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c.warren165
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« on: June 03, 2013, 12:36:20 AM »

Greetings all.  I would like to introduce myself, and since I didn’t see any fora/threads specifically for introductions, I am doing it here.  This will be a long post, but I feel it’s necessary to be thorough if I am going to participate in these fora at all.  I will begin by giving a general overview of myself, focusing on things I am interested in.  Then I will briefly describe my religious background and experiences with Christianity.  Next I will explain why I am interested in the Orthodox Faith (and by extension, why I have joined this forum).  In conclusion I hope you will see that I am a sincere when I tell you that I want to be a Christian and, more specifically, that am eager to learn about, and experience the traditional Orthodox way, as it was intended from the beginning.   

I am a 32 year old undergraduate philosophy student at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, where I was born and raised.  I wasted a lot of time (and brain cells) in my early twenties, but at 25 I started going to school.  I work in retail and pay for school out of pocket, class by class, as time and money permit, so it’s taking me some time to get it done.  I have already completed a minor in Religious Studies (at Texas State University), and my major Philosophy classes have largely been completed as well; I am finishing up some of the core curriculum and hope to graduate within a year.  These two subjects, Philosophy and Religion, are the most abiding passions and interests in my life, and the majority of my free time is spent in the study/contemplation of one or the other in some capacity.

I am a voracious reader, primarily of non-fiction.

My favorite religious thinkers right now are Kierkegaard and Tillich.

My favorite book of the Bible is Ecclesiastes.

I was raised in Protestant churches, but religion never “stuck” with me and I abandoned it early on.  However, I never abandoned a belief in God, and as I entered my twenties a spiritual need began to grow within me.  I took to studying a wide array of comparative religious literature, and investigating various schools of mysticism and Gnosticism-anything but “mainstream” Christianity.  I didn’t even know Orthodox Christianity existed.  In the end, and for most of my adult life, I have had no religion, while retaining belief in Deity.

In 2004 a set of events began to take place which made me start facing up to the fact that Christ is real, and in 2008 this realization culminated in a situation which caused me to hit my knees in humble desperation and cry out to God for help, and when I did so I called out to Jesus Christ, whom I had refused for all those years.  Alone and scared, I called His name, and I recited the Lord’s prayer, over and over.  And in the hardest, darkest time of my entire life He came to me in such a way that I could never, would never doubt His reality, nor His saving grace.  I cannot relate the entire story here but it changed my life.

I immediately found a religious student group on campus and started attending church.  I knew I wanted to find a place where the focus was on a personal, meaningful, spiritual walk with God, and I ended up (with the help of my brother, an ever faithful Pentecostal preacher) with the Assembly of God.  Within a month I was baptized in a river. 

Despite my best intentions this did not last long.  I am going to be honest here- I do not like Protestantism.  I do not like proselytizing.  I do not like evangelism as it exists in the American South.  And I do not like people or groups who insist that conservative political beliefs are a necessary part of Christianity.  I do not like preaching, and I cannot stand anyone who uses the pulpit for the propagation of political ideas.  Hypocrisy runs deep in the Christendom I have experienced, and I have encountered more people who follow their own twisted versions of “Gospel” than who actually concern themselves with the teachings of Christ in Scripture.  I do not like largely uneducated people galavanting around and preaching as if they have somehow unlocked the keys to thousands of years of theological debate, while they go on teaching things that have nothing to do with Christianity as it was practiced by its founders.  Their churches are centers of mindless groupthink in which blind conformity is an unwritten (though strictly enforced) law, and questions are frowned upon.  Oh, and my studies in Philosophy?  I “think too much for my own good,” they say.  They have literally scoffed at me, suggesting I change my studies to more “practical” concerns, while they continue in their deep rooted racism and close-minded bigotry.  They tell me that what’s important is what’s in the Bible, while refusing to hear that their English translations have, at the very least limited (and possibly corrupted) the teachings, and caused them to grow ignorant of many layers of meaning.  If you do not believe exactly what they believe, you are “not a Christian,” they say, while preaching against judgment in the same breath.  They insist on sola scriptura, and then teach unscriptural doctrines, and ignore certain parts of scripture altogether.  They told me that if you didn’t speak in tongues you weren’t really saved, and that praying for intercession to the Blessed Virgin was sinful (I had already encountered this practice in online researches and was saying such prayers as a part of my personal worship and practice).  I wrote a respectful yet biting letter to the man who had baptized me, explaining what I’d encountered in his “church,” and my association with them was ended.

Again I found myself, although wanting for the first time in my life to “be Christian,” drifting away from Christendom.  I continued my online researches into the Orthodox Faith.  This was in 2009.  I read everything on the OCA’s website.  I read “The Orthodox Church” by Kallistos Ware.  I read the OrthodoxWiki.  I was very impressed with my findings.  I find that the Eastern approach to religion in general, is far more enlightened that Western developments, and that the “Westernization” of Christianity has, at the very least, diluted this beautiful religion.

