I saw a friend at a rummage sale of disorganized thoughts. I had no superglue. The weather was nice, the coffee was fresh, as were the grass clippings. I miss Joe, but have to wash my hair, do whites, go to the juvenile section of the library and get cream cheese and crescent rolls without the Oxford Comma. I’ve decided not to worry about politics, but I wonder how I missed Kidd Kraddick. Maybe because he talked about reality tv and celebrities. If they had been Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck or Cary Grant I wouldn’t have missed him. But he seems to have been a nice, talented guy. Before I saw her, I guessed that the woman who died on the Texas Giant was too overweight for their restraints, but the guy should have checked. Lord have mercy. I bet there wont be a new ride built for a long time to pay for it. Maybe they’ll even quit running the misters. I’m too old for Six Flags anyway, but I used to love it. Desire for escape? Thrills? No, I wanted to fly like The Flying Nun. What did Tesla think of gravity? He seemed to like electricity and magnets better. I just like being weightless and having good views. I don’t want to go as fast anymore though. I wonder if horses mind walking briskly and never trotting or cantering. I’m just not sure my back can handle it. Walking briskly is nice . I want to take Joe for a trail ride eventually. Weightless good views. Like driving in the mountains.
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There are haughty, vain-glorious and prideful responses to shame. I use the plural because pride and vainglory are two different things. Pride doesn’t care what other people think. It thinks too much of itself to value another’s opinion. Vainglory cares too much what other people think. It can despair in the face of shame and give up. These are both self-protective responses.
Giving up removes one from the threat of repeating the incident of being thought badly of. “I just wont play anymore.” Conversely, pride can numb a person from feeling the effects of bad opinion. “Think what you will, I’m going to keep doing this ill-thought of thing anyway.”
These both stem from an expectation of perfection in oneself, even if perfection is defined as being naturally sloppy. In this day and age sloppiness is esteemed as an antidote to snobbiness. Rules are for the snobby. And there is a Pharisaical bad example that can lead one to despise rules for rule’s sake. The prideful pharisee doesn’t care what the sloppy people think, and the prideful sloppy people don’t care what the pharisee thinks. They disdain each other.
But what if the sloppy person starts admiring the rule-keeping person? Then he becomes aware of how he falls short. This leads to shame. He imagines that the ruley person disdains unruly people, especially when the latter spends a lot of time criticizing unruliness.
But there are commands, and they should be followed. There are rewards for the Saints, and the rest of us will wish we had been more pure and sinless. In the mean time, one has to deal with his shame and his sins. The humble person is aware of his sins and is pained by them. He is ashamed of having no wedding garment fit to wear. But he does not despair. He approaches boldly anyway. But not too boldly. He can’t ignore his unworthiness. He has to accept that there are consequences to sin. That he doesn’t deserve the seat of honor. He should mourn for this. It does seem vainglorious to be sad about not being honored, though. He should learn from people who don’t seek the higher places.
But surely the ambitious person can shoot for something. Vainglory is a passion, but intimacy with God, the highest of all, should be a goal for everyone. “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart.” We are to keep running the race. We should try harder when we fall short, even if the falling is in wanting recognition. We should want the ability to win the race, but not the reward? It’s sweet when a winner gives his award away, or when he dedicates his running to someone else. I have heard some athletes describe their winning performance as resulting from being in the zone. They are not self-consciously striving, but they are able to be in the moment and enjoy what they are doing, not so distracted about how hard it is. Stephen was in the zone when the Jews were casting stones at him. But blameless Christ was almost crushed by his suffering. The publican suffered over his unworthiness. The good son suffered over rewards given to his less worthy brother. Who knows the cause of my suffering? Let it do its work regardless, I say.
The eighth reason I am shying away from social activism is that I think it is very hard to know enough about a situation to judge. I suppose the best way would be to watch a jury trial, but even then, even the present jury can be wrong. A perpetrator probably doesn’t even know what he did, and he is sometimes the only one remaining who was there. Witnesses who were there often disagree. So am I to take some un-involved newscaster’s word for it? The only observers I really trust are those who are in theosis and are clairvoyant. I have heard stories of monks on Mt. Athos telling a person who they are and what they did before they are even introduced. The rest of us are backseat, armrest psychologists.
Does this mean that one should not try to evaluate events? No, we do the best we can anyway.
Yesterday in honor of the anniversary of the deaths of Tsar Nicholas II’s family and servants, I watched a documentary and read some articles about the last Tsar. There are definitely polarized, mixed reviews regarding his administration. Most agree, however, that he was not a statesman who was up to the demands of his times. But was he just a passive, negligent bystander who should have only been a nice Orthodox family man, or was he a coward who slaughtered innocent masses of people, both his own civilians and poorly administered military? Could either character have stopped the Bolsheviks? It doesn’t seem so to me from my comfy recliner.
But if he was the first, what does that say about passivism? Was Tsar Nicholas II truly incapable of ruling? Was Edward VIII also incapable? The King’s Speech portrays two brothers who were traumatized by their childhoods. One ended up stuttering, but was capable of perceptive action, the other could speak smoothly, but balked in the face of difficult, sacrificial duty. It is very difficult to judge these things. Edward VIII was psychologically dependent on Wallace Simpson. Nicholas II was also very dependent on Alexandra. They seemed to need these women in order to feel safe, and they panicked at the idea of going out into the world alone. They were ostriches. But do ostriches have a choice to bury their heads or not? It seems a very innate part of their nature. Some people may really not be strong enough to stand some things. But could we all stand more than we do? Probably, but sometimes it takes a coach or supportive person to encourage us to do so. I think it is difficult to judge someone who may not have that support. Lord have mercy on us all.
