I spoke recently to a Romanian parishioner who had lived for a very long time in the Middle East and married a charming man, originally a Muslim. Taking him to a certain Romanian elder, who is still alive, she expected whom she supposed to be a very conservative elder to condemn her for marrying a Muslim and berate the Muslim for being such. Instead the elder came out and warmly embraced the Muslim and treated him as a brother. It was not long before the Muslim had joined the Orthodox Church. The story illustrates the old saying that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
The point is that the Spiritual is not conservatism. The Spiritual is the Tradition, the ever-renewed Inspiration of the Holy Spirit over the millennia, which is quite different from conservatism. Indeed, it is precisely in the absence of the Spiritual that conservatism, with its killing moralism and dead ritualism, takes over. Moralism is a sign of the end of the living, not of life. Both modernists and conservatives (‘traditionalists’) are moralists, because neither has the Spiritual, both lack Love, the very thing that they both claim in their self-delusion to have.
We saw it in the time of Christ with the Pharisees with their censorious judgementalism. We saw it with the Calvinistic Puritans, so intolerant that they could find nowhere to live in Europe and so had to go to America, where they slaughtered the native people and hunted innocent women to death as witches. We saw it with the Jesuits who preached hatred in the Name of God. We saw it with the Zoe and Sotir brotherhoods in Greece, who turned so many against the Church. We saw it with psychopaths and fanatics who tried to turn the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia into a mean and nasty sect. None of them knew that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
Moralists always exploit the naïve and weak, manipulating them and making them feel guilty for not being ‘conservative’ enough. They lecture and berate others, who have experience of the inner life. This is all because the moralists themselves have no inner life. And because they have no inner life, they pre-judge and condemn all others. And they pre-judge and condemn because they have no compassion and love for human weakness, only hardness of heart which destroys both themselves and others. Moralism is spiritual death; only the Spiritual gives Life, for only the Holy Spirit is the Giver of Life.