My first visit to an Orthodox Church, in 2009, was to St. Elias Orthodox Church in Austin Texas.  It was beautiful.  It brought tears to my eye and a feeling within I can’t explain.  The chanting, the iconography, the service itself was magnificent.  However it was my only visit to a Church; my job forced me soon thereafter to move, and I have not lived anywhere near an Orthodox Church since then; otherwise i would go to it.

Over the last few years, and for the same reasons as before, I haven’t had anything to do with organized religion.  I do not agree with the teachings of the protestant churches that I’m aware of, and I do not fit in with the “religious right,” with which I am surrounded.  As I have stayed away from churches, I have again found myself drifting away from God altogether.  However, since the new year I find my spirit once again in unrest.  I often sit and listen to Orthodox chants in English, and I have been praying daily, and something within me says “Christ is the answer.”  I know I will not be at ease until I quit turning from religion and instead embrace it, and when I survey Christendom from my little corner of the world, it is the Orthodox Faith which calls to me.  I don’t know any Orthodox Christians.  I am at least 75 miles away from a Church.  But I want to learn more, and so I have joined this forum in hopes of just taking it all in. 

Thanks for having me.   -Cody
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2013, 12:52:23 AM »


Welcome to the Forum, Cody!!!

I hope you find some answers, form some questions, and overall enjoy the Forum!

I am glad that your walk in life has led you to Orthodoxy.  There's nothing else like it!!

Once again, welcome to the Forum! 

I look forward to your participation!

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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2013, 01:47:43 AM »

Hello Cody, welcome!
Orthodox Christianity is not known for its philosophers. Recently, however, Fr Steven Allen from St Spyridon's Greek Church has conducted classes on a book by Richard Weaver: Ideas Have Consequences; perhaps you have come across it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideas_Have_Consequences

Fr Steven's classes were audio recorded, and he may be willing to share them with you if you ask him.
Having withdrawn from first year undergrad. philosophy myself, I am far from knowledgeable in this field, but there are intelligent people out there who are erudite, able to discuss these matters within an Orthodox World View (c.f. Fr Seraphim Rose's writings).

www.sainthermanpress.com/

The website of the Centre for Traditional Orthodox Studies:

http://www.ctosonline.org/

is an excellent place to start, as is:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/

We look forward to you posting on the boards, and wish you well in your journey toward union with our Lord Jesus Christ and His all-Holy Spirit!
Adelphi
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c.warren165
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« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2013, 07:45:37 PM »

Thank you both for the welcome.  Adelphi, thank you very much for those resources.

I am actually in a class right now, "Advanced Readings in Existentialism;" and as you may know, the problem of nihilism is a fundamental concern of existentialists, so Fr. Rose's book on the subject will make a most welcome addition to my current endeavors.  I also ordered his "God's Revelation to the Human Heart."  After all its less than $5!  I look forward to these readings, he seems like an interesting figure.

I had heard of "Ideas have Consequences," but I haven't read it.  Its nice for me to see that there are indeed faithful people who are pursuing these types of studies. 

And it is true that Orthodox Christianity isn't known for its philosophers; that is, there aren't really any figures (that I'm aware of) which academia would include under the purview of philosophy (although I dare say Dostoevsky is probably widely read in philosophy departments around the world).  However, in a wider sense, I am finding the Orthodox tradition to be VERY rich in philosophy.  I mean, I suppose technically, theology isn't philosophy; but I like to think of it as faithful philosophy.  At any rate, academic labels aside I find Orthodox theology highly philosophical and promising a vast richness of intellectual pursuit, if (like myself) one is interested in such things. 

For example, I was doing some reading last night in The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology.  What an amazing book!  I cannot recommend it highly enough.  Anyways, there is an essay in there by Elizabeth Theokritoff called "Creator and Creation."  Citing such authors as Lossky, she points out how the Church Fathers Maximus and Palamas, actually provided the solution to the problem of dualism, which Plato first formed, Descartes worked his entire life to solve, and with which philosophers to this day wrestle, generally (and unfortunately) resorting to materialism.  Who knew, that Christianity, and the brilliant minds of the early Church Fathers, had solved this problem out ages agao, within the bosom of the Church, and faithful to God?  This is a very rich tradition indeed.

Maximus the Confessor, in particular, has grabbed my attention in a big way and I cannot wait to dive into his cosmology.

Everything that philosophers have tried to remedy, with such concepts as pantheism and panentheism, Sophiology, all the concerns of environmentalists - all of these things have been provided by Christianity and worked out in amazing detail by the Fathers.  To me, it IS philosophy; or perhaps this is me beginning to see the true role of philosophy as an academic discipline - as a handmaiden to theology, the true and faithful philosophy.

Here is an excerpt from that essay I mentioned:  "When, therefore, Orthodox use language such as 'harmonising our life with the life of the universe,' this is no pantheistic cosmicism: it is a recognition that 'the life of the universe' is nothing other than the Holy Spirit at work, bringing creation to fulfillment in Christ.  At the heart of the Orthodox ethos lies the doctrine of creation, of our own createdness.  This doctrine means that 'we have no real choice, if we wish to pursue our own true end, but to live in harmony with the Logos - and the logoi - of creation as well.'

