Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh



My dear children,
This is the time to talk about Christian education from Cappadocia, the idea that Holy Trinity is to be meditated apon.

'After the Council of Nicea (325), some Christians began to fall out of love with their emperors;
Roman belligerance had infiltrated the Church. An originally irenic vision turned into a campaign of violence.
Christian and pagan aristocrats, however, still shared a common culture that did much to mitigate the agression among the upper classes.
Throughout the empire, young noblemen and talented individuals of humble birth were inducted into a formation / education (paedeia) dating from ancient times. It was not a purely academic programme, though it was intelectually rigourous, but was primarily an initiation that shaped the behaviour of the ruling class and profoundly moulded their attitudes. As a result, wherever they travelled in the empire, they found that they could relate to their peers. Paedeia was an important antidote to the violence of the late Roman society, where slaves were regularly beaten to death, where the flogging of social inferiors was perfectly acceptable.
A truly cultivated Roman was unfailingly courteous and self-controlled, since anger, vituperative speech and agressive gestures  were unbecoming to a gentleman, who was expected to yield graciously to others and behave at all times with restraint, calm and gravitas.
Because of paedeia, the old religion remained an integral part of late Roman culture and its ethos was also absorbed into the life of the Church, where young men brought these attitudes with them to the baptismal font; some even saw paedia as an indispensable preparation for Christianity:
'With  measured words, I learn to bridge rage', the Cppadocian bishop Gregory of Nazianzus (329 - 90) told his congregation. His friends, Basil, bishop of Caesarea (330 - 79) and Gregory, bishop of Nyssa (331 - 95, Basil's younger brother, were not bapsised until after they had completed  this traditional training.

The restraint of paedea also informed the doctrine of the Trinity, which these three men, often known as the Capadocian Fathers, developed towards the end of the Arian crisis. They had been uneasy about these disputed, both sided of which had been strident and had cultivated an inappropriate certainty about these ineffable matters.
The Cappadocians practised the silent, reticent prayer designed by Evagrius of Pontus in part to strip the mind of such angry dogmatism. They knew that it was imposible to speek about God as we speek about ordinary matters and the Trinity was designed firstlty to help Christians realise that what we call God lies beyond the reach of words and concepts. 
But they would also introduce Christians to a meditation on the Trinity that would help them to develop attitudes of restraint in their own lives that would counter aggressive and bellicose intolerance.
In the New Testament, the Jewish term of God, had referred to the human experience of the power and presence of God, which could never measure up to the divine reality itself. The Trinity was an attempt to translate this Jewish insight into Hellenistic idiom.
God, the Cappadocians explained, had one inaccessible essence (ousia) that was totally beyond the reach of the human mind, but it had been made known to us by three manifestations (hypostases):
- the Father (source of being),
- the Logos (in the man Jesus) and
- the Spirit that we encounter within ourseves.
Each 'person' (from the Latin persona, meaning 'mask') of the Trinity was merely a partial glimpse of the divine ousia that we could never comprehend.
The Cappadocians introduced converts to the Trinity in a meditation, which reminded them that the divine could never be encapsulated in a dogmantic formula. Constantly repeated, this meditation taught Christians that there was a kenosis at the heart of the Trinity, since the Father ceaselessly emptied himself, transmitting everything to the Logos. Once that Word had been spoken, the Father no longer had an 'I' but remained eternally silent and unknowable. The Logos likewise had no self of its own but was simply the 'You' of the Father, while the Spirit was the 'We' of Father and Son.
The Trinity expressed the paedeia's values of restraint, deference and self-abnegatio, with which the more aristocratic bishops countered the new Christian stridency. Other bishops, alas, were all too ready to embrace it' (Karen Armstrong, Fields of Blood).

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