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Ron Dart. The Orthodox Tradition and Canadas Most Significant Public Philosopher: eorge rant.! http:""###.c$"pdf"%ol&'(')'Dart.pdf.

The Canadian *ournal of Orthodox Christianit+ %olu,e %--. /u,ber (. 0inter )1()


The Orthodox Tradition and Canadas Most Significant Public Philosopher: eorge rant

Ron Dart


rant has been called one of the ,ost i,portant public

intellectuals in Canada in the latter half of the )1th centur+. -n his 4thens and *erusale,: eorge rants Theolog+. Philosoph+ and Politics 5)1126. rae,e

/icholson called hi, Canadas ,ost significant public philosopher! 5p. 7)76. eorge Par8in and rant had a #ide ranging ,ind and i,agination that co9ered rant #as a

touched ,ost aspects of the 0estern and :astern traditions.

Christian renaissance hu,anist in the best sense of that co,pelling ter,. The

fact that rant #as dra#n to the best of the 0estern theological. philosophical and political tradition ,eant that he encountered the riches of Orthodox+ in his ,an+ probes. This brief essa+ #ill touch on Orthodox+. rants encounter #ith

#ill ponder his encounter and engage,ent #ith the Orthodox tradition in fi9e unfolding phases.


rants initial encounter #ith Orthodox+ #as through the ,arriage rant. to eorge -gnatieff. rant had studied #ith eorge

of his sister. 4lison

-gnatieffs brother. /icholas. #ho taught <istor+ at =pper Canada College in the (>71s. ?ut the ,eeting of ,arriage in /o9e,ber (>3@ brought as eorge -gnatieff and 4lison rant. and their

rant into the centre of the Russian Orthodox #a+ eorge

it #as e,bodied in :ngland and Canada in the 0orld 0ar -- period.

-gnaitieff had this to sa+ about his Russian Orthodox heritage in his classic boo8. Me,oirs of a Peace,onger: The Canadian *ournal of Orthodox Christianit+ %olu,e %--. /u,ber (. 0inter )1()


The Orthodox Church ga9e ,e a sense of belonging. of being in touch #ith ,+

roots. of safet+ and stabilit+ in an other#ise confusing #orld. :9en in earl+ childhood - deri9ed great co,fort fro, pra+er and fro, the fa,iliar Orthodox liturg+. and - ha9e re,ained a de9oted ,e,ber of the church e9er since.(

-gnatieff had this. also. to sa+ about the unusual nature of the #edding:

0e #ere ,arried in Montreal. in the =nited Church in deference to 4lisons fa,il+ and in the Russian Orthodox Cathedral for the sa8e of ,ine.)

The -gnatieff fa,il+ #as #ell 8no#n in Russia. but the+ had to flee the countr+ #hen the co,,unists ca,e to po#er. eorges father 5Count Paul

-gnatieff6 #as the last Minister of :ducation in Russia under the CAar. and e9en though he #as at the forefront of refor,ing the educational s+ste, in Russia before the re9olution. he sa# the #riting on the #all in (>(&. The -gnatieff clan. initiall+. ,o9ed to :ngland. then to Canada. eorge -gnatieff beca,e a

pro,inent ci9il ser9ant in Canada. and he #or8ed closel+ in the (>31sB (>@1sB (>21s #ith Cester ?. Pearson.

-gnatieffs boo8. The Ma8ing of a Peace,onger: The Me,oirs of


-gnatieff 5(>D@6 tells the tale #ell of the $ourne+ of the -gnatieff clan fro, Russia to :ngland to Canada. There is little doubt that rant. as a +oung ,an. #ould

ha9e been exposed to Russian Orthodox+ through his friendship #ith /icholas -gnatieff and the fact his sister #as ,arried to eorge -gnatieff.

The son of

eorge -gnatieff and 4lison

rant is Michael -gnatieff 5for,er

leader of the Ciberal part+ in Canada6. and Michael has #ritten about the -gnatieff E rant fa,il+ connection in True Patriot Co9e: ;our enerations in

(. eorge -gnatieff 5in association #ith Son$a Sinclair6. The Me,oirs of eorge -gnatieff: The Ma8ing of a Peace,onger 5Toronto: =ni9ersit+ of Toronto Press. (>D@6. p.77.

