The Stoics

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Bdaily
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The Stoics

Post by Bdaily » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:11 am

Anyone out there into the Stoics? Have you implemented any Stoic disciplines into your life/Christian Faith?


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Re: The Stoics

Post by Del » Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:15 am

Bdaily wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:11 am
Anyone out there into the Stoics? Have you implemented any Stoic disciplines into your life/Christian Faith?
This question, from you, just might get Pipeson to log in.

I shall let him know that you are interested!
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Re: The Stoics

Post by tuttle » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:06 am

Bdaily wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:11 am
Anyone out there into the Stoics? Have you implemented any Stoic disciplines into your life/Christian Faith?


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I have actually de-implemented Stoic disciplines from my Christian faith.
C.S. Lewis wrote:The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith.
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Re: The Stoics

Post by Bdaily » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:33 am

tuttle wrote:
Bdaily wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:11 am
Anyone out there into the Stoics? Have you implemented any Stoic disciplines into your life/Christian Faith?


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I have actually de-implemented Stoic disciplines from my Christian faith.
C.S. Lewis wrote:The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith.

That critique sounds like it is aimed more at Cynics than Stoics.


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Re: The Stoics

Post by tuttle » Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:51 am

Bdaily wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:33 am
tuttle wrote:
Bdaily wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 9:11 am
Anyone out there into the Stoics? Have you implemented any Stoic disciplines into your life/Christian Faith?


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I have actually de-implemented Stoic disciplines from my Christian faith.
C.S. Lewis wrote:The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith.

That critique sounds like it is aimed more at Cynics than Stoics.


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In the realm of denying oneself the ability to act upon certain desires, or the negativity associated with how one ought to think of certain desires... I'd say the critique still hits the mark. Tomato tomahto.
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Re: The Stoics

Post by Thoth » Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:28 am

I'm with Tuttle on this. The main issue with Stoicism is that it makes the means (from a Christian point of view) an end in end of themselves. Yes there is overlap in concepts but there is difference in understanding of them. Read the desert fathers for a Christian understanding/practice of apatheia, for example.
"Go and reconcile with him who has trespassed against you before he comes and apologises to you and steals your crown" - H.H. Pope Cyril VI<br><br>"O Lord I was not aware of the treasure within me that is You" - H.H. Pope Shenouda III

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Re: The Stoics

Post by Nature of a Man » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:29 pm

I'm not an expert on Stoicism, but I read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and my understand wasn't that it advocated self-denial or asceticism as an end in and of itself. From what I've spend time reading here and there about ascetics, only a very small minority at any given time would be qualified to live in full renunciation of worldly comforts, and for the rest it would be tortious - likely motivated by pride to some degree, since it would essentially trying to "be God" rather than "be like God" and achieve absolute "perfection" in the here and now.

I won't go into the details, but I spend some time trying to live as an ascetic or emulate an ascetic lifestyle to see what the result would be, or if it brought my closer to God; on the whole, I would not recommend it, and while at the time it felt like a relief from "worldly" concerns, it was more or less a dead end and felt alienated and disconnected from others and life in general, and made me have an extremely cynical view of the world as a whole, tending to view everyone and everything else as spiritually ignorant and damned, and not worth a "spiritual" person's time to care about - as though I was merely trying to "horde" up wisdom or spirituality for myself.

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Re: The Stoics

Post by Thoth » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:56 pm

Nature of a Man wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:29 pm
I'm not an expert on Stoicism, but I read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and my understand wasn't that it advocated self-denial or asceticism as an end in and of itself. From what I've spend time reading here and there about ascetics, only a very small minority at any given time would be qualified to live in full renunciation of worldly comforts, and for the rest it would be tortious - likely motivated by pride to some degree, since it would essentially trying to "be God" rather than "be like God" and achieve absolute "perfection" in the here and now.

