Was St. Paisios the new of Mt. Athos influenced by Protestant Eschatology, and are his teachings on the signs of the times not to be accepted as a legitimate continuation of the tradition of the Orthodox Church on the matter?
Holy Scripture says that you will know a tree by its fruit. What kind of tree will the world, non-Orthodox Christians, identify us as? In other words, will we be known as Orthodox Christians? First, we may want to ask: what makes someone a Christian? Does being baptized make one an Orthodox Christian? Well, our baptism brings us into the family and unites us to the body of Christ. It is the marriage ceremony whereby we become joined to the Church; however, like a marriage, if one does not work every day to love the one they married more and more, then that union falls apart. If one is baptized, but does not practice their faith, then there is no real marriage. It would be akin to legally marrying someone, and then never seeing them again. Would one really still be married? Recall brothers and sisters, Christ says if you love me, you will keep my commandments. So again, what makes us a Christian? To be a Christian is to love Christ, but to love Christ is to keep His commandments. Therefore, we must ask: do we really keep, or attempt to keep, Christ’s commandments? Do we follow Christ’s Church, who the Apostle says is the pillar and ground of Truth?
Events in the world seem to be transpiring at breakneck speed. This is intentional. Keeping people swirling in a hurricane of sensory and informational overload is a psychological tactic, moreover, it is a spiritual tactic of the enemy. His toadies in this world simply execute his tactics and agendas. Illness, civil and political unrest, war, climate, threat of shortages, increase in expenses, and on the list goes. Most of these are controlled and constructed events. The goal is to keep people off balance and to immobilize them with confusion, doubts, anxieties, fears, and so forth. In such a spiritual state it is much easier to manipulate people. And manipulation is the goal.
As many of you know, not only do I serve as a deacon in the Orthodox Church, I also teach philosophy at college. This presents many interesting opportunities. Not only do I have the privilege of continuing my own education by teaching a variety of philosophy classes each semester, I get to help students learn to think correctly and critically about many important issues. This is truly an honor, but it also comes with many challenges. As a professor of philosophy, I want the very best for my students. I want them not only to be able to distinguish truth from falsity, good arguments from bad arguments, critically question interpretations of basic philosophical positions and their presuppositions, etc., I desire that my students acquire the moral virtues as well as the intellectual virtues that will lead them to the good life. Teaching Ethics every year gives me a unique opportunity to deal with both the intellectual and moral virtues necessary for leading a good life. However, the challenge is that you cannot simply tell students the correct answer. Like many things in life, they must be able to discover these truths on their own. The good instructor simply provides the gentle guidance that will hopefully steer the student away from what is false and towards what it is true. This is very difficult and it is truly an art. Moreover, it is something that is rarely seen in professors today. Most professors unfortunately have become liberal secular propagandists for the establishment, adopting Pavlovian conditioning techniques to – in effect – brainwash students to believe whatever trend or idea that is currently in vogue and sanctioned by the secular establishment to be true. In short, they teach students “what to think,” not “how to think.” It is my personal philosophy of education to embrace the latter in my own teaching.
Growing up in Northern Idaho, I was surrounded by mountains and forests. I don’t remember a time when forests did not tug at my heart and fill my imagination with thoughts of adventure. As a small child my parents took my brother Dwayne, and me, on annual camping trips to a state park on the far northeast side of Lake Pend Oreille. There my dad would make us small toy canoes, complete with sails, out of bark. This state park is virtually unchanged since that time, and I try to visit the campground every summer, when I go fly fishing with my brother.
We often become frustrated with ourselves, wanting to change bad behavior, but seemingly incapable of making the changes we desire. Each week we confess the same sins over and over. We know the priest has heard the same confession, week after week, and we’re aware that he could probably say our confession for us, having heard it that often. What we don’t seem to know is that there is a simple reason for our repetition. These bad behaviors only seem to be unchangeable because we don’t really struggle with the passions in a way that will bring about successful change.