This week I spoke to Jonathan Pageau, an Orthodox Christian icon carver and expert in religious symbolism. Jonathan is an incisive and captivating thinker the likes of which I’ve rarely spoken to. His perspective is almost completely foreign to modern people and so it’s quite the shock when you first learn about what he terms “The Symbolic World”.
Throughout the conversation we were grappling with the problem of where religion fits in society and philosophy, which generated a multiplicity of fascinating topics. We spoke about the concept of hierarchy and why it must exist — leading to an analysis of how ideologies like Marxism ultimately fail. We criticized the New Atheists (a regular whipping post for me!). Jonathan explained how religious symbolism shows patterns of the cosmos and human existence through narrative and imagery. And we finish with the Judeo-Christian idea of Logos and how it can help you find purpose in your life. Our discussion of hierarchy is especially worth listening to. Hierarchy is a concept that has rattled my brain for years and it seems to be a philosophical problem that most people ignore. Unless we must sort everything we see, think, and do within a hierarchical system, we’ll exist in a chaotic void without form or structure. This problem was recognized by our ancestors but we appear to have forgotten it — woe to the ignorant!
I was truly honored to speak with Jonathan for this length of time as I consider him one of my intellectual heroes. I hope you enjoy the conversation and go watch his videos — the links to which are down below.