Saturday, August 19, 2017

Moving Day

As part of my growth as a professional, I'm moving my blog to a Wordpress site in which I will have my Hebrew course material open access.

I won't delete this, but I've already moved all of its content over.

Forget (poem)


I do not desire radical utopia
Rather I yearn for the chance to become
a decent man.

But don't ask me how.

We are not saved
without our brother;
for how can I love
the God whom I cannot see
if I cannot love my sister
when she appears before me?

Monday, August 07, 2017

Acedia and its Cure

The acedic man, the one turned in on himself so that he is incapable of love, pulls all of reality out of its place as expansive and open, instead forcing it to live only within his evermore limited vision.

The acedic man, then, is necessarily controlling and often outright abusive. Anything that departs from the world created within must be brought into submission, so that that world will not be shattered -- the only thing more terrifying than the hellish sub-world constructed by the spiritually despairing is the void, the nothingness, the utter confusion and chaos that he has convinced himself exists outside of his tunneled vision. Within, where he has become a helpful and impotent god, there is no love, nor can there be, even if he seeks it with tears. What hope does he have for the outside? This gives the abuse that he subjects everyone to, especially those closest to him, a feeling of panic: the only way to keep his private hell going is to make sure that others burn with him.

He straddles, then, a world that he feels compelled by fear of death to continue, and so abuse and mistreat everyone and everything -- it is a world where there can be no sacred -- and a world where he holds ultimate moral responsibility for the iconoclasm of every living thing. While he feels that there is no other way to treat others, as if it is a necessity, he also knows that he is morally responsible for his choice to continue the lie, the lie that eventually chokes the whole world and murders everyone.

His nature is to love, but he has become unnatural.

A marvel has occurred, though: He whose nature is our pattern, the One who is simply Love unbounding, infinite, uncircumscribable, has taken on our bound, finite, circumscription -- without losing what is His. By grace, through His great love, He became what we are, so that we might become what He is. He rebukes the acedic man, and bears the terror, and goes to where the man fears most: the void. And that void, terrible and infinite, cannot contain this One. It is undone and burst. And the dying One is revealed as the Ever-Living One. In this One, the one who hates himself through self-love (philautia), can love the entire world and so find Christ in himself, the hope of glory. No more abuse, no more need to control to stave off death, but only the abounding overflow of Love.

Pascha is the only cure for acedia.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Acedia and Philautia

Acedia (sometimes called 'despondency') is a condition of the soul that comes at the practical end of philautia ("that all-hating passion, which manifests itself in a thousand ways as a state of being stuck in oneself that renders one incapable of love" - G. Bunge). It is impossible for an acedic person to be patient. Not only is he concerned only with himself, being tossed between the jagged poles of anger at what he is and desire for what he wants to be outside God, but he is in horrible, distracting pain. "Stuck in oneself" is Bunge's way of glossing what St Augustine (via Luther) calls "incurvatus in se", of being "curved inward on oneself": imagine a man doubled over so sharply and severely that his eyes can only always see his navel. Any provocation, any disturbance which might cause him to lose his balance -- a slight breeze, or the fickle mood of a child -- creates such anxiety of further pain and loss of equilibrium (such as can be had in such a state) produces an outsized reaction of rage, hostility, shame, guilt.

But, frozen in such a stance, the only way forward seems to push farther in, drawing closer to the corrupted self, till the eyes can receive no outside light, being enfolded in this corrupted and corruptible flesh. Tears and sweat mingle, at turns cooling and irritating the eyes, but now the tears are not those of repentance, but of angry pain and self-pity. There is, at this point, no reality outside the self: a self with full knowledge of its own impending death, seeing itself as a failed god without recourse. Such is Hell.

There remains hope; but it is a painful hope, and a long slog of spiritual traction and stretching. To be brought upright, to stand up again (anastasis), cannot be done by himself, but by those who have been healed -- or are being healed -- gathering around to slowly pull and set the soulish spine aright. Patient encouragement -- this is the hard work of years and decades -- are what is needed: philautia leads to a myriad kinds of despair. We must never give up on each other, but we must first feel compassion ("suffering together with") those in this state. The Church joins into Christ's pure, other-loving, suffering so that she might join those suffering from themselves. Spiritual warfare is revealed to be a war to join Christ's Passion.

All are wronged by an acedic person -- there is nothing he can do but hurt others. But to be brought upright, out of the prison of the self ("superbia" in the Latin understanding of the Capital Vice of Pride), opens them up to the brightness of Christ's love shining out from His eternal energies and through the faces of His people whom have the love of God poured out in their hearts. Here -- the state we were made for -- can he become pure flame, truly human and so shine out like shook foil the Light that is Love.

I am that acedic person. Forgive me as I have sinned against you.