The west has demolished the Mystical aspects of the Faith which Eastern Christianity has always maintained.  And what is mysticism but faithful philosophy in action?

Another example of this tradition being so rich in philosophy (at least in the broader sense) is evident on these fora.  I see people from all over thw world, here discussing, debating, and hashing out the finer points of doctrine.  Such intellectual questioning is welcome.  This is promising to someone like myself who cant simply listen blindly and believe what I'm told without working it out for myself and applying it in a MEANINGFUL way to my life. 

Anyways I'm going on and on now, but I think the Orthodox Tradition is amazing and I am glad that its gotten my attention  Smiley

Thanks - Cody
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« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2013, 08:54:45 PM »

Welcome and glad you're here.
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« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2013, 09:59:18 PM »

Welcome to forum!

What is interesting about Orthodoxy is that it has philosophers but might not be as well known for some. I agree with you about the purpose of philosophy. By itself it is limited while when its purpose is redefined then it is more frutful. Besides soms early church fathers, I will mention here a couple more recent Orthodox philophers.
St. Nikolaj Velimirovic
He received his doctorate in Theology in 1908, with the dissertation entitled Faith in the Resurrection of Christ as the Foundation of the Dogmas of the Apostolic Church. This original work was written in German and published in Switzerland in 1910, and later translated into Serbian.His doctor's degree in philosophy was prepared at Oxford and defended in Geneva, in French. The title was Berkeley's Philosophy.

St. Justin Popovic
After his year's study and sojourn in Russia, Fr. Justin Popović entered, by the prompting of his older colleague, Fr. Nikolai Velimirovich later Bishop Nikolaj, the Theological School in Oxford, England. Justin attended the studies of theology at Oxford in the period 1916-1919, but his doctor's thesis under the title "Filozofija i religija F.M.Dostojevskog" (The Philosophy and Religion of F.M. Dostoevsky) was not accepted.In 1923, Fr. Justin became the editor of the Orthodox journal The Christian Life; and in this journal appeared his first doctoral dissertation, "The Philosophy and Religion of Dostoevsky," for which he was persecuted at Oxford. Together with his fellow colleagues from the Oxford University he has edited the periodical The Christian Life for twenty years.In 1926 he was promoted to the title of the Doctor of Theology at the Faculty of Theology, University in Athens (his dissertation being "Problem ličnosti i saznanja po Sv. Makariju Egipatskom", The Problem of Personality and Cognition According to St. Macarius of Egypt). For his course on the Lives of the Saints, Justin began to translate into Serbian the Lives of the Saints from the Greek, Syriac, and Slavonic sources, as well as numerous minor works of the Fathers—homilies of Ss. John Chrysostom, Macarius, and Isaac of Syria. He also wrote an exquisite book, The Theory of Knowledge According to St. Isaac.

Anyways both of these "philosophers" wrote quite few books and articles many of them dealing with philosophical themes from the Orthodox perspective.  Some of them have been translated and are avaliable online while others can be purchase through amazon or some orthodox bookstore...The main reason why I mentioned them because they are the first ones that come to my head. From the early church fathers perhaps look into St. Justin the philosopher. I doubt that he was called the philosopher without a reason.  Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2013, 11:09:32 PM »

Your first two posts were great. Clear and logical in format.

I do not know how much you have read the threads of this forum. You will find bigots on occasion, but you will also find a fair amount of people sympathetic to you view point.

As a warning, some people will think that 75 miles is not that far. They will also like to know exactly what part of Texas you live in, just in case there is a mission that you are not likely to know about. For-warned is For-armed. This is For-you.
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« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2013, 10:42:32 AM »

While Orthodoxy is, as you say, rich in theology and it would probably take lifetimes to do anything more than skim the surface, I find that Orthodoxy is also primarily experiential. It is not only about reading and studying, but applying those precepts to our daily lives. That's why I encourage you to make the effort to find an Orthodox Church that you can attend on a regular basis.
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c.warren165
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2013, 04:29:13 AM »

Well, I appreciate all of your welcomes, replies, and suggestions.

I guess my first online search was cursory at best.  I've been around this area for a long time and I just figured there were no Churches around anywhere... because I hadn't seen them.  So I searched for "Orthodox Churches in Houston" (the nearest large city).  However after deciding to actually search I found one within 47 miles.  That is St. Cyril of Jerusalem, which you can find here:  http://stcyril.us/

They have a lot of good resources on the website which I am familiarizing myself with, such as this:  http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2013/05/24/the-well-thought-out-conversion/

I was thinking about looking further into the differences among the various jurisdictions and stuff like that before I "dive right in."  While the Church mentioned above is under the jurisdiction of the OCA, I also found this one 59 miles away:  http://theotokos-lifegiving-spring.org/

and this one 50 miles away:  http://www.st-silouan.org/

and this one 56 miles away:  http://www.stanthonythegreat.org/

and thise 51 miles away:  http://www.saintjonah.org/

So anyways, the selection of churches within a relatively reasonable distance is pretty good.  If I'm not mistaken there are 3 jurisdictions represented in those I've listed. 