So, if most help is personal, and most harm is personal, at least in my experience, and I’ve heard that most violence is domestic in nature, then I think we waste much of our time focusing on public policy. Or private policy in a public way. It’s not that I don’t believe in enforcing moral laws, it is that I think we’ve surrendered our personal responsibility to love our neighbor and our families and even ourselves to the government. As long as we are law abiding citizens we feel good about ourselves, if we agree with the laws. This is the wrong focus. The government is not the authority on loving neighbors and self. The Church should be. I don’t want to go into policies regarding Church and state, and indeed policy puts it in the realm of laws again. Wrong focus. We should as individuals seek out what the Church says about loving God, neighbor and self – giving alms, fasting, and praying. If everyone did that they would receive instruction and grace to love God, neighbors and self and all would be well.
I recently decided to have my 8 year chronic back pain evaluated. After the MRI, the doctor said I have a protruding and desiccated disc between lumbar vertebraes 4 and 5. He suggested physical therapy or yoga. Yoga appeals to me because my pain is definitely worse when I am tense. I recently discovered through reading online that the 2 psoras muscles line the last thoracic vertebra and all of the lumbar ones, terminate in the upper femur, and are indirectly connected to the diaphragm. If one side is tighter than the other, then many things get messed up. Imitating the poses in this youtube video really helps my back feel more relaxed, flexible, and pleasantly warm.
One of the explanations for why we have trouble with this area is that this muscle is very sensitive to our fight or flight response. Perceived threats, either physical or psychological, will cause us to tighten this muscle. If we feel under threat all the time, or if there is actual trauma, it can lead to disc problems. I don’t know which is the case for me. Disc dessication is a degenerative problem that usually happens in people older than me. I was a nurse lifting heavy bodies, for a year while going through divorce, I drove a school bus with a seat that severely tilted down to the right, and 8 years ago, I was under a lot of stress regarding some relationships not in my immediate family.
So now I’m trying to learn to relax and strengthen my back. Some people warn against yoga because of its tie to Buddhism. I can see a temptation to adopt a head in the sand, nothing is real mentality. But at the same time, I see value in letting go. Maybe it’s my stage of life as my nest is emptying that I need to learn to let go. But, I also believe everyone is commanded to be anxious for nothing. I wonder at the nation’s constant obsession with 24 hour coverage of distressing events. I don’t think we should ignore these things, but at the same time, I think we do need to learn to give them to God. I am leaning away from activism for many reasons.
One, it seems that these godless, chestless days are prophesied, and therefore inevitable. Two, I think living by example is more convincing than arguments or confrontation (so what is this, ha ha). Three, I think stories are more influential than arguments. Four, I think most of society’s problems stem from a religious point of view, not a social theory, though that is influenced by religion too. Five, I think that personal relationships are the only way to help people, not a vacuously constructed government entity. Six, too much focus on problems will tighten your muscles too much. Seven, God is bigger than the boogey man, as Vegie Tales say. An Orthodox clergyman said, as the world gets worse, heaven gets stronger. Therefore, I think we should learn to let it go to God, and if I’m wrong, and changing laws is the answer, I’ll let go of the shame of your bad opinion as well. God bless you.
Come go with me on a rabbit trail, a rabbit trail, a rabbit trail.
Come go with me on a rabbit trail; are we the rabbit or the hunter?
Either way we have to move fast.
If Christ is more excellent than the angels, what about the angels? Are we to pay any attention to them? Are they thus nothing? If there is a movement to dis them, and to focus only on the most excellent, then where did that come from? Plato? Protestantism? Modernism which disses all heirarchy?
Maybe the last two come from Plato. If he espouses the one over the many, then the many get reduced to nothingness. I’m not saying he totally does, but he does seem to lean in that direction. From Wikipedia:
One-over-many: For any plurality of F things, there is a form of F-ness by virtue of partaking of which each member of that plurality is F.
Self-predication: Every form of F-ness is itself F.
Non-self-partaking: No form partakes of itself.
Uniqueness: For any property F, there is exactly one form of F-ness.
Purity: No form can have contrary properties.
One/many: The property of being one and the property of being many are contraries.
Oneness: Every form is one.
The concept of forms itself ridicules its own examples. A table only exists as a shadow of the higher, immaterial form of tableness, for example. Therefore any lesser beings are meant to be transcended above to contemplate the One. The one who can do this has left the cave, as it were.
Let’s take the example of excellence, since Christ is more excellent than the angels. According to Plato, the form of excellence must be contemplated, and if we must stumble through the angels and then to Christ, we would see that he is a better example of the form of excellence than the angels, and so, why waste your time on them?
But one would have to know the person of Christ to understand the nature of excellence. Excellence does not pre-exist Christ. If He is most excellent, what does he do? He sustains every insignificant part of creation for one thing. He makes his ministers (the angels) spirits and his servants flames of fire.
Hierarchy does not exist alone. We can qualify this as a choice instead of necessity.
What about other forms, like tallness? One can say that tallness is more excellent than shortness, but isn’t there only room for infinite tallness to exist? Everything else comes up short, and there you blow the purity qualification. So are the angels shorter than God, and thus disqualified as excellent?
No, he is more excellent. That does not mean that by being less excellent, that angels aren’t excellent. But does that also mean we stop qualifying things in order to make angels feel less inferior? No, hierarchies are our friends. Is there a self-existing form of hierachy? No again, God as Trinity and his heavenly host pre-exists the notion.
So, since we are in a hurry, we must just conclude by saying, give angels and saints and rabbits and dust their due.