Reading Two Biographies of Father Seraphim at Once

This year, as I have done every year since 2002, I am once more reading Hieromonk Damascene’s biography of Father Seraphim, Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works. (In 2002, and again in 2005, I read the original version, Not of This World.) This year, I am doing something a little different from what I’ve done before: I’m also reading Cathy Scott’s biography, Seraphim Rose: The True Story and Private Letters. Scott’s inane editorializing and irritating polemicizing aside, the letters of (then) Eugene Rose provide an interesting deepening of the years that Father Damascene runs through with a much less detailed view.

I have been struck again (as the times I’d read Scott’s biography before) by the depth of intellect Father Seraphim exhibited. As I read his letters, I am struck by the fact that he was only twenty-one years old, and yet he is engaging philosophical ideas that are taken for granted in today’s academic world. He had passed beyond the modernist hegemony long before “postmodernism” became a serious philosophical exercise, and well before it reached its present bowdlerized and popularized and bastardized state.

This something like a stereophonic reading of Father Seraphim’s early life makes for much richer detail, and provides much greater contrast and awareness with just how much he was transfigured by his life in Christ, and some notion of the sort of suffering he endured in that transfiguration.

Blessed Father Seraphim, pray for us.

One thought on “Reading Two Biographies of Father Seraphim at Once

  1. Reading in stereo seems a worthwhile exercise – the shortcomings of either book can cancel each other out.

    Eugene Rose/Fr Seraphim was a genius no doubt.

    As I read his letters, I am struck by the fact that he was only twenty-one years old, and yet he is engaging philosophical ideas that are taken for granted in today’s academic world. He had passed beyond the modernist hegemony long before “postmodernism” became a serious philosophical exercise, and well before it reached its present bowdlerized and popularized and bastardized state.

    He did all that but G.K. Chesterton did it all 40-60 years earlier with fewer words and more humour.

    I slightly knew Alison. She never mentioned his homosexuality. As you read she was a 1940s convert to Anglo-Catholicism (her parents were some kind of non-practising/indifferent Protestants like Eugene’s). She never became Orthodox. After years of spiritual wandering including New Age in the 1970s she ended up in a Continuing church (Province of Christ the King) – her son-in-law was her priest and her grandson an acolyte. She died a few years ago.

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