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« on: May 05, 2011, 10:42:40 AM »

So, I have a friend here in Russia, the man who at one point was to be my sponsor, but who we both decided was not a good fit, based on his rather "un-Orthodox" view of Orthodoxy. He, as far as I can tell, even after 10 years of being Orthodox, is very much stuck in a modern wordly/Protestant mindset, or has returned to that from a more conservative beginning. It has been tough for me to be around him whenever we end up discussing religion, as he is almost exclusively negative about the Church at-large.

Among other things, one point that he constantly goes back to is his almost violent attitude towards Orthodox monasticism. He believes it to be a total distortion of true Christianity, a perverted denial of natural human instincts, and to have led to evils and abuses for centuries (especially, says he, in 19th Century Russia, save a couple of notable saints...). What might this attitude come from? Is this a common dispute amongst Orthodox (he claims there are MANY who feel the way he does)? How do I respond to these assertions which I really don't believe to be true, but am not all that informed on, yet?

To be brief, someone defend monasticism for me a bit! Make me feel better!  Cheesy

In Christ,
Jim
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2011, 11:24:57 AM »

What might this attitude come from?
Ignorance, Satan.

He believes it to be a total distortion of true Christianity, a perverted denial of natural human instincts
This line of logic could also be used toward Orthodox marriage and fasting. What human "instincts" are "natural." What does he mean by "natural?" Orthodoxy does not even see death as essentially "natural" let alone mindless slavery to passions. Christianity is, essentially, a religion of asceticism, of self-denial. The Lord said, "Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." Everyone has a cross--monastics, married people, non-monastic single people, children. Everyone is called to some measure of self-denial, even beyond the "extras" of Church-imposed fasts and moral expectations. For example, there is the bearing patiently of circumstances beyond our control--illness, finances, obnoxious neighbors, etc. All this fits in with self-denial and has nothing to do with monasticism, per se. Monasticism is simply a path of self denial, like marriage or Christian life in general. If he's upset about abuses of monasticism, what about abuses of marriage? Does he rail against that, too? Some people do. It's appears to me to be a mark of imbalance to do so, in either case. And there we have another cross for him and you to bear.
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2011, 12:13:05 PM »

Read Philipians 2:1-11, This is our Lord's example of denying Himself for our sake/salvation. It's a picture of His voluntary humiliation and obedience, which was rewarded by His return to glory having destroyed the power of death over us. We all suffer from shortsightedness, and I have often complained bitterly within myself at the rigor of this life of faith. But, Thanks be to God He allows me/us to be a partakers of the divine nature in the Eucharist for strength to stay the course. The monastics voluntarily take up the cross of "prayer for the world" out of love for God and union with Him. We would be impoverished without their prayers. "Prayer for the world" is the stated goal of the Greek monastery for women located here in central Washington.

Your friend maybe regretting his own lack of commitment to denial of self... May the Lord have mercy on us all as we seek the Kingdom with repentance and humility.

Yes, abuses happen in any sphere of human involvement, so... we fall down and get back up over and over again. Our Lord tells us, "those who lose their lives for My sake shall find it." Most if not all of His instruction to us is contrary to our fleshly desire, He knows our consumptive carnality will separate us from Him.

Forgive my rambling response, I hope it makes sense on some level.

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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2011, 12:18:08 PM »

I think that the problem lies in the reality that not all of us are called to the Monastic life and the commitment that it entails. A lack of calling to this vocation should not be an excuse to belittle or demean the lengthy history of monasticism in Orthodox history.

Frankly, not being so called, I really don't think much about Monastic life on a daily basis. I try to live my own life 'in the world' according to the teachings of the Church and I would urge your friend to do the same.
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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2011, 12:47:31 PM »

Among other things, one point that he constantly goes back to is his almost violent attitude towards Orthodox monasticism. He believes it to be a total distortion of true Christianity, a perverted denial of natural human instincts, and to have led to evils and abuses for centuries (especially, says he, in 19th Century Russia, save a couple of notable saints...). What might this attitude come from? Is this a common dispute amongst Orthodox (he claims there are MANY who feel the way he does)? How do I respond to these assertions which I really don't believe to be true, but am not all that informed on, yet?

If this man is also in Russia, among other things you have to take into consideration all of the anti-Church propaganda that people were indoctrinated in under the Soviets.  This propaganda and its effect did not suddenly vanish with the fall of Communism but has continued alongside the Orthodox renewal that has also taken place in Russia since this time.

