example) and the spiritual (theoria), their output could thus be truncated at best and strongly distorted at worst, a situation that has continued to the present day. In the world of art, by the time of the Renaissance and Baroque, the West entered upon completely this-worldly imagery very far indeed removed from the spirit of the Council of 787. As the human being lives in both the physical realm and the spiritual reality, the one-sidedness of the this-worldliness at the end became intolerable and indeed collapsed into itself at the end of the 19th century. Thus, the Modern was born; a hotchpotch of spiritual sources, techniques and quests that we live with even today.

 - No wonder the museum of modern art Kiasma here in Helsinki recently opened an exhibition on the Death of the Image and Beyond the Image; an image that is totally this-worldly and not pointing into something more real and deeper is so one-sided and truncated and unnourishing spiritually as to all extents and purposes be dead!

 Even the quest for the Gesamtkunstwerk points nowhere as the Gesamt is nothing more than the sum of its parts – nowhere near the richness of Real Symbols.

 Pope Benedict XVI's statement that Europe is in apostasy might not be so far-fetched, after all; the reasons for this are however far from clear-cut, as we have seen.

 

 What did the development look like in the East? It is obvious to me that both East and West suffered from the breaking of the fruitful crossfertilization that had characterized the relationship before the Great Schism of 1054; neither reaches as high or deep as one could have done without the Schism. Many see in the East a period of theological 'correctness', but a lack of development and momentum, also visible in the arts. Militarily, the Byzantine Empire became ever weaker – the last hundred years of its history the ‘Empire’ was limited to the city of Constantinople alone. This did not however hinder the arts from flourishing. Quite the contrary: according to some scholars the very weakness of the state allowed for the grand swansong of Byzantine art known as the Paleologian renaissance (not to be confused with the art and philosophy of the Renaissance in the West). Here two examples from the church Chora ton Zoonton within the walls of Constantinople, the mosaic Christos Pantocrator from the dome of the church and the Anastasis, a wallpainting (fresco?), both from 1315-21:

 

 

 

 

 Although the Byzantine Empire succumbed to the Turks in 1453, it must be said that there was a great degree of cohesion and comprehensiveness in the culture as a whole; the splits described above that were tearing apart Western Man were practically unknown in the East. This continued in Muscovy and Russia. Only Peter the Great’s Westernizing ‘reforms’ with the Holy Synod etc caused a break in the monolithic fabric of the faith-state-culture-and-history all-in-one – later perhaps leading to the Russian revolution in 1917 because the Church had become too alienated from the intellectuals to feed their spiritual hunger, thus opening them up to seek elsewhere, a fact that many were sorely to regret after the Revolution in the so-called spiritual revival of the Russian émigrés.

 - What will become of Russia today remains to be seen; there are however some vague signs of a reemergence of a Byzantine model where the state and church married – a model that worked well for a thousand years in the Empire.

 

 So what do we make of the symbolic and where do we go from here in the West?

 In Finland, we are in a microcosm of fruitful cross-fertilization of a culture because as the only country in the world, we have two state churches, the Lutheran and the Orthodox. Much can be learned from both traditions. Above all, we must resymbolize our culture and reconnect it to Spiritual Reality. A human being is not a human being without a profound and meaningful use of symbols. As it is now, we are in a symbolic confusion as a culture in the West. We have lost our connection to the head and are, as it were, running around like a chicken that has had its head cut off!

 It may be reminded here that the Greek word symbol comes from the verb symballein which means to throw or put together. Thus, the term indicates collecting and gathering the chaos of the world together through meaningful symbols that connect all the levels, rational, intuitive and spiritual.

 - It may also be reminded here that the Greek word diablos (from which we get the Devil) comes from the Greek verb diaballein meaning to throw or tear apart, indicating the very opposite of the what a symbol does.

 

 In my art it is my endeavour to create a unity in diversity. Coming from both personal symbolic confusion and symbolic confusion of our culture as a whole, it is not easy. I have had to work a lot with myself and the culture that I live in and its history, philosophically, theologically and ‘factually’, to even catch some vague glimpses of what is really going on. Some of these glimpses I have presented here on my pages.

 

 Pekka Halonen said that seeking peace and harmony has become his religion, as it were. To a large degree, I agree with that statement. Perhaps I would express it this way: both on a personal and cultural level, I seek to find and, God willing, to create cosmos out of the chaos both of my own person and our culture as a whole so that the shalom of God would rule over all and everything.

 

 In my paintings, I present a decorative and ornamental world or symbols and images, hovering on the borderline between three-dimensionality and two-dimensionality, trusting that the guidelines of the Seventh Ecumenical Council would show me the way forward. So help me God.

 

 

 

 In the Palazzo Covero, on this day of 13th March, 2008, A.D.,

 

 Ari Kovero

 

 I am greatly indebted to my Godfather Joseph Roilidis, architect and philosopher by the Grace of God, for our discussions over the years for getting my head and heart going about these things.

