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In London on 20 November 2002 a German Professor, Gunther von Hagen, performed the public autopsy of a corpse before a live audience of some 400 members of the paying public and TV cameras. This was the first time since the 1830's that an autopsy had been performed in public in this country and the first time ever that it had been carried out for purely commercial reasons and screened on television here.

Channel 4 Television lamely claimed that all this was in the interests of science and education. This was disproved (though it hardly needed disproving) by the screening where, according to reports, television cameras for the most part showed not anatomical detail, but the appalled faces of the live (but spiritually dead) audience. The fact is that if any non-specialist wishes to know about anatomy, then they can read text-books on the subject or learn from drawings and models, they do not need to watch showmanship television. As regards medical students, then they are allowed to witness autopsies at medical school. The fact is that all this was in reality about von Hagen's showmanship, sensationalism and audience ratings. This is the first time that a human corpse has been publicly dissected for mere commercial reasons. This is the most disgusting form of commercialism yet seen in the contemporary money-god society.

Theologically, however, the degeneration goes further. Since we are God's creation, an autopsy is in itself the destruction of God's creation. As Orthodox Christians we are called rather to respect the human body, which is the container of the soul. Moreover, we believe that the human body, as all matter, is not only sacred by being God's creation, but potentially spiritual, for we believe that the material world can be spiritualised. This is why we kiss the images of Christ, the saints and the angels in icons, this is why we kiss and revere the relics of the bodies of the saints. We are not kissing mere matter, but matter made Spirit-bearing, matter become holy. For when God created the world, He made all things 'good'. Orthodox Christian spirituality restores the material creation, including the human body, to its original, paradisiacal state, as in Eden.

This is why we must respect all the material world, all of God's Creation. It is only the mechanistic, exploitative and godless view of matter, developed in full since the so-called 'Enlightenment' period of Western European history, which is opposed to this. It is this latter view which since then has led to the rape of the natural world, the pollution of the waters, the airs, the destruction of the forests, the general disrespect for the natural world and the genocides of hundreds of millions of human-beings in wars, massacres, death-camps and the mass infanticide of abortion. Von Hagen's repulsive commercial showmanship is merely the continuation of this exploitative, 'Enlighenment' mentality.

One hundred years ago the Russian philosopher, Sergius Bulgakov, described Modern Art as 'the corpse of beauty'. His definition was an exact and prophetic description of modern and post-modern values. Beauty has fled away from the modern world, all that is left is its rotting corpse, which is now being dissected in public. But Von Hagen and all his ilk who consider that the material world, including the human body, is Godless and therefore soulless and that the only value is money, should be warned by the old prophecy:

Only after the last tree has been cut down,
Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

The barbarians are no longer at the gates: they are now in the city.

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