Asceticism: seeking God from a pedestal?

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Re: Asceticism: seeking God from a pedestal?

Postby Theophilus » August 28th, 2012, 4:26 pm

Sprocket wrote:Furthermore, I have specifically pointed out that I am not opposed to asceticism...


Indeed, and this point/self-justification was also responded to.
Here and here.

From the latter:

In what way was Christ a "moderate" ascetic? Did he farm or fish for Himself? Or did He dine at the expense of others? I assume you don't also call Christ "parasitic?" Almost every criticism leveled at St. Symeon or other ascetics could have been, and were, directed at Christ too.

As an adjunct to this point, a quote from St. Luke:

Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village... And the Twelve wre with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities - Mary called Magdeline... and Joanna wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.

So really, what is the difference between Christ being provided for, and St Symeon? Do you believe Symeon demanded food, or imposed a tax on the poor to provide for himself? Do you not believe the people who provided for St. Symeon also did so out of gratitude for the healings he had provided them with?

I think it lucky no one washed St. Symeon's feet with an alabaster of fragrant oil, otherwise you might have exploded with indignance about how so much oil might have been sold and given to the poor.

======

Of course, we're not talking about St Symeon specifically now, and I am willing to withhold judgment on this specific Georgian monk is doing. Obviously you are not, and so the above points still stand, and will be copy-and-pasted while ever you continue to unthinkingly (based on the tone and tenor of your posts) criticize it.
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Re: Asceticism: seeking God from a pedestal?

Postby Pondero » August 28th, 2012, 5:03 pm

There is a lot of merit in prayer, but you need faith in order to live a life dedicated to it as did the desert fathers in ages past and did mystics throughout the ages. We have Cistercian monks who rise for prayer at 2am daily and are silent for speech most of the time. The Orthodox are more inclined to lone mysticism than community worship, I think. Perhaps I am wrong there,Theo would know more about that than I..

I doubt if exhibitionism is involved here Sprocket.
Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing make you afraid.
All things are passing.
God alone never changes.
Patience gains all things.
If you have God you will want for nothing.
God alone suffices.

— St. Teresa, The bookmark of Teresa of Ávila, [28]
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Re: Asceticism: seeking God from a pedestal?

Postby Sprocket » August 28th, 2012, 5:26 pm

I'll stick with William Penn, the pioneer Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania, who said "True godliness don't turn men out of the world, but enables them to live better in it, and excites their endeavours to mend it", rather than a bunch of exhibitionist nut-jobs on pillars. So Jesus graciously accepted offered hospitality - so what? He did a lot of practical good in the world, and didn't try to escape from it, except temporarily for 40 days in preparation for his ministry (I don't object to temporary retreats from the world - they may be a good idea).
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Re: Asceticism: seeking God from a pedestal?

Postby Sprocket » August 28th, 2012, 5:27 pm

Pondero wrote:I doubt if exhibitionism is involved here Sprocket.

Sitting on top of a pillar isn't exhibitionism? If they just wanted to retreat from the world, they could have gone off and lived in a cave in the wilderness somewhere.
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Re: Asceticism: seeking God from a pedestal?

Postby Theophilus » August 28th, 2012, 5:59 pm

Sprocket wrote:So Jesus graciously accepted offered hospitality - so what?


So that's the parasitic accusation out of the window. After all, the post which I helpfully quoted for you specifically says: Do you believe Symeon demanded food, or imposed a tax on the poor to provide for himself? Do you not believe the people who provided for St. Symeon also did so out of gratitude for the healings he had provided them with? But seeing as you didn't address this post at all the last time I posted it, I should be grateful you at least half read it this time. Perhaps in another couple of years you will be ready to answer all the points I make?

In the meantime....

What other judgments did you throw out there? Useless?

Again this was something dealt with in previous posts. However, you reveal a lot of your ideological baggage with this statement:

Sprocket wrote:He [Jesus] did a lot of practical good in the world...


