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[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.
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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Fearing your free-will

SS has some interesting quotes on "children". This one struck me in particular because I think it has application to the lengthy commenting going on regarding the dancing procession.

The simplest means for confining the will within its proper bounds lies in disposing children to do nothing without permission. Let them be eager to run to their parents and ask: May I do this or that? They should be persuaded by their own experience and that of others that to fulfill their own desires without asking is dangerous; they should be put in such a frame of mind that they even fear their own will.
-St Theophan the Recluse, "The Path to Salvation" p 58

Does this change with adulthood? I think not, it changes with purification, illumination, and deification...but not with biological adulthood. Experience has taught me to AT LEAST be weary of my own will.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:26 AM [+]
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8 comments


8 Comments:

The problem with reading books is that they give us the impression we understand things fully. The not doing things without permission meme is common both in Orthodox Monasticism as well as Buddhist and Hindu monasticism as well.

My problem with such ideas is that I have lived under such regimes in a Buddhist environment. Basically, such regimes lead to massive amounts of lying and in the worst case insanity on the part of the leaders. Likewise, I with my one visit to a rather well known Orthodox Monastery rather than experiencing sanity on the part of the monks, I experienced quite the opposite. It took my faith a couple years to recover the shock of finding out that books are books and practice is practice.

We all want to make things easy for ourselves. It would be nice to have simple rules. Simple rules make our ego feel like accomplishing something when in fact something quite the opposite is occuring. My favorite example is the story of the disaster of a one priest. The priest was quite fierce about not eating meat during Lent. Unfortunately, that same priest ended up having an adulterous affair that became public and destroyed both his own family and his own priesthood. It would have probably been better to eat some meat during Lent. Who knows, it actually might have saved him from worse.

-Rick

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:57 AM  

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Sometimes (not always!) I wonder if it's always a good idea to take every word said (even by a saint I admire like St. Theophan)by monastics as the LAST word on things like marriage & children. They very likely have some good ideas, but there are others that make a fairt number of sane, moderately pious folks say "Well, he never had kids. Let him give that idea a shot for a week with MY children." -- Bob Koch

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:50 PM  

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Bob...I couldn't agree with you more. I have alot of misgivings about trying to make one's home and family life model the monastic life. So not allowing your kids to have ANY will seems a little over the top to me. BUT, teaching a child not to trust their will seems to make alot of sense.

Surrendering our will to someone else's potentially fallible will seems out of bounds as Rick notes. But surrendering to the Church is something different, I hope.

By Blogger fdj, at 2:19 PM  

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The question is, how does one determine the mind of the church if NOT through its Saints, Rites, and other symbology, the significance of which is all expressed through books and persons. Rick rightly points out the dangers of allowing persons authority, but what of the bishop? If we don't obey him in ecclesial matters are we not protestants?

By Blogger sf, at 2:59 PM  

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Steve...no, we would be protestants if we left and started our own church. Doesn't the Church have a rich history of bishops being dead wrong? The council of Florence comes specifically to mind.

That being said, I am certainly not advocating congregational style governance of the Church.

By Blogger fdj, at 9:08 AM  

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it seems to me that, as i think of my daughter, i WANT to teach her that she has the capacity for making good decisions. that there is by God's mercy, good in her. it seems to me that is the passions that one must distrust... not the will in and of itself. i mean, we all must choose... it is inherently, existentially, a virtual definition of being human... and is my daughter flatly distrusts herself, then why would she trust her decision for Christ? i know so many people who were raised by pastors, missionaries, christian parents, who every step of the way their parents choose for-them. they were never given the developmental experience of choosing, and then experiencing the consequences of those choices in a safe, parental, loving context. i want my child to choose Christ, but i know i cannot make the choice for her.

By Blogger seraphim/seattle, at 10:40 AM  

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I think you are right, Seraphim. St. Theophan's advice seems a little over the top. But a constant bit of distrust of self is probably a good thing. Seems inherent in the Orthdoox way - confession, spritual father/motherhood, never being assured of your own salvation etc.

Having NO trust in your will is probably pathological...but I think the greater eternal danger is putting too much trust in your will.

Now, how to teach THAT to our kids? Well one way is probably to let them make some bad choices.

By Blogger fdj, at 1:03 PM  

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EXAMPLE....if our children see the love and joy of our faith in their parents they are far more likely to develop their own love and joy. One of the most appealing parts of our faith for me has been the fact that it is not secret that we are all fallen creatures struggling every day with our passions. We do not need to be ashamed and hide. We seek repentence and KNOW that God forgives and loves us no matter what. For a teenager to know and see that no only is this true but that his/her parents believe it too, will be a HUGE relief. To see your parents bow before you, at the very minimum on an annual basis, and ask YOUR forgiveness? Wow!
Example....covered in LOVE!

By Blogger Susan Sophia, at 1:25 PM  

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