 Also, I would like the thank the art historian Ville Lukkarinen for the profound thoughts in his book Pekka Halonen – Pyhä Taide which have helped me to delve deeper into the world of art, with Pekka Halonen as a starting point.

 

 

Breaking the Glass

 

or

 

Critique on the Carnegie Art Award Exhibition in Helsinki

 

 The exhibition connected to the world’s most generous art award, the Carnegie Art Award, was held here in Helsinki, in the Museum of Modern Art, the Kiasma, from 26th October 2007 until 6th January 2008. The exhibition continued from here to all Nordic capitals and Gothenburg, London and Nice. In the plethora of art by the 26 main candidates for the award, selected from among 143 candidates, one is at first struck by the seemingly endless perspectives, visual stimuli and contents that the exhibition offers, but on closer inspection these perspectives actually dwindle down to an almost minimalist few; perspectives well representing the dilemma faced by the contemporary West.

 

 Overall, the exhibition is characterized by the flatness and lack of  perspective of the Western mindset. The Western worldview has already long basically been one of materialism that denies the Beyond, a Meaning and Purpose, nor does it cater for the Realities of Beauty, Goodness and Truth, nor Coherence. In fact, these noble qualities have disappeared from the West already generations ago. The Western mindset is a truncated point of view which I call being pressed by a glass sheet against the earth.

 

 Artists however being especially sensitive, the inhumanness of this philosophical and existential dilemma is sorely felt and the artists try to escape it, whether subconsciously or consciously. This can clearly be seen in this exhibition as well.

 There are basically two ways of dealing with this dilemma from a materialist point of view.

 

 The first strategy is going back and forth between what we have learned to call ‘dimensions’ of the materialist universe – dimensions of space and time. The word ‘dimension’ itself  carries within it the connotations of a materialist point of view as the root of the word comes from the Latin verb to ‘measure’ and so this strategy is actually leaping around in the very flat box but one is not escaping anywhere.

 The second way is trying to create a quasi-spiritual dimension through imagination and basically attempting an existentialist leap of faith to purpose, coherence and meaning, even beauty.

 

 Both of these strategies are however basically failures as they do not question the materialist presuppositions themselves and thus don't break the glass.

 We shall now look at some examples of just how different artists in the exhibition exemplify these two strategies. After that, I will endeavour to show how one could successfully break the glass of the oppressive and inhuman materialist philosophy and instead fly the free winds of Ultimate Reality. That I what I do in my own art anyway.

 

 So let’s start by looking at the first strategy.

 One of my favourite artists in the exhibition is the Finnish artist Vesa-Pekka Rannikko. You could say that he basically creates paintings by painting statues! Through layers of thick plaster or acrylic stuff, he basically turns three-dimensional objects into what to our eyes appears as some sort of Impressionst paintings, that is, two-dimensional objects. As visually interesting, funny and pleasing to the eye as his works are, they still don’t point us to any ultimate point of view or the Real Depth of Reality. They are only funny tricks, as it were, not profoundly new ways of looking at Reality and getting close to some sort of Coherence and Purpose.

 The Danish Anette H. Flensburg, on the other hand, is trying to create some sort of strange spaces by showing rooms that lack coherence if you look out the windows and doors. Although her works can undoubtedly be pleasing to look at, instead of truly getting to some other ‘dimension’, she has created a confused mud-pool of a space that cannot possibly exist, but neither is it a poetic or some sort of new space. Confusion is the word here.

 The Swede Kristina Jansson plays with time. In her paintings showing two music studios, Something has just happened. Through wondering what that Something might be, we are transported to another time, and thus, somehow, two times are united in one painting. As interesting as this may sound, it is actually not that revolutionary and just leaves the viewer asking for a why? and what?, what for? In the postmodern view, questions are naturally much more interesting than answers, but doesn’t it get a bit old…? Haven’t we been going on with this for quite some time now? The paintings do not point to a Higher and Deeper Reality beyond the paintings themselves which is the case in for example Mediaeval paintings. We are thus left wandering from one meaninglessness to another. So, we are basically still stuck in the oppressing space-time continuum of materialism – the paintings are unable to point the way to something beyond that.

 The Finnish painter Pertti Kekarainen plays with illusory space. His aesthetically pleasing photographic collages have similar a quality to them as the paintings of Annette H. Flensburg: a space that is somehow different and interesting, but so what? Haven’t we seen this before – it doesn’t lead anywhere. In the introductory film he himself states that if he is able to truly create an illusion of reality he has succeeded. Yes, but so what??

The Dane Ferdinand Ahm Krag occupies a middle position between the two strategies that I have described and attempts to conquer the chasm of Emptiness by displaying the marriage of music and architecture – but to what end? Even if there is a deeper connection between them – ‘music is dissolved architecture’ as he writes – what doesn’t follow is that there would be an Ultimate Reality nor Meaning or even Beauty in his paintings. Rather, in the words of the composer John Cage, ‘I have nothing to say and I’m saying it right now’. Precisely! The paintings are meaningless mumble-jumble that might be pretty to look at, but they don’t bring any coherence or purpose to life.

