May 5, 2010
Any text about God which seeks to form our thinking about God can easily distract a person from God, and this includes Orthodox texts. It is simply more ironic, and sad, when the text which distracts one from God is a text teaching the reader about the dangers of texts distracting one from God.
…Years ago, some ROCOR monks I met at, of all places, the International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo (an academic conference), told me that if one really wants to learn Orthodox theology, the first step is to cease to self-consciously attempt to learn Orthodox theology – for such is a dangerous reversal of the right ordo. The first thing to do is to learn how to pray, and if you are not to a point where you are ready to learn that sort of prayer which takes real effort (an actual prayer rule), you might start with doing the dishes for the people you are responsible to love, or trying to speak with kindness, or other similar things basic to living a human life (the idea being that it takes some softness of heart to begin any serious regimen of prayer). It seems rather common (though I know this primarily through literature, thus, I don’t really know it) that when a monk comes to the monastery, he spends years doing rather mundane things before they let him anywhere near theology.
…Without doubt or hesitation I can say that the persons I have known whose lives struck me as the least prayerful were those who cared a great deal about theology as a ‘subject,’ and that includes Orthodox whose beloved secondary literature tells them of the dangers of approaching theology as a ‘subject’ even as these very texts teach this by way of subjectivizing theology. There is such a thing as an addiction to theology as ‘subject,’ and it is ugly, turning the sufferer into a wraith. Becoming Orthodox and reading books about the dangers of approaching theology as ‘subject’ seems to have no bearing on the likelihood of developing such an addiction. Every would be theologian thinks his or her ideas are the safe ones.
This is somewhat similar to what I was trying to say in my post “I’m right and you’re wrong.” I have witnessed certain people who have so much head-knowledge about God and they are quick to let you know it, sometimes even in not-so-nice ways (admittedly, this may take place more often on the internet than in-person). I have seen people who seemingly know a lot about God, and yet I can’t help but wonder if they really actually know God. How can one know so much about God, and yet so clearly lack the fruits of the Spirit? That is what I try to shy away from. Right now I am keeping a lot of my thoughts fairly simplistic, partly because I am a mother of a toddler and I have limited time on my hands, but also because I can see the same fate befalling me.
March 3, 2010
I’m giving up that attitude.
I think that we all suffer from it to some extent – some more than others. Unfortunately I am one of those others. Sometimes I greatly desire letting others know that I am right about everything. I want to be the person with all of the answers.
The truth is that I am not. The truth is that this attitude only makes other people less inclined to hear me. The truth is that it is a matter of my own pride. The most pressing truth of all though is that this attitude totally and completely distracts me from my relationship with God. I can easily become too busy defending my positions and in the meantime I neglect the things that I should be doing on this path to salvation.
So I am giving up this attitude. And I’ll be honest – it hurts a little. But I need to have a different motivation for learning about my faith. It can’t be just to prove someone else wrong and to prop myself up in the process. It must be a quest to know God and to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Anything else falls flat.
People in Protestant circles like to say “when we get to Heaven, such and such will happen.” In that vein of thought I have to recognize that when I get to Heaven no one is going to say “wow Liz, you were right about ____!” So I am letting go and concentrating instead on what is truly eternal.
Recently someone accused my husband of not having everything figure out. It’s true, he doesn’t. I don’t either. Who among us does? May I never pretend that I do. This blog is intended to be the chronicle of my journey and the things that I learn along the way. I will certainly discuss differences between Orthodoxy and heterodoxy, but I hope to handle these subjects with grace and clarity and never with a holier-than-thou attitude.