I won't go into the details, but I spend some time trying to live as an ascetic or emulate an ascetic lifestyle to see what the result would be, or if it brought my closer to God; on the whole, I would not recommend it, and while at the time it felt like a relief from "worldly" concerns, it was more or less a dead end and felt alienated and disconnected from others and life in general, and made me have an extremely cynical view of the world as a whole, tending to view everyone and everything else as spiritually ignorant and damned, and not worth a "spiritual" person's time to care about - as though I was merely trying to "horde" up wisdom or spirituality for myself.
Don't mean to come across or sound judgmental, but if that was your end feeling/result you did it wrong.
"Go and reconcile with him who has trespassed against you before he comes and apologises to you and steals your crown" - H.H. Pope Cyril VI<br><br>"O Lord I was not aware of the treasure within me that is You" - H.H. Pope Shenouda III

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Re: The Stoics

Post by Nature of a Man » Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:16 pm

Thoth wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:56 pm
Nature of a Man wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:29 pm
I'm not an expert on Stoicism, but I read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and my understand wasn't that it advocated self-denial or asceticism as an end in and of itself. From what I've spend time reading here and there about ascetics, only a very small minority at any given time would be qualified to live in full renunciation of worldly comforts, and for the rest it would be tortious - likely motivated by pride to some degree, since it would essentially trying to "be God" rather than "be like God" and achieve absolute "perfection" in the here and now.

I won't go into the details, but I spend some time trying to live as an ascetic or emulate an ascetic lifestyle to see what the result would be, or if it brought my closer to God; on the whole, I would not recommend it, and while at the time it felt like a relief from "worldly" concerns, it was more or less a dead end and felt alienated and disconnected from others and life in general, and made me have an extremely cynical view of the world as a whole, tending to view everyone and everything else as spiritually ignorant and damned, and not worth a "spiritual" person's time to care about - as though I was merely trying to "horde" up wisdom or spirituality for myself.
Don't mean to come across or sound judgmental, but if that was your end feeling/result you did it wrong.
Yes, I believe so - or at least I don't believe I'm qualified to live a truly ascetic lifestyle - to be fair, I didn't actually retreat to a monastery or something of that nature, and more or less still went about daily life and held day jobs - however I made an effort to detach myself from everything and everyone unncessary in my life as possible beyond the theological or philosophical things I was reading or studying, off an on, over the course of a few years - such as eliminating all TV, cell phones, or interactions with friends or family members beyond the bare minimum, as well as attempting to detach as much as possible from my thoughts, feelings, or opinions and focus my mind as much as possible only on God, and shed myself of those thoughts or words which I believed weren't in alignment with God. I also kept eating to a minimum and attempted to remove as much meat or unnatural things from my diet as possible.

To be fair, while I was living this I believe I did receive some insight, and essentially come to the realization that all material things or extraneous pursuits, even ones regarded as basic necessities such as food, shelter, money, job security, possibly even relationships - are worthless as selfish ends in and of themselves, and only have any value or meaning as part of a meaningful life centered on God or a higher purpose; and if people make anything else the "God" of their life, then they're effectively living a life little different than that of a homeless drug addict chasing their next unsatisfying high, and destined for some degree of hell or another unless they change course.

Though I basically accepted that it's impossible, at least for me, to actually live that way indefinitely - it was an experience I learned much from though, but I might have gone crazy and snapped if I'd flirted with the thought of making that a permanent lifestyle.

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Re: The Stoics

Post by Thoth » Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:38 pm

Nature of a Man wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 11:16 pm
Thoth wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:56 pm
Nature of a Man wrote:
Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:29 pm
I'm not an expert on Stoicism, but I read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and my understand wasn't that it advocated self-denial or asceticism as an end in and of itself. From what I've spend time reading here and there about ascetics, only a very small minority at any given time would be qualified to live in full renunciation of worldly comforts, and for the rest it would be tortious - likely motivated by pride to some degree, since it would essentially trying to "be God" rather than "be like God" and achieve absolute "perfection" in the here and now.

