Friday Logoi II

“Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved.” –St. Seraphim of Sarov.

“The ontological unity of humanity is such that every separate individual overcoming evil in himself inflicts such a defeat on cosmic evil that its consequences have a beneficial effect on the destinies of the whole world. On the other hand, the nature of cosmic evil is such that, vanquished in certain human hypostases it suffers a defeat the significance and extent of which are quite disproportionate to the number of individuals concerned.” –Elder Sophrony, St Silouan the Athonite


The Holy Ascension of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into Heaven

Troparion of the Holy Ascension Tone 4

Thou hast ascended in glory, O Christ our God, and gladdened Thy disciples with the promise of the Holy Spirit; and they were assured by the blessing that Thou art the Son of God and Redeemer of the world.

Kontakion of the Holy Ascension Tone 2

When Thou didst fulfil Thy dispensation for our sakes, uniting things on earth with the Heavens, Thou didst ascend in glory, O Christ our God, departing not hence, but remaining inseparable from us, and crying unto them that love Thee: I am with you, and no one can be against you.

Acts 1:1-12

The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.

Reflections on the Second Anniversary of My Chrismation

As I noted last year, I continue to experience the timely providences of God. Like last year, the calendar anniversary of my reception into the Orthodox Church via chrismation (the sacramental anointing with holy oil) falls before the liturgical anniversary. (Pentecost 2007 was 27 May, the Sunday before Memorial Day. This year, Pentecost is 7 June. That whole moveable feast dynamic.) And like last year, I will take this occasion to offer some reflections.

Head and Heart

One of the most immediate effects/experiences of receiving the Mysteries of Repentance (Absolution), Christmation (reception), and the Holy Eucharist, was the healing of the division between head and heart. I had become, in part by personality in larger part by life experience and training, rationalistic and analytical. Not as much as I perhaps could have been, but still I had moved away from the heart toward the head. The experience of the Mysteries (or Sacraments) began immediately to have its effects, though it may well be that the healing take me into the next life.

As I’ve recounted elsewhere, before I knew there was an Orthodox Church, I had already intuited the deficiencies of having an intellectual (doctrinal, particular biblical interpretations) connections to the New Testament Church. I “knew” I needed an organic connection. The mind can only take one so far.

I was, ironically, helped in all this by the pagan philosopher Aristotle, who helped move me away from a monochromatic rationality to a fully orbed understanding of the mind. This, coupled with a renewed and corrected understanding of the biblical and patristic view of the heart, helped me to realize the internal schism as well as the means to its healing (including of course the Mysteries and the Jesus Prayer).

I have not, nor am I required, to divest myself of my intellect, but the intellect must be properly ordered within the human person (the mind in the heart), and so for now I am consciously engaging in a focus away from the mind toward the heart. Which requires a certain askesis.

Asketic Struggle and True Philosophia

2005 was, in some ways, the most important year in my life, both religiously/spiritually and intellectually/philosophically. It was that year in which I discovered the, if you will, explanatory mechanism of the free asketic struggle of the will toward particular choices and acts. It was also the year that I came to understand philosophy as practiced in antiquity as a way of life (philosophia). These twin philosophical concerns (via free willism and Robert Kane and Pierre Hadot respectively), also meshed with particular theological concerns (the understanding of monothelitism and of Christianity as a way of life not simply a set of confessions or doctrines), which combined for something like a conversion. I began to realize that the Faith once for all delivered to the saints was not a body of doctrines requiring some sort of intellectual allegiance, but was, rather, a particular way of living. That way of living was not moralistic (a la Kant), but was, rather, asketical (a la Aristotle), oriented toward virtue and the transformation of the soul (character). One must struggle to enact faithful choices, and that process of struggle molded and shaped heart and mind and soul. This way of life was oriented around particular texts (the Scriptures, writings of the Fathers), soulish exercises (worship in the liturgy, the forming of the mind via the memorization of texts and hymns), resulting in a particular orienting principle (the Trinity, the Body of Christ) and a manner of speech which harmonized mind and heart and actions.

So, one fasted. Not to earn merits, but to shape the soul via the body (between which there is no Platonic dualist division). One prayed, to conform the mind to the heart. One gave, because the communion of one’s life with the particular members of Christ’s Body, was a communion in the Life of Christ, Head of the Body.

The intellectual realization of these things, of course, still have not adequately been translated into a manner of living (conversatio) that would be readily recognizable as Christ’s own. But it was a massive turning point, a dividing wall marking before and after. Chrismation was the crowning of that point and the initiation into its realization.


There is another liturgical anniversary to consider: the seventh anniversary of my turn toward the Orthodox Church for good on the Sunday of the Blind Man, which happened to fall this past Sunday (though the calendar anniversary is 9 June). I have also spoken about this elsewhere. I will always remember the “St Anthony moment” (so named for the instance in which a particular Scripture made a marked impact on St Anthony’s life and action by being proclaimed in the worship service) that occurred that day, and the implicit promise coming from it. I remain utterly hopeful and confident in that promise, though it will most certainly turn out far differently than I once imagined. But on this occasion of the double anniversary, I am mindful of the promises of God which do not fail.

