Thursday, October 1, 2009

Can I Trust Myself?


"Do not trust your mind too much; thinking must be refined by suffering, or it will not stand the test of these cruel times." (Letters from Father Seraphim Rose, CA 1975)


Seraphim Rose was a priest-monk of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) in the United States, whose writings have helped spread Orthodox Christianity throughout modern America and the West. His writings have been instrumental in reminding western thinking of the depth of our depravity, particularly when it comes to self-trust. There is a great deal said in the west about the evils of self-trust and self-confidence, but in true western practice we trust our own thinking more than anything else (rationalism). Yet, how often has not our intellect, reasoning, and thinking been our main problem. To this rose says, "do not trust your mind too much.” He is pointing us to a kind of real life experience we can all relate to. How often has your own thinking been the problem? If you are like most, then the answer is often. The solution to this crisis is not to avoid thinking, but to be less impressed with of ourselves, and to learn to mistrust our own thinking as much as we mistrust those who we know are continually wrong. This may be more applicable to us than to even previous generations because as Rose states, “thinking must be refined by suffering.” If this is true then we must be the least trustworthy of all generations. This is not to say that we should desire suffering, for that would go against our very nature, but it is to say that we should trust ourselves only to the degree that suffering has allowed us to become sober.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated- of whom the world was not worthy- wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. Heb 11: 32-38

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