Philokalia Volume 2

St Maximus the Confessor, blog 3, Discussing Problem of Self Love

In his day, St Maximus faced problems of definition when describing the Trinity and the Incarnation. Today we have a different problem. Rather than letting the Scriptures or the Church Fathers define key spiritual words such as love, we understand concepts like love using definitions formulated by psychologists. Sadly, we do not even realize when there is discordance between them. In nearly all of the writings of St Maximus, self-love and perfect love are polar opposites, and self-love is the mother of all passions and vices. […]

Philokalia Volume 2

St Maximus the Confessor, blog 2, Centuries of Theology and Lords Prayer

We seek deification in the Lord’s Prayer, the model prayer, which starts out, Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy Name, so we are exhorted to Love God, and understand how we stand in His Kingdom, and continues as we pray how we should live our lives, repenting of all, forgiving everyone, no exceptions. Once we understand how we must repent of all our transgressions, no exceptions, and forgive everyone, so God will forgive us, and not withhold forgiveness from anyone, lest God withholds His forgiveness of us[9], then we can better listen to the teachings of St Maximus against self-love, this affections of one’s self that is the root of all evil, the desperate lust to pleasure, often mere moments of pleasure that often leads to years of suffering for us and those around us. This self-love and lust for pleasure to avoid life’s pain instead tyrannizes the lives of those close to us. […]

Philokalia Volume 2

St Maximus the Confessor, Blog 1

St Maximus teaches us that if we truly Love God, this love is a great blessing that binds God and man together, and as much as is possible for man, Christ incarnate, the perfect deified man, will manifest Himself in the deified man to God. St. Maximus says this clearer in another writing: “Love makes man god, and reveals and manifests God as man, through the single and identical purpose and activity of the will of both.” […]

Ordinary Life in the Ancient World

Slaves in Ancient Greece and Rome, Blog 2

Slavery in the ancient world was not based solely on race like in the Confederate South. Slavery in the ancient world happened to you when your city was conquered or when you were kidnapped by pirates. When a city was defeated the women and children were often enslaved, the men were often slaughtered, though sometimes they were enslaved to work in the mines. Or if you could not pay your bills you could be sold into slavery. […]

Ordinary Life in the Ancient World

Slaves in the Ancient World, Blog 1, Were Slaves the Employees of the Ancient World?

We are tempted to view slavery as something that went away with the Civil War, that with regards to slavery the modern world is so morally superior to the ancient world. The truth is that there were no employees in the ancient world, that slaves in the ancient worlds did the work that employees are hired to do in today’s world.

To understand the role of slaves in the ancient world we have a totally distorted picture when we only focus on the moral wrong of owning another person, treating servants like talking draft animals. The other aspect of slavery is paying someone such low wages that they cannot feed their family with dignity, that they feel like they live forever on the edge of the abyss, where the slightest crisis could force them to live in the streets. Someone who earns starvation wages is very much a modern-day slave. […]

Ordinary Life in the Ancient World

Ordinary Life and Justice in the Ancient World

The ancient world is very different from the modern world. We in the modern world view life is sacred, today we expect our children to survive until old age, because modern medicine ensures a long healthy life to most of us. If I had lived in the ancient world, I would have died as a teenager from appendicitis. In the ancient world, parents often did not name their children until they were a few weeks old due to the high infant mortality rate. Only half of children survived to adulthood, some scholars estimate that only one in ten survived to a ripe old age.
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Ordinary Life in the Ancient World

Ancient Warrior Societies, Blog 3, World of the Old Testament

Warfare is mentioned over three hundred times in the Old Testament, swords four hundred times. Ancient Israel was caught in many of the ancient wars since it was in the cross-roads of trade routes between Mesopotamia and Egypt. Since Judah was mountainous, its armies relied heavily on infantry, but the Bible mentions that King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom had chariots, and that he was felled by arrow probably shot by a composite bow. Assyria and Babylon had cavalry archers on horseback, but not Egypt or Israel. An Israeli chariot had three horses pulling three men, a driver with a spear, an archer, and a shield bearer. We know from our Sunday School stores King David slew Goliath with a sling, but the ancient slings were not the puny toys we imagine, the sling in the ancient world was a deadly combat weapon. A skilled slinger could sling a rock over 120 miles per hour, faster than the fastest fast ball. […]

Ordinary Life in the Ancient World

Ancient Warrior Societies, Blog 2, Greek and Roman Armies and Navies

The Greek innovation to ancient warfare was their hoplite warrior phalanx, a formation eight to ten rows of a hundred or more warriors, sometimes extending a quarter of a mile. The shields of the front row would interlock, and the entire formation would press upon the enemy, the soldiers would first throw their spears then jab with their swords from behind their shields, strictly maintaining their position. This required training and practice, the Athenians expected their nobles to drill during the year, the Spartans had a year-round military the practiced year-round. […]

Ordinary Life in the Ancient World

Ancient Warrior Societies, Blog 1, The Warrior Ethos of Ancient Greece

The Greeks were the most formidable fighting force in the Near East. The mighty Persian empire loaded their army on ships to fight what they thought would be an easy victory, but were decisively defeated by Athens and Sparta and their allies both on land and on sea in two separate wars. This established the reputation of the Greeks, later a Persian prince, Cyrus the Younger, hired a Greek hoplite infantry army to fight for the crown of Persia. The Greeks dominated the battle, but Cyrus was killed in the fighting. Losing their patron, the Greeks were forced to fight their way through the Persian Empire back to the Black Sea and then to Greece. This showed that the mighty Persians were vulnerable, later Alexander the Great of Macedon would conquer all of Persia and some of India also.

The Greeks may have been the founders of Western Civilization, but they were first and foremost a warrior society. If the Greeks weren’t formidable warriors they would have been conquered by the mighty Persian Empire, which means that there would be no Socrates, no Plato, no Xenophon, the Greeks would not have been able to leave us a cultural legacy. […]