What would you all look for in choosing?  I suppose I'm leaning toward the one closest to me.  Their website is nice  Tongue

Thanks, Cody
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c.warren165
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« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2013, 04:56:03 AM »

This whole thing has gotten me thinking about my motives, and I thought I'd share that here as well.

It goes back to the title I gave this thread.

I don't know much of anything about life.  I don't know for sure what I'll be doing in the future.  I don't know if life presents us with meaning or if we impose meaning upon it.  What I do know is that as long as I live, I will have some sort of affect on others.  I have contact with family, friends, people I work with, and strangers.  And I'd like to affect them all in some sort of positive way.  

When I see Jesus, I see love.  Undying, unconditional, pure compassionate love for everyone he encountered.  I want that.  I pray that Jesus can help me love as He did.  

This desire, and the (if I'm to be honest) sure, inner knowledge that He IS the way, is what has brought me here, despite my stubborn attempts to give up on faith.

-Cody, late night meanderings
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 05:05:14 AM by c.warren165 » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2013, 07:38:18 AM »

Dear Cody,

Welcome!  Orthodoxy is blessedness! 

The goal of our lives as a part of the Church is 'theosis'.  I'm sure you will understand it better by attending Church services and by reading about it that I can explain here.  Saying 'I want to be like Jesus' is surely a turn in the right direction.

You might be interested in the life and writings of Father Seraphim Rose, an American intellectual who came to Orthodoxy after he learned about philosophy and Buddhism (and didn't find any lasting answers there).  In Christ he found Truth and Love. 

I look forward to hearing about your experiences as you learn about the Church.  I agree with Katherine that the best thing to do is begin attending an Orthodox Church.  I'll add that talking to a Priest should be especially helpful.  He likely won't pressure you -  our Priests let God do His work.  But he'll help you along.  You can visit more than one parish, since you seem to have several that are reasonably close. 

Love, elephant
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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2013, 10:06:50 AM »

We're glad you are here Cody. May God continue to enlighten you.

Peace,

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« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2013, 11:48:15 AM »

I am actually in a class right now, "Advanced Readings in Existentialism;" and as you may know, the problem of nihilism is a fundamental concern of existentialists

This thread is getting difficult to ignore. I am not sure what you are reading as there is very little existentialist thought per se within the Western Tradition, so it is hard to imagine finding advanced readings within it. (It does seem that Islamic thinkers thought through these issues much earlier and in arguably greater precision.) I am not sure how nihilism, as Fr. Seraphim misunderstood it and nearly everything he wrote about, comes into play for existentialism as such.

Of course Fr. Seraphim was not alone in thinking existentialism ended in some pedestrian notion of nihilism, he was after all parroting pretty much the reactionary thought he read regarding it.

If you are studying philosophy in any serious manner, I cannot for the life of me see how on earth Fr. Seraphim will do anything but make you wince.

You would be better served by reading Metropolitan John (Zizioulas). He comes close to something resembling a serious encounter with philosophy and he would like to say he leans on St. Maximus more than the Continental reading he engages with, but in the end all his understanding makes little sense outside the wake of Heidegger's research and radically situating ontology within the person.

In short, if you have some background that allows you read advanced readings in existentialism, which would seem to include grounding in Husserl and Heidegger and the probably a little Levinas and of course Sartre, you should be able to read something like Being as Communion fairly easily.

Best of luck.

I am one of the folks Opus warned you about.
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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2013, 11:53:56 AM »

Dear Cody,
I'm a fairly simple straightforward practical kind of person. Though I love a good theological smackdown as well as anyone. I don't have the deep mystical experiences that many people report (just one or two, and to be honest, they scared the bejeebers out of me!) and I probably inherently distrust them.
Only, I read the lives of the saints, and think, "I want to be like that."
Fat chance, right?
In Orthodoxy you are supposed to be like that - you are expected to strive and struggle to prayerful, pious, honest and fearless, and kind and compassionate etc. - all those virtues which I conspicuously lack.
But I can follow a plan. Orthodoxy has the plan.
"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2013, 03:58:41 PM »

Christ is Risen!

Welcome to the forums, Cody. Thank you for sharing with us your story. It resonated a lot with me.

I can certainly sympathize with your distaste for Western "religion." However, I would gently caution you not to make your opposition be the basis of your journey to Orthodoxy. It's very easy to fall into mean-spiritedness when comparing the richness of Orthodoxy with the juridical, "bigoted" groups in the West. Pretty soon we're not longer pursuing Christ, but only erecting a tower of pride around ourselves.

I am not accusing you indulging in such things; I am merely speaking from experience. I fancy myself somewhat of an intellectual, and I have fallen into the trap of pride many times on my road to Orthodoxy (and I still do today!). We have to remember that people are often born into these traditions and are not exposed to the sort of education and critical-thinking that would lead them to pursue something beyond. From within the framework that they were given, they are most likely trying their hardest to live faithfully. This is not a matter of taking pity on them, for perhaps they are much closer to God than we in our vast knowledge are.

