Gorazd Kocijančič

The American administration described the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as the act of war. Various experts promptly provided us with the explanation that the “new” terrorism differs from the “old” one in the fact that it strives for horrifying effects without paying much attention to the semantics of this act. The old terrorism was, according to them, a horrifying means of communication, the new one just opts for the immediate effect and, therefore, merits military retaliation. The declaration of war against Afghanistan, the Western scapegoat, is thus a logical consequence of such an understanding of terror.
However, such distinctions are far from being wise and accurate. It should not be ignored that this act of Muslim terrorism has an immanently symbolic meaning. It effectively calls death and transitoriness to the minds of American people – and with them Eternity, infinity of unique God and the reality of life after death. Osama bin Laden is not a lunatic but a person of a specific prayer. This fighter for faith, to whom life was generous in every way, was forced by this generosity to radically confront his existence with the question of “meaning” which transcends everything. Osama bin Laden’s answer to this question was faith, total abandonment to Absolute. And total abandonment demands the spreading of the message. Conversion of the infidels. Even for the price of one’s own life or the price of their lives. This devotion makes Muslim spirituality admirable. Its truth is hidden in this perfect devotion to the One. However, this transcendence which answers the belligerent Islamic search for the meaning is a transcendence without a person. A killing, murderous transcendence. The truth transformed into Evil.
On the other hand, the American “spirituality”, which the twin towers symbolically personified, is in fact attempting to live humanism without Transcendence. “God”, of course, does dwell on the margins of American national identity – one should not forget that 90% of Americans consider themselves religious. However, the otherness of God, the reality of eternity, the reality of life after death disintegrate within the lifestyle of a permissive, recreated, shallow and consumer-oriented America – in the lifestyle propagated by America’s self-represetations in the media. “Faith” is just a framework for various human experiments: it manifests itself either as a complete dedication to work or as pure hedonism. A person is – as already according to Protagoras – the measure for everything. And the fear of death remains hidden deeply in everyone. Repugnance to the Other. The spirituality of various Christian churches is thus much too often only an instrumental supplement to this anthropocentrism.
Each side has its own truth. And both are profoundly fake, unreal in their own isolation. The future of humanity depends on the fact whether we will be able to outgrow this opposition between the murderous Transcendence and the humanity without openness for Eternity, for infinite Secret.
The only way that can lead us somewhere is to create a synthesis between the acceptance of everyone and their capacity, their freedom and the right for self-definition – a synthesis which is at the same time not afraid of death and therefore lives in radical abandonment to Infinite and believes in incomprehensible eternity, in defeated death.
Such spirituality is not a privilege of only one culture, civilisation or religion. It does not need to be discovered. It can be found in Taoism and Buddhism, in Islamic Sufism, in Shiite mysticism and Hebrew devotion. It can be found in great literatures of all cultures. It lives in the highest peaks of pagan antiquity and in the spiritual wells of the Christian East and West. It could be found everywhere where the seeds of Logos are sown.
This issue of the electronic journal Logos consists mainly of different papers presented at the international conference on the legacy of Russian religious thought, i.e. on the current of thought that bequeathed so many things that can help us live such “God/man-like” spirituality. The papers treat many different topics, so it might seem, at first, difficult to bring them to a common denominator, however, a closer look reveals that they all try to evoke the otherness of Absolute that allows a person to exist and live its humanity and its freedom in full. Such a synthesis was once personified in the West in the life of St. Francis and in the Middle East in the spirituality of Desert Mothers.
This synthesis undoubtedly also still engenders contemporary creativity: Logos is proud to present the poetry of a young Slovene poet Primož Čučnik and paintings by Jožef Muhovič.