Recent events have underscored the tension between freedom and authority, manifest in competing concerns over personal autonomy and communal wealth fare, warring political ideologies, and an increasing confusion over the meaning of personhood. This essay is founded by the conviction that Saint Sophrony (1896–1993) offers to our own generation a unique answer to these dilemmas.
The author begins with an examination of the meaning of personhood in the context of autonomous technologies, informed by such authors as Matthew Crawford, Shoshana Zuboff, Ivan Illich, and Fyodor Dostoevsky. The essay continues with a study of personhood as expressed by saints Silouan (1866–1938) and Sophrony. Based on a definition of personhood in which the freedom of the other is tantamount, the paradox existing between freedom and obedience is examined, the failure of current political systems to bring a balance to this tension, and the unique answer presented by Saint Sophrony is then presented. Following is a survey of how this solution is carried out in the practical realms of religious life: in the sacrament of confession and in the relationship between a bishop, his priests, and his flock.
Prompted by concrete realities which—in the wake of covid-19—forced abstract questions on the nature of personal freedom and obedience to authority into pressing, practical concerns, Freedom & Obedience is an essay which struggles to make out the narrow way between conflicting ideas and loyalties. In doing so, it asks difficult questions of both individuals and institutions and, at the same time, invites further discussion.
(1) Algorithms & Anthropology
(2) Liberty & Personhood
(3) Freedom & Obedience
(4) Freedom & Obedience in the Sacrament of Confession
(5) Fathers & Despots
Paperback. 80 pages.
Mikel Hill is an Orthodox priest (OCA) and serves as the managing editor of St. Tikhon's Monastery Press. He is a graduate of St. Tikhon's Seminary where he wrote his master's thesis on Saint Sophrony's teachings on Godforsakeness under the direction of Dr. Christopher Veniamin.
Note: Freedom & Obedience is published by the author personally, and is therefore not a publication of St. Tikhon's Monastery Press. STM Press wholesale discounts are nonetheless applicable to this title.
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