Monday, November 27, 2006

Stunningly naïve or great marketing?

‘[T]he hermit tradition reached its pinnacle in Simeon Stylites. After such monastic achievements that he was expelled from a monastery to save the lives of his imitators, his cave was constantly besieged by fans. So, failing to escape outwardly from the world, he escaped upwardly. He took to living on a ten-foot pillar, but of course (whether you call it stunningly naïve or great marketing) this only swelled the crowds. So he extended it, until he was sixty feet in the air, and Syria’s major tourist attraction – the first hermit, it has been said, to achieve solitary confinement in public ... He finally descended after thirty-six years, dead’ !!

A Short History of Christianity (Oxford, Lion: 2005), by Stephen Tomkins, p. 56.

This is a helpful, short, lively and amusing account of Church history, even if Tomkins seems to have more time detailing the undisputable negatives, than mentioning the also indisputable positives. Still, it makes for the occasional chuckle!


At 11/27/2006 4:20 AM, Anonymous rob said...

Hey Chris,

Hope you're doing well. This comment is completely unrelated to the above post, but you asked me to remind you about that post I requested with the book information (basic, basic intro stuff). I know it hasn't been a few weeks, but just dropping the reminder.

God bless.

At 11/27/2006 1:56 PM, Anonymous Patrik said...

I'm not sure what he means by saying that the hermit tradition reached its pinnacle with Simon the elder, since he started a veritable mass movement of stylites that lasted almost up to modern times. Nor was Simon really a hermit, he always had a community supporting him (how else would you live on the top of a pillar). And the hermit tradition lived on east of the Persian border, and can truly be said to culminate in the seventh and eight centuries with great mystics such as Isaac of Nineveh, John of Dalyatha and Joseph Hassaya.

Apart from that, great quote! :)

At 11/27/2006 6:00 PM, Anonymous One of Freedom said...

There is a church in British Columbia that tried a modified stylite practice for a bit. I'm not sure if they are still doing it, but they made some odd connection with prophets as watchmen. This is the same church that had braveheart day (everyone came in painted faces) and had the local motorcycle club ride through the church as an illustration for something that made less of an impact on me than the image of a parade of Harleys riding through the sanctuary.

At 11/29/2006 12:05 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Sound like a great church, Frank!!

Rob, thanks for the reminder!

Patrik the Patrician, you want to come on this blog and make me look stupid, right?! Apart from that, great comment! Thanks!


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