We have let our Themes of the Month area sit fallow for some time, and the thought occurs to re-kindle its activity as the general lull of the summer months passes and more and more returning and new members of the Community begin to post again at greater pace.
In the past, we've selected a single, focussed theme for each month, and invited all members of the Discussion Community to pose questions, offer responses and quotations, etc. on it -- all aimed at exploring the theme from the specific dimension of the patristic and monastic heritage of the Orthodox Church (and I encourage all to re-read our past Theme of the Month threads, as they have included some very good discussions).
As we're late into the current month, I propose we opt to have a single theme for the remainder of September and the whole of October. To get us started, and in chasing up a thread that has been present in numerous discussions on the forum of late, I have set up the following:
The 'Theme of the Month' for September-October 2011 is 'How to convert the intellect.'
With so many sources of information and interpretations of doctrinal and practical matters present in today's world, which is itself a world overly-reliant on the intellect as a personal means of determining truth, how is the Orthodox Christian to find a way to use the intellect properly, converting it to the mind of the Church, rather than holding it up as his own beacon of authority?
Some points that may be useful in considering the topic:
- What is the difference between a healthy and unhealthy use of the intellect in attempting to understanding the teachings and practices of the Church?
- What is to be done when the deliberations of one's intellect lead to a conflict with the patristic, liturgical and Scriptural witness of the Church?
- What is to be done when points of one's personal confusion are addressed with different responses by different Orthodox sources (e.g. teachers, books, priests)? How ought one go about resolving the increase in confusion this causes?
- What does it mean to 'conform one's mind to the mind of the Church'? How does one do it?
- What are the appropriate ways to respond to strong, or forceful, assertions of intellectually-determined interpretations and positions that one believes are at odds with the authentic teaching of the Church?
- What am I to do when my own intellect genuinely struggles with what the Church teaches? How do I move forward?
INXC, Fr Irenei