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Author Topic: Orthodoxy and loneliness  (Read 985 times) Average Rating: 0
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William
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« on: August 24, 2013, 07:21:31 PM »

Can an Orthodox Christian be a loner?
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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2013, 07:49:17 PM »

No. The spiritual life is one of community.
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« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2013, 08:24:49 PM »

Yes...where do you think hermits come from?
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2013, 08:57:41 PM »

I think if that's what suits you, sure, so long as you participate in certain ways that you feel good or able to; though I would say that loneliness and being alone do not always overlap.

EDIT--To add, something that comes to mind is a story I read about a monk... St. Gregory Palamas I believe. He had taken to staying in his cell and not going to liturgy. Someone appeared to him in a vision or apparition chastising him for this. Some are called to be more participatory, at least in a certain way, than they may feel like they want to be. Then again, Mary of Egypt didn't attend many liturgies. It seems to vary from person to person. Perhaps it's a situation where you should ask your priest God.
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« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2013, 10:02:33 PM »

Can an Orthodox Christian be a loner?
Hermit monks do it everyday, but you don't have to be that extreme.
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2013, 11:02:27 PM »

What is a "loner"?
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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2013, 11:51:45 PM »

Can an Orthodox Christian be a loner?
Hermit monks do it everyday, but you don't have to be that extreme.
Hermit crabs do, too, but you don't have to be that crabby. Wink
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2014, 05:52:54 PM »

What is a "loner"?

Someone who, no matter how often they interact with others, no matter how many connections they make or people they meet, no matter how many times a new relationship or friendship seems to initially be looking bright, no matter how much they're accepted by a close-knit church or family community, still feels profound isolation from everyone without exception, and always has.
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« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2014, 07:56:50 PM »

Did it for sixteen years.  I miss it.
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2014, 08:05:57 PM »

Can an Orthodox Christian be a loner?

If you are speaking in terms of the spiritual life, I suppose so but none of the hermits or ascetics were ever truly alone since they communed with angels and The Lord.  However, if you're talking about being a loner because you don't like other people, then no.

Btw, are you sure you don't mean "loaner"? because I'm pretty sure that there are many orthodox Christians who are bankers.
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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2014, 08:24:42 PM »

However, if you're talking about being a loner because you don't like other people, then no.

Okay, certain personality types are just excluded from salvation I guess. Should I call off the upcoming chrismation then?

Quote
Btw, are you sure you don't mean "loaner"? because I'm pretty sure that there are many orthodox Christians who are bankers.

Not according to orthonorm.
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« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2014, 08:29:22 PM »

However, if you're talking about being a loner because you don't like other people, then no.

Okay, certain personality types are just excluded from salvation I guess. Should I call off the upcoming chrismation then?

Quote
Btw, are you sure you don't mean "loaner"? because I'm pretty sure that there are many orthodox Christians who are bankers.

Not according to orthonorm.


No...do not call off your chrismation.  There is room for all sorts of personality types.  You do not have to be a social butterfly to be a part of a parish.  Volunteer to do something behind the scenes...like clean...and it is just as useful and a blessing to them.  I sit with the same 6 people every sunday, and have done so for a year now...none of them are my age bracket...they are all either younger or older...and so it is idle and parish chatter.

Now, you don't have to like people, but you do have to love them as Brothers and Sisters in Christ.



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« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2014, 08:33:06 PM »

You mean Hermits or a Recluse? ... They don't make any effort toward a social life.
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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2014, 08:41:17 PM »

However, if you're talking about being a loner because you don't like other people, then no.

Okay, certain personality types are just excluded from salvation I guess.

If it makes you feel any better... if true, I am in the same boat (or a similar one anyway)  Undecided angel
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« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2014, 08:53:23 PM »

Btw, are you sure you don't mean "loaner"? because I'm pretty sure that there are many orthodox Christians who are bankers.

Not according to orthonorm.

I love orthonorm.

