Athanasius is to Antony what Plato was to Socrates. So I find it hard to talk about Antony without bringing Athanasius into the conversation as I’m not entirely sure where one ends and the other begins. But I do know they’re meeting me in Raleigh right now and it’s creating quite the cognitive dissonance.
I think A/A would have loved the new song that’s become a theme song for the Elusive and me on this pilgrim journey. It goes like this…
Settle down, it'll all be clear / Don't pay no mind to the demons / They fill you with fear /
The trouble it might drag you down / If you get lost, you can always be found /
Just know you’re not alone / Cause I’m going to make this place your home
If you’ve read Athanasius’, Life of Antony, you know what I mean.
One of the big adjustments to Raleigh, for me, is everything. Lots of everything.
America may be downsizing but you wouldn’t know it from day to day life here if you’re from somewhere else. And in the midst of this I’m reading about the decision of some 4th century Christians to make life hard for themselves – or at least less easy – at a time when Christianity suddenly became acceptable if not cool.
And while I’m rocking my new office (that could comfortably house at least two families in any 3rd world country) with tunes on Pandora (‘cause I’m in the States now) and setting up direct deposit for my paychecks, I’m experiencing a little disorientation in the land of the free and home of the brave.
Antony (or his Front) writes, “We ought also to realize that if we do not surrender these things through virtue, then later when we die we shall leave these things behind – often, to those whom we do not wish…Why not rather own those things that we are able to take away with us – such things as prudence, justice, temperance, courage, understanding, love, concern for the poor, faith in Christ, freedom from anger, hospitality? If we posses these, we shall discover them running before, preparing hospitality for us there in the land of the meek.”
What am I getting from Antony and his boy Athanasius besides the ringing of cognitive dissonance in my heart? For now, this: striving to live more simply, to shun opportunities for pride, love humility and to pray to Christ and give Him credit rather than claim His power are all fruit of the ascetic life that we can make use of today.
There’s a lot I don’t know but one thing I’m learning is that Spiderman was right when he said something like, "with lots of stuff comes great responsibility" if you’re living for the King and Kingdom.
Can you imagine a 4th century Bishop of Alexandria and a Desert monk from Egypt can speak right into my life here in America?
Here's that Phillip Phillip's video if you're interested in what we've been singing...and what we hear God saying...