Sunday, August 06, 2006

Gregory of Nyssa: The Life of Moses (Prologue)

I'm excited to be reading this book even though it is a busy time of year and I don't know how quickly I can progress.

In the prologue Gregory is making a comparison about how the measurable is precisely that because it has limits, whereas the attributes of the divine are without limit and hence cannot be said to be achieved through measurement. He says:

Just as the end of life is the beginning of death, so also stopping in the race of virtue marks the beginning of the race of evil. Thus our statement that grasping perfection with reference to virtue is impossible was not false, for it has been pointed out that what is marked off by boundaries is not virtue.

This quote is heavy and kind of deep, but the first half resonated with me especially. The whole context of this discussion provides a framework for me to undertand why it is that pursuing good and filling one's life with good can be easier or more successful than eliminating evil.

I think it was either Willard or Foster who tied our lack of understanding of the disciplines to the fear/rejection of salvation by works. We are creatures of habit, though, and sometimes the good in an activity can be extrinsic as well as intrinsic.

Many sayings or proverbs have foundations of truth in them. "Idle hands are the devil's playground." Well, no and yes. Doing nothing is better than doing evil. But it may be easier to not do evil when you are focused on doing something good (or even neutral) than when you are simply trying to avoid whatever it is you are tempted by.

No comments: