08 May 2011
The Love of Truth
A letter from Fr. Seraphim, when he was an university student, answering his parents' concern why he is abandoning his academic career.
by Eugene Rose
A hot day -- too much like summer for San Francisco. I finally finished the thesis and turned it in last Friday, but they don't get around to sending out the degrees until September, for some reason. For the time being I'm still involved in Chinese things, as I'm helping my former Chinese professor [Prof. G. Ming Shen] translate an article [from Chinese] on Chinese philosophy for a philosophical journal. The hypocrisy of the academic world is nowhere more evident than in his case. He knows more about Chinese philosophy than probably anyone else in the country, and studied with real Chinese philosophers and sages in China; but he can't get a job in any college here because he doesn't have degrees from American colleges, and because he isn't a fast talker - he's too honest, in short.
It's true that I chose the academic life in the first place, because God gave me a mind to serve Him with, and the academic world is where the mind is supposed to be used. But after eight or nine years I know well enough what goes on in the universities. The mind is respected only by a few of the "old fashioned" professors, who will soon have died out. For the rest, it's a matter of making money; getting a secure place in life -- and using the mind as a kind of toy, doing clever tricks with it and getting paid for it, like circus clowns. The love of truth has vanished from people today; those who have minds have to prostitute their talents to get along. I find this difficult to do, because I have too great a love of truth, The academic world for me is just another job; but I am not going to make myself a slave to it. I am not serving God in the academic world; I am just making a living. If I am going to serve God in this world, and so keep from making my life a total failure, I will have to do it outside the academic world. I have some money saved up, and the promise of some more by doing a little work, so I should be able to live frugally for a year doing what my conscience tells me I should do -- to write a book on the spiritual condition of man today, about which, by God's grace, I have some knowledge. The book* will probably not sell, because people would rather forget about the things I am going to say; they would rather make money than worship God.
It is true that this is a mixed up generation. The only thing wrong with me is that I am NOT mixed up, I know only too well what the duty of man is: to worship God and His Son and to prepare for the life of the world to come, NOT to make ourselves happy and comfortable in this world by exploiting our fellow man and forgetting about God and His Kingdom.
If Christ were to walk in this world today, do you know what would happen to Him? He would be placed in a mental institution and given psycho-therapy, just as would the saints. The world would crucify Him today just as it did 2000 years ago, for the world has not learned a thing, except more devious forms of hypocrisy. And what would happen, if, in one of my classes at the university, I would one day tell my students that all the learning of this world is of no importance beside the duty of worshipping God, accepting the truth -- but men hate the truth, and that is why they would gladly crucify Christ again if he came amidst them.
I am a Christian, and I am going to try to be an honest Christian. Christ told s to give all our money away and follow Him. I am very far from doing this. But I am going to try to take no more money than I need to live on; if I can earn this by working a year or two at a time in a university, all right. But the rest of my time I am going to try to serve God with the talents He has given me. This year I have the chance to do this, so I shall do it. My professor, being a Russian [the love of God seems to be more deeply imbedded in the Russians than in other peoples] has not tried to talk me out of leaving the academic world for a year; he knows too well that the love of truth, the love of God, is infinitely more important than the love of security, of money, of fame.
I can only follow my conscience; I cannot be false to myself.
*As we know, the book, The Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Man, was started but never completed.
...And Fr. Seraphim never did return to the academic world.