What is paradosis? | bloghome | paradosis website | contact

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
<
[Consider Supporting]
[Our Farm]
[The Past]
05/01/2002 - 06/01/2002
06/01/2002 - 07/01/2002
07/01/2002 - 08/01/2002
08/01/2002 - 09/01/2002
09/01/2002 - 10/01/2002
10/01/2002 - 11/01/2002
11/01/2002 - 12/01/2002
12/01/2002 - 01/01/2003
01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003
02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003
03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003
04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003
05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003
06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003
07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003
08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003
09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003
10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003
11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003
12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004
01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004
02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004
03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004
04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004
05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004
06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004
07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004
08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004
09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004
10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004
11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004
12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005
01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005
02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005
03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005
04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005
05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005
06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005
07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005
08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005
09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006
04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006
05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006
07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006
08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006
09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006
10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006
12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007
01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007
02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007
03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007
04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007
05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007
06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007
08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007
10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007
11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007
12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008
01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008
02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008
03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008
04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008
05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008
06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008
07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008
08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008
09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008
10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008
11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008
12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009
01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009
02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009
03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009
04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009
05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009
06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009
07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009
08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009
09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009
10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009
11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009
12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010
01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010
02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010
03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010
04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010
05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010
08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010
09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010
10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010
03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011
04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011
05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011
06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011
10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011
11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011
12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012
02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012
03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012
04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012
05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012
06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012
08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012
02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013
04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013
07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013
11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013
02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014
03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014
07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014
[Orthodox America]
Antiochian Archdiocese
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
Orthodox Church in America
Serbian Orthodox Church in America
Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church in America
[monasteries]
Valaam
Holy Myrrhbearers
Saint John
Saint Theodore
New Skete
Saint Herman
Saint Anthony, AZ
Balamand Monastery
[mercy]
Zoe for Life
In Communion
IOCC
Missions
[orthodox bloggers]
Notes from a Hillside Farm
Bishop Seraphim
This is Life
Fly in the Holy Oil
The Violent Munkee
The Blue Canopy
Sophia Says
Notes from a common place book
Pithless Thoughts
Photios
[I am a Rusyn]
[Slovakia]
[Kosovo]
[Mmmmmm]
[Where in the World?]
Locations of visitors to this page

Friday, August 13, 2004

The Big "pay off"

Some of you may recall a comment recently made by Imran in which he asks:

What do you think about the Catholic bishop/philosopher who proudly declared himself a hedonist, because the spiritual life is the most pleasurable? (Even if it has its challenges, it is a life to be preferred, and will certainly "pay off" when you attain the beatific vision.)

It is a valid question and one which has in different forms constantly plagued my discussions with my "beloved Atheist"

I have given a good deal of thought to the expression of the bishop that Imran mentions (no idea who he the bishop is), but I can certainly understand the perspective. For many Christians there is no need even to struggle toward any sort of beautific vision, rather Jesus is here and now making their lives WONDERFUL! For them, Christianity is perhaps a sort of hedonism.

Neither perspective (hedonism realized now or in the future) seems to mesh well with the Christianity I am given. Repentence and struggle, repentence and struggle seems to be the name of the game. Think about all the times that someone approaches Jesus expecting to be sold something - He doesn't dress it up and make it pretty for them, he doesn't change the message to make it more attractive and very often we see people walking away from Him, unable to bear the cross He tries to lay on their shoulders.

There are times when I wonder if I am able to bear the cross, and even more times when I wonder: "Now where did I leave that cross at?"

I do not deny that the struggle is all for a return to normalcy which some like to imagine as a sort of eternal ecstacy. But, paradoxically, a return to normalcy insists upon a complete denial of self, and folks that ain't all that fun, even when it is particpated in at the puny level that I am presently playing.

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:14 AM [+]
+++
22 comments


22 Comments:

This issue has been perplexing me for a long time, and possibly for the rest of my life. St. Theophan talks about this issue extensively in "The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned To It". A very good resource on this topic.

Bodily pleasure vs. spiritual pleasure. The fallen "nature" of our animalistic soul is to serve the body and make it as comfortable as possible. The spirit breathed into us by God, wants to serve and please God. This is the dilemma; the struggle. Pleasing the body takes us away from the things of God: fear of God, yearning for God, virtuous living and conscience.

Spiritual pleasure, the little I have experienced, seems to take a long time to cultivate and is very satisfying. Bodily pleasure is immediate and is dissatisfying. Because of my lack of patience and pride, I almost always choose the easier path. I was created for God and given the freedom to choose Him or not and partake of the "living water", or chose water that never quenches my thirst.

