More than a decade ago now I wrote several articles on the concept of the "healing of memories," a phrase that Pope John Paul II picked up and began using from the earliest months of his pontificate. As the years of his papacy wore on, he began using that phrase (and variations of it--e.g., "purification of memory") with greater urgency and with greater focus on East-West divisions. The phrase itself is a curious mix of psychology and theology and it's never been entirely clear to me how practicable such an approach is beyond the individual-clinical context: that is to say, I may be able, lying on my analyst's couch, to talk through painful memories of some trauma or other from my childhood ("remembering, repeating, and working through," to use Freud's phrase for the analytic process), and so find some measure of healing of those memories, allowing me to move on with my life. But how do entire churches or whole ecclesial communities do that? To put this in concrete terms, how do Greek Orthodox Christians (inter alia) who still harbor (one knows not how) bad memories of, say, the Fourth Crusade, experience healing of those memories as a Church?
Anyway that is a question to continue to ponder for another time. In the meantime, and along these lines, we have a new book that looks promising and interesting: Ambrose Mong, Purification of Memory: A Study of Orthodox Theologians from a Catholic Perspective (James Clark and Co., 2015), 232pp.
About this book the publisher tells us:
Among the major Christian denominations, the Orthodox Church is the
least known and widely misunderstood. This is more serious in Asia where
the Orthodox Church is a minority and is perceived as an exotic branch
of Christianity. But in fact, the Eastern Church has been in China since
the seventeenth century. The purpose of this work is to acquaint lay
people, theological students and seminarians with the teaching of
Orthodoxy through a study of important modern Orthodox theologians. Mong
argues that in spite of the differences and painful clashes between the
Eastern and Western Churches, there is a lot that they share in common.
Key topics like ecclesiology, ecumenism, catholicity, traditions and
liberation theology are explored in the works of Jaroslav Pelikan,
Nicolas Berdyaev, Nicolas Afanasiev, Georges Florovsky, Sergei Bulgakov,
John Meyendorff, John Zizioulas and Vladimir Lossky, together with
their Catholic counterparts like Joseph Ratzinger, Yves Congar, Henri de
Lubac, Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar. This study highlights
their striking similarities and suggests, that from an ecumenical point
of view, their common heritage and concerns in the world can be a basis
for dialogue and the healing of memory.