To be brief, someone defend monasticism for me a bit! Make me feel better!  Cheesy

To think about the subject differently, consider what the Church would be without monasticism.  The Lives of the Saints, more than anything else, show us what we as Orthodox Christians are called to, and demonstrate what is the purpose and goal of our Orthodox lives.  Most of the glorified saints were monastics.  Most of the services of the Church, the torparia, kontakia, and canons, were composed by monastics.  Most of the missions which spread Orthodoxy throughout the world were undertaken by monastics such as Sts. Cyril and Methodius.  The Fathers of the Church whose authority we turn to for a proper understanding of the Scriptures were monastics.  The Bishops who gathered together at the Seven Ecumenical Councils to clarify and uphold the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints, were monastics.  Most of the iconography in the Church has historically been done by monastics.  It is truly hard to imagine what the Orthodox Church  would be without monasticism. 

I haven't read it, but Met Anthony (Khrapovitsky) wrote a book entitled "A Defence of Monasticism" which can be obtained for $6 from Holy Trinity Monastery.

http://holytrinity.anthology.com/ProductDetail.Aspx
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« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2011, 12:55:36 PM »

He is in Russia, but he is an American convert.

These are all good points, though I haven't decided whether it's even worth it to get into it with him. More than anything, I wish he would stop constantly bashing the church in my presence, whether it's monasticism, local customs (he has a lot of spite for Russia in general, I think he just wants to go home), church history/violence. One would think that around a recent convert, he might try to avoid that, and help foster the new faith in me, rather than discourage it...

He often claims that "Monasticism as an institution" is where the "real" problems began, and again points to the Russian 19th Century. I don't know quite what he means by this, though perhaps it is a reference to the possessors/non-possessors conflict?

Also, how pervasive was asceticism in the first few centuries?
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« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2011, 01:27:39 PM »

I think that the problem lies in the reality that not all of us are called to the Monastic life and the commitment that it entails. A lack of calling to this vocation should not be an excuse to belittle or demean the lengthy history of monasticism in Orthodox history.

Frankly, not being so called, I really don't think much about Monastic life on a daily basis. I try to live my own life 'in the world' according to the teachings of the Church and I would urge your friend to do the same.

"You greatly delude yourself and err, if you think that one thing is demanded from the layman and another from the monk..." - St. John Chrysostom
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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2011, 01:41:28 PM »

So, I have a friend here in Russia, the man who at one point was to be my sponsor, but who we both decided was not a good fit, based on his rather "un-Orthodox" view of Orthodoxy. He, as far as I can tell, even after 10 years of being Orthodox, is very much stuck in a modern wordly/Protestant mindset, or has returned to that from a more conservative beginning. It has been tough for me to be around him whenever we end up discussing religion, as he is almost exclusively negative about the Church at-large.

Among other things, one point that he constantly goes back to is his almost violent attitude towards Orthodox monasticism. He believes it to be a total distortion of true Christianity, a perverted denial of natural human instincts, and to have led to evils and abuses for centuries (especially, says he, in 19th Century Russia, save a couple of notable saints...). What might this attitude come from? Is this a common dispute amongst Orthodox (he claims there are MANY who feel the way he does)? How do I respond to these assertions which I really don't believe to be true, but am not all that informed on, yet?

To be brief, someone defend monasticism for me a bit! Make me feel better!  Cheesy

In Christ,
Jim
I know plenty of people who find marriage unnatural, given "natural human insticts," especially the idea of limiting oneself to one partner, especially if you are male.  What's he think of that?

There are plenty of examples like St. Seraphim of Sarov of the monastic estate. Another thing to consider is the expansion of Russia: hermits led to monasteries which led to pilgrims which led to towns which expanded the Russian lands.
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« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2011, 01:50:35 PM »

So, I have a friend here in Russia, the man who at one point was to be my sponsor, but who we both decided was not a good fit, based on his rather "un-Orthodox" view of Orthodoxy. He, as far as I can tell, even after 10 years of being Orthodox, is very much stuck in a modern wordly/Protestant mindset, or has returned to that from a more conservative beginning. It has been tough for me to be around him whenever we end up discussing religion, as he is almost exclusively negative about the Church at-large.

Among other things, one point that he constantly goes back to is his almost violent attitude towards Orthodox monasticism. He believes it to be a total distortion of true Christianity, a perverted denial of natural human instincts, and to have led to evils and abuses for centuries (especially, says he, in 19th Century Russia, save a couple of notable saints...). What might this attitude come from? Is this a common dispute amongst Orthodox (he claims there are MANY who feel the way he does)? How do I respond to these assertions which I really don't believe to be true, but am not all that informed on, yet?

To be brief, someone defend monasticism for me a bit! Make me feel better!  Cheesy

In Christ,
Jim
I know plenty of people who find marriage unnatural, given "natural human insticts," especially the idea of limiting oneself to one partner, especially if you are male.  What's he think of that?

