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Change of mind from better to worse...

Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby Brian » 20 Feb 2009, 02:23

Just ran across an striking quote attributed to the early Church Father - Polycarp - Bishop of Smyrna at the time of his martyrdom in AD 155 . (I'm old school... I refuse to use BCE or CE). When the Roman Proconsul who was tasked with either getting Polycarp to renounce his faith or be executed, the 86 year old Polycarp is said to have responded in part..

"Change from better to worse is not a change allowed to us."

Very challenging and convicting perspective from one who was executed for his faith in Christ. I can only pray that for myself, I allow Christ to continue to change me for the better regardless of external circumstance.

In Christ alone,
Brian
In Christ alone,
Brian

Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry. Mark Twain
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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby Gina » 20 Feb 2009, 14:25

I was visiting a friend yesterday, and she has old photographs of her ancestors all over her house. She said that she keeps them on display to remind her children of the men and women who came before them and brought their family forward, not only out of poverty, but spiritually. She tells them that they owe it to these people not to drag their family back into a sinful lifestyle. It's an interesting thought, anyway.
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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby postodave » 20 Feb 2009, 19:29

I can only pray that for myself, I allow Christ to continue to change me for the better regardless of external circumstance.

Or indeed through external circumstances. He was a brave man Polycarp Did you read his letter as well? I always liked that story. But I also like the saying of Jung that when we see the untruth in a truth or the non-value in a value they have not ceased to exist but have been relativised. I wonder if it is only by being open to change for the worst that we can be open for change for the best. That seems to be the meaning of the parable of the talents.
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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby cyranorox » 20 Feb 2009, 20:38

Polycarp and Ireneus are favorites of mine.
Postodave, you may recall that the Kingdom is described as the day without evening; that the Good is ultimately contrasted by other Good, as note is to note, flute to string: not music to noise.

IMHO - H, for a change - openness is misunderstood if it is admired as a quality of mind or character to keep. Its value is completely dependent on where you are in your story.

you need to be open enough, long enough, then close firmly. That's how you get married or join the Church; it's also the meaning of the parable of the Pearl of Great Price.
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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby cyranorox » 20 Feb 2009, 21:10

Polycarp and Ireneus are favorites of mine.

Postodave, you may recall that the Kingdom is described as the day without evening; that the Good is ultimately contrasted by other Good, as note by note, flute by string: not music to noise.

IMHO - H, for a change - openness is misunderstood if it is admired as a quality of mind or character to keep. Its value is completely dependent on where you are in your story.

you need to be open enough, long enough, then close firmly. That's how you get married or join the Church; it's also the meaning of the parable of the Pearl of Great Price.
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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby postodave » 20 Feb 2009, 22:19

If we are talking about commitment I can see that. But I never saw my wedding day or my commitment to Christ as an ending. But them I'm not as near to sainthood as Polycarp was.
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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby hammurabi2000 » 21 Feb 2009, 12:35

Brian wrote:AD 155 . (I'm old school... I refuse to use BCE or CE).


Indeed why should we go from better to worse; what is wrong with the sixth century change to marking the years for us Christians?
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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby postodave » 21 Feb 2009, 16:12

I feel there is more to explore here but I find that whereas Polycarp was speaking rhetorically I want to talk about human psychology. Now the simple fact is that those parts of ourself that we identify as bad those of which we are ashamed may not be bad at all. We may simply have internalised values that make us distrust an important part of ourselves. Carl Rogers puts this very strongly when he says the counsellor must be willing for the client to choose goals that are antisocial, immoral or regressive because only so can he release the capacity for constructive change. It seems that God has had a similar approach, at least that is the way many people have interpreted the story of Eden. Jung talks about integrating the shadow the weak and primitive side of our person. This is what I have been suggesting. Cyranorox talked about this in relation to a marriage commitment but when a marriage is going through a difficult patch to refuse to even consider divorce as a possibility is denying oneself the very path that may if followed honestly lead to renewed commitment. Should law really be that much stronger than grace? Just a thought.
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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby deadwhitemale » 22 Feb 2009, 05:48

Brian wrote:Just ran across an striking quote attributed to the early Church Father - Polycarp - Bishop of Smyrna at the time of his martyrdom in AD 155 . (I'm old school... I refuse to use BCE or CE). When the Roman Proconsul who was tasked with either getting Polycarp to renounce his faith or be executed, the 86 year old Polycarp is said to have responded in part..