I won't go into the details, but I spend some time trying to live as an ascetic or emulate an ascetic lifestyle to see what the result would be, or if it brought my closer to God; on the whole, I would not recommend it, and while at the time it felt like a relief from "worldly" concerns, it was more or less a dead end and felt alienated and disconnected from others and life in general, and made me have an extremely cynical view of the world as a whole, tending to view everyone and everything else as spiritually ignorant and damned, and not worth a "spiritual" person's time to care about - as though I was merely trying to "horde" up wisdom or spirituality for myself.
Don't mean to come across or sound judgmental, but if that was your end feeling/result you did it wrong.
Yes, I believe so - or at least I don't believe I'm qualified to live a truly ascetic lifestyle - to be fair, I didn't actually retreat to a monastery or something of that nature, and more or less still went about daily life and held day jobs - however I made an effort to detach myself from everything and everyone unncessary in my life as possible beyond the theological or philosophical things I was reading or studying, off an on, over the course of a few years - such as eliminating all TV, cell phones, or interactions with friends or family members beyond the bare minimum, as well as attempting to detach as much as possible from my thoughts, feelings, or opinions and focus my mind as much as possible only on God, and shed myself of those thoughts or words which I believed weren't in alignment with God. I also kept eating to a minimum and attempted to remove as much meat or unnatural things from my diet as possible.

To be fair, while I was living this I believe I did receive some insight, and essentially come to the realization that all material things or extraneous pursuits, even ones regarded as basic necessities such as food, shelter, money, job security, possibly even relationships - are worthless as selfish ends in and of themselves, and only have any value or meaning as part of a meaningful life centered on God or a higher purpose; and if people make anything else the "God" of their life, then they're effectively living a life little different than that of a homeless drug addict chasing their next unsatisfying high, and destined for some degree of hell or another unless they change course.

Though I basically accepted that it's impossible, at least for me, to actually live that way indefinitely - it was an experience I learned much from though, but I might have gone crazy and snapped if I'd flirted with the thought of making that a permanent lifestyle.
That is only one type of asceticism you tried and not a particular easy one nor wholly appropriate for one who lives in the world. So its understandable your feelings towards it. What you attempted to was the equivalent of trying to run before you knew how to walk. Even in monasteries only few monks are allowed/able to be solitaries or even hermits, and even then it is only after years of disciplined practice. And asceticism of any type needs to be done with guidance otherwise it will be harmful and lead either to pride or nihilism among other dangers.

But we are all called to live some form of asceticism (speaking from an Orthodox paradigm) and there are forms of lay asceticism we should practice. They are to helps re-orient and re-order our life against the currents of the world, so to speak. Such as periods of fasting, not only in quantity but types of food as well. This is to help to remember that we eat to live and not live to eat, contrry to popular foodie culture where finding the best "x" becomes an idol. Nothing wrong with enjoying what you eat part of enjoying what you eat is an act of thanksgiving to God for the food he has provided you. (and there is a distinction between enjoying what you eat and eating hat you enjoy).

As for cutting off or minimizing contact with people, yes and no. Obviously minimize or cut off contact with people where your relationship with them causes you (and them) to sin, for example guy you always end up drinking to excess with when you hang out. I believe it was St. Antony who said (paraphrasing) when we fall we fall alone but when we are saved we are saved with our brother. People can benefit you and you them. "He said also, "Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ.""

Nthing wrong with recreation or enjoying yourself. "A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brethren, the old man said to him, "Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it." So he did. The old man then said, "Shoot another," and he did so. Then the old man said, 'Shoot yet again," and the hunter replied "If I bend my bow so much I will break it." Then the old man said to him, "It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond measure they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their needs." When he heard these words the hunter was pierced by compunction and, greatly edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home strengthened." I think you are smart enough to know healthy forms of recreation or enjoyment.

Forgive the over long response.

Though if still interested in asceticism look up Fr. Lazarus ElAnthony(St. Anthony) he was an Australian athiestic philosophy professor who is a now a hermit living in a cave near a monastery in the Egyptian desert.
"Go and reconcile with him who has trespassed against you before he comes and apologises to you and steals your crown" - H.H. Pope Cyril VI<br><br>"O Lord I was not aware of the treasure within me that is You" - H.H. Pope Shenouda III

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Re: The Stoics

Post by Joshoowah » Fri Nov 02, 2018 6:10 am

Thoth wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:28 am
I'm with Tuttle on this. The main issue with Stoicism is that it makes the means (from a Christian point of view) an end in end of themselves. Yes there is overlap in concepts but there is difference in understanding of them. Read the desert fathers for a Christian understanding/practice of apatheia, for example.
Subtle promotion to our Desert Fathers thread, eh? :wink:
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose?" Philippians 1:21-22

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