There are plenty of examples like St. Seraphim of Sarov of the monastic estate. Another thing to consider is the expansion of Russia: hermits led to monasteries which led to pilgrims which led to towns which expanded the Russian lands.

Yes, he mentioned St. Seraphim as an example of "1 of 1000" who came out great, as opposed to "almost evil". To be clear, I am in TOTAL disagreement with him on this, and am firmly with all of you. I guess I'm just curious what causes this sort of opinion in somebody who claims to be Orthodox, other than his own earthly desires? Is this actually a widespread view?
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« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2011, 02:10:07 PM »

So, I have a friend here in Russia, the man who at one point was to be my sponsor, but who we both decided was not a good fit, based on his rather "un-Orthodox" view of Orthodoxy. He, as far as I can tell, even after 10 years of being Orthodox, is very much stuck in a modern wordly/Protestant mindset, or has returned to that from a more conservative beginning. It has been tough for me to be around him whenever we end up discussing religion, as he is almost exclusively negative about the Church at-large.

Among other things, one point that he constantly goes back to is his almost violent attitude towards Orthodox monasticism. He believes it to be a total distortion of true Christianity, a perverted denial of natural human instincts, and to have led to evils and abuses for centuries (especially, says he, in 19th Century Russia, save a couple of notable saints...). What might this attitude come from? Is this a common dispute amongst Orthodox (he claims there are MANY who feel the way he does)? How do I respond to these assertions which I really don't believe to be true, but am not all that informed on, yet?

To be brief, someone defend monasticism for me a bit! Make me feel better!  Cheesy

In Christ,
Jim
I know plenty of people who find marriage unnatural, given "natural human insticts," especially the idea of limiting oneself to one partner, especially if you are male.  What's he think of that?

There are plenty of examples like St. Seraphim of Sarov of the monastic estate. Another thing to consider is the expansion of Russia: hermits led to monasteries which led to pilgrims which led to towns which expanded the Russian lands.

Yes, he mentioned St. Seraphim as an example of "1 of 1000" who came out great, as opposed to "almost evil". To be clear, I am in TOTAL disagreement with him on this, and am firmly with all of you. I guess I'm just curious what causes this sort of opinion in somebody who claims to be Orthodox, other than his own earthly desires? Is this actually a widespread view?
Perhaps, once the honey-moon is over you'll no longer find his opinions all that outrageous. I, for one, couldn't care less if someone holds similar views.
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« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2011, 02:24:38 PM »

Anyone can be a member of the Orthodox Church, but this formal membership means nothing on its own.  For those who were born into an Orthodox family and never consciously chose to join the Orthodox Church, it is all the more easy to take the Faith for granted.  If one is in the true Church but does not struggle to purify their heart and acquire the mind of Christ, and if they repose in an unrepentant or impious state, it would have been better if they were never Orthodox to begin with.  In the Orthodox Church we have all that we need for our theosis and salvation, but if having all of these things we neglect or despise them, it would have been better had we never known about the Orthodox Church in the first place. 

It is best to keep one's mind in the Scriptures, the Fathers, the Lives of the Saints, to keep one's converse with one's spiritual father, and to ignore most other chatter.  The Church is the Ark of Salvation, but in the end perhaps not many will be saved.  It really doesn't matter at all what other Orthodox say or do because neither the piety nor impiety of others will help us to give a good defense at the Day of Judgment.  The Lord does not "grade on a scale", but rather our own thoughts and deeds will be exposed before the pure and unbiased illuminating gaze of our Lord.  As for us, we have to follow the Lord as did Noah in his time, as did Lot in his day, knowing what we must do and paying no attention to the apparent degree of piety or impiety around us. 
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« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2011, 02:34:33 PM »

"You greatly delude yourself and err, if you think that one thing is demanded from the layman and another from the monk..." - St. John Chrysostom

If anyone has the passage handy, I would like to see the context of this quote... because I've seen this one line several times, and it seems to disagree with what I've seen in the great majority of the Church Fathers, who said that monasticism was a higher calling.
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« Reply #12 on: May 05, 2011, 02:40:59 PM »

Anyone can be a member of the Orthodox Church, but this formal membership means nothing on its own.  For those who were born into an Orthodox family and never consciously chose to join the Orthodox Church, it is all the more easy to take the Faith for granted.  If one is in the true Church but does not struggle to purify their heart and acquire the mind of Christ, and if they repose in an unrepentant or impious state, it would have been better if they were never Orthodox to begin with.  In the Orthodox Church we have all that we need for our theosis and salvation, but if having all of these things we neglect or despise them, it would have been better had we never known about the Orthodox Church in the first place. 

