Monday, February 11, 2008

reading Sherrard

I have designated Monday nights as my reading and writing night. I know. Nice! It is one of the perks of being single - control over my schedule...

So tonight I read part of a chapter I found online from Philip Sherrard's book From Theology to Philosophy in the Latin West. I read around 8 of the 17 printed pages. It took a while, as one really has to pay attention when reading Sherrard. Good thing I took a few Philosophy courses in my undergrad. And wow do I need a dictionary. Sigh. Someday I hope to have the OED!

So now I understand a bit more of why various Orthodox theologians and those who study the theologians, view parts of St. Augustine's writing as leading the West in the wrong direction.

Here is the quick summary (based on what I understand):

The Christian Fathers (but not St. Augustine) never lost the understanding of the image of God being in each person. This divine image of God is the deepest part of each human. This deepest part is called heart, or the seat of the heart. Because of this deepest part, the heart (also called in Greek the nous), we can discern, see and experience God. And not just experience God but participate in God's nature. If one's heart is entirely full of the Holy Spirit (which only comes with much ascetical effort and prayer) one lives all the time in God's light. In other words, one becomes a Saint.

I was a bit familiar with this from teachings of my spiritual father and previous reading. Sherrard did not directly mention Saints yet, but it is clear from his opening statements that he sees the Christian East as the ones who did not lose the belief that one can actually have the possibility of becoming a Saint.

Oh, I almost forgot the rest of the summary. St. Augustine did not believe in the heart as much as he did the soul (different in the Christian East from the heart) and the soul was better than the body. This part is complicated. It appears to end that the soul cannot directly comprehend God.

My current thought on St. Augustine's view as told by Sherrard: If this is so (I have read very little of the Patristics) (such a great word, Patristics) than it appears to deny the Incarnation of Christ - fully divine and fully human. And it denies the Holy Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Christ as part of what it means to abide in Christ.

Well. There you go. I am interested in Sherrard’s work for two reasons. One, I get to exercise my brain. Two, I want to understand what happened in the past to create the present. In other words, why do so many people today live believing they have no souls.

This seems to have something to do with Modern Western thought and the Enlightenment.

Here is what I must always remember when reading such heady philosophy: love. Knowledge can puff up and love is greater than it all. Second, this sort of reading is my form of pleasure reading (besides mystery books that is) and must never replace prayer, reading Saint stories and seeking to understand humility.

Lord have mercy, as it is so hard to do what is best!

1 comment:

Mimi said...

Agreed, Love is the key! What a lovely Monday tradition.