The Arena
The Arena

Episode 560 · 10 months ago

God's Plan for Human Augmentation | Sunday of Saint Gregory Palamas


The Arena Podcast is the flagship of Patristic Nectar Publications and contains the Sunday Sermons and other theological reflections by Father Josiah Trenham delivered from the ambon of St. Andrew Church in Riverside, California and begun in 2010. Currently there are more than 550 sermons and lectures covering ten years worth of preaching through the liturgical calendar.

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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present a seven lecture series by Reverend Doctor Kalinique Burgher, entitled the Divine Identity of Christ. The highly esteemed Hiero monk scholar, father Kalinique sets forth the majestic and high Christology of the early church. In these lectures, Father Kaliginique refutes the secular criticisms of Orthodox Christology and reveals that Jesus himself taught his divine identity to his disciples, that the early church both honored and preached this High Christology and that this Christology is codified in the pages of the New Testament and the nicene creed. Along the way, he also reveals the vacuous secular quest for the historical Jesus, unpacks the historical theological witness about Jesus in the pre Nicene Church, through NICEA ephesus and to the fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon. Here is a feast of Faith for Christians, sure to illumine our hearts and minds concerning the deity of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ. For these and other titles. Please visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trenum, the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. Blessed Lord's Day to all of you, brothers and sisters, on the second Sunday of the great fast, The Sunday dedicated to St Gregory Polymas, I've entitled my homily this morning God's human augmentation. God's human augmentation. I get the last two words from a study that I recently read that was released by the British Ministry of war and the German Ministry of Defense. Together they have been collaborating on development, military development and technology development to augment human capabilities. What they mean these departments of defense, although that's not the greatest word of these days for our militaries, defense. What they mean is that they they're learning to shackle the advances of science to drive the engines of war. They want to make soldiers more lethal, more mobile and more survivable. These are their goals. Lethality, mobility, survivability. They want to do this by a collection of interesting new advances. It starts basically with the skill that has been acquired, our human ability... document the genome, to understand genes like we never could, so that we can develop what they call precision medicine, so a person who has a collection of weaknesses, a soldier who has a collected of weaknesses, we can know exactly how to treat this and that and this and that to make him less susceptible to disease, for instance on the battlefield. That also means targeting pharmaceutical development according to an individual person's genome, not just according to general sicknesses or something like that. Of course, it goes much farther than that. It also has to do with gene editing, altering the the genome such that even in the womb. So that's we can make better soldiers. We can make people who are more capable to be out in the deserts and less dependent upon thirst and able to use greater brain capacity. That includes brain interfaces, both invasive and noninvasive brain interfaces, such that the soldier's brain can be directly connected to the computers that drive the engines of war, enabling a soldier to do more at the same time, perhaps even to be able to order bullets to come or missiles to come without having to speak bioinformatics, powered exoskeletons. You all probably thought, like I naively did, that iron man and Jason Bourne was fantasy. It's not. This is just the kind of thing that these militaries are trying to do. In their minds, this technology is a must. It's a must. Why is it a must? Well, because other people are getting this type of technology. This is, then, their mind, why it's a must. Now they also have a whole section in their reports on ethics, which I found particularly fascinating. A whole section on ethics in which they basically said that this has to be done, whatever your ethics are, because it's going to be driven by national interest in the first country that shackles this capability is going to use it and therefore we must develop it. Of course, the last sentence as without compromising our values. Exactly what those values are was never mentioned in the document, except that they made an affirmation that values are inescapable, which is true. Values are inescapable, but change. I found that interesting also. They're inescapable, but but they change. Change. This is the vision of human augmentation that is driving science.

It's very much focused on the body. It's very much focused on the mind, it's very much focused on the earth. This is human augmentation from a secular perspective and it offers you the ability to kill people faster and more safely. For your side. We believers have a completely different mind and, especially on this Sunday, the Lord God sets before us his view, his intent for human augmentation. Your ambition as believers, your future, is not just so that you can think a little faster. I always find it fascinating that some of the most brilliant minds on the planet, people like Elon Musk, who, frankly, in the collage of Tech Titans that rule our world and collaboration with these tinpot autocrats in all of our countries that are basically running us these days. Of them all, I like him the most. I like him the most. They're all crazy. They're all crazy. None of them have any concept of reality that is in accord with reality. But what really gets me, what really gets me, is they think that human suffering will be eradicated if we can just use a greater percentage of our brain. The presupposition of that is that Elon Musk has a whole company dedicated to this called neural link. The the presupposition is that most of human suffering comes because we don't think fast enough. If we just thought a little faster, then we would not have so much human suffering. That concept, that presupposition, is rooted on a massive foundation of ignorance of human beings. Forgive me, but, having been a pastor for a long time, I still have yet to find a single pastoral catastrophe that could have been solved if the husband or wife or children could just think a little bit faster. Never seen one, never seen one. The problem is in here. The problem is here. The problem is the heart of men. The problem is our fallenness. The problem is sin. And it's not brilliance that conquer sin. It's faith in...

God. It's union with God that Conquers Darkness and sin in the human person. Our great need is not to become more leful, mobile and survivable. Our great need is to be united to God, and that's the witness of this Sunday. The Gospel lesson shows US Jesus in the process of augmenting human beings. Here's a man paralyzed surrounded by friends who love him. What a blessing what a blessing to have friends who love us to help us through our paralysis, and we all have it to some degree, don't we? They have one thing on their mind, deliverance from this terrible physical affliction for their friend, and they take drastic actions. These people are choice, these friends are precious. This is why you invest in friendships. Right here, because they do what you can't by yourself. They bring the man to Jesus so that he can get his his life back. I hope they didn't think what so many think today, that if you don't have health you don't have anything. That ridiculous phrase. It is so ridiculous it was actually put into the mouth of that ridiculous king in the movie Princess Bride. Well, if you don't have health, you don't have anything. Remember that line? Yeah, they put it in there because they were mocking it, because it is such utter stupidity. Health is important, for sure, but there's a lot of people who don't have health and they have a lot. It's a matter of fact. Some of the greatest people who have ever lived, some of the greatest saints, endured incredible health crises, crises that would have broken someone else, but in their cases, made them magnificent, revealed them as true treasures on the earth, because they had health of spirit, they had health of heart, and that was able, that enabled them to endure the cross of physical affliction, which is certainly coming, if we don't have it now, at certainly coming soon. You all know that this is guaranteed. Jesus looked at the man and he perceived his great need for augmentation and he granted it to him. But it wasn't what the friends had in mind. He saw the man and he perceived that what his greatest need was was freedom from sin. He had sins, they weren't forgiven, and Jesus looked at the man and said nothing about his histical condition. He said, my son, your sins are forgiven you. And then, to show that he had the power and authority to actually do the greater healing of the Interior Man and not just heal the body, then he also said to the man rise, get up...

...and go, and he healed a man completely body and soul, which is what the Lord is resolved to do for all of us, bring us to complete health of body and soul in the resurrection that's coming. This is what we anticipate. This is what we're looking forward to. Besides this Gospel text that shows us God's vision for augmenting humanity, we also have dedicated this Sunday to Saint Gregory Polymas. You might see the beautiful crown that the ladies made for him on top of his icon there in the holy place, and his icon in the back as well. St Gregory Paul Maas, let me remind you about his contribution to our vision of what God has for us in the future. Sat Gregory Polymas is one of our great recent fathers. What we mean by that is fourteen century, pretty recent as Christianity goes. He was born in two hundred and ninety six. His family had been living in Asia Minor, but remember this is the time of the ascendency of the Turks. This is about a hundred years before they were conquer Constantinople and they were coming across Asia minor and they were sacking our villages and slaughtering our people and enslaving our women. So his parents moved across that bridge and moved on to the eastern part of the European continent, where Constantinople is, and settled the family there in Constantinople, and so he was born raised in Constantinople. His Dad was a senator. His parents were so pious they were they were known for their piety. His father was known for being so deep in Hezarchastic prayer in Senate, in session that several times the emperor addressed him and he didn't hear him. He was using his prayer rope and in communion with God in session in the Senate. That was, I'm sure, a mistake that he regretted. But this is his father. He was one of seven St Gregory paulomost was one of seven kids. His father became a monk just before he died and Gregory took care of the family. He and most of his siblings and his mother became monastics. He went to Mount Athos. He was at for one year the Abbot of SPIGMENU monastery on Mount Athos. He found that being Abbot stole his peace and so he retired to a little skithie there on the Holy Mountain and he cultivated prayer. The Turks and the pirates came to Mount Athos too, and so he left not Athos and came to Thessaliniki, the city in northern Greece, a city of great fame that Paul founded the Christian Church in. Then he went back to Athos and live for many years there, and then he ended up becoming the Archbishop of Thessalonica. During his time as Archbishop, he was actually captured by the Turks and was held in in...