No homo.

Maybe a little.

IDK.
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« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2014, 10:47:49 PM »

However, if you're talking about being a loner because you don't like other people, then no.

Okay, certain personality types are just excluded from salvation I guess. Should I call off the upcoming chrismation then?

You do realize that your chrismation is done in the Church community, right?  If you don't like other people, how are you going to respond when they are gathered around you, especially your sponsor, when they cry out "Seal!"?

Quote
Btw, are you sure you don't mean "loaner"? because I'm pretty sure that there are many orthodox Christians who are bankers.

Not according to orthonorm.

You're not even chrismated and you're relying on orthonorm for your information on Orthodoxy and her adherents?  Maybe you should postpone the chrismation for that reason.
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« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2014, 10:50:38 PM »

I still say you can be a part of a community and not be uber social.

No you can't hate everyone there. 

But there is a huge difference between hating people and liking to spend time alone or not being talkative.
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« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2014, 10:59:20 PM »

Ps

If the Church is a hospital, and someone's diseases include depression and social anxiety, then they need to be there, regardless of their level of participation at the start.

Saying 'wait until you can be an active community member is rather like saying 'let's wait to start your chemo until the cancer is stage 4'

The fact that the poster used the word 'loneliness' means he doesn't hate, but rather feels different, alone and unlike other people.
Things I can very very much assure you I share. Keep pressing forward. It's hard, but the reward is greater than the hardship.
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« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2014, 11:01:42 PM »

What is a "loner"?

Someone who, no matter how often they interact with others, no matter how many connections they make or people they meet, no matter how many times a new relationship or friendship seems to initially be looking bright, no matter how much they're accepted by a close-knit church or family community, still feels profound isolation from everyone without exception, and always has.

Going by this description, I would say a "loner" can be an Orthodox Christian.  But the above doesn't sound eremitic or monastic in any healthy sense, it sounds like something that needs to be worked on.    
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« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2014, 11:09:58 PM »

Ps

If the Church is a hospital, and someone's diseases include depression and social anxiety, then they need to be there, regardless of their level of participation at the start.

Saying 'wait until you can be an active community member is rather like saying 'let's wait to start your chemo until the cancer is stage 4'

The fact that the poster used the word 'loneliness' means he doesn't hate, but rather feels different, alone and unlike other people.
Things I can very very much assure you I share. Keep pressing forward. It's hard, but the reward is greater than the hardship.


I think then there is a difference between being a loner as opposed to being introverted.  I'm definitely the latter. I keep to myself and I like it that way. Fortunately, I happen to be married to an introvert who also prefers her solitude.  Being a loner, on the other hand, is something I have found people foist upon themselves either because of some antagonism, or hatred, or indifference towards others, or some sense of superiority.  For example, preferring to eat a meal alone so that you can have some time to recollect your thoughts or read the paper or a book or whatever is fine.  However, if you prefer to eat a meal alone because of how you view others, then that is a problem. 
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« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2014, 11:12:02 PM »

Perhaps I should have refrased the question, how can I live the Christian life while disregarding the irritating pop-theology about "community"?
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« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2014, 11:13:47 PM »

Ps

If the Church is a hospital, and someone's diseases include depression and social anxiety, then they need to be there, regardless of their level of participation at the start.

Saying 'wait until you can be an active community member is rather like saying 'let's wait to start your chemo until the cancer is stage 4'

The fact that the poster used the word 'loneliness' means he doesn't hate, but rather feels different, alone and unlike other people.
Things I can very very much assure you I share. Keep pressing forward. It's hard, but the reward is greater than the hardship.


I think then there is a difference between being a loner as opposed to being introverted.  I'm definitely the latter. I keep to myself and I like it that way. Fortunately, I happen to be married to an introvert who also prefers her solitude.  Being a loner, on the other hand, is something I have found people foist upon themselves either because of some antagonism, or hatred, or indifference towards others, or some sense of superiority.  For example, preferring to eat a meal alone so that you can have some time to recollect your thoughts or read the paper or a book or whatever is fine.  However, if you prefer to eat a meal alone because of how you view others, then that is a problem. 

