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In the city of Útopos,1 on Ágnostos2 Street, Morós3 the Student intercepts Charíton4 the Monk on his way to the Hagía Sophía5 Monastery.

Morós: Well, holy monk, what do you think of the election of the new Pope? Was it not thrilling?

Monk: It does not concern me.

Morós: Oh, you are one of those fanatical fellows who lives in a monastery that flies a black flag, and everyone sticks his head out the window and shouts, “Orthodoxy or death!” How pretentious and arrogant!

Monk: Indeed?

Morós: Here is the election of a new Pope, a world-leader of Christians, one of the most powerful men in the world, and you are unconcerned. Your indifference is the result of your untenable conviction that you have the Truth and everyone else is in error. Everyone is wrong but you. You do not want Ecumenism because you do not treat everyone as equals. You prefer to see mankind divided, separated, hostile. You prefer polemic to peace, dialectic to dialogue, logomachy6 to love.

Monk: All right.

Morós: You have nothing more to say?

Monk: To what end, Morós, my friend? You and I live in different worlds. You have one perspective and I have another. You have, if I may borrow some phrases, a “value-system” I do not share and a “mind-set” I do not want.

Morós: You have nothing to say because you are a fanatic and an obscurantist! All people like you are insecure — which leads you to think that no one has faith but you. What makes you think God has revealed the Truth to the Orthodox alone? Quite simply, you are neurotic. You would evaporate without your hatred. You must have absolutes and historical guarantees. You are terrified by anything new. You fear creativity because you fear failure. You cannot celebrate the joy of others, because such feelings would leave you vulnerable. Openness to life is death to you!

Monk: If your psychoanalysis pleases you, leave it at that.

Morós: You are frustrating! Defend yourself!

Monk: For what purpose? You have made up your mind that I am a reactionary and fanatic. Anything I say will only confirm your opinion.

Morós: You give me no guidance. A holy man is supposed to give guidance.

Monk: What shall I say? How shall I guide someone who has already determined to despise whatever I say? What instruction may I give to someone who is a slave to his own rhetoric and uses ideas to intimidate and enchant.

Morós: I am waiting to hear something useful.

Monk: What do you wish to hear? I do not believe that all religions were ordained by God, nor do they serve Him. Do you want me to say that the Incarnation of the Lord has no more meaning than the birth of Mohamet or Buddha? Do you want me to allow that the Church of God is divided and that whatever is believed by the numerous sects is true, albeit they contradict one another? Shall I say that there can be a Church without a Bishop, or a Bishop without a Eucharist, or a Eucharist without true doctrine? How shall I define the word “Christian” when so many claim the title, even those who reject the Theotokos? Is God the author of confusion? Has sinful man defeated God, for, although the Truth may exist, it cannot be found, lost in the babble of tongues and the dungheap of falsehoods? No! God is just! The way of salvation has always been clear and single. It is unique and exclusive because it is divine.

Morós: My, how you do go on once you begin to talk. You want to know how the truth is discovered and who may discover it? I will tell you. Firstly, throw away old ideas and begin anew. God will tell us what to do. Secondly, look around you. See the revelation of God in social turbulence. See the new life, the spirit of the people, their hope for freedom and love. See how prejudice is vanishing: the liberation of women, of minorities, of the Third World. They have lost their chains. We have new art, new music, new lifestyles. There is a new religion, a religion of unity, of universal brotherhood under one God. Look you, old man; look around you at God’s Truth, at His Will. Oh, yes, there will be some suffering and violence, cruelty and crudity, but all these are signs of transition, the “birth-pangs” of a brave new world.

Monk: You speak of one thing and I speak of another. You love the earth and I love Heaven. You want flesh and I want spirit.

Morós: What is more heavenly and spiritual than my vision of the future?

Monk: We use the same words with different meanings.

Morós: You are a fool, old man.

Charíton the Monk smiles at Morós and walks down the cobbled street toward the Monastery. Morós throws his hands in the air, shakes his head and then saunters down Ágnostos Street toward the University. 

(Orthodox Christian Witness, November 6⁄19, 1978)


1. Útopos: Whence, “utopia” — “nowhere.”

2. Ágnostos: “Unknown”; related also to “agnostic.”

3. Morós: A Greek word meaning a “babe” or “fool”. (Thus the word “sophomore,” a “wise” — “sophós” — babe or fool).

4. Charíton: derived from the Greek word charis, “grace.” 

5. Hagía Sophía: “Holy Wisdom”.

6. An argument about words.