What is the Story of selfishness in my life?
It is an intriguing question. One that I lately find myself often pondering while I meander my way through said selfish life. It is not a question I myself opted to pose to myself and I do not wish my blog to become some sort of venue for my own public self-psychological analysis…well on second thought, it may actually be too late to avoid that. None-the-less, it is a question assigned to me and I have little doubt that it fits right into my life as an Orthodox Christian in pursuit of restoration.
I have often touted the virtues of Orthodoxy and how it so often hammers upon us to quit looking outward and to focus on looking inward. Human “nature” (please note the quotes), wars against this constantly and I certainly see it in myself and therefore, consequently, I see it in others within Orthodoxy. It is a subtle thing really, judgement that skillfully masks itself as piety.
Selfishness, self-reliance, and individualism (it seems to me) are all pretty much the same thing. Much of “modern” AND POST-modern culture is founded and rooted upon aspects of it. So is sin. Human “nature”, remember? Not even the post-moderners can escape their propensity toward self without grinding their way through the process of Theosis. It’s no good to talk about community and love, and it is no good to wander about giving to the poor and starting programs to “solve” complex sociological problems…unless, UNLESS there is a foundational change in our own nature. Becoming Orthodox (or perhaps it is the other way around) has convinced me that this “transfiguration” is not something that happens “magically” (it is a fine thing to turn this term against those who would so label us who adhere to sacramental theology) in the recitation of some “Sinner’s Prayer.” It is a synergy that is made possible by grace, but none-the-less requires MY participation.
That participation has been sorely lacking in my life. The Church, for the last 2000 years has been prescribing to her adherents that way in which we can enter into that process of restoration. That process where (as I still vividly recall Fr. Jonah Paufhausen saying) our “I” becomes “we.” The way to build community, to feed the poor, to solve complex sociological problems is to till the soil of our hearts – to rid ourselves foundationally of the selfishness that so isolates us from EVERONE – even those who share our home and our genes.<>It begins on our kness, on our face, before the Holy Icons and Relics, amidst and within the Holy Sacraments, and amongst (and with) the people of the Church who together seek to walk the same way laid out for us all. Followers of the prescriptions.
The Story of selfishness in my life, then, is first of all not a new one and it is not one that I alone suffer from. It is as old as the day when someone plucked a particularly dangerous fruit from a particularly dangerous tree in an attempt to “just do it” on their own.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:10 AM [+]