"Change from better to worse is not a change allowed to us."

Very challenging and convicting perspective from one who was executed for his faith in Christ. I can only pray that for myself, I allow Christ to continue to change me for the better regardless of external circumstance.

In Christ alone,
Brian



I'm sure that's a good thing to pray for. But I do not believe external circumstances should be discounted or dismissed, or that people are not entitled to their feelings about their external circumstances.

Without looking it up, I don't know exactly what happened to Polycarp. I gather he was martyred at age 86. I'm glad he was able to face it bravely. But I would not necessarily blame someone whose life had hardly begun yet if they faced martyrdom or just plain misfortune less bravely and/or cheerfully.

Poverty may seem a small thing -- even a lark, or a romp -- to someone who still has youth and health and good teeth, no dependents and few obligations. Death may seem less terrible than poverty to someone old and ill, or with many obligations or dependents.

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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby cyranorox » 22 Feb 2009, 23:37

regarding divorce, that is always a change from better to worse, and an evil, but permitted and reasonable when things have gone too far wrong. In effect, it is the social and public expression of a change to the worse that is already in the past. I only say that it is no part of the ideal.
Is it grace against law? a man is diminished when he breaks or abandons his vows or oaths, This is not development or growth, though often presented as such. I'd look long and hard at what proposed itself as grace in that context - much false praise and interested support is given to those who leave marriage, for example, to take a lover or to seek some individual goal. It is not a foundation natural or congenial to spiritual growth, though of course with repentance and acknowledgement of the entangled wrongs, progress can be attained.

The role of a counselor is limited to the mind and emotions; when they shade over into spiritual claims or presume to offer spiritual guidance, I think they are out of their professional domain.

We do not know all our sins; we often feel guilt over mere social blunders, embarassments, defeats, etc. and this is evidence of a poorly developed conscience. This is my situation. It is hard to train the feelings to shrink from real evil and not from mere loss of face, failure or being outplayed.

If we dont always judge rightly, we can still look at what is plainly bad, and reject it- and this cannot be evaded by reference to cultural differences ['but the Inuit/Maori/Suomi/etc consider it virtue...']. I cannot easily think of a part of myself of which i am ashamed, yet on reflexion I should see as not bad at all. Can you offer at least two examples?

re: AD, since we are tied to Latin, I propose ADM, anno domini mei [if that is the grammar], year of the Lord of me
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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby postodave » 24 Feb 2009, 22:23

The role of a counselor is limited to the mind and emotions; when they shade over into spiritual claims or presume to offer spiritual guidance, I think they are out of their professional domain.

So when a person has problems which arise from the Church as their cultural background the counsellor should say, 'Sorry that's not my domain.' Actually that makes me really angry. Scott Peck used to say the Church kept him in business. Did you ever read 'The Road less travelled by.'? I think far more harm has been done by counsellors not wanting to grapple with spiritual issues. But don't get me wrong I like to have both spiritual direction and counselling and if therapists and priests can work together that is best of all.
regarding divorce, that is always a change from better to worse, and an evil, but permitted and reasonable when things have gone too far wrong.

The second half of this sentence seems to contradict the first. A change to the lesser of two evils must be a change from worse to better. Ask a person who has been in a relationship where his children were being abused on a daily basis and who obtains a divorce whether that must have been a change from better to worse.
I cannot easily think of a part of myself of which i am ashamed, yet on reflexion I should see as not bad at all.

This is complex. I don't mean they are parts of ourselves which could never be bad or have no badness in them but things that are not bad in themselves. Anger might be an example. Sexual desire might be another.
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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby postodave » 24 Feb 2009, 22:29

Without looking it up, I don't know exactly what happened to Polycarp. I gather he was martyred at age 86. I'm glad he was able to face it bravely. But I would not necessarily blame someone whose life had hardly begun yet if they faced martyrdom or just plain misfortune less bravely and/or cheerfully.

Actually DWM (I shortened your name but now you sound like the abbreviation for Dr. Who magazine) Anyway I was going to say the early church always had a problem with this. After persecution passed then Christians who had say denied Christ to avoid martyrdom would want to be readmitted to the Church. I get the impression the Church was quite harsh about those things. I think I'd sooner have had you running things. I doubt I'd have been as brave as Polycarp even at 86.
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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby rusmeister » 28 Feb 2009, 02:42

postodave wrote:
The role of a counselor is limited to the mind and emotions; when they shade over into spiritual claims or presume to offer spiritual guidance, I think they are out of their professional domain.

