by Fr. Stephen Freeman
Thinking of raising Christian children (in the light of St. Silouan’s family experience), I offer these few thoughts.
The Nativity season offers many opportunities for families to be guided by Holy Tradition – just as we are also swamped by the distorting demands of commercial culture. May God guard our children and keep us all by His grace.
Sometime back, I watched a group of linguistic-psychologists (of varying sorts) in a panel discussion (CSPAN). All of them were involved in advising political campaigns. What they know about the science of language and how people actually make decisions versus how we would like to think we make decisions was staggering. Among the most staggering of agreed pieces of data was that 98% of the process of so-called rational decisions are actually unconscious. That is to say, that most of what goes into a rational decision is something that is far deeper than rationality (rationality turns out to be only the tip of the iceberg and not a very big tip at that.)
Thus, it would seem when it comes to reading Scripture, it is likely the case that most of what we think of as “interpretation” is also beneath the surface of rationality (and thus beneath the surface of “literalism” or the “plain sense”). All of this knowledge has a frightening aspect when considering politics – but a confirming aspect when considering our religious world. It argues all the more strongly for the role of Tradition, Liturgy, the many things that we engage in that are not strictly “Scripture interpretation.” It is not until the heart itself is reformed (that place where some very large percentage of our thoughts and decisions are made) that our reading will actually be changed. If the heart is not being rather consciously (on the part of the Church) formed by the practices we have been given (prayer, fasting, almsgiving, veneration of icons, crossing oneself, etc.) then it is likely being formed by something else. It seems that we will either be formed by the Tradition of the Christian Church or by the traditions of modern mammon. Thus I will gladly entrust myself to the Church.
Apparently Romans 12:1-2 does not have any middle ground.
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.