It is best to keep one's mind in the Scriptures, the Fathers, the Lives of the Saints, to keep one's converse with one's spiritual father, and to ignore most other chatter.  The Church is the Ark of Salvation, but in the end perhaps not many will be saved.  It really doesn't matter at all what other Orthodox say or do because neither the piety nor impiety of others will help us to give a good defense at the Day of Judgment.  The Lord does not "grade on a scale", but rather our own thoughts and deeds will be exposed before the pure and unbiased illuminating gaze of our Lord.  As for us, we have to follow the Lord as did Noah in his time, as did Lot in his day, knowing what we must do and paying no attention to the apparent degree of piety or impiety around us. 

Point taken. I need to let go of this distraction. I intend to just express to him that I don't wish to talk about these things with him.

"You greatly delude yourself and err, if you think that one thing is demanded from the layman and another from the monk..." - St. John Chrysostom

If anyone has the passage handy, I would like to see the context of this quote... because I've seen this one line several times, and it seems to disagree with what I've seen in the great majority of the Church Fathers, who said that monasticism was a higher calling.

I'm curious about this, too. Is monasticism generally viewed as a higher calling, or just a different one, meant for certain people?

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Perhaps, once the honey-moon is over you'll no longer find his opinions all that outrageous. I, for one, couldn't care less if someone holds similar views.

Augustin, you clearly have a lot of spite for me and any other converts, despite the fact that my family is all cradles, and that my views are completely traditional. As such, please do not address me directly anymore. I believe that I have never been anything but kind to people on this board, including you, and I don't appreciate condescension, much less the suggestion that my faith is insincere, solely based on my being a convert. Thanks.
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« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2011, 02:57:38 PM »

Jim,

For what my opinion is worth, all institutions that consist of humans, both monasteries and parishes, have their share of problems.  It is easy to make valid criticisms of monasticism as well as of the Church; however we can also look at the good that comes from both.  At some point in his life this man may well change his opinion regarding monasticism, perhaps not.  I would not let it get you down though, it's his problem, not yours. 
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« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2011, 03:13:35 PM »

Christos Voskrese!
Among other things, one point that he constantly goes back to is his almost violent attitude towards Orthodox monasticism. He believes it to be a total distortion of true Christianity, a perverted denial of natural human instincts, and to have led to evils and abuses for centuries (especially, says he, in 19th Century Russia, save a couple of notable saints...). What might this attitude come from? Is this a common dispute amongst Orthodox (he claims there are MANY who feel the way he does)? How do I respond to these assertions which I really don't believe to be true, but am not all that informed on, yet?

If this man is also in Russia, among other things you have to take into consideration all of the anti-Church propaganda that people were indoctrinated in under the Soviets.  This propaganda and its effect did not suddenly vanish with the fall of Communism but has continued alongside the Orthodox renewal that has also taken place in Russia since this time.
Really? I thought the Old Calendar had preserved Holy Russia from all such secular influence. LOL.

To be brief, someone defend monasticism for me a bit! Make me feel better!  Cheesy

To think about the subject differently, consider what the Church would be without monasticism.  The Lives of the Saints, more than anything else, show us what we as Orthodox Christians are called to, and demonstrate what is the purpose and goal of our Orthodox lives.  Most of the glorified saints were monastics.
That has a lot to do with the fact that monastics made up the Menaion, the Typikon, etc.  At times, they were the only ones literate.

Most of the services of the Church, the torparia, kontakia, and canons, were composed by monastics.
Like I said, there's a connection.

Most of the missions which spread Orthodoxy throughout the world were undertaken by monastics such as Sts. Cyril and Methodius.
Actually St. Cyril-though the name postumous-took the monastic habit only 50 days before his death, after a lifetime of Evangelism and translating the Gospels.  And St. Innocent spread the Faith while his wife still lived.

The Fathers of the Church whose authority we turn to for a proper understanding of the Scriptures were monastics.
 
Most, but not all, particular now that literacy isn't confined to the monastery.

The Bishops who gathered together at the Seven Ecumenical Councils to clarify and uphold the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints, were monastics.
Most, but not all: St. Aristakes, the son of successor of St. Gregory the Illuminator attended Nicea I, as representative of the first Christian kingdom, for instance, and all the Ecumenical Councils were called by the emperors, all of who IIRC were married.  Of course, the monastics later stacked the deck by restricting the episcopate to only there number (but even then, the married did get in, like St. Innocent the Illuminator of Alaska).

Most of the iconography in the Church has historically been done by monastics.
Hard to verify, as they are written anonymously. But since the resources for iconography acrewed to monastaries, probable, just not proveable, especially as I have known iconographers who are not monastics who work in monastery workshops.

