Let me know what you think. Just know it is a work in progress.
Well, through the discussion yesterday, I realized that before we can have any discussion about different social issues, the Orthodox Church needs a systematic study of Social Theory. The Roman Catholic Church has a large body of teaching in the area of Social Theory so I turned there to begin. Here is what I found. There are certain principles that we must adopt according to what we believe about God, the human person, and the community. Although different authors have different numbers of principles, 7-10 seems to be the agreed upon number. Some will differ only in how they include things or not. Here is the list;
The Principle of Human Dignity
The Principle of Respect for Human Life
The Principle of Association
The Principle of Participation
The Principle of Preferential Protection for the Poor and Vulnerable
The Principle of Solidarity
The Principle of Stewardship
The Principle of Subsidarity
The Principle of Human Equality
The Principle of the Common Good
Now this list comes in part from an essay in America Magazine by William Byron and also from a publication of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in the US, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching. So we have a place to start. I believe that much could be written on each one of those principles, and I hope to be able to fill some of them out myself. I invite comment and perhaps this could be a cyber project to build on this.
Today I went to the hospital to visit the son of one of my parishioners. He was driving to work the other night, and someone threw a rock off of the overpass and hit the windshield of the car. After that he went across the road and hit the guard rail. His skull is fractured in two places and his jaw is broken. The doctor is not sure if he will ever regain the sight in his right eye. I will never understand why people do the things they do.
In addition to my many pastoral responsibilities, I also am an adjunct professor in the humanities department at Quincy College in Quincy, Massachusetts. For the past year I have been teaching the General Psychology class but this summer I have been teaching Ethics. This is an introductory course, and has required some reading on my part. I have been fascinated by the Categorical imperative Philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Just to summarize, the CI is the theory that morality is a system of rules that one must follow from a sense of duty, regardless of one’s wants or desires. There is more to it than that of course, but you will have to sign up for the course to get the rest of the lecture. Anyway, I mention this only because it has got me thinking, and that can be dangerous. Kant felt that every human being had dignity and as such should be treated accordingly. So, in view of my previous post on the preferential option for the poor, and the Kantian view of personal dignity, I would think that we have an obligation to assist in anyway we can to aid the poor in their plight. Just some random thoughts…
Last Sunday was our 82nd Annual Church Picnic. What a wonderful event and thanks to all of the hard working folks here at St. Michael’s it was also a financial success. I would say about 300 people came by for some food, fun, and fellowship. It is great to re-connect with folks that we do not see until the picnic. The weather is always a concern and this year the sun was shining and there was a light breeze that kept things cool. Thanks to all who came by, and if you could not make it, you missed a great day.
This past week I have been re-reading the book Orthodox Psychotherapy by metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos. This was a textbook from one of the Pastoral Theology classes in seminary. The subtitle of the book is The Science of the Fathers. Excellent book on the subject and looks at the patristic tradition of the priest as healer. For the past year I have been teaching undergrads a course in General Psychology, and now I can add some patristic thoughts to my file on the mind and how things work. The premise of the book is that due to the fall, we are all broken and need healing. Our nous, or eye of the soul, has been darkened and needs to be cleaned. This can only happen in the church which he calls a hospital. This has much in common with the doctrine of Sanctification that is a large part of the holiness movement of the Church of the Nazarene.
There are several other good books on the subject and I will just mention the titles of these;
Raising Lazarus, Integral Healing in Orthodox Christianity Edited by Stephen Muse
Inner Way, Toward a Rebirth of Eastern Christian Spiritual Direction by Joseph Allen