). -bid. p. D3. The Canadian *ournal of Orthodox Christianit+ %olu,e %--. /u,ber (. 0inter )1()


Search of Canada 5)11>6. There e,erged in the (>@1sB(>21s serious tensions bet#een -gnatieff eorge rant and eorge -gnatieff. rant felt that the PearsonB

duo had beco,e fa#ning ser9ants of the e,erging 4,erican e,pire. and this difference frag,ented the fa,il+. indigenous rant thought that there #as an

for, of Canadian nationalis, that had to be affir,ed to resist and oppose the liberal Canadian drift into the e,bracing ar,s of i,perial 4,erica. rants

argu,ent for this position is clearl+ articulated in his classic political ,issi9e. Ca,ent for a /ation: The Defeat of Canadian /ationalis, 5(>2@6. -t is essential

to re,e,ber President Fenned+ #as Guite in9ol9ed in bac8ing Pearson in the (>27 election. and of rant #as astutel+ a#are #hat this ,eant for the future

historic Canadian Tor+is,.

-t is so,e#hat interesting to note that

eorge -gnatieff ne9er ,entioned

eorge rant 5his #ell 8no#n brotherBinBla#6 in The Ma8ing of a Peace,onger. -t see,s the t#o ,en had Guite different understandings about #hat it ,eant to be a peace,onger. ?ut. there is no doubt that eorge rants exposure to

Orthodox+ ca,e through the -gnatieff fa,il+. -t is too bad #e do not ha9e an+ serious records of con9ersations that too8 place bet#een eorgeB/icholas -gnatieff on Orthodox+. eorge rant and

-t is significant to note that after

eorge -gnatieff had finished his ,ore

acti9e role as one of the ,ore pro,inent Canadian diplo,ats of the (>@1sB (>21s. he #as offered the position of Pro9ost of Trinit+ College 5the leading <igh Church 4nglican College of the ti,e in Canada6 in (>&). There #as an i,plicit con9ergence of the Orthodox tradition and catholic 4nglicanis, 9ia eorge

-gnatieff. and the -gnatieffB rant fa,il+ connections facilitated this pioneering OrthodoxB4nglican dialogue #ithin the Canadian ethos. -n so,e i,portant #a+s. the OrthodoxB4nglican ethos as e,bodied in the -gnatieffB rant fa,ilies had so,e affinities #ith the :nglish St. 4lbanBSt. Sergius con9ergence of 4nglicanis, and Russian Orthodox+.7

7. The ;ello#ship of St. 4lban and St. Sergius #as founded b+ Russian Orthodox #ho fled to :ngland after the (>(& Russian Re9olution and <igh Church 4nglicans. /icholas Herno9 #as a founder of St. 4lban I St. Sergius. and his histor+ of the organiAation up to (>&> #ith his #ife. The Canadian *ournal of Orthodox Christianit+ %olu,e %--. /u,ber (. 0inter )1()



rant did ha9e his differences #ith

eorge -gnatieff. but he #as eorge

Guite ,iffed. though. #hen Pri,e Minster Pierre Trudeau b+passed -gnatieff for the role of close o9ernor

eneral in (>&>.3 - do see in -gnatieffs

relationship #ith Pearson. and Pearsons close alliance #ith Fenned+ contra Diefenba8er. -gnatieffs explicit ,erging of church. Canadian politics and 4,erican e,pire. -gnatieff #as. at the ti,e. a ,e,ber of St. Tho,as parish 5angloBcatholic6 in Toronto. but his i,plicit Russian Orthodox understanding of church and state still lingered. The 4,ericans #ere the ,a$or opponents of Russian co,,unis,. CanadianB4,erican relations for,ed the /orth 4,erican phalanx against Russian co,,unis,. therefore Pearsonian Ciberalis, and Fenned+s De,ocrats ,ade for a head+ opposition to the co,,unis, -gnatieff so opposed. -t #as this updated Constantinian s+nthesis that rant so sa#

through and opposed in Ca,ent for a /ation. The historic <igh Tor+ Canadian Tradition could offer a third #a+ be+ond the Cold 0ar dualis, and ideolog+. and rant #as at the forefront of suggesting such a 9ision.