It is truly hard to imagine what the Orthodox Church  would be without monasticism.
  True enough, though the state of the Nestorian church (which downplayed and at times abandoned the monastic estate) gives hints.  We might have, with the suppression that the Czars did under Western heterodox influence in Russia, giving the Bolsheviks a two century head start, found out.
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« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2011, 03:17:22 PM »


Below are some quotes from various homilies of St. John Chrysostom where he expresses his views on monasticism and marriage.  I have provided links to the full homilies so that you can read and understand the context of his words.  You will see that monasticism is a higher calling than marriage (see the last quote in particular), but those who are married are called to the same way of life as the monks; the same virtues, the same piety, only in a different context.  While we are called to the same way of life, it is much more difficult for people in the world, and consequently, as St. John says, those in the world have even greater need to read and understand the Scriptures than those in the monasteries.


Quote
For the Gentile will next ask thee, How am I to know that God’s commands are feasible? For thou that art of Christian extraction, and hast been brought up in this fine religion, dost not do anything of the kind. And what will you tell him? You will be sure to say, I will show you others that do; monks that dwell in the deserts. And art thou not ashamed to confess to being a Christian, and yet to send to others, as unable to show that you display the temper of a Christian? For he also will say directly, What need have I to go to the mountains, and to hunt up the deserts? For if there is no possibility for a person who is living in the midst of cities to be a disciple, this is a sad imputation on this rule of conduct, that we are to leave the cities, and run to the deserts. But show me a man who has a wife, and children, and family, and yet pursueth wisdom. What are we then to say to all this? Must we not hang down our heads, and be ashamed? For Christ gave us no such commandment; but what? “Let your light shine before men” (Matt. v. 16), not mountains, and deserts, and wildernesses, and out-of-the-way places. And this I say, not as abusing those who have taken up with the mountains, but as bewailing those that dwell in cities, because they have banished virtue from thence. Wherefore I beseech you let us introduce the discipline they have there here also, that the cities may become cities indeed. This will improve the Gentile. This will free him from countless offences. And so if thou wouldest set him free from scandal, and thyself enjoy rewards without number, set thy own life in order, and make it shine forth upon all sides, “that men may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” For so we also shall enjoy that unutterable and great glory, which God grant that we may all attain to, by the grace and love toward man, etc.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf111.vii.xxviii.html


Quote
For even one dwelling in a city may imitate the self-denial of the monks; yea, one who has a wife, and is busied in a household, may pray, and fast, and learn compunction. Since they also, who at the first were instructed by the apostles, though they dwelt in cities, yet showed forth the piety of the occupiers of the deserts: and others again who had to rule over workshops, as Priscilla and Aquila.

And the prophets too, all had both wives and households, as Isaiah, as Ezekiel, as the great Moses, and received no hurt therefrom in regard of virtue.

These then let us also imitate, and continually offer thanksgiving to God, continually sing hymns to Him; let us give heed to temperance, and to all other virtues, and the self-denial that is practised in the deserts, let us bring into our cities; that we may appear both well-pleasing before God, and approved before men, and attain unto the good things to come, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom and with whom be unto the Father, glory, honor, and might, together with the holy and life-giving Spirit, now and always and world without end. Amen.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf110.iii.LIII.html


Quote
“Well,” saith one, “and what dost thou require us to do? to occupy the mountains, and become monks?” Why it is this which makes me sigh, that ye think them alone to be properly concerned with decency and chastity; and yet assuredly Christ made His laws common to all. Thus, when He saith, “if any one look on a woman to lust after her,” He speaks not to the solitary, but to him also that hath a wife; since in fact that mount was at that time filled with all kinds of persons of that description. Form then in thy mind an image of that amphitheatre, and hate thou this, which is the devil’s. Neither do thou condemn the severity of my speech. For I neither “forbid to marry,” nor hinder thy taking pleasure; but I would have this be done in chastity, not with shame, and reproach, and imputations without end. I do not make it a law that you are to occupy the mountains and the deserts, but to be good and considerate and chaste, dwelling in the midst of the city. For in fact all our laws are common to the monks also, except marriage; yea rather, even with respect to this, Paul commands us to put ourselves altogether on a level with them; saying, “For the fashion of this world passeth away:” that “they that have wives be as though they had none.”

“Wherefore” (so he speaks) “I do not bid you take possession of the summits of the mountains; it is true I could wish it, since the cities imitate the things that were done in Sodom; nevertheless, I do not enforce this. Abide, having house and children and wife; only do not insult thy wife, nor put thy children to shame, neither bring into thine house the infection from the theatre.”…..