Finally, I will close with true story about St. Thomas Aquinas, the author of perhaps the greatest theological/philosophical work of all time, The Summa Theologica. Near the end of his life, despite a lifetime of writing and expounding upon the rationality of Christianity, St. Thomas had an encounter with Christ that completely overshadowed all of his intellectual fruits. Shortly before he died, he said that all of his works were "like straw" (i.e. useless). Remember that while learning from books can certainly strengthen our faith and our appreciation of it, all words pale in comparison to the Infinite Glory of God.

You'll be in my prayers, friend!

EDIT: Regarding those three churches nearby, I would encourage you to visit all three! There's no "best" jurisdiction (although some would claim that there own is Roll Eyes ), just the one that resonates the most with you. You don't have to drive out of town every weekend either; maybe you could visit one each month for the next three months? When you're there, make sure to introduce yourself, as sometimes people are shy. Get to know the clergy; you might be working with one of the priests more closely in the future!
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 04:03:46 PM by lovesupreme » Logged
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« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2013, 10:07:07 AM »

Well, I appreciate all of your welcomes, replies, and suggestions.

I guess my first online search was cursory at best.  I've been around this area for a long time and I just figured there were no Churches around anywhere... because I hadn't seen them.  So I searched for "Orthodox Churches in Houston" (the nearest large city).  However after deciding to actually search I found one within 47 miles.  That is St. Cyril of Jerusalem, which you can find here:  http://stcyril.us/

They have a lot of good resources on the website which I am familiarizing myself with, such as this:  http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2013/05/24/the-well-thought-out-conversion/

I was thinking about looking further into the differences among the various jurisdictions and stuff like that before I "dive right in."  While the Church mentioned above is under the jurisdiction of the OCA, I also found this one 59 miles away:  http://theotokos-lifegiving-spring.org/

and this one 50 miles away:  http://www.st-silouan.org/

and this one 56 miles away:  http://www.stanthonythegreat.org/

and thise 51 miles away:  http://www.saintjonah.org/

So anyways, the selection of churches within a relatively reasonable distance is pretty good.  If I'm not mistaken there are 3 jurisdictions represented in those I've listed.  

What would you all look for in choosing?  I suppose I'm leaning toward the one closest to me.  Their website is nice  Tongue

Thanks, Cody

Hi Cody--First, I am most impressed with your methodical and serious spiritual journey. Unless you give up or are pulled off the ladder (St John Climacus), you are bound to end up where the Lord wants you to be at. Regarding the churches that you mentioned, they are all serious and demanding Orthodox parishes. By all means start with St Cyril's but home could be any one of them (I myself am partial to the OCA but have attended both Antiochian and ROCOR parishes). BTW, the distances also may be part of His plan, no?
« Last Edit: June 07, 2013, 10:09:29 AM by Carl Kraeff (Second Chance) » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2013, 09:56:34 AM »

As far as philosophy, I think that part of becoming Orthodox has to do with learning and applying a(the) philosophy of life. Orthodoxy is a way of life, not a mindless religion devoid of principles, beauty, reason, knowledge, etc. -- to the very contrary, of course. Personally, I am interested in what I would call "spiritual philosophy" or "philosophical theology", an area of theology let's say. I am far from being a professional philosopher and I haven't even studied much of what's already out there, but I simply find this field (?) close to myself, to the core of my very being. I have a small area on my blog that might tell more about what I have in mind. Maybe you will find it somewhat relevant to your studies. I guess what I am mainly trying to say is that philosophical studies can be very important in life and Orthodoxy itself is a philosophy or can be looked at like that.

http://romanianorthodoxyinenglish.blogspot.ro/search/label/Philosophy
http://romanianorthodoxyinenglish.blogspot.ro/search/label/Science
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« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2013, 10:57:38 AM »

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You might be interested in the life and writings of Father Seraphim Rose, an American intellectual who came to Orthodoxy after he learned about philosophy and Buddhism.

Elephant, I do find Father Seraphim to be a very interesting figure, and I look forward to reading his books, some of which I just received in the mail.  I already can relate to him a great deal, though my own researches have been concerned more with Hinduism than with Buddhism, and more specfically with the various Tantric schools of yoga.  And to an extent such practices are beneficial; they have helped me with my asthma and anxiety, and in staying "grounded," and (sometimes) in self-awareness.  But ultimately, while there are some minor benefits with such meditation, I find their "spirituality" to be empty, for lack of a better word.  There is certainly something missing!  I am left spiritually lacking.

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I am not sure what you are reading as there is very little existentialist thought per se within the Western Tradition, so it is hard to imagine finding advanced readings within it.

