What do we mean by Death to the World?

“The world” is the general name for all the passions. When we wish to call the passions by a common name, we call them the world. But when we wish to distinguish them by their special names, we call them passions. The passions are the following: love of riches, desire for possessions, bodily pleasure from which comes sexual passion, love of honor which gives rise to envy, lust for power, arrogance and pride of position, the craving to adorn oneself with luxurious clothes and vain ornaments, the itch for human glory which is a source of rancor and resentment, and physical fear. Where these passions cease to be active, there the world is dead…. Someone has said of the Saints that while alive they were dead; for though living in the flesh, they did not live for the flesh. See for which of these passions you are alive. Then you will know how far you are alive to the world, and how far you are dead to it.”

-St Isaac the Syrian (7th Century)

About Death to the World

DEATH TO THE WORLD is a ‘zine to inspire the truth-seeking and soul searching amidst the modern age of nihilism and despair, promoting the ancient principles of the last true rebellion: to be dead to this world and alive to the other world. Correspondence is encouraged and articles for submission are welcomed. Each article printed is true to life and has been written out of pain of heart for love of truth.

Our History

dttw1IN THE WILDERNESS of Northern California, Monks John and Damascene searched in hopes of finding a way to reach out to the Punk scene, which John had escaped. Seeing that the scene was full of kids that were sick of themselves and crippled by nihilism and despair, the Monks set out to give them the same hope that they found in Ancient Christianity. To do this, they decided to submit an article about Father Seraphim Rose in the popular magazine, Maximum Rock and Roll. When Father Damascene read over the magazine, he knew that they would never publish something like it. Struggling to show truth to the darkened subcultures, they tried again, but this time only placing an ad for Saint Hermans Brotherhood. They got a response from the editor, saying “What the @#*% is a Brotherhood?” and the Monks were told “We only run ads for music and ‘zines*.” A light bulb went on and thus, Death to the World was born. The first issue was printed in the December of ’94 featuring a Monk holding a skull on cover. The hand-drawn bold letters across the top read “DEATH TO THE WORLD, The Last True Rebellion” and the back cover held the caption: “they hated me without a cause.”

“These kids are sick of themselves,” says Fr. Damascene, “and they feel out of place in this world. We try to open up to them the beauty of God’s creation, and invite them to put to death ‘the passions,’ which is what we mean by ‘the world.’ God takes despair and turns it around to something positive. Selfish passions can then be redirected into love for God, as Mary Magdalene did. We talk about the idea of suffering because that is what the kids feel most strongly. We show that there can be meaning in suffering.”

The first issue, decorated with ancient icons and lives of martyrs inside, was advertised in Maximum Rock and Roll and brought letters from all around the world. People from Japan, Lithuania, and Ireland wanted to get their hands on this new radical magazine. The mailing list grew and grew and the ‘zine was distributed at punks shows and underground hangouts. It was photocopied and passed around by hundreds who wanted to read about the radical lives of the lovers of truth and the mystery of monasticism. It was estimated that at one time, there were 50,000 in circulation. Father Paisius, who is a Monk at the monastery, said, “This subculture is raucous and deeply disturbed because of their own pain. They see life as worthless. We want to show them an ideal that is worth their life. These are marginalized youth who are wounded, and Death to the World is meant to touch with a healing hand that wound.” Writing and putting together issues 1-12, the Monks lived in the forests of Northern California in the midst of deer, bears, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes, translating and publishing wisdom from the holy fathers and mothers of ages past. The Monks and friends of the monastery also went to rock concerts and festivals, distributing Death to the World ‘zines and t-shirts, together with icons and other books that the monastery published.

The Monks did not put out any issues after issue 12, but they continued to share and hand out back orders of Death to the World. Then, eight years later, in the gloomy cities of Southern California a group of kids, coming out of the remnants of a dying Protestant Punk scene were looking for some answers. Desiring something otherworldly, and seeing the efforts of Protestant bands crash in flames before them, they looked away from the churches they grew up in and were curious about the ascetic ways of their ancient Christian Fathers. In hope of finding answers, they looked to the Monks of Saint Herman Brotherhood. The monastery’s Abbot, Father Gerasim, sent them copies of each issue of the ‘zine that had inspired so many over the years, together with seven of the last copies of the book Youth of the Apocalypse. Reading through the pages of these ‘zines one by one, they found what they were looking for, a radical Christianity, one very different from what they grew up in. “Something had always kept me looking for the ‘hardcore’, no compromising Christianity, because I knew down inside that, if Jesus Christ is
God, then Christianity had to be the most radical belief in the world.”

All of a sudden a small Parish in the midst of Orange County was populated with punk-rockers adorned with tattoos and piercings. The Parish of Saint Barnabas quickly became known as a “repentant rock ‘n’ roll hospital.” John Valadez, a new writer, looking back explained, “We kept seeing more people come. People that we never thought would show up stood in line with us to receive Holy Baptism. We were greatly inspired by Death to the World. It was what we were missing, something far from the emptiness of the world, and it spoke to us on our level, in a way we could understand.” Making numerous pilgrimages to the wilderness of Northern California to live with the Monks for days at a time, the group would take back boxes of old ‘zines to pass out at punk shows and to give out to friends. On one of these pilgrimages Father Damascene, one of the original writers, said, “Maybe Saint Barnabas should start it up again.”

On the drive back into Southern California, passing the billboards and skyscrapers, the need for a new Death to the World became more graphic in our minds. The punk scene, if anything, has gotten worse and the search for truth in these woeful times seems almost impossible. The group, in hopes of bringing back the truth to the youth of the apocalypse, compiled issue 13 and sent it back into the forest of Platina to be edited. With the blessing of Father Damascene and Abbot Gerasim, the new generation of Death to the World was born, and the first issue after 9 years was printed and sent out to people across the United States and Europe.

Preserving the ‘zine’s 21 year old tradition, those that labor on the ‘zine live in different corners of the United States. Some are now deacons, priests, seminarians, and devout faithful laymen. They strive to continue to push the ‘zine that once inspired them to seek Truth and find the Church, continuing to inspire Truth-seeking and soul-searching amidst the modern age of nihilism and despair, promoting the ancient principles of the last true rebellion — being dead to this world and alive to the other world. Today the ‘zine continues to tackle the problems of our day by exposing them in the light of Christ’s Holy Church.

 

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  8. […] St. Isaac the Syrian writes that “The world is the general name for all the passions. When we wish to call the passions by a common name, we call them the world.” The passions, you know, are like greed and sloth, lust and vainglory, envy and resentment, and so on. So, when we say that God loves the world are we saying that he loves these things? That he loves the passions and the horrors that impassioned people carry out? God forbid the thought. The word “world” carries many senses. And we must carefully consider what is meant. […]

  9. First time I had heard about this was last night and I was in a vary dark place collapsed on the side of the road in the middle of the night at like 10 or 11 crying my eyes out not know what to do or where to go or who to turn to but this man saw me collapsed on my knee and he cam out of his house and spoke to me and I was not really excepting of talking to any one with tears in my eyes I said I will just leave if I was bothering any one and as I got up and started to walk away he went back into his house and got his coat and ran after me being me when I am sad or angry am a fast Walker he caught up to me not even a couple blocks and I said leave me your just like everyone else who hates me pretending to care he said may I walk with you and I spilled my guts like a walker from the walking g dead and laid it all out he kept trying to just get me to stop crying cause he saw I was in pain cause of how I looked but right as I was about to meet up with a friend of mine which I told her and texted her that I need help was waiting for me right up the road but right as me and this man started to get closer to where me and my friend were meeting he stopped me and said have you ever heard about death to the world and I was sitting their stunned with that name in my head and pondered it around for a second and I said to him that’s a vary odd name for a type of Christianity he said to me please look them up they saved me in my time of need and I see that you have lost your path in life and I think this could help the world not be so hard and I said to him I will I shook his hand and said thank you to him for his time and everything and he gave me this look of please let him find his path then him and I had parted ways and I spent the night at my friend’s house and she and her boyfriend help me calm down a lot more and I woke up first thing in this morning and thought to my self mabey I should look this up and this leads to now but what happened last night renewed my faith in humanity cause of a single act of kindness from a stranger and I hope he possibly gets to read this but he really saved me last night because I was about to go commit suicide and just end it all cause I felt so hopeless but this man saved me and I am forever thankful to him for saving my life thank you – sincerely Jakob weiss

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