That's a very odd way of describing Christ's ministry. Opening up the gateway into Heaven and despoiling death through His own voluntary death might not be described as "practical good in the world", but something a bit more transcendental than that. In fact I would say that such a description of Christ's Passion as "a lot of practical good in the world" is impiously understated, if not blasphemously so. If you're talking about Christ's physical ("practical") good works, then I would say two things:

a) St Symeon also performed miracles of healing (as I said, I am not going to judge the monk above mentioned, even if you do, but St Symeon's miracles as a Stylite set a precedent).

b) Jesus' miracles were limited to signs pointing towards His true mission, which as mentioned above is severely cheapened if you wish to describe it as "a lot of practical good". In terms of actual numbers healed, compared to how much He could have done, then His work in the world was a poor showing. Many Jews rejected Him as the Messiah for this very reason. You are rejecting the inheritors of Christ's promises by the same token.

Sprocket wrote:(I don't object to temporary retreats from the world - they may be a good idea).


That's a nice concession on your part, but who appointed you a judge on these matters anyway? I have, in fact, already addressed your apparent "moderate" concessions, which are neither moderate nor concessions, but simply narrow-minded judgments based on your own parochial view (I will point out, as I did two years ago, that I am not defending asceticism as the only form of Christian life, and nor are those who practice it: you are the one who are strictly defining what a Christian life is).

In any case, all our earthly life is temporary, something you and your Quaker friend seem to forget. The testimony of the Church overwhelmingly confesses the ascetics to be the ones who truly make the most of their temporary sojourns on this planet, rather than the campaigners - of whatever political persuasion - who bluster and posture on the world's stage (they're the exhibitionists!) to no avail (and Christ promises that an end to poverty will not come about this side of the Parousia).
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Re: Asceticism: seeking God from a pedestal?

Postby Sprocket » August 29th, 2012, 8:19 am

The point is that Symeon deliberately put himself in a position in which he could not contribute anything practical to his community, and was entirely dependent on others. Jesus didn't - not even during the 40 days, when he went off into the wilderness.
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Re: Asceticism: seeking God from a pedestal?

Postby Theophilus » August 29th, 2012, 8:30 am

St Symeon's community allowed him to go into solitude, even testing him to make sure it wasn't done out of pride or delusion (which is often prideful and resistant to rebuke). You do realize how St Symeon was regarded by his community, in the end, don't you? So what makes you think your judgment on St Symeon, based on what he did for "his community", has any weight whatsoever?

Was that really "the" point of your disagreement? Or will you simply move onto another calumny against the Saint, endlessly switching between "exhibitionist", "parasitic", "useless", or "insane" even though each one of those insults has been addressed individually and collectively in this thread? You may not think I have addressed these accusations satisfactorily, but either you should be able to show why that is the case, or be confident that my arguments are manifestly ridiculous and so not bother to interject. As it is, you always feel the need to throw accusations at St Symeon, and when they are addressed/defended, you move on to another accusation, saying that this is "the point".
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Re: Asceticism: seeking God from a pedestal?

Postby Sprocket » August 29th, 2012, 8:38 am

I don't think there's anything else that either of us can usefully say. I've made my position, which I stand by, quite clear, as have you, so let's leave it there.
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Re: Asceticism: seeking God from a pedestal?

Postby Theophilus » August 29th, 2012, 9:01 am

I was just adding a new story that I found; I added it here because it is related to the subject. I know there is nothing more to say about St Symeon*, which is why I limited my responses to repeating older posts on the thread. They were unanswered then and they're unanswered now.

As for making positions clear: it was not a rhetorical question to ask just exactly why you think you can pass judgment on what St Symeon did, and condemn him in such harsh terms. The "community" you feel he harmed loved him, whilst you - who St Symeon does no harm to at all - hate him. So.... what's all that about? But if you don't want to answer, we'll have to leave it there.



*Except perhaps put out a reminder that his feast day is coming up on September 1 :amen:
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Re: Asceticism: seeking God from a pedestal?

Postby Val » August 29th, 2012, 9:03 am

Regardless of religious persuasions or none, IMHO asceticism to that extent is just a waste of a very valuable human life; instead of sitting atop a pole or pillar how better it might be if he performed some service to those in need, or if he felt the need to withdraw from society and lead a contemplative prayerful life he could find better places to do it than sitting on top of a pillar in full public view.
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