So when a person has problems which arise from the Church as their cultural background the counsellor should say, 'Sorry that's not my domain.' Actually that makes me really angry. Scott Peck used to say the Church kept him in business. Did you ever read 'The Road less travelled by.'? I think far more harm has been done by counsellors not wanting to grapple with spiritual issues. But don't get me wrong I like to have both spiritual direction and counselling and if therapists and priests can work together that is best of all.
regarding divorce, that is always a change from better to worse, and an evil, but permitted and reasonable when things have gone too far wrong.

The second half of this sentence seems to contradict the first. A change to the lesser of two evils must be a change from worse to better. Ask a person who has been in a relationship where his children were being abused on a daily basis and who obtains a divorce whether that must have been a change from better to worse.
I cannot easily think of a part of myself of which i am ashamed, yet on reflexion I should see as not bad at all.

This is complex. I don't mean they are parts of ourselves which could never be bad or have no badness in them but things that are not bad in themselves. Anger might be an example. Sexual desire might be another.

I really have to step in in support of Cyrano, PoD. When you speak about extreme cases and exceptions, you are right (so I won't debate extremes like genuine starving or vicious beating of children or spouses). But the truth is, the overwhelming majority of cases are not that extreme. That's why they (the extreme cases) are exceptions. The very term "abuse" has been made to mean whatever people want it to mean, to where I can speak of verbal abuse - of being belittled or cursed, for example, and the point is that our human nature is such is that we always want to see ourselves as exceptions as well as exceptional and so nearly everyone does make out their case as exceptional. In the Orthodox Church, divorce is granted (note - by a bishop - local priest doesn't cut it) in the truly extreme situations - but most cases aren't that extreme, and we are poor judges of cases that we are emotionally involved in and need external guidance. Plus, future marriages ((fourth marriages are never allowed) are penitential in nature, rather than celebratory.

There are plenty of spousal situations "gone south" that are not extreme or exceptions, but merely normal - and these do not, generally speaking, justify the breaking of the vow. I wonder if you have read GKC's "A Defence of Rash Vows"? http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/boo ... _vows.html (an abridged version)
We are called to become more than what we are - to be holy as He is holy. To bear offenses as he did. And marriage is no exception. We give offense to our spouses on numerous (sometimes, sadly, regular) occasions. So what? Even though sometimes the easiest thing to do would be to run away, having an easy back door only makes it likely indeed that the marriage will, at some time, fall apart.

On counseling: If the counselor does not share your faith, then it is insane to refer such guidance to them however "professional" they might be. The faith, seen as the ultimate proposition of Truth, is the thing that determines everything else, including guidance. When you go to a counselor, you are submitting not only what you know to what he knows, but what you believe to what he believes. Indeed, he may well be dealing with something that is not "his field".

You speak of "Church as cultural background". That does not make clear whether the person takes the faith as the Truth and the thing to be accepted and lived by or not.

It follows (and here we agree) that the desired thing is to have both a priest and a counselor (psychiatrist, psychologist or whatever) that shares your faith. If the latter does not, then you are in considerable spiritual danger (unless they are Orthodox) :) )
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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby postodave » 01 Mar 2009, 22:34

When you go to a counselor, you are submitting not only what you know to what he knows, but what you believe to what he believes. Indeed, he may well be dealing with something that is not "his field".

I don't think you have a clue what counselling is so as I see it there is no point continuing this discussion.
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Re: Change of mind from better to worse...

Postby mitchellmckain » 01 Mar 2009, 23:06

postodave wrote:
When you go to a counselor, you are submitting not only what you know to what he knows, but what you believe to what he believes. Indeed, he may well be dealing with something that is not "his field".

I don't think you have a clue what counselling is so as I see it there is no point continuing this discussion.


I know what you mean, but to be fair you have realize you are being a bit idealistic here. Just because someone has an eduation/training or job in counseling does not mean they will do it properly. If they did do it properly by which we must assume certain beliefs about what is the proper role of counseling, then I think you are right to say that what the counselor believes should definitely not be imposed on the client. But in practice I think most counselors think they are there to dispense good advise and in that case what Rus says is completely true.
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