From the Pastor…March 2018

Mar 6, 2018 by

In modern times, we use the word, “passion,” to describe any strong emotion, whether it is positive or negative. We may say, “She has a passion for music,” or “He was in a passionate anger before striking the man,” or “He is a passionate lover.”  Also, in our post-Enlightenment culture, we tend to separate reason and emotion as being fundamentally opposed.

Roberta Bondi, in her writings on prayer, love, and the early church, teaches that the early Egyptian monastics have very different concepts for passion, reason, and emotion, than ours.  They use “passion” only in a negative way.  They consider the passions to be “habits of seeing, feeling, thinking, and acting that characteristically blind us to who we ourselves, our neighbors, and God really are so that we are not able to respond appropriately, rationally, and lovingly.  The passions distort everything.”[i]  Something is not a passion to them, unless it is destructive of love.

Likewise, our ancestors in the faith would not separate reason and emotion as we do.  For them, “to be made in the image of God means that we cannot see anyone or anything else as it truly is without seeing as God sees, that is, through the lens of love….  Love and rationality, therefore,… must be all of a piece.”[ii]  The passions blind us from seeing as God sees, and thus prevent us from loving as God loves.

Some examples of the passions Bondi lists are envy; irritability towards someone that results in continual touchiness about the other person; a desire to gossip; perfectionism; a need to be always in control; a habitual distrust of others’ motives; a constant need for approval; fear of silence or being alone; obsessive cravings – all these and more are passions. In future newsletters, we will examine some of the passions more closely, along with ways to free ourselves from them in modern times, for the sake of love.

Lenten blessings,

Betsy Caudill

 

[1] Roberta C. Bondi, To Pray & to Love: Conversations on Prayer with the Early Church (Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 1991), pp. 34-35.

[1] Bondi, p. 36

 

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