Reaching out to Youth through Modern Venues Part II: The Christian Message Lives On
I had left my last blog post, Reaching Youth through Modern Venues Part I, with a notion that Orthodox history could be used to generate ideas about how the youth of today could be strengthened by Christian values. I am in no way going to begin by asserting that the Orthodox Church struggled more or less than any other Christian organization throughout history. It’s well known that the evil which attempted to destroy the general Christian population has existed ever since the crucifixion of Christ until even today. The Rwanda Massacre in the 1990’s, and current oppression in not just Africa but middle-eastern countries, is enough evidence of the continual assault of sinful acts on the pious. The reason I am using the examples of the Orthodox Church is because they – in my opinion – allude to the existence of blessings in disguise: where opportunity lies in the least likely place one would suspect. If detected in advance, a Christian [youth] could use these situations to not only survive but also continue to live their life for the Lord. As I said in one of my other recent posts, How to Get Through Your Day Job Using “Secular” Gifts, there are times when God allows for certain situations to occur and one must rise above and see it as an occasion to not give up the fight. This could be in as small of a scenario as a troubling encounter at work, or part of a much grander, epic event that will remain in the archives of world history.
Some of the more recent examples (recent if taking into consideration a span of about 2,000 years) bring us to the early twentieth century. Take the Russian Church during the time of the Communist rule as the first example. The various bishops that served to lead the Church during a time of suppression, who were subjected to torture and even death, were in a very awkward situation. Having to satisfy the government’s demands and give into various pressures was not easy – a total understatement. Concessions or statements were required of them – and these were the easiest of the demands placed on the keepers of the Russian Church… but how could this be accomplished without damaging or changing the central message of the Church? Tactfully so, in the wisdom of those who led the Church, the right words and decisions were in fact made. A little statement here, a minor decree or concession there – and so the Church survived and, although suffering heavy losses, saw the end of the Soviet Union and in the 1990’s was ultimately freed of the heavy chains (although intimidation still continued to some degree). So we see that it was not that the approval of communism ever was granted, but rather a successful effort was waged to protect the “fatherland” and preserve the Church.
Mt. Athos is another good example. Anytime I mention to someone that the monks there had asked a favor of Hitler, a look of disbelief is returned to me. But again, the Holy Spirit was guiding the Church – this time during World War II in Greece: it was revealed that through Hitler’s great ego they would be left untouched, and so he was flattered by the Holy Mountain asking for his protection during the war. He took this as a concession to his great strength and power. However, like the Russians dealing with their Communist government, it was not that they approved or consented in any way to the vicious acts that the devil worked in men, but rather that the greater good for His Church lied in the humility of the ascetics during those times. Total annihilation was avoided in both circumstances.
How can this be related to today? We are at war with sin; in order for us, and especially the youth, to prosper, one must take up the arms of virtue in terms that relate to the time period we are in. Modern times give us a fast paced culture that uses technology as its medium. The medium is not what is to blame. It is rather the one who uses the tool and how he or she uses it that is the real issue. And so an opportunity exists where the internet, computers, social media and the like can be used in a positive light. The Christian message can live in an environment where it would seem that only hate and evil can exist. You can write a fantasy and science fiction novel that is grounded in faith all while capturing a young mind using virtuous allegories granted to us by God. A teen can use a cell phone to make a video of their youth rally, and can chat in a forum that is linking them to others their age who love God with all their hearts. I know that that is my goal to use what is given to me: I’m not consumed by the computer that “keeps” me writing and browsing, blogging and searching. I’m not consumed by a curious imagination that “forces” me to ponder about what life could be like in the future and after this earth no longer has a place for us. I’m simply turning the table on the demons who are the consumers of souls, who take over many lives through tales of sorcery and online visions of hell. Each person whom we bring to His side is a victory to be had. My medium is not Hollywood, and I’m admittedly stuck with a handicap not being in the mainstream. And so I can see that the Prince of Darkness may steal a pawn, a rook, or even a queen. But in the end we know one thing: it will one day be check-mate and all that needs to be done until then is to use the tools given to us in our modern time (unless you have a metallic cylinder with a button to go back in time). Allow the message to survive for one more day.
Love in Christ,