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Father Jonathan:

Regarding your phrase, "Memory was given over to nostalgia," is it possible to rehabilitate the idea of nostalgia? After all, as far as the 'Oxford English Dictionary' tells me, the word is etymologically linked with the Greek "nostos" ("return home") and "algos" ("pain"). Can we see nostalgia, then, as a yearning for Paradise, for the City, a yearning that is utterly Christian? Moreover, do memory and nostalgia have to oppose one another in our modern dichotomy, dividing a whole into two, mutually exclusive parts? I look forward to your apologia. Thank you, again.

Father Jonathan:

Yesterday, on a whim, I checked out Peggy Seeger's record 'Take Me Home' from the public library. On it, I found two folk songs ("Molly Bond", "O The Wind And Rain") that speak to your post's concerns, especially regarding folkways. "Molly Bond", for instance, speaks of a lie said to cover up an accident, and "O The Wind And Rain" speaks of truth heard to expose a murder. It seems to me--and I'm coming at folk music as a songwriter, not an academic--that folk music, its concerns and topics, dwelt on love, death, and the reality that blood runs thicker than water--that is to say, familial ties. These are topics that are in short supply in contemporary popular music: like all good things, one has to go underground and find the heart of the music. Thank you for this post and the conversation it continues.

Dear Fr. Jonathan:

I look forward to hearing more about your thoughts on "is it possible to be agrarian and Orthodox?"

I suspect your thrust will be different, but I believe as long as we don't seek to create some programmme of Orthodox Christian Agrarianism, but rather keep "agrarian" in its proper place, we might do well.

At least, these were my little thoughts on that matter, more in response to seeing the number of [Protestant] Christian Agrarians in the blogosphere, and finding some things likeable about the people, but some things bothersome about the idea.

http://forty-days-in-the-desert.blogspot.com/2008/11/am-i-agrarian.html#links

Fear certainly, is hard to muster for many! It is my observation that it is hard to connect distraction and sin in the age of information.

But the writer(s) of Unseen Warfare say that the enemy first hits us with 'empty' thoughts, i.e. innocuous things so we are distracted, and only then do the passionate ones begin.

Thanks for the response. I try to not give an either/or for situations where it clearly isn't 'either/or'.


Reader John, time was when I used to live in the country. I, too, am now an Urbanist. Ill deal more with Christianity and urbanity in Localities, part 3).

Father Jonathan:

Sometimes you lose me, but this wasn't on of those times.

But I hesitate to affect agrarianism, as I'm a city boy and time is running out for me to become a country boy. God loves the city, too, and the Front Porch has plenty of room for New Urbanists and other localist limit-lovers.

Reader John
Fellow Front Porcher

Garth, since you presented me with a nice multiple choice, I would choose "indifferent."

There is a Christian ethic that governs communication, whether it is by sandwich board, marquee, smoke signal, sealing-waxed missives, telegraph, telephone, email, Facebook, MySpace or just yelling down the stairs. All things should be said for edification and love. Talk should be done nobly, articulately, charitably. Beauty and goodness should redound in speech. The message should not be confounded by the medium. Communication should be expressed in sentences, and should carry thought, not opinion or histrionics.

It should stop when there is nothing to say.

Our problem is that communication never stops, and our world has had nothing to say for a long time.

In particular, the social networking agencies on the Internet seem to incite pornographic exhibitions of fetid minds and unclothed skin.

An Orthodox person can use these sites if he prays, remains afraid, and practices charity and courtesy. The cyber-agora is a world of buffoonery and spite.

Fr. Jon, this is perhaps beside your general point, but what is your thought about the so-called 'social media' on the intertubes these days?

Bad, good, indifferent? I tend to think that while excessive involvement is almost always an evil, one should at least 'show up on the map' as it were. It is one thing to recognize the futility of Mars Hill, it is another to go or not go to speak with the areopagites. And it is of course a third to think that they're really on to something up there.

Methinks there is a proper way to speak and act on the internet, which places the proper limits on what can be rampant insanity, distraction and misinformation.

Your thoughts are appreciated.

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