When I first returned to Australia after being ordained – perhaps unusually, by an Orthodox Metropolitan in a Roman Catholic Church in Edinburgh, Scotland – a friend, with whom I had long been involved in a variety of social justice causes, expressed cynicism and not a little sadness at my new status. So, she said, you’ve decided to flee the city for the desert? It is almost inevitable that Orthodoxy will be seen as a museum, albeit offering an attractive and colourful display, of Christianity frozen in some far distant time and place, perhaps in the romanticized desert monasticism drawing equally on the style of Disneyworld and Cecil B. De Mille. Of course, it is seen to have little relevance in the modern city.
As one eminent Orthodox theologian reminds us:
The desert is a profound myth. It is a powerful symbol. These fourth-century elders are reminders of fundamental…
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