Did you actually read how he said he feels?

Mor quoted it. That is not -how one feels about others- that is one feeling oneself does not fit in, despite being in a caring loving parish.

Not what you keep trying to make it into
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« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2014, 11:31:33 PM »

Perhaps I should have refrased the question, how can I live the Christian life while disregarding the irritating pop-theology about "community"?

Would you clarify what you mean by "community pop-theology?"
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« Reply #23 on: April 22, 2014, 12:06:04 AM »

Perhaps I should have refrased the question, how can I live the Christian life while disregarding the irritating pop-theology about "community"?

The simple answer is "yes you can".  Other than periodically coming together for Liturgy and communion, there is NOTHING that requires you to be around other people.  There are plenty of writings from the Church fathers that would say that being around other people is often NOT good for your Salvation - it simply depends on who they are.  You should not be hostile to others, and you should be willing to assist those in need.  However, there is no reason for you to "hang around" people that you do not wish to be around.  There are a good number of people who are true introverts and dealing with other people wears on them.  There are people who's company I enjoy.  They are few, and most people bring me enjoyment by being somewhere other than where I am.  This is when I feel closest to God, and when my thoughts are most directed at Him.  I have never found close contact with groups of people to be helpful.  If you can find a situation where you do not have to be around others, good for you.  However, you must also keep in mind that sometimes God sends others to you for various reasons in accordance with His will.  You must be sure not to despise them and to always keep in mind that they, too, are creatures of the Almighty God and deserve to be treated as such.  This does not mean that you have to seek them out.  God knows how you feel, and if you have asked Him for solitude and He has decided otherwise, know that it is for your Salvation, and it is His will that needs to be done, not yours.
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« Reply #24 on: April 22, 2014, 12:07:27 AM »

Perhaps I should have refrased the question, how can I live the Christian life while disregarding the irritating pop-theology about "community"?

Would you clarify what you mean by "community pop-theology?"

Most likely what you hear in Church on Sunday by people who's standard of living is dependent on how many people are putting money into the offering.
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« Reply #25 on: April 22, 2014, 06:34:55 AM »

Perhaps I should have refrased the question, how can I live the Christian life while disregarding the irritating pop-theology about "community"?

Would you clarify what you mean by "community pop-theology?"

Most likely what you hear in Church on Sunday by people who's standard of living is dependent on how many people are putting money into the offering.


"God, I thank you that I'm not like other people."
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« Reply #26 on: April 22, 2014, 04:40:25 PM »

Perhaps I should have refrased the question, how can I live the Christian life while disregarding the irritating pop-theology about "community"?

Would you clarify what you mean by "community pop-theology?"

Most likely what you hear in Church on Sunday by people who's standard of living is dependent on how many people are putting money into the offering.


"God, I thank you that I'm not like other people."

You should ask Him to help you know what you are talking about.
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« Reply #27 on: April 22, 2014, 05:35:45 PM »


Of course you can be a loner.

In fact, if your loneliness stems from relationships that just "don't work out" with people outside the Church, it might be for the best.
Sometimes, keeping distant is a good thing. 

Afterall, you are not meant to fit in with "society" in general.  You are not "of this world".

However, this doesn't mean you hate or judge others....it simply means you don't fit in because perhaps your morals are different, or your interests are different, or.....

As for the Church family....yes, we see each other on Sundays.  Some take on extra roles, cleaning, purchasing supplies, working in the kitchen, teaching, serving in the Altar, etc.  However, not everyone picks up an "extra" role.  Many merely come to pray, partake of Sacraments and then leave until the following Sunday.  There's nothing wrong with that, either.

