I feel older right now, having gone to my 40th high school class reunion and not recognizing most of my old classmates — I think America’s gotten nuttier than I’ve ever seen it before. And I blame neither the Democrats nor Republicans, President Trump nor Secretary Clinton, leftwing or right.
I blame doctrine. Bad doctrine, that is.
And doctrine is something that you cannot ever get away from, even if you’re a raging atheistic materialist (which you’re not). “You gotta believe in something,” Bob Dylan once sang, and that something is up to you.
You can become truly human, perfected, only when you pray, believe and commune in the Body of the One Who is the same yesterday, today and forever … because, at the end of all things — even at the end of your earthly life — the Only One left standing is Christ: and we can be a part of His Body … if we truly want to.
[A]t the root of every human behavior (whether good or bad) is a doctrine, whatever it is. If you are not certain that God is real, or that He wants to rescue you, then there is no way you’re going to want to participate in Liturgy or desire the Eucharist more than any other thing. If you are not convinced that Jesus is your Good Shepherd, Who accompanies you through “the valley of the shadow of death,” then you will certainly “fear evil” (Psalm 22.4 LXX), then you will necessarily try to go your own way, through the soul-sucking lifestyle of anxiety and self-protection, through angry attacks at whoever you think is your enemy (and you’ll always, always be dead wrong). If you do not know in your heart of hearts that God is “the God of all comfort,” (2 Corinthians 1.3), then you’ll be left to comfort yourself on your own, whether you’ll choose from the self-comforting array of any number of addictions (i.e., drug, alcohol, gambling, food, TV); or simply just running away to the self-isolation of despair.
I look at behavior and never once do I say “they cannot help it,” or “that’s just the way I am.” Choices and thoughts, feelings and behavior — all of them come from freely-chosen doctrine. The way we are is the result of what we freely believe. So when I see bad, destructive or just negligent behavior, I don’t judge or condemn. I look for the “strange doctrine” that is “carrying away” a human heart.
(Fr. Jonathan Tobias, Carried Away) Read it all, as there’s more than I can fairly quote.
I’m not sure I quite agree with all the connotations of “freely-chosen doctrine,” though. You cannot choose to believe what you find ridiculous or impossible; you can only freely choose to fake believing it. But you may find the truth ridiculous or impossible because of an antecedent “carrying away” of your heart, so the cure may be slow, layer-by-layer.
Trigger warning if you’re in see-no-evil mode:
- Peggy Noonan, Trump is Woody Allen without the humor.
- Kevin Williamson, Death of a F***ing Salesman.
You could view this pairing as Williamson standing on Noonan’s shoulders, adding one more element she didn’t mention.
Now someone should stand on Williamson’s shoulders to explain why America jumped into bed with the pickup artist. I’ve been thinking that Rasputin analogies might fit. And so far as I know, I came up with that on my own. Now someone needs to run with it so I can sue them …
Oh, rats! I thought of it on my own, but I wasn’t the first. Still earlier, people were thinking that Bannon was Trump’s Rasputin, but I’m more interested in Trump’s mesmerizing hold on the voters, America’s theoretical sovereigns, not some ideological hold anyone has on Trump.
The great Warren Farha will receive the first St. John of Damascus award from the Eight Day Institute August 26.
If you have never heard of Farha or the Institute, don’t worry about it. It’s kind of an Orthodox thing.
Farha wouldn’t even care if you don’t know of him so long as you know of his bookstore, one of the world’s great curated collections — if you’re Orthodox, non-Orthodox Christian interested in the teachings of the Early Church Fathers, or a Classicist.
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There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)