I am so inclined to the latter, that I don't know if I ever will obtain the spiritual mindset.

The struggle continues.

By Blogger Jared, at 10:39 AM  

________________________________________________________________

i'm not sure if the two are ALWAYS mutually exclusive. it seems to me that the body and its desires can be a beautiful, wonderful, and even sacramental expression.
why else song of songs? why else periods where we are forbidden to fast? why else the greater-than-erotic joy that so many monastics speak of? why else the teaching that the *joy* of the Lord is our strength? and so on... i think the issue, however, is one of slavery VS sacrament. doing all things in the name of Christ VS for merely the dead end of merely our own pleasure. so many of the joys that are spoken of in scripture and even by monsatics, are rarely if ever individual... but so often between persons and communities.

this is no way contradicts repentance and struggle. but repentance and struggle are not means in and of themselves... the love of God and acquisition of the Holy Spirit are the ends... the goal... the glory, and yes... the joy. physical and spiritual, as God wills.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:36 PM  

________________________________________________________________

Well, God forbid I should come off as a hellfire-making dents on the rock with my knees-joyless-ascetic.

:)

However, suffice to say my imbalance is always in the other direction - never failing to recognize, relish, and serve ease, pleasure, and joy.

Ever looking for balance.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 1:16 PM  

________________________________________________________________

I guess that is where I am finding the confusion to be: where do I draw the line? "Everything in moderation", right? So often the pleasures I pursue lead me to selfishness, pride, sloth...etc, even when done in moderation. Living 30 years with the mindset that I have a right to enjoy those things that are pleasurable have left me in a hard-hearted place.

I'm not able to tell that those pleasures I do pursue are harmful or good for me in the moment. I'm not sure I know where to draw the line. To trully "feast", as we approach the Dormition, or revel in selfishness.

Maybe celebration in community is the key. St. Chrysostom advises that when you are to have a party, you should invite the clergy to keep things "under control". I also know the key(s)is participating in the Church. I am so glad that I have a Spiritual Father I can talk to about these things and hold me accountable. I am not left to decide these things for myself.

I do know that if I begin to reject all pleasures and adopt some form of Arianism, I have gone too far. God IS "everywhere present and fillest all things". Beauty is everywhere, as Schmemann has said.

By Blogger Jared, at 1:17 PM  

________________________________________________________________

interesting to watch the opening olypmic ceremonies in greece, in connection to this thread...
the ceremonies included a parade of various greek histories/influences/inventions/achievements, etc... included in the parade was a small parade float representing the greek orthodox church... however floating above the entire procession, appearing to give blessing to the entire parade (including the church), was the greek god - eros.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:03 AM  

________________________________________________________________

Equally interesting was that the commentators had some knowledge and commentary to share about all the other floats EXCEPT the one showing the history of the Byzantine Church and Greek Church.

By Blogger Philippa, at 5:13 AM  

________________________________________________________________

James,

Are you entirely selfless? You have indicated that if you lost faith in God then you would become a hedonist.

Surely heaven is a big pay off for you.

Would you endure church attendance with small children (and all the other inconveniences a Christian must suffer) if there were no heaven?

By Blogger Imran Currah, at 10:05 AM  

________________________________________________________________

Am I entirely selfless...sure I am, can't you tell!

What is heaven? Do virgins await me there? I am not sure the context is phrased properly Imran. For me the notion of "going to heaven" is laden with so much mistaken symbolic baggage that I hesitate to use it.

Why endure what we must endure? Well, one analogy might be because we have come to believe that doing so will bring healing. Healing from a disease that we have come to believe truly exists, which as you know the rest of the world denies or perhaps relishes in. Like obeying the orders of your doctor - very very hard sometimes.

So I suppose one could argue that HEALTH is the payoff. But frankly I am not led to believe nor do I hear sermons extolling the ecstacy that awaits those who are "healed" (aka saved) - it simply isn't the emphasis because of that paradox in that healing is something that brings us away from ourselves and unites us in perfect community. Is there ecstacy in that? We are no explicitly told.

But to pursue heaven for heaven's sake is to perpetually circle the mountain and never ascend it.
What place do we have for a completley selfless endeavor? Is there such a thing? Is such a thing lauded in the Christian Tradition?

Is it not a virtue to do something simply because it is the right thing to do regardless of what it may cost us and without weighing the potential benefits?