The Church is comprised of many personalities, and perhaps the fact that you are a loner (maybe even prefer to be alone) means you are destined to do something different for the Church.  Perhaps write - theological materials one day, or even greeting cards for the shut-ins and sickly.

There are so many different ways we can serve the Lord.  Don't count yourself out, just because you are uncomfortable around others.


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« Reply #28 on: April 22, 2014, 06:16:43 PM »

Thanks to some of you. I was afraid that I might be told that being reserved is sinful. I've already been told something similar by both a priest and a subdeacon. I don't think it's a sin to turn down invitations because you don't enjoy that person's company, even if some people cannot fathom how this doesn't imply that I wish evil upon them.
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« Reply #29 on: April 22, 2014, 11:03:45 PM »

Thanks to some of you. I was afraid that I might be told that being reserved is sinful.

Perhaps.  What that we do isn't?  Sometimes being around people causes us to fall into greater sin.  My priest and I were discussing this after service this morning.  He sees nothing wrong with being "antisocial".  Then again, he and I have spent a lot of our time around monks (my Godfather is a monk).  One of the things that I learned from them is that you can love someone without proximity.  Outside of my family and one good friend of mine, there are two people that mean a lot to me.  One I have not seen since I was 18 years old, and the other (a person on this forum) I have never seen face to face.  I have known people who knew each other only through letters, but they knew each other more closely than any of those around them.  A shallow person will not understand this.  Don't worry about it.  If you are happy alone, don't let others ruin that for you.  If you are unhappy because you are alone, then that is another matter that should be addressed. 
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« Reply #30 on: April 23, 2014, 01:51:26 AM »

What is a "loner"?

Someone who, no matter how often they interact with others, no matter how many connections they make or people they meet, no matter how many times a new relationship or friendship seems to initially be looking bright, no matter how much they're accepted by a close-knit church or family community, still feels profound isolation from everyone without exception, and always has.
Do you mean an introvert?
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« Reply #31 on: April 23, 2014, 04:53:04 AM »

Do you mean an introvert?

Eh, what he describes is closer to depression than introversion.

An introvert is someone that spends energy on social interactions; after spending time being social, an introvert needs time alone to recharge and be alone before they can spend more time being social. I am an introvert; I have several close friends and a few good acquaintances, but I can only spend so much time with them before I start feeling exhausted. I need lots of time alone to recharge from social interactions; usually, my days off consist of sitting in my house quietly while my wife is asleep or going outside on solo hiking trips or something like that. Introverts need time away from people in order to recharge their social “batteries”, if you will.

As an introvert, I don’t spend a whole lot of time being social. I’ll see my friends every few weeks and usually I’ll visit them one-on-one. Parties are an absolute no; I hate them. There are far too many people that make far too much noise. After liturgy at church, I’ll hang around for about 20 or 30 minutes during coffee hour and chat with a few people, and then I’ll go home and be alone for the rest of the day. Despite this, I don’t feel lonely at all. I don’t feel sad about my life; I rather enjoy all of it. I feel like I have a good connection with the people that know me, and I’m not anxious about being alone.

On the other hand, my wife has depression. She is also an introvert and has all of the same qualities that I mentioned before, but there is a distinct loneliness that seems to pervade her life. She often feels sad and disconnected from people; no matter how many friends she has or how much time she spends with them, she still feels distant from them. This is just a product of her depression; it is something that can be addressed (but not necessarily “cured”) with therapy and counseling, which she is receiving.

Someone that feels a profound and unexplainable isolation from all people seems a lot more like someone with depression than just an introverted person.
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« Reply #32 on: April 23, 2014, 04:30:59 PM »

It's not introversion. Introverts aren't necessarily loners. And loners can be social savants and very extroverted.
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« Reply #33 on: April 23, 2014, 11:35:10 PM »

I think we need to differentiate a loner as someone who is dead to earthly things and focus on Christ alone, or someone who simply chooses not to interact with others in favor of themselves. The latter would be absolutely against the teachings of the Church.
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« Reply #34 on: April 24, 2014, 05:01:40 AM »

I think we need to differentiate a loner as someone who is dead to earthly things and focus on Christ alone, or someone who simply chooses not to interact with others in favor of themselves. The latter would be absolutely against the teachings of the Church.