Second. #hen

rant beca,e chair of the Religious Studies depart,ent at

McMaster =ni9ersit+ in (>2(. he #as Guite 8een to chec8 the drift of liberalis, b+ bringing to the =ni9ersit+ those for,s of Christianit+ that e,bodied the ,ore classical Christian #a+.@ -t is i,portant to note at this $uncture that ,ore rants

catholic for, of 4nglicanis, ,ade for ,an+ an affinit+ #ith the Orthodox #a+. MilitAa. The ;ello#ship of St. 4lban and St. Sergius: 4 <istorical Me,oir. tells the tale #ell of the origins and histor+ of this 4nglicanBOrthodox Sobornost organiAation up to (>&>. The ;ello#ship continues to this da+. - #as Guite fortunate #hen doing graduate studies at Regent College 5%ancou9er. ?C6 fro, (>&>B(>D( to be the Teaching 4ssistant *i, <ouston 5first Principal of Regent College6. *i, had li9ed #ith /icholas Herno9 in Oxford fro, (>3&B(>@7. and both Herno9 and <ouston spent a great deal of ti,e #ith C.S. Ce#is. Ce#is #as also in9ol9ed #ith the ;ello#ship. #ere Guite in9ol9ed #ith C.S. Ce#is. eorge and Sheila rant. #hen at Oxford in the (>31s.

3. 0illia, Christian. eorge Toronto Press. (>>76.

rant: 4 ?iograph+. 5Toronto: =ni9ersit+ of

p. 731.

@. -bid. p. )7@. The Canadian *ournal of Orthodox Christianit+ %olu,e %--. /u,ber (. 0inter )1()


and in :ngland at the ti,e ,uch #or8 #as being done on 4nglicanBOrthodox dialogue 5the ;ello#ship of St. 4lban and St. Sergius #as on the cutting edge of this deeper ecu,enis,6.

rant #ould ha9e i,bibed the 4nglicanBOrthodox dialogue that #as going on in :ngland in the (>71sB(>31s. and this ,ade hi, eager to bring the dialogue to the Canadian context. #hen rant had been acti9e in C.S. Ce#is Socratic Club

at Oxford. and the outside reader for his Ph.D. thesis #as 4ustin ;arrer 5both ,en had decidedl+ classical and ,+stical leanings6. +oung eorge -gnatieff. as a

,an. had attended the #ell 8no#n 4nglican Trinit+ College 5<igh Church6 in Toronto in the (>71s. and <igh eorge and 4lison 4lison had an affinit+ #ith the

Church 4nglicanBOrthodox #a+ that #as unfolding in Toronto.

The selected letters of


rant 5 eorge

rant: Selected Cetters

5(>>266. ,a8e it clear that the

rant #as dra#n to #hat he identified as so,e of

sounder and ,ore stable aspects of the Ro,an Catholic and Orthodox #a+ in opposition to the #a+ he thought that the 4nglican tradition #as capitulating to liberal ,odernit+ 5 eorge eorge rant and the 4nglican Tradition! in Ron Darts

rant: Spiders and ?ees 5)11D66. There is no doubt. therefore. b+ the rant had a gro#ing interest in Orthodox+. and he #as 8een to

earl+ (>21s get

Orthodox theologians lecturing at McMaster =ni9ersit+.

