Saturday, April 5, 2014

Theology and Me

I used to think of myself as a theo buff. In some ways I suppose I still am. My head still likes to latch on to interesting questions and controversies. But, on the whole, I find I have much less patience for such things nowadays. I used to fervently read Fr. Stephen Freeman's blog Glory to God for All Things and other related items. Bishop Kallistos's works, or Fr. Thomas Hopko's or Vladimir Lossky's or any of the works of the saints. And I'm not saying any of these things are in any way bad. I still love them all and appreciate them, and may return to them in due time. I have a special appreciation for them insofar as they helped bring me into the Orthodox faith. Still, at this point in my life I find that I can't read them very easily anymore. My attitude towards theology in general and any questions in particular has come around to a very simple praise: "Pray, motherfucker." Ultimately that's more in line with the thrust of Orthodox theology at any rate. St. Silouan mentioned: "If you are a theologian, your prayer is pure. If your prayer is pure, then you are a theologian."

 I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from reading anything. But, in the end of it all, pray. Knowledge, truth, theological clarity, all are borne of the union with God that is only created with prayer. Prayer is the weapon, the path, the anchor. For every half hour you read, try to pray for an equal time. Ultimately you'll benefit far more. And yes, it's cliche as hell. But, as Mr. Pratchett noted, cliches are the "hammers and screwdrivers in the toolbox of communication". It's cliche because we talk about it a lot but practice it little. It's cliche because we'd rather trivialize it. And we trivialize prayer because it is terrifying. It is war of the harshest kind.
“This is the great work of man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath.”- St. Anthony the Great

Still, God strengthens us for our combat. "The Kingdom of God is taken by force." The violence proper to the Christian is against our own evil. Hand to sword everyone, and all that.