From my admittedly limited experience I would have to disagree with this.  If, unlike myself, you prefer the analytic school of philosophy, then I am sure you put less weight on the existentialists and the continental philosophers who follow in their wake.  However Kierkegaard, Neitzsche, Heidegger, and to a lesser degree Sartre have all been widely read.  Heidegger is slowly coming to be recognized as one of the more influential thinkers of the 20th century.... a recognition that has come slow because of people's reluctance to cite him or be associated with him because he supported the Nazi's for a while.  None the less it is undeniable that the famous continental philosophers including but not limited to Sartre, Foucault , and Deleuze, were all influenced by his ideas.  Not too mention the influence Nietzsche has had!  

To me as an undergad, the writings of these people are certainly advanced.  But I think the "advanced readings" course I'm in may be called that because of the workload and because of the nature of the course.  It is a course designed for students who may have grad school in their sights.  It is a one-on-one course between instructor and student.  By the time Christmas comes, I will have read K's "Fear and Trembling" and "The Sickness Unto Death," N's "Thus Spake Zarathustra" along with excerpts from his other works, half of H's "Being and Time," excerpts from Sartre, Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground," and half a dozen short plays considered to be existentialist.

Luckily the professor let me start early, so I have half a year.  But to me this is a very advanced class for an undergrad!

Quote
You would be better served by reading Metropolitan John (Zizioulas). He comes close to something resembling a serious encounter with philosophy and he would like to say he leans on St. Maximus more than the Continental reading he engages with, but in the end all his understanding makes little sense outside the wake of Heidegger's research and radically situating ontology within the person.

I have looked at Mr. Zizioulas' "Being as Communion" and it looks awesome!  I am so excited to be finding intellectual meat I can dig my teeth into within the Orthodox Tradition as I prepare to begin the process of integrating my life into Christianity.  There is something about learning, about studying, and exercising my mind that I don't think I could do without, which is another thing that led me to Orthodoxy.  Compared to the Christianity I was raised among, the Orthodox Faith looks like a would be intellectual's paradise!

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Orthodoxy has the plan.

 Smiley

Quote
I can certainly sympathize with your distaste for Western "religion." However, I would gently caution you not to make your opposition be the basis of your journey to Orthodoxy. It's very easy to fall into mean-spiritedness when comparing the richness of Orthodoxy with the juridical, "bigoted" groups in the West. Pretty soon we're not longer pursuing Christ, but only erecting a tower of pride around ourselves.

I am not accusing you indulging in such things; I am merely speaking from experience. I fancy myself somewhat of an intellectual, and I have fallen into the trap of pride many times on my road to Orthodoxy (and I still do today!). We have to remember that people are often born into these traditions and are not exposed to the sort of education and critical-thinking that would lead them to pursue something beyond. From within the framework that they were given, they are most likely trying their hardest to live faithfully. This is not a matter of taking pity on them, for perhaps they are much closer to God than we in our vast knowledge are.

This is excellent advice.  I have definitely fallen into that trap- I do so on a regular basis!  But I am learning to recognize it it and avoid it more and more.  My introductory post came on the heels of a conversation with a protestant friend of mine who told me I could not be a real Christian because I don't believe hell is a place created by God to punish sinners.  So I was mad and frustrated, and I regret my tone.  But whats done is done.  I often regret my tone.

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Hi Cody--First, I am most impressed with your methodical and serious spiritual journey.

Carl, when you put it this way I reflected on it, and I realized just how UN-methodical my journey has been.  It has been serious, and sincere.  But at times my yearnings have been downright haphazard!  Like groping in the darkness for I know not what.  But there is something within me that won't rest until I find it and for that I suppose I should be thankful.

Quote
I think that part of becoming Orthodox has to do with learning and applying a(the) philosophy of life.

IoanC, I am very much hoping to find this.  Thank you for sharing your blog with me, I look forward to it.

As for today, I am off work, and I am taking time to compose an email to the good people at St. Cyril's to begin talking with them about introducing myself and getting started on what I hope is a journey INTO the church and the Mysteries of Christ.

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.

-Cody
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« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2013, 11:57:14 AM »

Dear Cody,

May your heart be filled!

There was a humble monk who had little education but acquired great knowledge, and he said  this:

"With our minds, we cannot come to know even how the sun is made; and if we beg God to tell us how He made the sun, the answer rings in our soul, 'Humble thyself, and thou shalt know, not only the sun but the Creator of the sun.' But when the soul through the Holy Spirit knows the Lord, then from joy she forgets the whole world and ceases to fret for earthly knowledge."  - St. Silouan the Athonite

love, elephant



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« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2013, 12:04:24 PM »

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I am not sure what you are reading as there is very little existentialist thought per se within the Western Tradition, so it is hard to imagine finding advanced readings within it.

From my admittedly limited experience I would have to disagree with this.  If, unlike myself, you prefer the analytic school of philosophy, then I am sure you put less weight on the existentialists and the continental philosophers who follow in their wake.  However Kierkegaard, Neitzsche, Heidegger, and to a lesser degree Sartre have all been widely read.  Heidegger is slowly coming to be recognized as one of the more influential thinkers of the 20th century.... a recognition that has come slow because of people's reluctance to cite him or be associated with him because he supported the Nazi's for a while.  None the less it is undeniable that the famous continental philosophers including but not limited to Sartre, Foucault , and Deleuze, were all influenced by his ideas.  Not too mention the influence Nietzsche has had!  

