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.
I had the best of intentions to blog here more often once I left Facadebook, but I'm finding that real life and particularly my new (almost a year now) job is monopolizing my time.
This period of Internet silence on my part has led me to consider what exactly I have to say and why. Is this just like Facadebook in slow motion where I can put up my facade or pontificate with the equivalent of longer forms of Internet bumper stickers stupidly thinking I can change the politics or religion of others? I still have my convictions, I'm just weary of doing fruitless drive-by's on their behalf.
I'd like to think not. Why is it important to me that I get my opinions out in public? Is it important to me? Does having a blog by default imply it is important to me? I'd like to think I've no illusions with regards to my ego or pride, but I probably have a plethora of varied illusions and admitting so makes me no less subject to them. This is what I'm thinking about now:
Does it benefit one to have a clear vision of oneself and yet apparently be utterly unable to do anything about it? I like to think I'm a good person because I am pretty confident (uh-oh) I know my faults, my flaws, my passions, and my failings; whereas "bad" people are seemingly incapable of seeing their real selves. It's a nice and lazy fantasy I like to tell myself.
If I'm not growing and progressing can I really consider myself one of the good guys? In truth I'm worse than the worst of blind sinners, because I can see and yet...
Yeah a few choice scriptures come to mind with regard to knowing the good one ought to do and not doing it.
I still hold out hope that writing my thoughts down here can be redeemed from my online ego. I've come a long way from the person eager to argue religion and politics online...well...there's that ego again.
To answer your question about the vanity of opinions, blogging, self-knowledge... YES, I do think self-knowledge is worthwhile, even if you know that you will not be able to summon the energy to change.
I think we and perhaps you get stuck in a guilty mindset where we survey our faults, then acknowledge our lack of sucess and so on. But how many times do we survey the good things that we've done or the positive changes we've made? If you do so, you might come to the conclusion that many positive personal changes come about not through raw exertions of will, or through our own meritorious hard work, but through openness to new solutions, or other people or changes which derive from unexpected sources.
For example, I have a problem with anger when I'm being treated poorly as a customer. I have rights and I vigorously defend them. I was very aware of this and had been like this for 30 years. But then one day one of my customers got mad at me and went for the jugular. Being aware of my own behavior in this regard really caused me to re-think this whole dimension of life: my merciless behavior toward the customer service representative, the contractor who can't get it quite right, the waitress who loses the order. I think I needed this experience to change, and I receive it now as a Gift.
I would say the change (in my case) came about by a) being aware of my own reactions in these situations and b)reflecting on how I felt when I made an error in a consulting project and almost got sued for gazillions of $$. I don't think I ever would have changed without both of these factors. Now, when I start to get mad, I think about all the potential damage I could be doing to another person, and find another way to get what I need.
Summary: you have to see yourself honestly and be open to outside help or experiences which may drive a change more readily than raw willpower. The capacity to be "open" in this way seems essential: think of how many gospel parables and stories are not related to the slow acquisition of holiness but rather to stunning and unexpected situations that people find themselves in and the choices they make: the person who finds a treasure and, the person who decides to stop and help the samaritan, the person who has been trying to get into the pool when the water is stirred up for 40 years, and many many others.
If we believe in God, but for the most part blame ourselves for not being "better", i.e. more holy, more generous, more disciplined, etc., then we've become Palagians. Practically, it's a kind of inverted pride. We Orthodox believe in synergy, which means that God's timing, His path, what He wants to do with us (as opposed to what we want) is just as important as OUR timing, path, goals, etc.
I think your blog has always been honest, self-effacing, thoughtful, and these are in themselves virtuous and inspiring to others. I say keep going.
I see your points...must always seek to find balance. But I find that in my life I spend a great deal more time recognizing my faults than I do doing much of anything about them - even if it's just to pray!
I like your anger example because I suffer from it in a different context. I've had plenty of revelatory instances, but none apparently significant enough to shake me free, if you know what I mean. I'd like to see more progress in my life...knowing that means depending far less on myself as you note.
Don't get me wrong...I don't want to give the impression that I mope about grieving constantly over my unrepentant nature. I assure you, I don't. The blog just caught me in a brief instance of sobriety...to some degree. :)