I was reading about sketes (is that the plural?) yesterday. A skete is a monastic community of hermit at the time of the Desert Fathers. I think it is an interesting model for modern monasticism.
While reading I stumbled across St Macarius of Egypt. I was really struck by this part of his life:
… a pregnant woman accused him of having defiled her. Macarius did not attempt to defend himself, and accepted the accusation in silence.
I have been thinking about Jesus on the cross. The cross is that symbol of love that the world cannot understand. Becausen on the cross God said, “You cannot do it so I will!”. Like Macarius, Jesus accepted it in silence.
I woke up sad. Some to-and-fro last night that left me emotionally exhausted. And I am struggling with the guilt of not doing more or trying harder. Simply getting through the day has been a struggle the last couple of days. It is all numb and emotionless. Yes, I am someone else’s villain. But the constant struggle is exhausting. I want to move on but God has other ideas – or, a least, I hope He does.
I have just finished season 2 of The Devil you Know. It has been extremely interesting and made me think.
Season 2 looks at the internet cult around Sherry Shriner. What made this show interesting for me was how a person created a cult that is wholly on the internet! People go searching for answers online – to “google” has become a common verb in English. And, as the show points out, the algorithms on social media sites, and especially on YouTube, place people into a filter bubble – a context of confirmation of their assumptions. A person who watches a clip of a particular theory while be directed to other clips that confirm that theory.
What really made me think is that “cult” have worked out how to use this, why haven’t the people of God? Instinctively Shriner knew how to built community online and how to control people through that community. And how to use confirmation bias to move people to action. Yet the church is stuck in trying the same old things and wondering why it does not produce new outcomes!
We are born biological beings but we must become existential individuals by accepting responsibility for our actions. This is an application of Nietzsche’s advice to ‘become what you are’. Many people never do acknowledge such responsibility but rather flee their existential individuality into the comfort of the faceless crowd.
Flynn, Thomas. Existentialism: A Very Short Introduction
I have always thought the above is a good definition of existenalism. If not a definition than a great place to start the discussion. I think SK would add “before God” but that is covered by “accepting responsibility for our actions”.
I often flee into the “comfort of the faceless crowd” – I allow others to define me, to give me meaning, to give me purpose. I escape to a mask that others ask me to wear. Because, in the end, it is much easier to let other’s define me than to do the hard work of looking at myself “before God”.
Yet I have a choice – yes or no. Do I allow others to define me or just to describe me? Yes, I am weird and awkward. But those are not failures but superpowers! I need to learn to be an “I” with all the quirks and eccentricities. Because, in the end, Jesus calls me to place my centre in Him – I am by faith an eccentric.
The basic depravity of our times is that personality has been abolished. No one in our time dares to be a personality, everyone shrinks in cowardly anthrophobia from being I over against, perhaps in opposition, to others. Then the politicians avail themselves of the public. The politician is no I – good gracious no, he speaks in the public’s name. Religiously, ‘the Church’ is used in just the same way. What people want is an appropriate abstraction which helps them avoid being I, which is surely the greatest danger of all.
The Journals (1855)
I have to find the source of the quote! Maybe I should start a new category “Find Quote”?! Anyway, well said SK!
Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:13-16
I was going to write a whole different post this morning – full of gloom and doom. But the above was part of the reading for Morning Prayer. It lifted me and made me think – “Be holy as I am holy” and trust Jesus.