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf110.iii.VII.html


Quote
“I am not,” you will say, “one of the monks, but I have both a wife and children, and the care of a household.” Why, this is what hath ruined all, your supposing that the reading of the divine Scriptures appertains to those only, when ye need it much more than they. For they that dwell in the world, and each day receive wounds, these have most need of medicines. So that it is far worse than not reading, to account the thing even “superfluous:” for these are the words of diabolical invention. Hear ye not Paul saying, “that all these things are written for our admonition”?
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf110.iii.v.html

 
In St. John Chrysostom’s Homily on Ephesians 5:22-24 he speaks of the ideals of marriage and then states:

Quote
If any marry thus, with these views, he will be but little inferior to monks; the married but little below the unmarried.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf113.iii.iv.xxi.html


In Christ,

Jason

 
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« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2011, 03:19:37 PM »

Christos Voskrese!
So, I have a friend here in Russia, the man who at one point was to be my sponsor, but who we both decided was not a good fit, based on his rather "un-Orthodox" view of Orthodoxy. He, as far as I can tell, even after 10 years of being Orthodox, is very much stuck in a modern wordly/Protestant mindset, or has returned to that from a more conservative beginning. It has been tough for me to be around him whenever we end up discussing religion, as he is almost exclusively negative about the Church at-large.

Among other things, one point that he constantly goes back to is his almost violent attitude towards Orthodox monasticism. He believes it to be a total distortion of true Christianity, a perverted denial of natural human instincts, and to have led to evils and abuses for centuries (especially, says he, in 19th Century Russia, save a couple of notable saints...). What might this attitude come from? Is this a common dispute amongst Orthodox (he claims there are MANY who feel the way he does)? How do I respond to these assertions which I really don't believe to be true, but am not all that informed on, yet?

To be brief, someone defend monasticism for me a bit! Make me feel better!  Cheesy

In Christ,
Jim
I know plenty of people who find marriage unnatural, given "natural human insticts," especially the idea of limiting oneself to one partner, especially if you are male.  What's he think of that?

There are plenty of examples like St. Seraphim of Sarov of the monastic estate. Another thing to consider is the expansion of Russia: hermits led to monasteries which led to pilgrims which led to towns which expanded the Russian lands.

Yes, he mentioned St. Seraphim as an example of "1 of 1000" who came out great, as opposed to "almost evil". To be clear, I am in TOTAL disagreement with him on this, and am firmly with all of you. I guess I'm just curious what causes this sort of opinion in somebody who claims to be Orthodox, other than his own earthly desires?
It can be also that his mind has been poisoned by bad examples.  We have a few of those too. And then those who are confused for monks, like Rasputin.  But St. Seraphim isn't alone.
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« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2011, 03:22:04 PM »

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Augustin, you clearly have a lot of spite for me and any other converts, despite the fact that my family is all cradles, and that my views are completely traditional. As such, please do not address me directly anymore. I believe that I have never been anything but kind to people on this board, including you, and I don't appreciate condescension, much less the suggestion that my faith is insincere, solely based on my being a convert. Thanks.
It's even creepier when the stuff is "sincere". Now, what you have been doing with in this thread is a sort of a p...ing contest. You are trying to prove how right and Orthodox you are, compared with that poor, deluded guy that doesn't agree with you. Actually, for all my spite and foibles I think I am more willing to accept that there is room, in the Church, for many more opinions  other than mines.
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« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2011, 03:24:19 PM »

Christos Voskrese!
He is in Russia, but he is an American convert.

These are all good points, though I haven't decided whether it's even worth it to get into it with him. More than anything, I wish he would stop constantly bashing the church in my presence, whether it's monasticism, local customs (he has a lot of spite for Russia in general, I think he just wants to go home), church history/violence. One would think that around a recent convert, he might try to avoid that, and help foster the new faith in me, rather than discourage it...

He often claims that "Monasticism as an institution" is where the "real" problems began, and again points to the Russian 19th Century.
That's rather odd, as Peter's "reforms," followed up by Catherine, greatly restricted monasticism, to the point of suppression.

I don't know quite what he means by this, though perhaps it is a reference to the possessors/non-possessors conflict?
Both sides were monastic movements.

Put him on the spot: tell him to give specifics, and cites details, or otherwise he can keep his tongue.

Also, how pervasive was asceticism in the first few centuries?
Pervasive enough.  Even then, a lot of the bishops were monastics.
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« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2011, 03:28:44 PM »

Hristos a inviat!
Quote
Augustin, you clearly have a lot of spite for me and any other converts, despite the fact that my family is all cradles, and that my views are completely traditional. As such, please do not address me directly anymore. I believe that I have never been anything but kind to people on this board, including you, and I don't appreciate condescension, much less the suggestion that my faith is insincere, solely based on my being a convert. Thanks.
It's even creepier when the stuff is "sincere". Now, what you have been doing with in this thread is a sort of a p...ing contest. You are trying to prove how right and Orthodox you are, compared with that poor, deluded guy that doesn't agree with you. Actually, for all my spite and foibles I think I am more willing to accept that there is room, in the Church, for many more opinions  other than mines.
He was quite clear that the other guy was p-ing on him (along with the Church), not the other way around, and saving the poor, deluded convert.