Third. #hen

rant #as doing research on Si,one 0eil in the (>21s. he ree8 :ast and Catin 0est 5(>@>6.2 Sherrards rant for a 9ariet+

read Philip Sherrards The read

and interpretation of Orthodox+ had a profound i,pact on of reasons. Sherrard had suggested in The clash

ree8 :ast and Catin 0est that the

bet#een the :ast and 0est hinged on the #a+ the 0est had accepted at the Third Council of Toledo 54D @D>6. and ratified such a position in (1(3 that the <ol+ Spirit proceeded fro, the Son 5*esus6 and the ;ather. This ,o9e b+ the Ro,an Catholic 0est is called the JfilioGue clause #hich deepl+ offended the 2. -bid. pp. )7)B)77. The Canadian *ournal of Orthodox Christianit+ %olu,e %--. /u,ber (. 0inter )1() ree8


Orthodox Church. 0hat is the issue at the core of the dile,,a. and #h+ #as rant dra#n to Sherrards read of the clash and its i,plicationsK There is no doubt that the conflict separated the :astern Orthodox fro, the 0estern Ro,an Catholics. and rant too8 the side of the Orthodox on this issue. Does it reall+

,atter #hether the <ol+ Spirit proceeded fro, the ;ather alone or the ;ather and the SonK 0h+ bother Guibbling about such detailsK ?ut. details can ,a8e a difference. and this is #hat interested the Orthodox Sherrard and rant.


rant. the distinction is i,portant for the si,ple reason that the 0est od. ods ?eing and ods energies

atte,pted to too clearl+ define 5econo,+6.

#hereas the Orthodox tradition #as ,ore #illing to d#ell in the M+ster+ and :ssence of od. ;ather. Son and <ol+ Spirit. The fact that the Ro,an Catholic od b+

church atte,pted to be too sure about the econo,+ and operation of the

inclusion of the JfilioGue clause 5the relationship bet#een ;ather. Son. Spirit and Son and Spirit6 #orried and rant. -t #as this 0estern need to sharpen. clarif+

full+ understand that blinded the 0est to that #hich could not be co,prehended. rant thought that 4ristotle #as bac8 of the 0estern Ro,an CatholicB Protestant #a+. and Plato infor,ed the ,ore ,+stical and conte,plati9e Orthodox #a+.&

-t #as the ,editati9e Orthodox #a+ that

rant held high. and he thought rant #as

that 0estern Christianit+ had lost its spiritual and ,+stical #a+. fusing

Si,one 0eil. Sherrard and Orthodox+ in the (>21sB(>&1s. and he 8ne# #here he stood and #h+. the rant. therefore. sa# in the JfilioGue clause the budding of

0estern rationalist #a+ that #ould blosso, into the need of (2B(&th centur+ science for clear and distinct ideas. and the 0estern technological dri9e in the (>thB)1th centuries to ,aster through reason and #ill the earth. 8no#ledge and hu,an relationships. -t should be noted. though. that origins rant thought the od that #illed

of sheering #illing could be located in the <ebre# canon. The

creation. chose the *e#ish people. elected so,e and not others. co,,anded the *e#ish nation to slaughter other peoples #as. 0ill &. -bid. pp. )7)B)7&. The Canadian *ournal of Orthodox Christianit+ %olu,e %--. /u,ber (. 0inter )1() rant feared. a god in #hich


often tru,ped the can

ood. The ,odern s+nthesis of J0illingBTechneBReason

be located at the 9er+ fount and source of the *e#ishBChristian tradition.D So. the

:asternB0estern debate about the JfilioGue clause #as $ust one ,ore act in such an unfolding dra,a. This ,eans. therefore. than rant #ent to ,uch older places

Sherrard to exa,ine and explore #here and #hen the beast of unleashed #illing e,erged fro, the depths.


rant had a real fondness for Tolsto+ and Dostoe9s8+. but he #as

,ore dra#n to the Russian Orthodox 9ision of Dostoe9s8+ than Tolsto+. -n (>3(. he co,,ented on Dostoe9s8+s Cri,e and Punish,ent and Tolsto+s 0ar and Peace. and he fa9oured the for,er to the latter. rants lecture in (>@> on

Dostoe9s8+ on C?C for J4rchitects of Modern Thought #al8ed the attenti9e listener and reader into the centre and core of Dostoe9s8+s painful probes of the hu,an condition. depths to rant dre# fro, Dostoe9s8+s no9els to highlight the