To me as an undergad, the writings of these people are certainly advanced.  But I think the "advanced readings" course I'm in may be called that because of the workload and because of the nature of the course.  It is a course designed for students who may have grad school in their sights.  It is a one-on-one course between instructor and student.  By the time Christmas comes, I will have read K's "Fear and Trembling" and "The Sickness Unto Death," N's "Thus Spake Zarathustra" along with excerpts from his other works, half of H's "Being and Time," excerpts from Sartre, Dostoevsky's "Notes from the Underground," and half a dozen short plays considered to be existentialist.

Luckily the professor let me start early, so I have half a year.  But to me this is a very advanced class for an undergrad!

* is this you?

You realize none of thinkers save Sartre you name is an existentialist proper? And I'll look into that Heidegger guy some time. But as to his possibility to being an existentialist, I would suggest you read his Letter on Humanism contra Sartre's Existentialism is a Humanism.

The punch line? In the end, even Sarte ain't an existentialist, hence his turn to Marx to make some sense of role of time within being. See . . . I really don't know what would be and advanced reading in existentialism outside the introduction to Being and Nothingness which almost no one besides myself and five other humans actually tries to read.

Well, I'll stop there.

And just to let you in on the joke, try this google search:

https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Aorthodoxchristianity.net+heidegger+orthonorm

Best of luck!

Toss the Fr. Seraphim of Platina into the trash and get Being as Communion. If the latter is too daunting and you would like suggestions on what to read to prepare to read it, let me know.
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« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2013, 12:14:21 PM »

Welcome to the forum, Cody  Cool
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« Reply #21 on: June 11, 2013, 12:14:53 PM »

* is this you?

lol  Grin
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« Reply #22 on: June 11, 2013, 05:35:51 PM »

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* is this you?

lol 

This is me repeating what I've read in a couple textbooks  Tongue

Quote
See . . . I really don't know what would be and advanced reading in existentialism outside the introduction to Being and Nothingness which almost no one besides myself and five other humans actually tries to read.

Well I can see that you are well read in philosophy, but its still all very advanced for me!   Wink

We'll see if, a year from now, if I still disagree with you.

Also, just because Sartre says existentialism is a humanism, does this make it so?  And were he and H using the same definitions exactly?  I don't know yet..

I'm trying to decide if you mean to say that there are NO proper existentialists, then.  Is the label meaningless?

-C

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« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2013, 05:46:11 PM »

detractors for all the supposed existentialists argue they are really not existentialists. quality arguments, not so sure.

hey if i can read hegel and get a better understanding of his dialetics, ill call that a success. been trying to read more poetry these days than philosophers.

good luck with your studies and welcome to da board.
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« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2013, 07:04:57 PM »

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* is this you?

lol  

This is me repeating what I've read in a couple textbooks  Tongue

For future refence, I am * for short (asterisk = *), he was wondering if you were a sock puppet of mine. But let me give you a few hints to understanding orthonorm when it comes to these topics... for him:

- The Germans are the creative overlords of all that is good in civilization.
- Heidegger in particular is the key to understanding everything. And Niklas Luhmann, but you won't understand him, so stick with Heidegger.
- The transmission of truth through the centuries goes something like this:  Moses --> St. Paul --> Husserl --> Heidegger.

That should get you started. Good luck!  angel
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« Reply #25 on: June 11, 2013, 07:30:33 PM »

Well thank you for clearing that up  Grin
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« Reply #26 on: June 11, 2013, 07:31:56 PM »

Quote
* is this you?

lol  

This is me repeating what I've read in a couple textbooks  Tongue

For future refence, I am * for short (asterisk = *), he was wondering if you were a sock puppet of mine. But let me give you a few hints to understanding orthonorm when it comes to these topics... for him:

- The Germans are the creative overlords of all that is good in civilization.
- Heidegger in particular is the key to understanding everything. And Niklas Luhmann, but you won't understand him, so stick with Heidegger.
- The transmission of truth through the centuries goes something like this:  Moses --> St. Paul --> Husserl --> Heidegger.

That should get you started. Good luck!  angel

why isnt plato before moses
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« Reply #27 on: June 12, 2013, 12:21:09 AM »

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* is this you?

lol  

This is me repeating what I've read in a couple textbooks  Tongue

For future refence, I am * for short (asterisk = *), he was wondering if you were a sock puppet of mine. But let me give you a few hints to understanding orthonorm when it comes to these topics... for him:

- The Germans are the creative overlords of all that is good in civilization.
- Heidegger in particular is the key to understanding everything. And Niklas Luhmann, but you won't understand him, so stick with Heidegger.
- The transmission of truth through the centuries goes something like this:  Moses --> St. Paul --> Husserl --> Heidegger.

