Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Apatheia or Apathy?

Yesterday Tess at Anchors and Masts wrote a post in response to my recent writings about “The Battle”--here and here. Her perspective caught me a bit off guard as she interpreted that I was speaking of internal battle. My recent experience, however, has felt more like one coming from outside of me rather than the inner battle with which I am quite familiar. (Her post gives a great picture of why and how we often choose to “backslide”…and I do believe it is a choice—conscious or not…so I highly recommend popping over there for a read.)

A very perceptive friend sent me these words which articulate well where I feel I have been recently:

“It sounds like you suffer from the classic case of ‘a threat to evil’ disease! It normally seems to come after a tremendously blessed event where souls are set free from ‘disease’ and you are involved in that healing process. It’s as though all their diseases ball up and pounce on You.!”

I have definitely felt “pounced upon”, so this leaves me wondering if
there is a difference between when we are standing in the gap or battling for others and/or trying to stand firm (i.e. not backslide) for ourselves?

And then there is this new question of “How much attention should we pay to evil?” Gerald May in his book Will and Spirit says: “when encountering an evil inclination or a questionable force, the most ideal form of spiritual assertiveness is: the best response is no response.” He goes on to mention the term apatheia which the Desert Fathers recommended to prevent showing fascination and undue self-importance to the “questionable force.” Apatheia is a term from Stoic philosophy that means something quite different and far more interesting than apathy (mental laziness). It is a conscious not-caring about things that are unworthy of concern.

So, how much concern toward evil is too much? I kind of like this idea of a “conscious not-caring”. It feels much stronger than denial or apathy.

For today, I think I will leave it at that for I have little more time or space to continue. Please understand, however, it’s not that I don’t care ☺. What do you think?

photo by h3images


The Dream said...

I like the idea of conscious not-caring, as well, Lucy. However, the forces can sometimes try to suck us in - and ultimately, we have a choice.

Sue said...

I've been asking these very same questions over the last six months or so. My latest consideration is exactly this one that you have come to - perhaps "conscious not-caring" is the best approach to these forces that are, in the end, powerless (ultimately, I mean - I think their power is the power that we give them in believing that they are powerful, know what I mean?)

Shelby said...

It's a balance . . . the greatest thing is to love and focus on that..