The Fathers and Theosis
29-04-2009, 03:06 PM
admin Wrote:I hope that there is a solid middle ground in which the spiritual ascesis is a right response to God, but does not demand anything in itself, but lives in hope.
Dear Father Peter,
When I read most of your posts here and elsewhere, I feel that you are 'preaching to the choir' as the expression goes, and that I am sitting in the choir.
As I read of a hope for a "solid middle ground," and a "genuine spiritual tradition" as it relates to our topic at hand, and as I read the comments of some who feel that the Eastern Orthodox spiritual tradition has become too systematised and professionalised, I think the two thought units are not unrelated.
And, while I agree with the both your theology of hope and the later comment above, I would add to the latter (systematised and professionalised) a thought about a 'control freakery' that seems to be a motivating force in this as well. Especially, as we consider what I have read as well that some "Christians are being told that they should not develop any sort of prayer rule without an experienced spiritual guide, and that they should not dream of praying the Jesus Prayer as it is bound to lead to disaster." Admittedly, there needs to be a balanced approach here, but what a cosmic irony in this.
But, ultimately it seems there has to be a middle ground which is also a common ground in all of this as you have written in the remainder of your post from the other day. And, without me quoting the entirety of that post, what I am driving at is a question.
Whether one's "system" is more earthly/moralistic or more of a spiritual systemization, is it too simple to just know that in one's "approach" in one's "pursuit" whereby one attempts to apprehend that for which he was apprehended . . . where one is pursuing the pursuer . . . is it too simple to just acknowledge that one size does not fit all?
Is it too unsophisticated to just understand that some are called to a more earthly path and others are called to a more (for the lack of a better word) contemplative path?
I have read much about those who would argue the contemplative way and THE way and those who would argue the way of praxis as THE way whereby the thinking is that 'my' way is the right way and all other ways are to be viewed as an erroneous understanding of the 'ancient doctrine.'
Is it too far out of the picture to be seen that for some to give a cold drink of water to the least of humanity, to the alienated in society is to partake in the divine nature and to make more of the Holy Spirit in that one's life? While at the same time, is it too far out of the picture for one to actually find a somewhat severe ascesis and rule of obedience (under the hand of those that might be considered masters of 'control freakery') as a means to an end, with a direct experience of the Holy Spirit as that end? Do you know what I mean, not all are called to be married and raise families in a city, not all are called to live in a cave alone?
I keep thinking of the writing of Fr. Jack Sparks (Greek Orthodox) who makes a very strong case for the fact that we are to pursue God 'each as is appropriate for oneself.' I have given just a few examples above of different approaches, but how could it be any other way? Some live in monasteries and feel that they are the only ones able to experience the fullness of the Spirit, and to this it has been answered:
Quote: I guess the question arises though because of the degree of monastic obedience and asceticism. The laity rightfully ask to what degree they should be following this also?
So what if it is all just a complete waste of time, and in the end, we actually detract others from a faithful pursuit of God because discussion like this breeds confusion and doubt more than anything else? What if in the process of attempting to show people the light so that they can join us and walk like us and talk like us and cut their hair like us and do things our way . . . we have just pulled them from path that they needed to be on?
And, now I'm thinking of your Indian shopkeeper friend again believe it or not! I cannot seem to get this man out of my mind. But, this means I need to end my post post haste!
So I will, but not first without a quote from Vladimir Lossky from "The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church:"
Quote:If while remaining loyal to our respective dogmatic standpoints we could succeed in getting to know each other, above all in those points in which we differ, this would undoubtedly be a surer way towards unity than that which would leave differences on one side. For, in the words of Karl Barth, 'the union of the Churches is not made, but we discover it'.
So, you know . . . forget about even the above sentiment whereby points are argued to the point where the listener is confused to the point of being paralyzed with fear in developing anything remotely resembling a prayer rule or a spiritual practice (moral or other) in her pursuit of God, how worthwhile is it to attempt to make or determine a unity/union that can only be discovered?
But, now we are back to a previous discussion of 'community' and 'society' so I really know it's time to go now!
PS It occurs to me know after fishing out this Lossky quote that he has much to say about our topic at hand (as well as my previous comment about wanting to thouroughly understand our topic!).
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 - Rick Henry - 29-04-2009 03:06 PM