So you are creeped out by sincerity, huh? Too bad the Securitate is gone. You missed your calling.
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« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2011, 03:37:52 PM »

adevarat c-o-nviet!
ialmisry,
i never ever told on any parishioner,no matter what, to the priest. But I have seen that done by "earnest and sincere" people to the point where that fellow was driven away from a particular "missionary" parish for not speaking and thinking exactly as the party line was. Fortunately he found a lax, Arabic parish where nobody cares what he thinks.
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« Reply #21 on: May 05, 2011, 03:48:19 PM »

So, I have a friend here in Russia, the man who at one point was to be my sponsor, but who we both decided was not a good fit, based on his rather "un-Orthodox" view of Orthodoxy. He, as far as I can tell, even after 10 years of being Orthodox, is very much stuck in a modern wordly/Protestant mindset, or has returned to that from a more conservative beginning. It has been tough for me to be around him whenever we end up discussing religion, as he is almost exclusively negative about the Church at-large.

Among other things, one point that he constantly goes back to is his almost violent attitude towards Orthodox monasticism. He believes it to be a total distortion of true Christianity, a perverted denial of natural human instincts, and to have led to evils and abuses for centuries (especially, says he, in 19th Century Russia, save a couple of notable saints...). What might this attitude come from? Is this a common dispute amongst Orthodox (he claims there are MANY who feel the way he does)? How do I respond to these assertions which I really don't believe to be true, but am not all that informed on, yet?

To be brief, someone defend monasticism for me a bit! Make me feel better!  Cheesy

In Christ,
Jim
I know plenty of people who find marriage unnatural, given "natural human insticts," especially the idea of limiting oneself to one partner, especially if you are male.  What's he think of that?

There are plenty of examples like St. Seraphim of Sarov of the monastic estate. Another thing to consider is the expansion of Russia: hermits led to monasteries which led to pilgrims which led to towns which expanded the Russian lands.

Yes, he mentioned St. Seraphim as an example of "1 of 1000" who came out great, as opposed to "almost evil". To be clear, I am in TOTAL disagreement with him on this, and am firmly with all of you. I guess I'm just curious what causes this sort of opinion in somebody who claims to be Orthodox, other than his own earthly desires? Is this actually a widespread view?
Perhaps, once the honey-moon is over you'll no longer find his opinions all that outrageous. I, for one, couldn't care less if someone holds similar views.

To the chase.
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« Reply #22 on: May 05, 2011, 03:55:16 PM »


Augustin, you clearly have a lot of spite for me and any other converts, despite the fact that my family is all cradles, and that my views are completely traditional. As such, please do not address me directly anymore. I believe that I have never been anything but kind to people on this board, including you, and I don't appreciate condescension, much less the suggestion that my faith is insincere, solely based on my being a convert. Thanks.

Christ is Risen!

I was going to leave you alone to stew. But really you need not to be so sensitive. augustin has his point of view from living in Orthodox communities and abroad. And frankly much of what he says curtly about converts is true, including myself.

His attitude regarding the hyper-Orthodoxy here is probably closer to most Orthodox, if with a touch of a curmudgeon.

Do you really think most Orthodox spend the amount of time people here dicing up the subjects we do?

Agree or disagree, I enjoy augustin's posts. And he's been nothing be straight forward and kind to me. But I guess you'll write that off "to birds of a feather . . . "

This ain't your sandbox. People play how they choose within the limits of MODs opinions. Chill out man.
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« Reply #23 on: May 05, 2011, 04:57:06 PM »


Augustin, you clearly have a lot of spite for me and any other converts, despite the fact that my family is all cradles, and that my views are completely traditional. As such, please do not address me directly anymore. I believe that I have never been anything but kind to people on this board, including you, and I don't appreciate condescension, much less the suggestion that my faith is insincere, solely based on my being a convert. Thanks.

Christ is Risen!

I was going to leave you alone to stew. But really you need not to be so sensitive. augustin has his point of view from living in Orthodox communities and abroad. And frankly much of what he says curtly about converts is true, including myself.

His attitude regarding the hyper-Orthodoxy here is probably closer to most Orthodox, if with a touch of a curmudgeon.

Do you really think most Orthodox spend the amount of time people here dicing up the subjects we do?

Agree or disagree, I enjoy augustin's posts. And he's been nothing be straight forward and kind to me. But I guess you'll write that off "to birds of a feather . . . "

This ain't your sandbox. People play how they choose within the limits of MODs opinions. Chill out man.