Why, because you say so?
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Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. - Matt. 5:24
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« Reply #35 on: April 24, 2014, 10:03:31 AM »

I have always been a solitary & presently have my daily bread with enough to be slightly charitable (modest by American standards & a surplus by the Lord's standard as compared to the alms giving poor widow). Being solitary has helped me to understand a greater hope in what salvation means in the grand scheme. Yes, I remain working my salvation out with fear & trembling (never assuming anything) while realizing God will save those He knows who will do His will (Romans 2 & 9:14-18 etc.). I must try to share my resources & pray for my own & the salvation of my neighbor by God's commands & by His will.
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« Reply #36 on: April 24, 2014, 10:13:12 AM »

I think we need to differentiate a loner as someone who is dead to earthly things and focus on Christ alone, or someone who simply chooses not to interact with others in favor of themselves. The latter would be absolutely against the teachings of the Church.


What is against the teachings of the Church is 'not believing that you need the Church as a place to work out your salvation'.....i.e. the 'It's just between God and me approach'



as far as I have ever been told, or shown, it doesn't dictate the level of sociability that one of its -members- who is participating in the life of the Church, needs to have.  All the Church dictates is that we are IN the Church, not outside it.   

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« Reply #37 on: April 28, 2014, 01:23:14 PM »

I was thinking of this thread just now, and how much I generally dislike being around people. Then I thought of the patristic idea of seeing everyone in the same light and not favoring anyone or treating one person better than another. So that left me wondering: if you dislike being around almost everyone in some way, would it be better to work on liking a few particular people more, or would it be better to work on disliking people in general a little less? So either: spread your efforts across hundreds of people and make little progress but have that progress impact more people, or focus your efforts on a few people with a chance for significant progress, but at the cost of further diverging from the patristic idea mentioned above?
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« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2014, 01:27:30 PM »

The Pilgrim seemed to dislike the company of others, and not exclusively for spiritual reasons. He agrees to travel with the dumb man because he won't be able to bother him.
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Apart from moral conduct, all that man thinks himself able to do in order to become acceptable to God is mere superstition and religious folly. - Immanuel Kant

Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. - Matt. 5:24
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« Reply #39 on: April 28, 2014, 01:41:09 PM »

I was thinking of this thread just now, and how much I generally dislike being around people. Then I thought of the patristic idea of seeing everyone in the same light and not favoring anyone or treating one person better than another. So that left me wondering: if you dislike being around almost everyone in some way, would it be better to work on liking a few particular people more, or would it be better to work on disliking people in general a little less? So either: spread your efforts across hundreds of people and make little progress but have that progress impact more people, or focus your efforts on a few people with a chance for significant progress, but at the cost of further diverging from the patristic idea mentioned above?

Why would you want to work on such a great virtue?
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Apart from moral conduct, all that man thinks himself able to do in order to become acceptable to God is mere superstition and religious folly. - Immanuel Kant

Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. - Matt. 5:24
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« Reply #40 on: April 28, 2014, 02:18:17 PM »

Not wanting to be around people, and not liking people, are two different things. If you want to live separately, but have love for others, it is no sin - witness the life of St. Mary of Egypt, St. Anthony or any other reclusive saint.

But if you want to live on your own out of hatred for others, you're in trouble.

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« Reply #41 on: April 28, 2014, 02:54:55 PM »

No. The spiritual life is one of community.

Yes...where do you think hermits come from?

So, which is it?
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« Reply #42 on: April 30, 2014, 06:29:41 PM »

Yes...where do you think hermits come from?
A monk is only a allowed to pursue eremiticism after proving himself in communal life.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2014, 06:59:51 PM by Deacon Lance » Logged

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