Friday, December 7, 2012

Can consumers be saved?

In trying to understand ourselves, people have worked out different ways to analyze aspects of the human person. Are we spirit-soul-body or mind-emotions? Is it body-and-intellect, or heart vs. head? It's too bad we have to be always chopped up into warring interests. God intended for us to be unified creatures, as the Holy Trinity is a Unity, but only by God's grace can we begin to know some of that intended wholeness.

What is the heart? Surely it's not just the emotions, as many moderns seem to think. The Orthodox Church understands the heart very differently and more deeply than this. The Greek word nous, the fathers tell us, is not easily translated into English. But some current writers have been able to get through my dullness and give a little more clarity.

One of these is Fr. Stephen Freeman, and his recent blog post "Shopping for God" contains a lot of nourishment that will take me some time to soak up thoroughly. My title is a question posed at the end of his article written on Black Friday Eve.

I haven't finished my Christmas shopping, but even when I come to the end of that I know there will be other anxiety-producing prompts to and from my false self, so I appreciate Fr. Stephen's reminder of my inheritance in Christ, and His Kingdom within.

Here are some excerpts:
Shoppers desire beauty, acceptance, self-confidence, power, intelligence, pleasure, excitement, a host of intangible needs. They are not natural needs, but the passions of the spiritually disordered. Our unnatural existence is centered in the false self -- the sense of identity generated within our memory, thoughts and emotions. It is burdened with uncertainty. Comparing, judging, measuring, revising are constant activities of the mind in its role of the false self.
 .........
Christ at the well
The human life was created to be centered in the heart, the spiritual seat of our existence. The heart is not subject to the passions, not driven by desire and necessity. It is not the same thing as the mind. It does not compare or judge, measure or spin tales of its own existence. It simply is. It is in the heart that we know God (truly know). Its aesthetic is true beauty, found within the most ordinary of objects as well as in the greatest efforts of man. The heart is content.

3 comments:

peacework projects said...

thanks for the heads-up on this post. i'm off to read the rest. . .

Celeste Bracewell said...

I've read this twice now...and will read Father Stephen's blog. "The heart is not subject to the passions,not driven by desire and necessity": While her subject was an early reflection on love and marriage, Ruth Bell Graham's words about the heart resonated:

Love
without clinging;
cry
if you must—
but privately cry;
the heart will adjust
to the newness of loving
in practical ways:
cleaning
and cooking
and sorting out clothes,
all say, “I love you,”
when lovingly done.

So—
love
without clinging;
cry—
if you must—
but privately cry;
the heart will adjust
to the length of his stride,
the song he is singing,
the trail he must ride,
the tensions that make him
the man that he is,
the world he must face,
the life that is his.

So
love
without clinging;
cry—
if you must—
but privately cry;
the heart will adjust
to being the heart,
not the forefront of life;
a part of himself,
not the object—
his wife.

So—
love!

Thank you.

GretchenJoanna said...

wow, Celeste, those are thought-provoking words from Ruth. Thank you for adding them here - very applicable, I think.