#hich hu,ans can sin8 and the heights to #hich the saints can rise. 0here but in such Russian classics so grounded in the Orthodox #a+ could such a tantaliAing 9ision be articulated and li9edK There is no doubt. also. that Dostoe9s8+ #as a profound critic of the #a+ Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church had beco,e 0esterniAed and ,odern. and he atte,pted to re9erse this capitulation to liberal ,odernit+.

rant #as 9er+ ,uch #ith Dostoe9s8+ in the clash bet#een the ancients and the ,oderns. and he thought the ancient and ti,e tried #a+ of Orthodox+ #as absolutel+ needed and necessar+ to Guestion the progressi9e liberal drift of the ,odern #orld. students on rant ga9e a series of lectures in (>&2 to graduate

Platonic Christianit+.! and in the final lecture. he dealt #ith Dostoe9s8+s Christianit+.!> The lecture #ent deeper and further than his (>@> C?C lecture on D. Ron Dart. ?iblical *udais,. 0estern Christianit+ and Ciberalis,.! in eorge P. rant: Canadas Cone 0olf 54bbotsford: ;resh 0ind Press. )1((6.

>. rants lecture JDostoe9s8+s Christianit+ is printed in 4thens and *erusale,: eorge rants Theolog+. Philosoph+. and Politics 5edited b+ -an 4ngus. Ron Dart. Rand+ Peg Peters 5Toronto: =ni9ersit+ of Toronto Press. )1126. pp. )77B)7&. The Canadian *ournal of Orthodox Christianit+ %olu,e %--. /u,ber (. 0inter )1()


Dostoe9s8+. and in the span of the presentation he pondered Dostoe9s8+s understanding of the relationship of suffering and freedo,. and ,ore to the point. ho# the rand -nGuisitor in The ?rothers Fara,aAo9 e,bodied. in the

,ost beguiling and seducti9e #a+. the te,ptation of the 0est and 0estern Christianit+.

The *esus of The ?rothers Fara,aAo9 confronts the 0estern Christian church. The Ro,an Catholic Church had beco,e the *udas figure in ,an+ #a+s. *esus repl+ to the rand -nGuisitor is a 8iss on the chee8. Such a 8iss spea8s rant stood in all this. The Orthodox 9ision

9olu,es. There is no doubt #here of

*esus in The ?rothers Fara,aAo9 co,es as an affront and challenge to the *udasBli8e church of 0estern Christianit+. fused the theological rant had b+ (>&2. in ,an+ #a+s.

ree8BRussian Orthodox traditions #ith the literar+

Russian Orthodox tradition in his reflections on Sherrard and Dostoe9s8+.

;ifth. a good teacher is often indebted to those that ha9e gone before. and their students and such #ise teachers pass on. li8e a torch. the noblest that has been gi9en the,L rant is no exception to this truth and realit+. 0hat. though. has this to do #ith rant and Orthodox+K rant #as a ,e,ber of the Socratic rant had a high 9ie# rant the

Club at Oxford that C.S. Ce#is started and de9eloped. of

Ce#is. and the affinities bet#een the t#o 5Ce#is the elder and no9ice6 ha9e been dul+ noted in ,+ article C.S. Ce#is and T#o eorge

rant: 4 Tale of

4nglican Tories.!(1 Ce#is #as a ClassicalBMedie9alBRenaissance scholar. and rant #al8ed the extra ,ile to hold high the Jdiscarded i,age of such an ancient

#a+ of thin8ing and being. The fact that Ce#is #as so grounded in the classical tradition ,eant that both the Orthodox and Ro,an Catholic traditions ha9e often seen Ce#is as a con9incing e,bodi,ent of their heritages. The #ell 8no#n :nglish Orthodox bishop and theologian. Fallistos 0are. for exa,ple. has #ritten Guite fondl+ of Ce#is in his touching and ti,el+ article. od of the (1. Ron Dart. C.S. Ce#is and Canadian <igh Tor+ eorge rant: 4 Tale of T#o Tories.! in The

