By Protopresbyter Fr. Thomas Vamvinis
Technological Assistance to Illness
In the press we have seen references to a book by British psychotherapist Susie Orbach, titled Awakening Beauty. It is a book written to help mothers communicate properly with their young daughters on issues related to body image, self-confidence and self-esteem.
We will present an important passage from Susie Orbach's book, which we get from the newspaper Eleftherotypia (08/02/2008): "Young girls are bombarded daily by millions of digitally constructed images of beauty and now we have scientific research in our hands which demonstrate that this 'bombardment' can often be the cause for these feelings of low self-esteem."
In this passage there are two major problems that are related to each other: digitally constructed beauty and feelings of low self-esteem. If you think about this a little it will show an aspect of the tragedy of our culture and of our progress, since on the one hand with technology we are trying to portray an idealized beauty, and on the other hand we are oppressing by our achievements in this effort the real, natural faces, that mortal and suffering bodies bring, subject to diseases, deformities, aging and death.
Identifying the problem is useful not only for mothers, but for all of us, because it shows a social disease, which is not only associated with "young daughters" - for whom there may be more pronounced symptoms - but the whole of our society, since it concerns the use of technology for the virtual "restoration of nature" - nature in general and not only of body image.
In dealing with such problems, for one who lives within the environment of the Church, the analysis and recommendations of psychotherapists are not enough. We must go back to the tradition of the Church to find what is missing from any humanistic psychotherapy.
The Therapy of the Triodion
The period of the Triodion, which we are entering, raises standards for our lives, restoring things to their natural course.
First, it detaches us from the pressing demands of the body, beyond that which is necessary, but also the stresses created by its imperfections.
Second, it shows us the spiritual beauty of the humble and guileless mind, the simple and pure heart.
Third, it draws us to search for God, to make an effort to be like Christ, which creates for us other "aesthetic criteria", since we have as a guide experiences like those of Saint Symeon the New Theologian, whose face shone like his Desired One.
However, from the time Christ becomes our Desired One, as He was for Saint Symeon, we have gone very far away from the potential of technology to represent virtual beauty. We have gone to another level of existence and aesthetics.
Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Τεχνολογική υποβοήθηση ασθένειας", February 2008. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.