 

 If we now take a look at those artists who perhaps realise that one needs to somehow escape the box of materialist philosophy but still do not have the tools of the correct philosophical presuppositions to break the glass. It is significant that all the award-winners are in this category; perhaps it tells us that at least the jury of this exhibition finds the space- and time-tricks of the previous section a thing of the past.

 The Danish painter Fie Norsker doesn’t resign just being in a meaningless and inhuman box but tries to escape. Good for her! However, an imagination not connected to the Absolute Realities of Beauty, Truth and Goodness produces a bleak world of the Tree of Death. Which is exactly what she has painted!

 Anna Tuori, a Finn, creates what I would call unpleasant kitsch. Undetermined space and sort of fluorescent colours… Hmmm - what could be worse when not even kitsch is nice?

 The Swede Jarl Ingvarsson’s work is just pure sloppyness and running out of ideas. Do we really need to see stuff like this in a classy museum? I felt almost sick.

 The film by the Dane Jesper Just, the winner of the second prize consisting of 600,000 Swedish crowns, delves right into the sewage of perverted lust and whizzles in the presence of a supposedly heavenly staircase of darkness that leads – not so surprisingly – nowhere in the midst of the cold Copenhagen night.

 The Finnish painter Jukka Korkeila offers us the Finnish and upgraded version of perversion. The ‘drawing’ is weaker than Tom of Finland, but there has been a gain in intensity – and despair. Not even the three-minute hunger strike in the introductory film brings him any closer to anything significant (but he secured making himself ridiculous!) nor does he move the world into any positive direction. Rather, his art is the supposed teenage celebration of the cul-de-sac of a hedonist simply grown old and grumpy.

 The Swede Nathalie Djurberg provides us with the mandatory and politically correct comme-il-faut feminist perspective. It is however well spiced with humour (so they actually do have a humour section at the feminist bookshop!? ;-) ) and the screenplay is dramatic and without prejudices or worshipping the past ways of doing these things. But rather sloppily done, I should say…. She is creative with other words and thus well worthy of the price money of 10,000 Swedish crowns awarded to her, I suppose. (What a miserly prize money, by the way!) She might prove quite interesting as an artist once she outgrows her childish ways. If she continues to stay immature she is simply dangerous as is the case with anything that just grows old.

 The work of the Norwegian Gardar Eide Einarsson is a mixture of pop art grown old and propaganda that really doesn’t ignite. I’m sorry, although I thought he was pretty cool I still did not get very excited. Déjà-vu….

 It is not easy to tackle the oeuvre of the Danish painter-carpenter John Korner, one of the award-winners of this exhibition (400,000 Swedish crowns). One is torn between the opinions ‘does he not know how to paint at all?!’ and ‘there is an interesting light/presence in this paintings that is inexplicable’. Somehow, however, I find there is a strong element of the Western cul-de-sac in his paintings and the ‘light’ is not leading anywhere. Just painting out of despair and non-sensical.

 Last but not least, let me tell about the art of the winner of the main award of one million Swedish crowns, the Swedish artist Torsten Andersson. I must say that I brooded on the work of Mr Andersson for quite some time. It took some time for it to open itself to me. And I still continue to go back and forth in my opinions about his art, which shows that his art is quite living and not easily ‘dealt with’. On third or fourth thought, I think the work of Mr Andersson somehow points to the future, partly because it is in tandem with something significant from the past. Torsten Andersson calls his work ‘families, the very opposite of series’. There is a handmade, human quality to them that I like. There is Mediaeval irregularity in his shapes and they are living an interesting life – so different from the machine-like landscape painting of, say, the Danish painter Allan Otte (although I am not saying that doesn’t have its place, too). The reason the work of Torsten Andersson points to the future is that it is art that is again human, unmeasurable so to speak, no gimmicks or technical apparatus used to produce the images. There is a spiritual quality to them. There is a mystery and capturing of interest in them. It remains to be seen whether his work indeed will open up new ways in the future or whether his art is a swan song of an age long since gone.

 

 We have thus examined the exhibition from the point of view of being pressed by the glass of materialist philosophy against the earth – there is hardly space enough to breath, let alone to roam freely. It is quite clear that one can look at any exhibition from a number of angles; what I have endeavoured to do is to show the art of our time, in one of its major exhibitions, in a context of the philosophical development of centuries. Philosophy and art are truly a married couple, usually artist expressing what philosophers think in their quite chambers. Beginning with the French philosophes of Enlightenment, materialism has taken a firm grip on the West, and with that philosophy, Purpose, Beauty, Goodness and Truth have all died. Although the philosophy has played its part in producing some material comforts, from a human point of view it is in fact an oppressive and very one-sided philosophy which makes our lives ever more uncomfortable, as we have been created for breathing, feeling and thinking free and in communion with the Celestial spheres.

