It is worth reading my article again and particularly the wealth of comments. The world of Goliard clergy is vast and more diverse than we can imagine, though I sympathise with the aspiration to spiritual freedom that the mainstream Churches feel they have to limit in the name of orthodoxy and purity of the Faith. There is everything from ultra-traditionalism to ultra-liberalism, from neo-Gnosticism to esoteric Christianity, Martinism and other departures from literalist monotheism. It is understandable that the mainstream Churches cannot assimilate all the ‘heresies’ and have to uphold certain standards of orthodoxy and orthopraxis.
Freedom is something that is very difficult to live and put into practice. As Berdyaev said – Truly there is nothing more torturing and unbearable for man, than freedom. It is at the heart and basis of Dostoevsky’s Parable of the Grand Inquisitor. The whole issue is that true freedom can only be attained through asceticism, self-denial, empathy with others, altruism and finally love. When it is a question of individual self-assertion, that is where slavery and addiction begin.
Here are some links on this theme of freedom and asceticism:
- The Way of the Ascetics: Negative or Affirmative? by Kallistos Ware
- Personal being and freedom: their foundation in asceticism by Fr John Behr
- Cynicism – not the negative modern attitude assuming the bad faith of others but the old philosophy
- Nikolai Berdyaev on freedom
Those are just a few. Asceticism is not merely giving up pleasurable things we enjoy, but is a whole attitude of life, something like the old Cynics or St Francis of Assisi or any of the fools for Christ. Goliard or ‘vagante‘ clergy would have more credibility in this way than aping the very characteristics of official Catholicism that drove them away from their Church in the first place!
Now comments would be most welcome.