many ones

by Andrea Elizabeth

Having finished the last several pages of Ambiguum 7, I’m a little hmm. St.Maximus is concluding by going back to the unnamed Originistic false teaching that we had eternal, pre-existent souls. Oh, a little before that he described the joy of heaven, but why I’m not ecstatic about it right now is that he described union with God as being animated by Him the same way our soul animates our body. Our soul, in the proper ordered sense, has total control over our body. I’m not blaming St. Maximus. There’s probably something wrong with my sense of holding on to individuality. He did say, “come to reside in all beings in a manner appropriate to each” indicating some customness, then goes on to:

so that the many, though separated from each other in nature, might be drawn together into a unity as they converge around the one human nature. When this happens, “God will be all things in everything, encompassing all things and making them subsist in Himself, for being will no longer possess independent motion of fail to share in God’s presence, and it is with respect ot this sharing that we are, and are called, Gods, children of God, the body, and members of God, and, it follows, “portions of God,” and other such things, in the progressive ascent of the divine plan to its final end.

Yes, it’s my state that gives this introverted, possibly Aspergers loner hermit pause. One of the first Orthodox biographies I read was of St. Seraphim of Sarov whom we celebrated yesterday. I remember he avoided people and would hide in the leaves outside the monastery when he had visitors. Later, after many years alone, he started calling people, “my joy”.

Another thing that comes to mind are military parades where everyone looks alike, and they’re all marching in step along very straight lines. I see how not having to make your own decisions or decide what to wear or where to go could be a nice respite, as well as be an awesome spectacle. But we hold on to our idea of free will. They say true freedom is the ability to follow Christ instead of our directionless passions. Still, I’m glad there are army bands with harmony and different instruments. I don’t really like the word “unison” when it appears in sheet music. But I’m not a total rebel who likes the gay pride freak show parade, for sure. Or jazz, not that it’s as cacophonic as I sometimes find it. And I’m sure St. Maximus doesn’t have a problem with icons of another color, or the differences in Saint stories. However most of them are pretty similar to the “Brave Sir Robin” song. Hopefully my inner turmoil is close enough to that.

The nature vs nurture, or free will vs determinism debate

by Andrea Elizabeth

Father Brown Episode 4

Church Secretary Bridget McCarthy : A month in prison has once again failed to reform that woman.

Father Brown: Well, Annie’s life has not been blessed with opportunity.

It’s hardly an excuse for… bad manners.

Lady Felicia Montague: Of course not, but it does explain her prostitution.

How about, properly mannered people’s lives improperly presume true virtue.

More programme notes in the comments as I like each point to have its own box and for the home page not to be cluttered with them.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God

by Andrea Elizabeth

The next paragraph in Ambiguum 7 is sublime about our union with God. I’m writing to provide a teaser to increase desire to read and experience it personally. Also to hash things out when the inclination strikes. The next paragraph describes those who of their own will decide to follow their undirected passions downward to instability rather than beautfiful virtuous union with God.

The next section is called, “The doctrine of the logoi defended”

“Saint Dionysios the Areopagite teaches us that Scripture calls these logoi “predeterminations” and “divine wills.” Thus God knows us by his will in creating us, not by sensory or intellectual perception. It follows in my mind that if God knows us by his predetermined will, then he only knows the part of us that is coming toward him/his will. Perhaps this is how in the judgment, our straw is burned away, and our metal remains. Reading on, this is why it says later, “The Lord knows those who are His own. To still others it says: I know you not. In each case, the voluntary decision to move either in accord with the will and logos of God or against it prepared each person to hear the divine voice.”

do or be? (I’m holding back from total irreverence in the title at least*)

by Andrea Elizabeth

Please forgive the difference in the worthiness of subjects. I suppose I can justify it with the big picture of how far we have deviated from God’s image, and from where we must turn.

The next paragraph in Ambiguum 7 introduces the teaching of the virtues. St. Maximus says that virtues are not logoi (which I understand to be energies in that the logoi of a tree is not the essence of God). He says that

The essence in every virtue is the one Logos of God… our Lord Jesus Christ, as it is written: God made Him our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness, and our redemption. These things are of course said about Him in an absolute sense, for He is Wisdom and Righteousness and Sanctification itself, and not in some limited sense, as is the case with human beings, as for example in the expression a “wise man” or a “just man.” Which is to say that anyone who through fixed habit participates in virtue, unquestionably participates in God, who is the substance of the virtues. For such a person freely and unfeignedly chooses to cultivate the natural seed of the Good, and has shown the end to be the same as the beginning…and it is by conforming to this beginning through the inclination of his will and by free choice, that he hastens to the end, diligently adhering to the praiseworthy course that conducts him unerringly to his point of origin. Having completed his course, such a person becomes God, receiving from God to be God, for to the beautiful nature inherent in the fact that he is God’s image, he freely chooses to add the likeness to God by means of the virtues, in a natural movement of ascent through which he grows in conformity to his own beginning.