 The modern Western mind however makes us crawl under a glass sheet which is pressed against the ground – that is what the flatness and ugliness that pure materialism has forced us to. Gone are the days when we had the whole wide-open Sky between Heaven and Earth to fly in and when we could crossfertilize them by being both Heavenly and Earthly creatures. Thus, gone too are they days of the Real Dreamer, the Poet, of indeed Truth, Beauty and Goodness – pressed against Mother earth by the oppressive glass sheet of materialist philosophy, even the Very Materia, Mater, Mother Earth has become one we rape and who in turns defends herself – one who is about to spew us out, as we see from a number of alarming signs today!

 Let me say that it has become high time to break the Glass and let some air in and allow us humans into the element which we were created for, to be eternal astronauts between Heaven and Earth!

 

 What then would it mean to break the Glass? I suppose it would for one thing mean that one would be prepared to give up all sorts of mechanics and rather be open and free to explore Life as it is. It means to Fly, Smell the Flowers, make all the supposedly random connections in Life and jump or run at unexpected moments. In my art, I am open to the Spiritual Reality to speak to me as I paint. I most certainly don’t explain what is happening in my soul as mere chemical processes in the brain – where would creativity then come from? The life under the oppressive glass sheet of materialist philosophy means above all that the Universe is mechanical and impersonal, whereas breaking the glass of such a horrid philosophy means admitting that everything, albeit seemingly mechanistic at times, is ultimately guided by a Person and that the Universe also as such is much more personalized than one would think; indeed, it is animated, imbued by the Spirit. The Mediaeval who believed in horoscopes and astrology let alone in the Church and Synagogue most certainly believed just that – and there wasn’t a taste a cheesiness and intellectual sloppiness to his belief system. In short, Life is not something that we can control but Someone that we are invited to dance with. We are invited to lose ourselves in intoxication and to spiral ever higher – not drill ourselves ever deeper into the ground!

 Personally I know not of a better way of entering into the dance than just letting go and letting – oops! I almost said something so politically incorrect that it would have been terrible…;-) No, it is about getting deeper and deeper into the Creative Stream and basically losing oneself in the process; or rather, becoming ever more oneself in the process. Discovering ever new parts of oneself, or rather, ever new parts getting added to oneself. Or rather, being made ever more insecure so as to open oneself up to ever new spheres. Flying with the heart into the spheres of Celestial Reality.

 

 Indeed, such is the difficulty of describing the Freedom in the Spirit – it has to be lived! Those who have tasted it know what I am talking about. Indeed, how would one describe it? It is not a matter of being irrational or just giving in to some gooey feelings; rather it is giving up one's limited perspective and outlook as a (single) human being and entering the Dance of Life on a higher level. It is yielding oneself to a Higher Logic and Higher and Wider Perspective to a degree that one does not necessarily understand this or what one is really doing. Of course one doesn't! No wonder artists are many times thought of as fools for one neither necessarily knows what one is doing nor can one explain it. Indeed, it is better this way so that one can enjoy the creaturely existence (as opposed to the 'existence' of the Creator) and one can play the game of hide-and-seek or Mystery. My experience is that it is best to just yield to the Spirit in the moment of painting; in hindsight one will then understand a bit of what one actually has been doing; indeed, I do not ‘plan’ or ‘make’ my paintings – they are ‘painted through me’ and are ‘drawn out of me’. I give birth to them. True, they might bear a resemblance to me but sometimes I feel embarrassed to even sign them – you don’t ‘sign’ your own children either. Like the opening and blooming of a flower, I too stand next to the miracle of creativity and look at it in awe. Where did it come from? What is it? Does it – or he or she – have a Name? Usually he/she does….

 

 Thus, this is the way that I would like to point for Western Contemporary Art at the beginning of the New Millenium. We are in a desperate cul-de-sac of Ugliness, Meaninglessness and Debasement. We have thrown away everything and instead of the Freedom we so sought we now find ourselves pressed under a very heavy glass sheet of ‘everything is just the material that it is and there is nothing more’ – and we can’t bear it! No, in our heart of hearts we know that there is Freedom, Dance, Unpredictability and, yes, Wonderful Creativity, even Beauty, Truth and Goodness that we were called to but we would rather have anything else than what our culture has already rejected. That is why we seek this in the East for example. No matter how useful the spiritual worldview has proven to be for so many people in the glorious 15th-18th centuries, for example, in producing art, no, we think we know better and would only trust ourselves in making our ‘art’. The results speak for themselves…

 

 I think it is an art that we can do any kind of art at all, even bad, being as tightly pressed by the glass sheet against the ground as we are!

 

 In the Palazzo Covero, 24th January, 2008

 

 Ari Kovero

 


 

Alpha and Omega

 

 This is how everything began:

 

 

Cornucopia

 October 2003, 61 x 45 cm,
pastel and watercolour on paper

 

 And this is one of my most recent paintings:

 

 

The Return of the Apple-Man

(the last part of a triptych), January-March 2008, 99 x 120 cm, oil and pastel on canvas

 

 

 And there are hundreds of paintings in between!

