AFL Blog Week 3 Part 2: Sticking with the mystics

Hey guys this my reflection on the AFL content for Tuesday, Feb 27th.


This week seems to be quite interesting. So far what he’s offering is a lot of the same stuff I learned and studied at Laidlaw in History. Today Rollins just offers a handful of quotes from some famous mystics early church, and of, what are referred to as the Desert Fathers (early monastics who set out to live a life of solitude and prayer in the wilderness so to rely on God for provision rather than society, which at this point in time was the Holy Roman Empire and Christianity was a state religion to which everyone, over night, became Christians. There was no more persecution and some of these men (and women) fled what they felt was a cosmetic and superficial religion that was bastardizing their faith. So they headed to the desert to live in caves and stuff.).


so here’s a couple of the quotes. Take them as they are and kick the meanings around for yourself. What do you find challenging? What do you find affirming?


“God cannot be grasped by the mind. If he could be grasped, he would not be God.” – Evagrius of Pontus

– I totally agree.


“One day some of the brethren came to see Abba Antony (Jono speaking here: Antony is probably the most influential of all the Desert Monks. His influence on the early church rivals that of practically anyone before him or after him. He was just as revered as Paul.), and among them was Abba Joseph. Wishing to test them, an old man mentioned a text from Sripture, and starting with teh youngest he asked them what it meant. Each explained it as best he could. But to each one the old man said, ‘You have not yet found the answer.’ Last of all he said to Abba Joseph, ‘And what do you think the text means?’ He replied, ‘I do not know.’ Then Abba Antony said, ‘Truly, Abba Joseph has found the way, for he said: I do not know.'”  – The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

– There is a lot to be said for being humble enough to say “I don’t know.” We’re talking about God here, after all. There will always be things we don’t know.


“As a friend talking with his friend, man speaks with God, and drawing near in confidence he stands before the face of the One who dwells in light unapproachable.” – St. Symeon 

– Seems pretty straightforward. The true face of God is unapproachable, at least in our current state, but we also bask in that marvelous light.


“Imagine a sheer, steep crag, with a projecting edge at the top. Now imagine what you would feel if you put your foot on the edge of this precipice and, looking down into the chasm below, saw no solid footing nor anything to hold on to. This is what I think the soul experiences when it goes beyond its footing in material things, in its quest for that which has no dimension and which exists from all eternity. For Her there is nothing it can take hold of, neither place nor time, neither measure nor anything else; our minds cannot approach it. And thus the soul, slipping at every point from what cannot be grasped, becomes dizzy and perplexed and returns once again to what is co-natural to it, content now to know merely this about the Transcendent: that it is completely different from the nature of the things that the soul knows.” – St. Gregory of Nyssa

– I love that last line.


“Think of a man standing at night inside his house, with all the doors closed; and then suppose that the opens a window just at the moment when there is a sudden flash of lightning. Unable to bear its brightness, at once he protects himself by closing his eyes and drawing back from the window. So it is with the soul that is enclosed in the realm of the senses: if ever she peeps out through the window of the intellect, she is overwhelmed by the brightness, like lightning, of the pledge of the Holy Spirit that is within her. Unable to bear the splendour of the unveiled light, at once she is bewildered in her intellect an she draws back entirely upon herself, taking refuge, as in a house, among sensory and human things.” –  St. Symeon

– This speaks to us getting scared of embracing the unknown about God. We like being able to explain things, and experiencing something super-spiritual could easily shock us, even scare us, so we default back to using our intellect instead of letting our soul speak. What do you think of this assertion?


“Anyone who tries to describe the ineffable Light in language is truly a liar – not because they hate the truth, but because of the inadequacy of their description.” – St. Gregory of Nyssa

– dude, that’s deep. Again, this builds on the notion that God is truly impossible to explain in human terms, and even with all that we do have to explain the qualities and truths of God, including Jesus himself, we still actually are totally inadequate and ignorant of the absolute truth of God.


I’ll just leave you with a song from an old band I love called As Cities Burn. During the intro they interviewed people, actually in my old stomping grounds of Little 5 Points, Atlanta, about who/what they think God is. It’s kinda hard to hear all of what the people say, but if you listen closely you can hear bits, and if you listen a few times over you can make out quite a bit of some of the interesting answers.

then the lyrics to the song come in and they are quite simple:

Is your love really Love?
Is my love really Love?
I think our love isn’t Love,
Unless it’s Love to the end.

Is your god really God?
Is my god really God?
I think our god isn’t God,
If he fits inside our heads.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *