Maybe the world is like it is because everybody only sees what is a dogma and reacts with hate instead of love. I'm thinking of the situation in the world at the moment. Nothing is seen on an esoteric dimension.

What 'dangers' face composers of sacred music today?

If they try to write it in the language of modernism, it's not going to work. I also wonder if a composer can stick entirely to one religion. You have to belong to a tradition, that's true. But Yeats in his late poetry was clearly exposed to the Upanishads. And Blake apparently knew the texts of Indian religions.

Composers have to have a high level of intellection. And I don't mean just the human mind. I mean the true, primal intellect. They have to comprehend other [traditions] if they're going to really communicate.

You spoke of the current situation in the world. What do you think the proper response is, for individuals?

Blake talks about how the world can only be saved through the divine imagination. I think it has something to do with that. A good example of the divine imagination is in Plato's Greece, where the right notes had to be found before parliament could be opened. So music was operating on a cosmic level. You couldn't have a child before the right notes were found, you couldn't die until the right notes were found. This is what he says in the Republic.

I remember I wrote to the [London] Times or the [Daily] Telegraph after the disaster in New York and I said that the world's leaders really need to read Rumi, who says "sell cleverness and buy wonder." I think both sides are operating on cleverness gone all totally perverted. They really think they know something. I think man has to realize that the only way of knowing something is to leave yourself open as a divine channel. Your tradition is Russian Orthodoxy. Why Russian Orthodoxy in particular?

The fact that I converted through the Russian arm is not really important. I think that's a fault of Orthodoxy--they get terribly tied up with their own branch. If they can't even embrace their brothers, how on earth will they embrace other religions? I think that's a modern fault of Orthodoxy.

The Orthodox liturgy is so beautiful, and in a way all of a piece, but are there parts of it that resurface in your mind, in your work? Prayers from the liturgy that return to you as you're composing?

Maybe the Cherubic Hymn, especially the passage that says: "Let us now lay aside all cares of this life."

I find incredibly moving all the Holy Week services--such as the ones the refer to Christ as the bridegroom. There's a text in particular that I find incredibly beautiful: "Thy bridal chamber, O Lord, I see, but I have no fitting garment that I may enter therein. Do thou shine, shine on the garment of my soul, O thou lover of mankind."

Which writings of the Fathers are most meaningful to you? Which do you turn to most?

Dionysius the Areopagite, and St. Isaac the Syrian, because his Treatise on Love is absolute extraordinary. People like Gregory of Nyssa.

Any lines that stand out?

Well, I suppose there's one...I can't think who wrote it: "God became man because of us. Let us become God because of him." I think if the whole world did that we'd be in a better state than we are.