 

 What could be said about my art? Although ‘development’ is most probably the wrong word, one could say that that which was in the beginning in some mysterious and amazing way contains that which has come later – and even most likely that which comes hereafter. The name of the first painting, Cornucopia, means Horn of Plenty and even in the name the work has, as it were, prophesied what is to come. The work is autobiographical – it starts in the middle with my birth (a star… ;-) and winds its way out as a spiral until it opens up to the lower left. With other words, the painting tells that I will tell the story of my life through paintings, colour above all, and that there is so much material, fuel, as it were, to be compared to a horn of plenty. Even though there are also tragic things in life, and thus also in the spiral, the painting is set against a bright warm yellow background; the overall impression is one of Hope, Brightness, an Opening. Thus, the Mysterious 828….

 

 What about my newest painting? Well, it is a bit more enigmatic, but seems to contain a sort of slow-moving dance that moves around but still holds together. In my suggestion for the Pori Art Museum there was a Dance – on that occasion between Man and Woman – so maybe this painting is a dance, too. One’s eyes wander on the surface of the painting, but they seem to stop at the black cross and especially the red ring, which quite clearly is in some sort of relationship to the apple opposite which is like a power field but from which the eyes wander to the hat above and from there to the small white point…

 - But just as well one’s eyes could wander from the red ring to the hat just above it and continue from there via the sperm to the other hat and from there to the white point, once again…

 The painting is thus a Path but not a straightforward one. Perhaps an elegant but complicated rococo dance would be closest to its essence. When one has first emerged out of the box about five years ago (expressed in the painting Cornucopia) one moves to the Great Field of Life where there no longer is a clear-cut direction to move in, but the white, far-away, but hopeful white point gently and unassumingly directs to the Future – and perhaps also to a New Beginning.

 - One can also notice that the sunrise-like bright yellow colour of the first painting has been transformed into a more sedate, afternoon sun of the South in the latest painting. Surely I haven’t matured…? ;-)

 I feel like there has never been a time before painting; only when this new way of expressing myself has been born in me do I really feel like I live – and even now there are no doubt many modes of expression that are still unfamiliar to me but which I would like to integrate into my being. Who knows what colours and forms and symbols are born then…?

   Are my works thus ‘only’ autobiographical and ‘therapy’? Most certainly not – the symbols that I employ are of a universal significance and besides, art has an amazing ability to rise like a phoenix out of the ashes of the perhaps simple and even mundane circumstances of its birth right into the Spheres of Eternity; an originally Hebrew concept, by the way, which means both limitless time and limitless space.

 

 I have just looked at two of my paintings with the eyes of the intuition, that is, the Heart. And that is actually what I hope and expect from the viewers of my art – let your heart fly into hitherto unknown dimensions and spheres, find new things to feel, express and think about.

 

 Spring greetings from the Palazzo Covero, 26.4.2008

 

 Ari Kovero

 

 PS. If you’d like to see the hundreds of paintings in between these two, please go to www.arikovero.fi

 

 (- This text was written for our Graduation exhibition, May 8th-31st, 2008, in the Suomenlinna Jetty Barracks Gallery, a sea fortress off Helsinki)

 

 

 

A Wedding Invitation

 

 Most Illustrious Reader,

 In the Beginning, there was a Being so Amazing and Perfect that He in Himself was everything - Life, Joy, Truth and Eternity! He even encompassed what we have learned to call the Masculine and the Feminine in Himself, and yet He taught us to call Him Father, for there is always a certain order to things, which You maybe have noticed. No one else was needed for anything; He was Absolute Perfection.
 Yet, as this Being also was Love, He wanted to and so had two Sons - one from Eternity to Eternity was His Heavenly Son; another one he created here on Earth and this was His Earthly Son.
 Oh, and I forgot to tell You: Just as a prelude to the Earthly Son, He created an entire Universe in passing!



 As both these Sons were Perfect in a way that we cannot even begin to comprehend and encompassed both what we call the Masculine and the Feminine in themselves, the Father's plan was to eventually bring them together in a way that is beyond our understanding.

 But before that, something needed to be done. The Perfect Being saw that it was not good for the Earthly Son to be alone on Earth, so He put Him to sleep and created another Being from his side. Thus, The Perfect Being, Our Father, split up us humans in what we have learned to call Man and Woman, Masculine and Feminine. The New Being was called Mother of All Those Who Live and the Earthly Son was very happy to make her acquaintance! ;-)




 The Father wanted both of them to become His Perfect Reflections and live in Perfect Union with Him and with each other. Eventually, as we shall see later in this story, it seems that it was the Father's plan to bring them into a Union with Heaven in a way that they could not even dream of in the beginning!
 - But, first they needed to be tested in their sincerity towards the Father, of course!