I don't come on to a forum with fellow Christians, seeking advice in my faith, to be treated disrespectfully.

This is the second time you've made reference to a "sandbox": I'm not a regular forum-dweller, you're right, and as such I don't live by your ultra-advanced internet rules. I didn't ask that he be warned/banned/moderated, any of the above. I merely expressed that I didn't wish to be spoken to in this way on this forum, and that if this is the way he wants to speak to me, I would prefer he not do so at all. Whether he chooses to respect that is his own business. I am only being honest, because I come on here for the fellowship, kindness and knowledge offered by so many, and it is not helpful to me to be caught up in hostility.

I don't know either one of you, so I can't speak as to "birds of a feather", though I suspect that outside of the roles we have been in on this forum, you and I have much more in common than you may see. I don't wish to upset anyone, nor to be upset.

I am curious about a subject, and I am troubled by my interactions with another Orthodox Christian in my own life, who has been a friend of mine, because they are confusing, they cause me discomfort, and because I would like to be more informed when I am put in this position again. I am asking about this not to prove my own righteousness, but because I openly acknowledge that I know so little, and that, as such, I can not trust my views on what is or is not truly "Orthodox". I defer to my priest, first and foremost, and to some of the folks on this forum that seem to know what they are talking about, and whose viewpoints speak to me. I am limited in my resources of fellowship here, as an American, and as such, one of my main sources for discussion about faith has been this fellow. I also believe that there is room for many ideas in the Church, but it seemed odd to me to suggest that the entire monastic tradition is, in essence, evil, not to mention that premarital sex is OK, that fasting might be totally anti-Christian, and that the Church Herself is not very important, that the scripture and liturgy is basically it, some of his other recent assertions.
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« Reply #24 on: May 05, 2011, 05:06:31 PM »

Hristos a inviat!
adevarat c-o-nviet!
ialmisry,
i never ever told on any parishioner,no matter what, to the priest. But I have seen that done by "earnest and sincere" people to the point where that fellow was driven away from a particular "missionary" parish for not speaking and thinking exactly as the party line was. Fortunately he found a lax, Arabic parish where nobody cares what he thinks.
LOL. I've been to Romania, and been around plenty of Romanians.  Speaking and thinking differently isn't a valued trait.

It seems that Jim has more in common with your "fellow," and his tormentor to those tattling to the priest in your story. In fact, it seems that since Jim's line isn't lax enough for your party, you take it upon yourself to be "earnest and sincere."

I don't have enough details to comment on your story, I'm afraid. But then, does it matter?

Glad that the lid in your story found its pot (though rather odd for an Arab parish: we talk about nothing but religion and politics, and don't tend to take difference well).
« Last Edit: May 05, 2011, 05:07:07 PM by ialmisry » Logged

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« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2011, 05:13:53 PM »

Christ is Risen!

Fair enough Jim. I just think augustin practices good psycholgicals was being painted with too broad a brush. And sometimes what you might not like is "kindness" and truth.

Water under bridge and how it goes.



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« Reply #26 on: May 05, 2011, 05:22:03 PM »

Do you really think most Orthodox spend the amount of time people here dicing up the subjects we do?

I agree that there are good imperatives for us to realise that other Orthodox are not as zealous for the "minutiae" of the faith as we are.

Conversely, though, I can assure you, from my experience of cradle Orthodoxy, that many of those who call themselves Orthodox are so far removed from the faith that, really, it doesn't even make sense to call them Orthodox (or perhaps even Christian).

Some of the blatantly inane and stupid things I have heard said by members of my own cradle Orthodox family include:

1. Isn't that bread the priest gives you at the end of the "mass" the communion?
2. We're exactly the same as the Catholics except that we don't believe in the Pope.
3. I don't think I need to read the scriptures or attend Church, as long as I live "a good life".
4. I don't see why my child who was baptised Catholic can't take communion in the Orthodox Church.
5. Jesus was special but not God in the flesh.
6. I refuse to kiss the priest's hand.
7. Icons are idols.
8. Why can't Church be like those African-American Churches in America with the dancing and cartwheeling?
&c., &c., &c.

There comes a point where we are not professing different points of view, but different faiths. Which is fine. I don't begrudge people the right to believe whatever they want -- just don't call it Orthodox Christianity.

Calling monasticism "unnatural" smacks of secular thinking. Our whole moral system, which is based on restraint and proper direction of our energies, is unnatural, by secular standards. While I would hesitate to condemn another Christian for feeling uncomfortable about the practice of monasticism (it is, after all, a challenging practice), I don't think it's wrong to suggest that the person is perhaps yet to develop an Orthodox phronema. Who knows, though -- the person might even have good scriptural and patristic authority for his position and I should keep my mind open.
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