That should get you started. Good luck!  angel

why isnt plato before moses

#platoistheworst
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« Reply #28 on: June 12, 2013, 01:56:19 AM »

why isnt plato before moses
Because Moses taught Plato. Don't you know anything?
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« Reply #29 on: June 12, 2013, 07:30:44 AM »

why isnt plato before moses
Because Moses taught Plato. Don't you know anything?
no I dont
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« Reply #30 on: June 20, 2013, 06:52:03 PM »

And the Son taught Moses!
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« Reply #31 on: July 02, 2013, 09:07:42 PM »

After exchanging some emails, and talking on the phone for a couple hours, I finally paid a visit to St. Cyril of Jerusalem Orthodox Church in The Woodlands TX.  The Liturgy is/was so beautiful.  The harmony among the worshippers is/was inspiring.  Fr. John had explained some of th basics to me, in preparation for attending.   

I really don't know how to explain the feeling I get when I attend Divine Liturgy, but its as if I "know" its right.  The feeling is so moving; awesome.  I have been to charismatic "pentecostal" revival type things where hundreds of people are worshipping in full abandon-- but never have a felt the depth, serenity, and sheer FEELING of worship as I felt during the divine liturgy.  I don't know what else to say but its like thousands of angels were lifting me up.  I felt like I was a part of something amazing.  My dear mother went with me.  Afterward, I guess she knew how it affected me, because although she herself has no interest in converting, she said "Cody, you need to keep coming here."

The people at the church were warm and inviting and i cannot wait to visit again.  I also like Fr. John very much.  He is a monk who spent 15 years in a monastery, and has now returned to the world just a few months ago.  The way he answers my questions and explains things to me is more profound, more mature, and more moving than any explanations I received in the past. 

I have a long journey ahead of me, but I'm very glad to have "found" Orthodoxy.  Honestly I feel privileged (and not a little unworthy). 

Anyways just thought I'd share these thoughts.

-Cody
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« Reply #32 on: July 02, 2013, 09:43:19 PM »

Thanks for sharing this...I think that the Liturgy is one of the few things that can really shake a person out of spiritual comma...even to those who attend it often but do not really partake in it...We can theorize and talk about things in detail but once a person starts fully to live Orthodoxy then world is not as scary nor as confusing...We finally understand why some things happen...
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« Reply #33 on: July 03, 2013, 10:28:18 AM »

I really don't know how to explain the feeling I get when I attend Divine Liturgy, but its as if I "know" its right.  The feeling is so moving; awesome.  I have been to charismatic "pentecostal" revival type things where hundreds of people are worshipping in full abandon-- but never have a felt the depth, serenity, and sheer FEELING of worship as I felt during the divine liturgy.  I don't know what else to say but its like thousands of angels were lifting me up.  I felt like I was a part of something amazing. 

We know. Most of us felt the same way when we attended our first Divine Liturgy. Grin
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« Reply #34 on: July 03, 2013, 11:57:28 AM »

Dear Cody,

That is fine news.  I look forward to hearing about your further experiences.  You were part of something amazing.

Love, elephant
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« Reply #35 on: July 08, 2013, 03:54:29 AM »

What a blessing! It sounds like you've found a good priest to work with whenever you're ready to take the next steps. For now, I'd encourage you to continue attending services when you can, and ask Fr. John any questions you might have (he'll probably be able to answer them better than anyone on these forums).

Be patient and keep digging for the gold!
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« Reply #36 on: July 09, 2013, 01:44:48 PM »

Whenever I see this topic "I want to be like Jesus", I hear "I want to be able to fly". Sorry, just wanted to say this joke since this reaction happened to me quite a few times. I know it's not what you mean; it's just me... Smiley
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« Reply #37 on: July 26, 2013, 03:10:14 AM »

IoanC - I like to think that part of the miracle Jesus showed us is that it IS possible for a human to love like that.

This past Wednesday I went to my first Vespers service at---    http://stcyril.us/

I don't have anything really to say, just thought I would share this milestone with all you good people Smiley

I will say this:  I love the Orthodox faith.  The beauty of the services moves me in a way nothing else ever has.  There is something profound happening.

I am trying to implement a daily prayer rule into my life but it is very hard to create a brand new habit.  I did purchases the prayer book Father John suggested to me.  I feel very comfortable saying these prayers.  You know, in the protestant tradition everyone says their own prayers spontaneously.  And thats fine.  But there is something about saying prayers which have been handed down by the Church and her holy people through the ages which feels very right to me.  Also, its a matter of humility.  I mean God knows what I need before i do... who am I to beseech Him?  And in so far as the Holy Spirit is alive in the Church, these prayers are in a sense given to us by God Himself.  Its amazing.

Thank you all.  Cheesy

-c
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« Reply #38 on: July 26, 2013, 03:18:40 AM »

All sounds good! Smiley
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« Reply #39 on: July 26, 2013, 08:09:57 PM »

Whenever I see this topic "I want to be like Jesus", I hear "I want to be able to fly". Sorry, just wanted to say this joke since this reaction happened to me quite a few times. I know it's not what you mean; it's just me... Smiley

Flying Spaghetti Monster...

...or Flying Semitic Messiah?
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