I pray this is what my personal Christianity is, but as you well point out in what I assume was your rhetorical question - I am far from being selfless.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 12:07 PM  

________________________________________________________________

Another thought occurred to me...the illness from which we require healing is in no small way hedonism itself.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 7:57 AM  

________________________________________________________________

I am not convinced that there is anything wrong with hedonism (Ayn Rand does a good job of exploring this line of thought). In fact, I think it may be impossible (or perhaps even wrong) to EVER be motivated in any other way. Ergo the comments of the good bishop who points out that all selfless acts are self destructive acts. Any act in accord with the will of God brings a blessing, and is therefore inherently selfish (even if one may not be consciously aware of the selfish motivation (indeed you may want to argue that for it to bring a blessing one must be unaware of the selfish nature of your act), it is ipso facto a selfish act).

"I say that you may call on God by whatever name you please. You may call him God, or you may call him the Merciful. He has the best of names."

-Qu'ran, Al-Isra, Surah 17:110

By Blogger Imran Currah, at 8:54 AM  

________________________________________________________________

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."I do not know how to reconcile this (amongst many other examples in the NT) with hedonism...even the subconscious sort of hedonism that I have often debated with my "beloved atheist" and that you make mention of here.

I am at a loss, Imran...hedonism bleeds beauty from everything: our families, our spouses, our spiritual borthers and sisters, and even our religion. I am reminded of that frightening anoalogy of the last judgement in which Jesus tells those who puport to have worker miracles in his name: "I never knew you."

Love, is - and MUST be - the polar opposite of hedonism. Hedonism always leads you inward, never outward.

I admit it is paradoxical and as I have argued with my "BA" before, ultimately I cannot prove that my (or anyone's) motivations are truly selfless...but then even the scriptures affirm the overarching decietfulness of one's own heart.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 11:12 AM  

________________________________________________________________

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."I do not know how to reconcile this (amongst many other examples in the NT) with hedonism...even the subconscious sort of hedonism that I have often debated with my "beloved atheist" and that you make mention of here.

I am at a loss, Imran...hedonism bleeds beauty from everything: our families, our spouses, our spiritual borthers and sisters, and even our religion. I am reminded of that frightening anoalogy of the last judgement in which Jesus tells those who puport to have worker miracles in his name: "I never knew you."

Love, is - and MUST be - the polar opposite of hedonism. Hedonism always leads you inward, never outward.

I admit it is paradoxical and as I have argued with my "BA" before, ultimately I cannot prove that my (or anyone's) motivations are truly selfless...but then even the scriptures affirm the overarching decietfulness of one's own heart.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 11:13 AM  

________________________________________________________________

"Love, is - and MUST be - the polar opposite of hedonism. Hedonism always leads you inward, never outward."

Family life has taught me just the opposite.

Example: I married my wife because I thought she looked nice and I wanted to copulate with her (I assume something similar took place between you and your wife). My "hedonism" led me not inward, but outward, towards another. What is the product of this hedonism, 5 beautiful children, who are glad to be alive, and most glad is myself. My wife is also glad for my hedonistic motivations to ravish her (although I must admit, not always :)

Another example is my greed with my job. I want more money. What I do to achieve this hedonistic desire is I work my rear off. This leads me outward again, not inward. The result, my wife and children are well provided for. Also, I have become a valuable member of society, who has extra to give to those in need. I have also become a much more capable and confident person who knows how to achieve results and goals.

Thank God for passion! Give me more, not less! Carpe Diem!

Rumi tells the story of a wife, her husband, and their maid. The wife knew that the husband and maid were attracted to each other, so she was very careful to make sure they were never alone together. One day the wife and maid were at the public bath. The wife forgot something at home, and she told her maid to go home and get it. Not long later, the wife realized her error, for her husband was home. Rumi says there were too women running. One was running for Love, the other was running for Fear. There is no question about who got there first, the one running for LOVE.

By Blogger Imran Currah, at 11:51 AM  

________________________________________________________________

Imran...

Hedonism, as an -ism, will never allow your relationship with your wife to extend beyond I thought she looked nice and I wanted to copulate with her And so while it may have lead to marriage...you must have transcended hedonism in order to really relate to another person on a level beyond pleasing yourself.

What is it that Hedonism (as an -ism) teached you in regards to married life (as opposed to the other way around)? What wisdom does hedonism offer during those dark times when family life is virtually unbearable and it seems everything within cries out for you to escape?

Or what in hedonism leads you to refrain when a new woman comes along who you think looks nicer and that you would like to copulate with more than your wife.

Or, what on earth (as a hedonist) would lead anyone to ever give to those in need.