Oh dear, I hear my Protestant background crying blasphemy! at worst, and salvation by works at best. Perhaps though, it is salvation from works. If we see Christ as our Wisdom, for example, we aren’t trying to work up our own wisdom. We feel the need for wisdom, so we look to Christ who shares Himself with us and then we know and do and I guess become. The Orthodox are quite adamant, though, to use St. Athanasius’ take on God becoming man so that man might become little g god, and St. Peter 2:1’s take on partaking of the divine nature by grace. St. Maximus doesn’t seem to be quite so worried about it.

*“To be is to do”—Socrates.
“To do is to be”—Jean-Paul Sartre.
“Do be do be do”—Frank Sinatra.


by Andrea Elizabeth

I’ll make episode 3 of Grantchester a separate post since the comment string is getting rather long on the last one.

Ep 3 begins with Curate Leonard acting like a sweet, childlike ingenue, which word usually describes a girl. Mannerisms are something you can choose, btw. This is why girls used to be told to sit certain ways. Seems to me many gay men obsess over society’s engineered roles for women. These are the same behaviors many women young and old are sold: behaviors often meant to seduce and manipulate people. Leonard seems to be being set up as a damsel in distress who needs to be rescued by a man. I posit that some men are jealous of how pretty young things get attention. It is interesting how people become affected. Instead of having the instinct to rescue, they want to be rescued. Is it an abdication? My conjecture is that it is and when middle age overtakes them they start to feel their neglect of women and the absence of fatherhood, but this can be covered up by the gratification of indulging themselves as receivers instead of givers. Yes, there is a missing of a father’s attention involved as well, but many men redirect the pain by giving love to their own children. It’s weird how pain is compensated for. But it must be more than that. I think some boys feel powerless to rescue a woman. One, I don’t think they are sure women deserve it, but two, it seems they really do identify with women. They probably do have an extra sensitivity. And they may wonder how they can help her if they feel such a need for help themselves. So they avoid it or get married as buddies. They don’t feel alpha for some reason. Not that there aren’t alpha gays. I had the biggest crush on Richard Chamberlain. But he stayed in the closet. I say if you’re capable of acting like a heartthrob to women, do it for their sake, even if it feels put on. Maybe straight men, and women, have to act sometimes too. 😮

Perhaps I’ll continue in the comments

Father Brown and Grantchester

by Andrea Elizabeth

I started the former yesterday and also caught a whiff of the latter that intrigued me enough to start it off. Father Brown in one of the first season’s first episode said he didn’t judge a homosexual man that he met in the field. The guy wasn’t asking his opinion anyway. He just wanted Fr. Brown to not tell because of the chemical treatments and such of the day. I’m ok with that since Fr Brown wasn’t asked, and he wasn’t a parishioner.

Fr Brown also told a murderer he could be forgiven, which I’m not sure the Catholic Church teaches or taught. I’ll leave it to others to explain the Orthodox position, which googling can provide.

Then the Anglican Grantchester Vicar, Sydney Chambers, was angry, in whatever season and episode that aired last night, about the church’s stance on homosexuality. I thought, here we go, until the African(?) clergyman defended the hard line pretty well! He wasn’t vilified! So I’m going to watch some more and see how they present their church’s position on things. 

In the first season first episode, Sydney emphatically said at a suicide’s funeral that all sins will be forgiven. This made the hard line lady purse her lips. Previously she had said all suicides go to hell. 

I’ll probably add more in the Comments as they come up. 

