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Vainglory. How bad is it?


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#1 Vincent Stoyas

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 08:48 PM

I was having a discussion with a friend the other day about the vainglory of Facebook. I quoted to her a passage from St. John Climacus' book The Ladder of Divine Ascent.

" Like the sun which shines on all alike, vainglory beams on every occupation. What I mean is this: I fast, and turn vainglorious. I stop fasting so that I will draw no attention to myself, and I become vainglorious over my prudence. I dress well or badly, and am vainglorious in either case. I talk or I remain silent, and each time I am defeated. No matter how I shed this prickly thing, a spike remains to stand up against me."


She responded that she doesn't really even know how to respond to that, but that it reminds of Luther (she wasn't sure if it was Luther or not) saying something to the effect of, "you cannot do good for its own sake." She proceeded to ask, if all things are vainglorious then can one just say that vainglory is not bad? The answer seems to simply be, of course it's still bad. But why is it bad?

I'm going to try to not ramble much, but I know the Ladder of Divine Ascent has each step that is foundation for the next step. In which, one cannot progress to the third step without first overcoming the first two steps. The vainglory chapter is much higher up the ladder, so is it just something out of reach for some us, at least in our current state of life? And if so, is it something we should just not think about? If it's something we shouldn't think about then maybe it really isn't all that bad? I can't really accept the notion that it's not bad, but is it something we will be held accountable for during Judgement?

#2 Paul Cowan

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 10:15 PM

I would think vainglory and pride go hand in hand. It's kinda like if you are standing on the North Pole; Any direction you look, is south. Regardless what you do to prevent it, it's always right in front of you. And no, we can't just shut our eyes to it.

Paul

#3 Vincent Stoyas

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 08:03 PM

Yes, I definitely agree with you. We should not avert our eyes from it.
But if even St. John struggles with such a passion how are we to have hope? In what manner should it be approached?

#4 Paul Cowan

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 09:55 PM

I did not say "avert our eyes", I said "shut our eyes". Big difference. We cannot be oblivious to things going on around us or in us. But we can move away from souces of danger when they present themselves. Think of it like a huge mountain range with valleys in between. Mountains are all around and after everyone there are 10 more. However, water will flow around them at the point of least resistance. We need to do the same. We will always have struggles and passions. Some we will run smack dab into but others we can take as a glancing blow as they come at us 60 miles an hour. We don't have to get hit head on but we can dodge and twist and turn to get past problems as we do in a very crowded mall at Christmas time.

We must not lose hope. All things are possible in God. Now if I can just remember this in my own struggles.

Paul

#5 Owen Jones

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Posted 22 July 2012 - 01:42 PM

The emphasis in Orthodoxy on spiritual struggle is a good thing, however, like most spiritual principles it can be misunderstood and misapplied (IMHO). It depends on what the source of the struggle is. Is it God's power and His goodness, or are we trying to struggle based on our own will power, or some presumed goodness that we possess? The latter I fear is all too common in human beings, self included. God lightens the load by actually being the One who is doing the struggling, and when we align our will with His, this lightens the load considerably. So perhaps an example of vainglory would be if I have convinced myself that any success in my spiritual struggles is the result of my effort.




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