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Monday, June 10, 2013

Patriarch Kirill and the Internet

We've talked about internet porn here before.  When this article came up, I thought it would be interesting to discuss:

Here's a quote:

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia reportedly described the Internet as a hotbed of sin and temptation, and said that monks who forsake worldly pleasures in real life should do likewise on the Internet.
However, speaking at the Zograf Monastery at Mount Athos, he also urged priests, who live in the community and are allowed to marry, to use the Internet more actively in the course of their holy mission, Russian media reported.
A later clarification was issued stating that the Patriarch was not implying that monks were watching porn.  What he was talking about was the bigger issue.
We tend to focus on the 'sin' of the internet in terms of just porn, but I think the problem is more significant.  The internet has been very helpful is playing into one of the major symptoms of addiction: impatience.
The internet makes everything available to us virtually instantaneously.  We have no time to think or to even process what we are seeing and reading.  I have watched internet religious forums explode with fire as people read too quickly and misunderstand what others wrote, only to turn a mole-hill into Mt. Everest.  I've even done it a few times myself.
We send an email and expect an instant response.  Smart-phones make this even worse.
Monks are supposed to slow down and examine their thoughts.  How can they when they get on the internet?
Yet, the Church needs to have an internet presence, because this is where the people are.  We married clergy are expected to dive into battles that monks cannot.  We usually assume that monks are superior in all ways to lay people.  Honest monks will tell you that this is far from the case: most monks will tell you that they can't handle the temptations that the average Christian struggles with.
It is not about who is better or more authentic.  It is about helping people.  Monks help people in their own way that is unique to them, and likewise for married clergy.
And, BOTH need to be careful with the internet.  The only real difference is that married clergy are already battling with the world and cannot avoid the internet as another 'front' in the campaign.  It is a fast-pitched fight here in the modern world.
Monks don't need to tear down their carefully-honed skills of patience.  In fact, they would do us all a favor by avoiding the internet so we can see what real patience looks like.  All of us must be cautious in discerning when we are operating out of impatience or merely trying to keep up with this fast-pace world.

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