Come back to Me

by Andrea Elizabeth

One point of business, in reading about beyond being in Ambiguum 7, I am reminded that I have recently mis-attributed a memory of the subject in a preface to St. Dionysius’ Divine Names to our new Bishop Alexander, who used to be a professor at Marquette University, and has written a book about St. Dionysius. The intro to Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagite, The Divine Names and Mystical Theology that I read and blogged about almost 10 years ago was actually by Dr. John Jones, who also is/was? a professor there. No wonder I couldn’t find it again. Here is a different paper on Divine Simplicity by him that I may read later, but looks a little too technical for my current frame of mind. Back to St. Maximus,

“…He is beyond being, and is not participated in by any being whatsoever – when, I say, we set this way of thinking aside, the one Logos is many logoi and the many are One. According to the creative and sustaining procession of the One to individual beings, which is befitting of divine goodness, the One is many. According to the revertive, inductive, and providential return of the many to the One – as if to an all-powerful point of origin, or to the center of a circle precontaining the beginnings of the radii originating from it – insofar as the One gathers everything together, the many are One. We are, then, and are called “portions of God” because of the logoi of our being that exist eternally in God. Moreover, we are said to have “flowed down from above” because we have failed to move in a manner consistent with the logos according to which we were created and which preexists in God.”

Before I read on, I have a thought. In my last post, or so, I said I resist the idea of being consumed by God’s will, in that this seems to entail loss of individuality. What if this is based on a misunderstanding of what God’s will is. If it is His one divine will, then perhaps my fear is justified. But if it is one of his many wills particularized by his many logoi, then perhaps his will is individualistic for me in particular. This seems a little Protestant, in a Jesus and me kind of way. St. Maximus also said earlier, “For in their substance and formation all created things are positively defined by their own logoi, and by the logoi that exist around them and which constitute their defining limits.” This isn’t quite so individualistic. There is also the possibility that he is talking about a more general “human” logoi. King David sounds more individualistic in Psalm 139 (138?140?), but one has to be mindful that he may be prophesying about Christ instead.

Still, if we are talking about God’s will that his logoi, the design for us, return to Him, or originally, mature in Him, then it is the natural state for us. We tend to see God’s will as foreign to us, that we give up who we are for Him. But this way we are giving up who we aren’t for him. How much of our habits and decisions are based on who we aren’t? Sins of commission are obviously not God’s will, but what about sins of omission? How much to pray? How much to serve? How much to rest? How much to eat? This takes a lot of time I guess to (re? Not in the sense of pre-existing actuality, but pre-existing potentiality or even identity) align oneself to. My brain just fried.


I tried to start The Handmaid’s Tale

by Andrea Elizabeth

because it had puritan costumes, and I like The Village, but their outer virtue-scripted dialogue was fake, and the main character’s true inner thoughts were profane, so nevermind. It’s so progressive to think past social restrictions were oppressive rather than that emotions and character follow speech and actions. I prefer people to fake being good than to let all their gunk hang out. If faking it’s the best we can do, then it’s sad, but the better choice. Hopefully someday true virtue and purity will follow.



by Andrea Elizabeth

“Let not these words disturb you, for I am not implying the destruction of our power of self-determination, but rather affirming our fixed and unchangeable natural disposition, that is, a voluntary surrender of the will, so that from the same source whence we received our being, we should also long to receive being moved, like an image that has ascended to its archetype, corresponding to it completely, in the way that an impression corresponds to its stamp, so that henceforth it has neither the inclination nor the ability to be carried elsewhere, or to put it more clearly and accurately, it is no longer able to desire such a thing, for it will have received the divine energy – or rather it will have become God by divinization – experiencing far greater pleasure in transcending the things that exist and are perceived to be naturally its own. This occurs through the grace of the Spirit that has conquered it, showing that it has God alone acting within it, so that through all there is only one sole energy, that of God and of those worthy of God, or rather of God alone, who in a manner befitting His goodness wholly interpenetrates all who are worthy.”

Ambiguum 7 continued.

I suppose the fixity is in our will, not in our movement, unless we’re talking about our will’s vacillating employment in moving away and back again. He goes on to talk about transfiguration which blinds us to anything but God. I resist a bit because I like seeing the stars at night that are obliterated by the sun during the day. I like seeing the individual faces of icons, of Moses and Elijah, before they were swallowed up by Christ’s light. Perhaps when one is used to the light, he can see the things existing within it?

I’m sick

by Andrea Elizabeth

Facebook is meant for posts like this but I don’t want click responses. I missed brunch with my kids. 😦 I don’t feel like reading. Or sewing.

Some soup may sit ok but I don’t think we have any good kinds. Don’t want to ask George to pick any up. He would be happy to but he’s got a lot to do. I bet we have split pea or lentil. Blick. Chicken noodle woulda worked. Chick fila’s has too much stuff in it.

I wonder if dogs are considered scentient. Don’t want to look up the spelling or definition. They know when you’re sick and sleep next to you. I don’t let them on the furniture. Mercy laid on my foot when it was on the floor for a while. Tangent: she lets me use her as an upside down fulcrum when I get up sometimes. She likes feet.