Tradition: Raids on the =nspea8able 5De#dne+: S+naxis Press. )1136. The Canadian *ournal of Orthodox Christianit+ %olu,e %--. /u,ber (. 0inter )1()


;athers: C.S. Ce#is and :astern Christianit+.! 0are has called Ce#is an anon+,ous Orthodox.!((

rant #as held b+ Ce#is. and Ce#is rooting in the classics 5and b+ i,plication Orthodox+6 #as so,ething that also rant #ould understand. rant

passed on his interest in the Russian Orthodox and Classical #a+ to his students. ?ruce 0ard did his M4 and Ph.D. #ith rant at McMaster =ni9ersit+. and

0ards t#o boo8s on Dostoe9s8+ are Canadian classics on this se,inal Russian #riter. Dostoe9s8+s CritiGue of the 0est: The Muest for the :arth+ Paradise

5(>D26 is 0ards doctoral thesis co,pleted under and

rant turned into a boo8.

Re,e,bering the :nd: Dostoe9s8+ as Prophet to Modernit+ 5)1116 turns once again to the insights of Dostoe9s8+ as a prophet to the failings of the liberal #est.

Spencer :stabroo8s. another student of

rants at McMaster. is no# an

Orthodox priest. and is front and centre in the running of St. 4rsen+ Orthodox -nstitute in 0innipeg. 4rchbishop CaAar. unli8e ?ruce 0ard and Spencer :stabroo8s. ne9er studied #ith pro,inent eorge rant. but as one of the ,ost

Orthodox theologians in Canada and the =S4. CaAar has a high regard for eorge rant. and the #a+ realities of rant atte,pted to integrate the often frag,ented oa 5+et

spiritualit+ and politics. -t is significant to note. also. that Da9id another

pro,inent Orthodox intellectual in Canada6 has tipped his cap often to eorge rant. oas 4 Regard for Creation: Collected :ssa+s 5)11D6. fro, an Orthodox perspecti9e. is a Canadian first on Orthodox+ and ecolog+. and to ac8no#ledge in the ,issi9e his interest in oa is Guic8 rant has

rant. -t is ob9ious that

passed on the Orthodox #a+ to both 0ard and :stabroo8s. and both ,en ha9e ta8en rants lead further and deeper. rant has. also. had an i,pact on

i,portant Orthodox thin8ers and acti9ists in Canada such as 4rchbishop CaAar and Da9id oa.

((. Ti,oth+ 0are. od of the ;athers: C.S. Ce#is and :astern Christianit+.! in Da9id Mills 5editor6. The Pilgri,s uide: C.S. Ce#is and the 4rt of 0itness 5(>>D6.

The Canadian *ournal of Orthodox Christianit+ %olu,e %--. /u,ber (. 0inter )1()


rants co,,it,ent to reco9ering the discarded i,age of the ancients ,eant he had affinities #ith those classical for,s of Christianit+ that #ere rooted and grounded in the such reat Tradition. Orthodox+ is 9er+ ,uch i,,ersed in rant and Orthodox+ ha9e rant is a probing pioneer in

an ancient and ti,e tried #a+. and this is #h+ ,uch in co,,on. There is. indeed. a sense in #hich

Canada of both 4nglicanBOrthodox dialogue and an approach to Orthodox+ that is not en,eshed #ith 4,erican i,perial politics. offer rant can. in ,an+ #a+s.

/orth 4,erican Orthodox+ a #a+ be+ond its often #orriso,e legac+ of Orthodox+ being the chaplain to the state. offer rant can. also. #hen read aright.

a #a+ to challenge the present trend of a co,,on ground bet#een :9angelicals. Ro,an Catholics and Orthodox fro, degenerating into a reductionistic and

republican read of these ad fontes and Jressource,ent traditions.

4bout the author: Ron Dart. the author of ,ore than )1 boo8s. teaches political science. philosoph+. and religion at =ni9ersit+ of the ;raser %alle+. 4bbotsford. ?C. <e is co,,itted to furthering 4nglicanBOrthodox dialogue.