Sunday, May 18, 2008

Struggle or Surrender

Things are moving along at our little Orthodox mission here in East Texas. I like to sit in on the inquirer's classes offered before Saturday Vespers. We are currently studying An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith by St. John of Damascus. This is one of those works that I have read at, but might never have really engaged if not for the discipline of a weekly class and discussion. St. John of Damascus is rich beyond measure, but I was particularly struck this week by a turn of phrase in the 3rd chapter.

For the things appertaining to the rational world, I mean angels and spirits and demons, are subject to changes of will, whether it is a progression or a retrogression in goodness, whether a struggle or a surrender....

St. John continues on with this line of thought, but I kept coming back to the phrase--a struggle or a surrender. That sums up our earthly existence rather well, don't you think? We either live lives of struggle, in cooperation with the grace God so richly bestows on us, or we surrender to our passions, desperately attempting to ignore the mutability--in St. John's language--of our nature, and the immutability of our Creator.

Struggle or surrender? As mottoes-to-live-by go, we could certainly do worse.


James the Thickheaded said...

Forgive the rather low level allusion which for me is inescapable, but it sure runs a little different than the refrain in my favorite song by "The Boss" (off Born in the USA): "No Defeat and (Baby) No surrender".

Do you like the book? "Exact..." sounds a little intimidating.. if not incongruous.

John said...

I do like the book--but it is a little intimidating. A chapter a week, taught by our priest, with discussion, however, is very managable.