 I am sad to tell you, Most Illustrious Reader, that the Earthly Son and His Wife failed the test and it turned out that they wanted everything done in their own way and at their own pace, not in the way the Father wanted it - the Father who of course knew better as You and I understand. The Earthly Son and His Wife chose to believe and follow the Dragon, who promised there was a magic, instant way of becoming like the Father, without needing a Relationship with Him; all this just by eating fruit from The Tree That Was Wonderful to Look At But Which In Fact Brought Death And Separation.
 Instead of becoming like the Father as the Dragon had promised, the Earthly Son and His Wife were instantly filled with Shame that they were Naked and a War started between them - the Earthly Son even called her 'The Bad One' instead of 'Wife'! And they were split in two even within themselves - yes, even into smaller and smaller parts - so no longer was even their inner being, their masculinity and femininity within, in balance. The Man and his Wife were not the true complements to each other any longer; they started to compare themselves with each other, compete with each other and suppress and war against each other; they wanted to be independent of each other and and yet rule each other; they were sadistic and masochistic to each other and dependent on each other in a perverted way - it was like a cat and dog tied by their tails at the worst times!



 In short, at their worst times, they became diametrically opposed to each other; the Bad Tree that promised so much yet delivered so little became for them the Very Symbol of their conflict with each other, with the Father and within themselves - maybe you have seen that symbol before:



 They had to leave the Lovely Garden where the Father had put them so that they would not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Living Forever and thus be eternally in this sad state. Now they experienced Thorns, Thistles, Separation, War and Death and the Dragon, now turned Serpent because the Father had cut off its legs as a punishment for its deceit, ruled over them. So it was truly a far cry from being like the Father as they had hoped!

 The Father did however not leave them to their own devices in this sad state. To the Mother of All Those Who Live especially He said that she would one day bear a Son who would crush the Serpent's head. So, the Serpent started to kill the Wife's seed so that that would never happen.

 Much later fhe Father called a Man, later called the Father of Many, from the Land Between the Rivers and commanded Him to move to The Very Special Land by the Great Sea Between the Continents. From this man the Father miraculously brought forth a Son who in turn had Two Sons one of whom had Twelve Sons from whom a people came whom the Father taught that one day the all Enmity, even that between the Man and the Woman, would end. He gave them a Symbol consisting of the symbols of the Male and the Female, of Masculine and Feminine put on top of each other in Perfect Harmony and Balance as a Star shining forever so that they should never forget that. Maybe you have seen that Symbol before:



 The Father also promised them that one day His Heavenly Son would lead them to the Tree of Living Forever and He gave them a Symbol of the Tree so that they would never to forget that either. Maybe you have seen that symbol before:



 Many, many years later, there was a Daughter of the First Wife who was asked by a Heavenly Messenger whether She would like to become the Mother of the Father's Heavenly Son. Fortunately for us all, She agreed and so we honour Her to this Day, for She became the New Mother of All Those Who Live. She is greatly favoured among Women (and Men!):

 The Theotokos of Konevitsa, on of the most important icons of Finland; about 1380, now in the Valamo monastery, Heinävesi, Finland - the icon is considered miracle-working

  The Heavenly Son was thus born to Earth and lived among us, just like You, Most Illustrious Reader, and I, yet only a few recognized who He was. He wanted to show everyone the Way to Become like the Father and the Way to the Tree of Living Forever. In those days however almost everyone had forgotten about it all and so many laughed at the Heavenly Son; they wanted to be 'more practical', as they called it. Some people disliked the Heavenly Son so much that they wanted to kill Him. Amazingly enough, the Father allowed Him to be put to sleep through their hands. Before that, the Father even allowed the Heavenly Son to be nailed on the Very Symbol of the Enmity of Mankind and the Father, of Man and Woman, of Man and Man and of Woman and Woman in order to End All Conflict through Him for those who wanted it. Maybe you have seen that Symbol before:



 There, on that Tree, his side was pierced and from there a New Being sprang to Life by the miraculous powers of the Father. This was the Heavenly Son's Future Bride called Ecclesia. The Heavenly Son was allowed to taste Death for Three Days but was then brought back to Life, for Death could not keep the Perfect Heavenly Son. When the Heavenly Son thus walked out of His Grave He was first met by a Woman of Earth as a promise of His Future Bride. Maybe you have heard of Her before:



 Then the Heavenly Son went back to the Father. The Bride, Ecclesia, remained here on Earth and She was truly the Daughter of the Father of Many from the Land Between the Rivers. Now She has in fact been on Earth for almost 2,000 years, and She has been persecuted by the Serpent, but through it all She has been patient for She knows that One Day the Heavenly Son will come to Her rescue and She will be forever with Him on Earth. (You would however not like to hear what will happen to the Serpent when the Heavenly Son returns...) Just like the Heavenly Son, Ecclesia has also tasted Death and near The End she will be put almost totally to sleep but She will then wake up to be a Perfect Bride for the Heavenly Son.Through this perfect Union of them She will become completed and no longer be in disharmony or a half only - all to the Joy and Glory of the Father. For all this is what He had planned!