I want more money. What I do to achieve this hedonistic desire is I work my rear offLet me give you a hypothetical situation in regards to this statement: So, if you were offered a job by the nation of Israel to assist them in scamming Palestinians out of much deserved insurance money (i know...absurd situation...but bear with me), and they offered you an insane amount of money to do it, would you? Knowing that further suffering would be heaped upon these people? I think a hedonist (in the truest sense) would take the job without hesitation!

Maybe we need to define out terms:

The doctrine holding that behavior is motivated by the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain.What I mean by hedonism is that it will always seek to avoid pain and I do not think it is possible to truly relate with a person or a family or even yourself until you are able and willing to embrace pain and not avoid it.

Putting all hope of a "pay-off" aside, there are times when we just simply deny ourselves and our needs and help someone else...even to the point of causing ourselves harm in some way.

As far as what Rumi says, forgive my ignorance: I don't get it.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 2:20 PM  

________________________________________________________________

I can't believe I wrote "teached"!!!

It's the muscle-relaxers I'm taking, really!

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 2:23 PM  

________________________________________________________________

"The doctrine holding that behavior is motivated by the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain."

I would not take the job working for Israel. Reason is the mental anguish caused by my conscience would outweigh the pleasure brought by my increase in excess discretionary income.

Jeremy Bentham works out this line of thought, and eventually it gets called "Utilitarianism".

Working for American Family Insurance causes me less pain because I do not have to wrestle with guilt over doing something I feel is immoral.

Pain is not only physical; it can also be mental and even spiritual.

By Blogger Imran Currah, at 6:22 AM  

________________________________________________________________

Let's define our terms. To define hedonism let us turn to the early Greek philosopher Epicurus who was one of the first people to use the term "hedonism":

"Epicurus defined philosophy as the art of making life happy and strictly subordinated metaphysics to ethics, naming pleasure as the highest and only good. However, for Epicurus pleasure was not heedless indulgence but the opposite, ataraxia [serenity], manifesting itself in the avoidance of pain. His hedonism differed from the cruder variety of Aristippus and the Cyrenaics in the emphasis that it placed on ataraxia and on the superiority of intellectual pleasures over bodily pleasures. He also prescribed a code of social conduct, which advocated honesty, prudence, and justice in dealing with others."

Taken from a dictionary of philosophy.

By Blogger Imran Currah, at 6:32 AM  

________________________________________________________________

I think the "hedonism" you are attacking is a straw man. It simply does not exist. You paint your opponent in an unfair way and then take shots at him. As far as I see it there is nothing wrong with seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. I see nothing in this which contradicts Christian faith.

By Blogger Imran Currah, at 7:44 AM  

________________________________________________________________

I suspect in my mind I may be thinking of the "cruder" variety of hedonism, whereas you are likely advocating the Epicurian.

But I find myself pitifully armed to argue the finer philosophical points.

Will you not explain the Rumi quote to me?

And what of the things I wrote concerning family?

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 7:55 AM  

________________________________________________________________

If pleasure seeking is the ultimate evil, then is pain seeking the ultimate good? Is God a sadist?

By Blogger Imran Currah, at 7:57 AM  

________________________________________________________________

"Will you not explain the Rumi quote to me?"

What Rumi is saying is that desire is a better motivation than fear. I will tell another story to illustrate. Once Rumi was coming from the Friday prayers when he met a man who had been running towards the masjid. The breathless man asked, "Have I missed the prayers?" Rumi answered, "Yes". The man looked very disappointed and let out a big sigh. Upon which Rumi said, "I will trade you all of my prayers for your one sigh."

"And what of the things I wrote concerning family?"

I don't know if I have anything to add. I think that the words of the good bishop sum it all up. Loving my wife and kids brings me great pleasure. Even if there are some inconveniences along the way the pleasure I receive far outweighs the pain I endure. Would you not agree?

By Blogger Imran Currah, at 8:15 AM  

________________________________________________________________

I think the "hedonism" you are attacking is a straw man. It simply does not exist. No my friend, it does exist. I've seen it in my daily life. I do not attack it enough.

If pleasure seeking is the ultimate evil, then is pain seeking the ultimate good? Is God a sadist?Pleasure seeking is not the ultimate evil, but believing or acting like that pleasure seeking is the ultimate good is.

"I will trade you all of my prayers for your one sigh."That is truly beautiful.

Loving my wife and kids brings me great pleasure...Would you not agree?Of course...but do I love them for my sake or theirs? Perhaps it doesn't matter, but I like to think it does and that if ever I should "change" and find that it no longer "brings me great pleasure" (as many a divorced husband/father may tell you) that I will love them none-the-less. In other words, that I would choose to question the change and not the lack of pleasure.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 10:38 AM  

________________________________________________________________

Post a Comment




This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?