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Archive for March, 2011

But I have called you friends . . . (John 15:15)

The Philanthropos Theos, is, as is often referenced in Orthodox worship, the Man-Befriending-God. This notion of an Almighty God who desires our friendship is a scandal and not one easily overcome. We prefer to believe that God exists. Friendship however entails something more.

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I was approached via email to post some links providing some exposure to a new book by an Athonite monk. I lack the necessary psychology/psychiatry background to fully evaluate these matters, and further, I am not one well-versed in the Orthodox literature on logismoi. But I’ve read the linked guest posts by the author, and an excerpt from the book (links follow), and have found them of interest. I thought I would pass along the information for those who might also be interested. The author, Fr Alexis, is posting as a guest on a handful of blogs as per the following schedule.

Post #1 – March 23rd: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/03/following-is-first-in-series-of-four.html
Post #2 – March 25th: http://janotec.typepad.com/terrace/2011/03/fr-alexis-trader-being-christian-in-a-post-christian-world.html
Post #3 – March 28th: http://voxstefani.wordpress.com/
Post #4 – March 31st: http://www.bombaxo.com/blog/

Fr Patrick Barnes’ website also has some links which excerpt from the book:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/phronema/introduction-to-ancient-christian-wisdom-and-aaron-becks-cognitive-therapy.aspx

http://orthodoxinfo.com/PHRONEMA/CULTIVATING-THE-GARDEN-OF-THE-HEART-CH-9-ANCIENT-CHRISTIAN-WISDOM-AND-AARON-BECKS-COGNITIVE-THERAPY.ASPX

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Musings on Vocation, and a Parable of Sorts

There is on the one hand one’s discovery of a vocation, and on the other, a vocation’s discovery of one. One may come to the realization of a vocation while going about one’s daily life, and one may also have that immediate and vivid sense of calling that grabs hold of the inner attention and will. It does not seem to me that these are incompatible, though the romanticism of the latter is usually the sort of model presented. I think that’s a cheat. More often than not, if I’m a decent enough observer of human life, it’s the former. Or, it may even be a blend of both.

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The Intercessions of the Saints

Those who disapprove of asking the intercessions of those saints who have departed to be with Christ seem to have no problem with asking the intercessions of those saints who still remain in this mortal flesh with us. Those who balk at the invocation, “St Benedict, pray for us,” will not hesitate a moment to send out a prayer request via email or call a friend and say, “Please pray for me.” If one believes in the Resurrection of Christ, there is an inescapable inconsistency here.

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Prayer’s Co-creations

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. I John 5:14-15

J R R Tolkien begins his creation account in The Silmarillion with the gift of song, given to the Ainur, by which the creator fashions a symphony of free voices which give rise to the world. This theme of co-creation highlights and amplifies the concept of God’s sovereignty in a synergy of human freedom. And I think this is something like what John is declaring to us. What does it mean to “ask according to his will”? If God is sovereign, why pray at all? Is it merely that we can line up with what God wants? So that we can display virtue? What about human desire and human freedom? There are no hard and fast answers here, but perhaps there are hints and suggestions.

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Mystery

The soul-sickness called modernism runs deep in us. We have become creatures of mind and reason, and we have lost our hearts. Some, reacting to this desiccation of the human soul, have shredded their hearts by giving themselves over to mere feeling and impulse. So we categorize and pigeonhole one another. Or we manipulate and control through a distortion of desire. But the deepest part of the human person is mystery, a deep core that God alone knows. At the center of this mystery lies an image and a freedom. The image bears the immense weight of the divine, the freedom carries a design for creation and love.

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