Glory to God for all things.

Friday Logoi

[On suffering and physical disability] “God wants it, so I accept it.” Pope John Paul II

“Basing our happiness on our ability to control everything is futile. While we do control our choice of action, we cannot control the consequences of our choices. Universal laws or principles do.” First Things First, Steven R Covey, and A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill.

“But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Jesus (Luke 12:7)

The Most Interesting Man In The World

[Note: I’ve found several new videos of the Most Interesting Man in the World, and have updated the post and bumped it up to the front page. Enjoy!]

Police often question him, just because they find him interesting:

The above video with women in red dresses instead of white nurses uniforms:

He’s been known to cure narcoplepsy just by walking into a room:

People hang on his every word:

He wouldn’t be afraid to show his feminine side:

His reputation is expanding faster than the universe:

His personality is so magnetic he is unable to carry credit cards:

He is the life of parties he has never attended:

On drink umbrellas:

On those nuts:

On packages:

On self-defense:

On careers:

On rollerblading:

On life:

And here’s a radio ad:

Note: The Most Interesting Man in the World is Jonathon Goldsmith.

Carry On, Then

Yesterday was the feast of St. Job the Long-suffering (cf. the book of Job in the Old Testament). I’m mindful of the saint, not because my life compares to that of the holy prophet, but because I’m in the midst of major life transition, and although what is coming in my life is doubtless not the same thing that happened to Job, I face tomorrow with much hope and joy and peace, whatever may come. This has been an incredibly painful time, and seemingly interminable, and–trying to avoid the melodramatic–I have no doubt that I have much more pain to endure. But I face tomorrow and the next day and the next with a sense of promise, joy and anticipation.

There are one or two personal goals I’ve wanted to pursue for nearly my entire life, which for various reasons have been put on hold, or simply stored away. But I face a future that feels to me wide-open, despite some very real and concrete limitations. I wake up excited to face each day. Despite my limitations, I have a very real sense of control–not over circumstances or others but over my choices and actions. I know what may come (which is likely not to be really all that different than where I’m at today), and much of it isn’t going to be fun, but I know what I can do, what I can’t do, and that oddly enough gives me a very real sense of control, again, not over my circumstances but over my choices and actions.

Some of these goals are already underway: financial, professional, religious and so forth. But one goal in particular has to do with this blog. Anyone who knows me knows I love to write. About anything and everything. I love words. I love the way they sound, the way one works one’s mouth and throat and breathing to speak various words. Words integrate body and mind and heart. When one prays out loud one involves some of the body’s major systems, one involves one’s heart and mind. Words can be a means to the integration of the human person, body, soul and spirit.

But I have found that recent times, life circumstances and my limitations have taken me away from this love of words and of writing. And while this blog helped me follow this pursuit of the written word when I first started it nearly seven years ago (on another website), life and its boundaries have taken me from this blog and from writing. I am now in the midst of some major reevaluations of various aspects of my life. Despite my experiences these last few years, and more recently, I really get a sense of being given a new start, a blank page, an unwritten script, waiting for me to begin filling in the spaces with words and pictures and music.

Part of that evaluation involves the role this blog has played, is now playing and might still play. I’m not sure what precisely I’m going to do about this blog–except that in the near future I’m going to intentionally ignore it (for the most part) while I explore various activities with regard to writing to see which fosters the most creativity and productivity for the best-fitted discipline. Perhaps this blog will be it, perhaps not. I will be going through the posts on this blog and culling some of the posts (mostly the ephemeral and vaporous). For now I’ll leave much of it. I may ultimately come to the decision in the coming months to delete the blog altogether. I’ve had fun with it, but I need to reevaluate all my activities and bring together those things that will give me some extra return for some synergistic combinations. Some of the writing activities and disciplines I’ve done in the past have been more helpful than blogging. And I’m not sure the nature of the blogging medium can give that sort of return for time and effort.

And it may just simply be the case that the blog has served its purpose. I started blogging as I began to journey to the Orthodox Church. In a few weeks it will be the second anniversary of my reception through chrismation into the Orthodox Church. This blog has served as a record of my thoughts, academic pursuits, and exploration of the way of life that I have now engaged for the past couple of years. I didn’t set out to make the blog a specific tool for recording that journey, but it sort of became that ad hoc. Oddly enough, now that I’m Orthodox, I really have much less desire to discuss it. I have found that my ignorance is so much more vast than I used to realize, that I really don’t have much to say. And I’ve also recognized that my life is not such that I have any standing to speak about such things in a public blog: I don’t fast and give and pray like I should, so how can I talk about the Theotokos, the saints and the Incarnation? Since that journey has for some time been in its new phase, it may be time to phase out this blog, too.

I don’t know. All of this is in play.

It’s both the worst of times and the best of times for me. I’m excited, hopeful and joyful at facing whatever future may come. God is good. All the time. In every way. To and for me and my life specifically. Life makes it challenging to believe that at times, but it is always true.

St. Job pray for us, that like you we may always turn our hope and faith to God, awaiting his rich mercy.

For the lyrics to the Kansas song, follow the jump
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