...confinement for one year, and the Turks were so taken by him that they gave him a lot of freedom and he end up engaging in deep, very high level theological communications with the leading Muslim scholars of his time. In Service of the Turks, he ended up coming back and dying in one thousand three hundred and fifty nine, and he was glorified by the Church in one thousand three hundred and sixty eight. That's about as quickly as you can glorify someone, as you go through the process of examining their works and calling a council and proclaiming someone's saying hood. Everyone knew he was so beloved, dear ones, he was so beloved by his parishioners, by the monks and nuns in the capital, even by the Patriarchs, a succession of Three Holy Patriarchs of Constantinople. Loved Him and considered him to be the great light on the Earth. One of them, Patriarch philow feels Colchos, wrote a whole collection of miracles that Gregory performed during his life and after his death at his tomb, miracle after a miracle, in great detail from firsthand accounts. Some of you know what this is like, since we have such a wonder worker ourselves up in San Francisco. When St John was glorified in one thousand nine hundred and ninety four and the publication of his miracles came out, not just one or two, but literally hundreds of miracles and people who were our contemporaries writing accounts of what he had done for them and for their families. It was an incredibly uplifting moment for the church when we get to gaze upon someone who loves God like this and is used by God like this. That's Saint Gregory Palamas. His Tomb, Patriarch Philophiel says that even after his death, that when he died, Gregory's whole face was radiant, that he was literally shining in his coffin, and that that glow of the uncreated light that he spoke about so much with the people of God that he promised was their destiny. It actually accompanied him to burial and then it encompassed his shrine. PHILOTHEL said it encompassed his shrine and that glow actually came out of his shrine and healed numerous people. To this day you can go venerate the tomb of St Gregory Paulamas in downtown Thesliniki. He's the second patron of the city, together with St Demetrius. What a man the church presents him today, because most of his life he fought for a vision of Christian life. He opposed heretics like Barlom and Gregory Akindnos. These men were articulate theologians promoting western concepts, Latin concepts of who God was that were rooted in philosophy. They were rooted rooted in...

...human reason. Gregory said that does not what it means to know God. This was the scholastic period, right in the middle of the scholastic period when the West turn theology from a transformative experience into something you've got a degree for in an academic setting. Today, that Western concept of theology rules. When you say someone is a theologian, in what we mean is that person went to school, he studied a law, he writes books, he teaches from his ivory tower and maybe he's an atheist. You can throw the dice fifty. That is not, dear ones, what we think a theologian is. We think a theologian is someone who knows God by experience, not by human reason, someone who actually is united to God by assiduous prayer and effort, someone who has sought the face of God and the face of God has shown upon that person and change their life. That's what a theologian is. One Who prays, and the one who prays is a theologian. IV Agriya says in the fourth century, and then we've carried it on ever since. This is what Saint Gregory was and this is what he's calls us to. He says that the purpose of life is to be united to God. This is why God sent his son to Earth to become a man, to join divinity and humanity together, to open away where we can buy faith and, by the holy mysteries of the church, literally experience God in his energy, in his uncreated grace and in so doing, in receiving that light, know God as our father, as a living person, as a divine light that illuminates, as a power that actuates, as a grace that heals. This is what our life is. You're here today for this reason. Yes, I think so. You came to see the true light. You're going to sing that as soon as you receive the gifts. You're going to say, I have seen the true light. You've come to be with God. That's why you're here. You've come for him to look on you and for you to look on him. You've come for him to come inside of you, so that you can know him and be changed by him. This is why you're struggling in lent. Yes, you're trying to pray, and you know that the measure of opposition that you have to sincere prayer is the proof that this is the purpose of life. The fact that it's so hard to praise because it's so valuable to pray. You parents who have so many responsibilities. You have your children, you have your work. You know how hard it is... actually collect yourself when you stand before God in the morning, to protect that time to look at the face of Jesus and to mean what you say. The reason you're doing that is because it is the most important thing in your life. It is the means of uniting with God and it will lead sincere prayer, that prayer that Saint Gregory Poulamas taught. He taught every one how to say the Jesus prayer and what it would lead to. Eternal glory, transformative union. What happened on the top of Mount Tabor in Jesus's flesh will happen to you. This is the end of prayer, this is what's coming, the end of the age. Jesus says, I'll send out my angels and they'll separate the wheat from the Teres. The teres they'll throw into the fire and the wheat, the sons of the kingdom, will shine forth in glory in the Kingdom of my father, unto the ages of ages. That is God's Human Augmentation Plan. At least lets us be zealous for it, and maybe others who govern our lands and propagate war might have some chance to have a conception of human beings that is far more glorious than just making them lethal, mobile and sustainable. Well then, we hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other available titles, or if you would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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