Monday, May 08, 2006

Stranger in a Strange Land

Let's start with reality, shall we? I find reality to be the most difficult conclusion since it requires a level of honesty rarely associated with we humans. We are too willing to be self-deluded. We prefer the fantasy of our own sophistication or worse our own weakness.

This preferred mindset leads to all kinds of unhealthy habits and conflict. We confuse co-dependency with communion. We settle for accommodation to mediocrity rather than continue doing the hard work of excellence. We allow the compromises of life to stupefy us into a delusion of existence rather than honestly confessing our own need for authentic life.

This self-delusion can sometimes be named a virtue. We arrogantly insist that our willingness to compromise and to "get along" are actually signs of spiritual maturity and humility, all the while perpetuating a "status quo" that institutionalizes our own poverty of soul.

To be sure, humility and compromise are necessary if we are to ever build consensus and cooperation. But these good goals should never be used to further dishonesty or delusion. It should also never be used as an excuse not to boldly do the right thing regardless of the popularity of that act.

How does one find the balance necessary to avoid delusion and yet be gracious and humble? I think the first step is repentance.

Metanoia, the Greek word translated as "repentance", first asks us to "change our minds." In other words, we begin this process of honesty with ourselves. I can't change another's mind. That work begins with me alone. So, my own thinking, my own mindset, my own perspective must first survive the honest scrutiny of a divine light. King David rightly began saying "search me, O God, and know my heart." It is this humble willingness to begin with myself that frees me from the delusion of thinking all we need is for everyone to see things our way to set all matters right.

Beginning with myself. That is where the death of delusion begins.

6 comments:

Jenny said...

"It is this humble willingness to begin with myself that frees me from the delusion of thinking all we need is for everyone to see things our way to set all matters right."

Does this mean I can be right sometimes? :o)
Hi Papa! Congratulations on your new marriage and family!
Good to see you emoting. :o)

Barnabas said...

Jenny,

What a joy to hear from you!

Well certainly you get to be right sometimes, but, for the life of me, I can't figure out why that matters at all!

The truth is that, from an eternal perspective, we're NEVER really right, but we are invited to be holy.

I think that's better, don't you?

Papa

Jenny said...

Hi Papa!

Yes, to be holy is much better! Yet, when we are holy—which includes being in line with His will, idenitified with His Person and purpose—then we are "right" as He is. No? Isn't the process of sanctification how we become deeper imitators of Christ?

So really, the desire to be right is really the desire to be as closely related to Him as is possible for us.

Of course, I was referring to "being right" in terms of winning an argument with my family (almost never happens). But I guess that's another topic altogether. Ha ha! :oD

Have a lovely day!
Jenny

Proserpine said...

I admire this First a lot:

We allow the compromises of life to stupefy us into a delusion of existence rather than honestly confessing our own need for authentic life. (!!!!)

And I am sure with this as I am not the native: "It should also never be used as an excuse not to boldly do the right thing regardless of the popularity of that act".

If this is seeing of expansion of repentance?

Anonymous said...

Hi Daddy, I must admit that I do not completely get your blog. But I guess I have not reached the understanding of true repentance when all this other stuff getting in the way. Any suggestion for good books lately? I ♥ you!!

Kristin

Barnabas said...

Thanks for stopping by, honey. Hey I'm not sure I understand true repentance yet either.

Just know the heart of what I'm trying to say is to be honest with myself about my need for repentance and my own need to live out what I say I believe.

I'm actually excited about reading a book by Fr. Joseph Hunneycutt called "One Flew Over the Cupola." It's a book about the challenges that face converts to Orthodoxy.

I love you, too, little girl. Kiss that grandson of mine for me.