Saturday, May 14, 2005

Late evening rumination

I'll start of with the less serious part of my late night thinking and go on to more serious things towards the end.

As I was reading the second comment to my previous blog - brief and pertinent, good qualities both - I noticed that the author of the post was anonymous. This got me thinking - I tend to prefer comments to which a name is attached. On the internet a name does not have to mean anything (there's no face associated with it, no way to verify its source), still there is something about a name that seems to make a difference - at least to me.

This is not to say that people should not post anonymously - one of the beauties of the internet is the exchange of ideas that can occur between people who have never met in real life and, objectively speaking, the identity of the author does not impact the validity of a comment. In the end, I enjoy any relevant, well-crafted post and I will try to reply to any comments. I guess this is sort of a late night 'what's in a name?'

As a side-note - in time I had reached the conclusion that engineering is not so much a job/occupation as a mindset. In that regard, I have often tended to try and optimize the way I spend my time, juggling things so I can squeeze as many things as I could into a day. From this perspective, anonymous posts make sense (it is probably the fastest choice in posting a comment, though I have not done any statistically significant studies on the matter).

The topic does bring to mind a more serious matter. I wonder about being anonymous (or trying to be anonymous) out in the world. I realize that there are many circumstances where maintaining anonymity is the safe way to go: whistleblowers incur significant risks, criticism (even of the well-meaning variety) can lead to animosity... At the same time, there is the issue of taking responsibility for actions/beliefs. In today's world as Christians it is often very difficult to take that responsibility: Christian opinion can lead to social isolation, one can be be accused of inflexibility, judgmentalism, etc.

From what I have seen, most of us are creatures of habits - some ingrained, some acquired, some developed. I see no reason why taking responsibility should not be such a habit. The converse of building this habit is - by default - the contrary habit of not taking responsibility for our actions and beliefs and not standing up in their defense. In this context, the question to which I do not have the answer is: if we build up the non-responsibility habit, will we be able to break out of it for important issues? Perhaps some will, but I tend to think that most of us would have a difficult time doing that. The question for whose answer I am searching is thus "How can the Church (and, specifically, those of us who, by the grace of God, will be responsible for the faithful) nurture and develop a culture in which love of neighbor and openness to new thought can coexist with responsibility towards our beliefs?"


Anonymous A father of two Christian Orthodox seminary students said...

Anonymous statements, before being a sign for lack of responsibility, are clearly indicating a missing identity.

Human persons, only, have names and only free human persons do have what we call responsibility.

The problem, I think, is the mass-scale depersonalization of human beings under the massive, evil, pressure of the modern civilization, modern societies, modern way of life and modern, aberrant, system of values.

I dare say that in a world of some six billion of human individuals one can hardly identify a few millions of human persons. Most of whom do not share in the fashionable habit of aggressively exhibiting their names and identities.

I mean, finally, that anonymity may – and can – be also a virtue: that kind of Christian humility which in Romanian is called “smerenie”.

3:07 AM  
Anonymous The same father also said...

that any profession is a frame of mind before being a skills toolkit enabling to practice a job.

Any practiced job, in turn, ends in reinforcing that very frame of mind.

Any frame of mind is an acquired one, willingly or unwillingly.

Most of these frames of mind are exclusive. Very seldom an engineer can be a good poet or a professional tennis player can be a priest at the same time.

Remember Philip Sherrard’s arguments in doubting Einstein’s ability – and legitimacy – to philosophize about science.

There are, of course, exceptions. I keep very high in my esteem an internationally famous Russian surgeon and medical scientist who was a Christian Orthodox Bishop, too, all the time he lived - that is, suffered and testimonied – under the Soviet communist regime: Saint Luke of Crimea.

7:44 AM  
Anonymous And finally he said...

You aggressively ask this uncomfortable and fundamental question: “ If we build up the non-responsibility habit, will we be able to break out of it for important issues?”

In my opinion, the answer is an emphatic: No, we will not. You can easily trace the scriptural arguments supporting this my assertion.

As about the way out of an acquired bad habit, you have already indicated the solution: building up the contrary habit.

This is the very essence of what we call “metanoia”. Let us not forget that in the Christian Orthodox frame of mind, only, the time is reversible, and therefore we can alter the past according to our own free will: a truly forgiven sin is one which ceases to have ever existed.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Virgil Petrisor said...

Thank you for the comments. They gave me a number of things to think about. A couple of quick things. I don't think I am planning on being both an engineer and a priest. I am planning on using some of the things I learned as an engineer to make better use of time and resources.

The second thing: I asked the question about building a habit of taking responsibility not so much because I didn't know the answer, as because I didn't know how to approach the practical aspect: the steps can we take to build up the responsibility habit. I have fragments of thoughts - such as setting a good example for the faithful in the Church. However, I do not have a clear-cut set of ideas.

9:02 PM  

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