 We do not know how or when this is all going to happen, but we believe it will be soon - this the Heavenly Son has told us. I am sure you would like to join, for we know that the Wedding will take place in the City of Peace in the Very Special Land by the Great Sea between the Continents:

 


PS. There are two extra bonuses just to entice you to come along:

- The Heavenly Son and the Bride will rule the World, and
- She will be able to eat from the Tree of Living Forever so there will be no end to their Kingdom!

So Welcome to the Greatest Wedding Ever!

 



On this day of 14th of February, St.Valentine's Day, A.D. 2007
In the Palazzo Covero, Töölö, Helsinki, Finland,

Ari Kovero
 

I am greatly indebted to my Dear Friend Dr.Graham Turner of Turku,Finland and Bournemouth, England for our enjoyable and exciting detective work together in history, linguistics, philosophy, theology, literature and archeology over many, many years to be able to tell You, Most Illustrious Reader, this Fantastic Story. And who knows, maybe it is actually true...
 

 

ARTISTIC STATEMENT


 

One of expressions of the impasses that the Western mind has gotten itself into, revolting as it is against its own roots and yet seeking some solid foundation in the four corners of the Globe, can be seen in modern art. There is an obsession with novelty – new tricks, as it were (which are really not cutting it, for the most part) – whereas the philosophical contents of the works are definitely lagging behind, or are even non-existent. Furthermore, there seems to be a celebration of nihilism (what a contradiction of terms!) or then an escapism into the trivial or the tricky. Or then we have the socalled shock-jocks, a phenomen rather yawnful even at its inception with Marcel Duchamps Fountain of 1916-17. It has become naïve and uncomfortably pas-comme-il-faut to even ask what a work means or what content is has. Yes, there might be some new interesting points of view in the works, but for the most part, I find that Western modern art does not address the eternal questions that torment and lead us into greater depth and authenticity as human beings – being our real selves. Such questions as

 

-          Who are we?

-          Where do we come from?

-          Why are we here?

-          Where will we go?

-          Why do we suffer?

-          Where does evil come from?

 

 It might sound preposterous to even attempt to address, let alone to answer these questions, yet, this is exactly what philosophers and artists of greater depth of all ages have always attempted to do; for philosophy/theology and art are truly a married couple. These people have indeed endeavoured to find and express a holistic worldview in their works, a cosmology and a creed of the origin, present state and the goal of humanity – an anathema or even something ridiculous and naïve for most modern artists, as the culture as a whole has nothing to believe in but maximum pleasure for most people NOW! Yes, the tricolor of the French Revolution - égalité, fraternité, liberté - has in fact become quite contentless in a materialistic, hedonistic culture.

 

 In my works, I do not attempt to answer these questions directly; rather, I treat them in a sort of roundabout way. Having lived about a quarter of my life abroad – in places as different as Helsinki and Vienna or Israel and San Francisco or Turkey and London, I have been faced with many personal/existential and philosophical/theological dilemmas – having a deep heart and broad head hasn’t alleviated the matter [sic!]. In particular, I have had to face a lot of suffering, both physical and mental. That is perhaps why, as many say, there is an immediacy and urgency to my art; even a sort of flatness, as some critics say, as being pressed against a glass or a window – for suffering is a ‘problem’ that has to be faced in the here and now and on an existential and personal level; it is not enough to give academic or aesthetic answers, although as a University of Vienna-educated art historian I might be qualified to do so. Rather, suffering drags the above-mentioned questions into the bullfighting arena of Life (experience the work Nameless Pain, in the category The World According to Ari Kovero, painting #0140) and they have to be faced and answered at least in a satisfactory way so that one can cope in the present tense, in the here and now. This battle has been my ‘privilege’ in life, one that I have often tried to avoid and have indeed often hated. This heartwrenching has also meant that the ‘hypothesis that [the West] no longer has need for’ (the famous quote by Napoleon’s contemporary, the phycisist/cosmologist Pierre-Simon Laplace) as a reality and explanation for Life has marched right into the arena of my heart, whether I have liked it or not. The Unspeakable, the Unmentionable, the Numinous. The One that for the sake of political correctness I have been obliged to relegate to a footnote even in this text…..[1]

 

 Thus, my art does not spring from academic philosophical considerations or aesthetic tricks or a quest for novelty (I believe the basic questions and answers are far too important not to have been dealt with already by the ancients over and over again) but rather from a necessity to express my story by painting in the midst of the life-and-death struggle of my existence. That does not mean that my art could and would not include novelties, but they serve the purposes I have expressed here. Through my art, I have indeed come out of the closet and gone public in more ways than one because I believe that the intensely personal and real is also universal – in fact I have had to do so, whether I have liked it or not, for art has literally exploded out of me. I am indeed intensely grateful that my works have been embraced by art-lovers in no less than 14 countries. What our individual crosses in life happen to be and how intensely they rub into the soft flesh of our hearts is perhaps not important – the important thing is that being ‘God’s megaphone’ (C.S.Lewis), suffering drags us out of a superficial and pleasure-dominated postmodern Western culture into the mudwrestling of Real Life where you and I, with an intensity that varies from day to day, have a invitation and possibility, yes, indeed a vocation to become real human beings so that we can look ourselves in the eyes in the mirror in the morning and so that we can be just that: real human beings, to each other – a task that I confess to miserably failing most days.

 

-          All in the spirit of the Mysterious 828, sort of a creed of mine since many years – feel free to ask me what I mean by it……. ;-)

 

  

 Ari Kovero

 In the Palazzo Covero, Töölö, Helsinki, Finland, 10th October, 2006

 

 

[1] I am of course talking about God.

 

 

 

"By what power...?" or Sources of Inspiration

 

 Many times we artists are asked, 'What is the inspiration for you work and where do you get the ideas from?' Here I will attempt to answer this question as far as my art is concerned.

 

 It seems to me and to many that somehow we artists are funnels for all kinds of things we see and hear and then all that is filtered through our personality and experiences and voilà, you have art. (In fact, did you know that the originally Greek concept of idea literally means 'I saw'?) That at least seems to be the modern way of thinking; art is a personal, and at most, a collective, expression.

 Well, I believe you need a little bit more than that to be truly creative.

 

 The ancients already were wise enough to realize that an artist needs a source of inspiration, something to prompt him, that special spark to kiss him into works of art, as it were, from outside or beyond himself. This they called a genius or a muse and it was in the former sense understood to be a spiritual source (which in a modern 'enlightened' sense of a Universe emptied of its spiritual connections and aspects placed the source of inspiration inside the artist himself, and he thus became an Artist, in some cases called outright a Genius) and in the latter sense another person, wherein the relationship itself was seen as being inspirational.

 

 When one walks in the moonlit dark and mysterious night in Africa, for example, as I recently had the privilege of doing on my exhibition trip to Marrakesh, Morocco, where the sky is so HUGE and spacious and the stars and the moon (which at the time I was there went through a total eclipse) are somehow much higher than the sky here in Finland, one simply cannot help wondering where this all came from, or in my case, Who on earth (or rather, outside the Universe!) designed all this!

 

 It might be puzzling to many that the Bible never goes into much of an apology in terms of explaining why there should be a God or into the whole discussion of whether atheism or theism or deism is the most likely alternative, a discussion which we are so used to today - or rather to the 'established fact' of atheism, I should say.... (Elsewhere in these pages you can acquaint yourself with Christian apologetics.) Was it so that the ancients were so foolish and uninformed compared to us? Rather, it seems to me that the Book of books is shameless about its straightforwardness and frankness about the matter for other reasons:

 

 "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth..." (Genesis 1:1)

 

 No explanation, no apology, no nothing. Why such boldness?! Well, from our perspective we can assume there are alternatives how it could be, a God or not, but from the point of view of Factual Reality that the High Inspirer of the Book possesses par excellence, there is only one conclusion:

 

 "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God'"  (Psalm 14:1)

 

 Why? Well, in an entire Universe simply screaming the opposite and also with the help of the Book given to us which tells us the same, the fool in spite of this says in his heart, 'Everything that is came about through no cause at all, all that happens is by chance and no one upholds the whole show'. If that is so, why then trust the chance contents of the chemical processes inside one's head, the brain, one might ask...?

 

 I do not plan to be among the modern-day choir of fools, which in its monotousness is actually rather touching, if the whole thing were not so tragic. No, united with the Church throughout the ages I put my money, or rather much, much more; my life, on the Fact that there is a God. This is what the apostles preached and this the Church's claim to Absolute Truth led it into clash with the World and this the Church's valiant martyrs were prepared to offer their lives for. 

 - Or just imagine them going into the Roman Colosseum to be eaten alive by lions thinking that 'it is just my personal subjective belief there is a God, but I know my atheist friends are equally right in their faith...'

 

                                                               ----

 

 "By what power are you doing these things and what is your authority?"

 

 This Jesus was asked by the Pharisees at one time. At that time He did not tell them straight out, for it's never worth throwing pearls to the swine or answering the questions of those who are insincere; but of course I assume better of you, my Dear Reader. ;-)

 

 Therefore, as a Christian it is my preposterous and ah, so sweetly politically-incorrect claim that

 

 "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."  (Genesis 1:2)

 

 - In this case, it is me who is truly formless and empty and covered by darkness....

 

 

 In the Palazzo Covero, on this day of 27 April, 2007,

Ari Kovero

 

 

ARTISTIC AND PHILOSOPHICAL TESTAMENT

(To be opened only after the artist's death - by which stage I hope to be wearing this:)

 

 

 


 

 

The Crown of Finland, Jalokivigalleria, Kemi, Finland - here used as a generic symbol for what all victorious Finnish Christians might have to look forward to...