My Faith Meets Philosophy
If you are close to me or hear from me on a regular basis outside of social media and my blog then you know what this blog is about. Mostly because for the last month I have experienced a major shift in my life due to a recent deep dive into the ancient Greek philosophy of Stoicism. In the process of studying this philosophy I have found that throughout my life I have already in many ways lived by many if not all of its core tenets. This to me was a revelation because before a close friend mentioned it in a conversation about our New Years Resolutions on December 31st, 2018. I had never known being stoic to be anything aside from a demeanor. At the time I did little more than Google it and mention my interest in hearing more about my friends study as it progressed. A few weeks later after a different conversation with the same person I ended up looking into it further. Below is a the definition of both forms of Stoicism to help you at least understand a little.
sto·i·cism /ˈstōəˌsizəm/ - noun
the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.
an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge; the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.
I feel this is a pretty concise overview of the school of Stoicism. There are several core values and tenets that I am going to try to over time, share in a few different tools I am putting together myself. Right now I am working to put together a simple infographic that covers many of the simple but core tenets of Stoicism. I would really like to have a simple visual to have to show people what it is exactly I am talking about. I know that condensing an entire philosophy is a hefty endeavor but I honestly think it is really something I should do. There is a reason that it is something I feel so strongly about. I know above I talked about how much this study has impacted me. That is truly understating the matter. This study has not only left an impact but also altered the course of my life. In the interest of brevity I am going to say simply that when I started this study it was about exploring philosophy to better understand the journey of a friend. A few weeks later that study was no longer about my friend and became about me and the journey I was currently on in the midst of transition and personal growth. This study has taught me so much about myself and about the people I love. Especially about my father, who is no longer with me, but this study has in a huge way impacted my understanding of the man my father was when he lived his life. I feel that in a very serious way the reason I have so many Stoic tendencies is because my father although a Christian man lived like a Stoic. I will over the next few months share more about my journey into philosophy, I do plan to venture outside of Stoicism but for the most part it is my primary focus in this study. I have put together a resource page for those who might be interested in learning more about Stoicism but don't know where to start. As someone who kinda fumbled my way into it I felt it would be nice to offer the resources that I have found to others who might be interested in learning more.
Before I go I will say this, in no way has this study of Stoicism caused me to question my Faith! In fact it has for the most part Had the opposite effect on my Faith. Honestly I was a little surprised, because in the past when I have done similar studies on worldviews and religion I was always hesitant to go deep because I feared that I would end up questioning my Faith and jump ship. That would affect many aspects of my life because my community is predominantly Christian and for me losing my community or friends and family would be devastating. But the more I studied Stoicism the more I saw how in so many ways I was either already living by its tenets in my own life or that it could beautifully marry with my Faith! As philosophy normally goes we each choose our own path and adapt our own understanding of the philosophy we chose to live by. In choosing Stoicism I adopted it under the covering of my Faith. Any place that I feel there is a grey area on how they truly mesh my preference will be towards my Faith! But in so many ways Stoicism has offered me an insight and perspective through which to view my Faith I had never had before. Several times during my study I chose to step outside of my faith and consider the motivation behind my Faith. I asked myself why I believed what I did? How did it impact my view of people and how I would treat them? What motivates me to continue to believe the way I do? So in a sense I truly did question my faith! But the results of those questions by no means ended up bringing me to a departure from that Faith. I wanted to take an indifferent view of my life, my outlook and my faith. I wanted to consider if I would live my life differently without my faith. What is my motivation for continuing to believe this way? It probably helped that I went to an event where these very questions about Christianity were openly discussed! Also at that event I was introduced to and Author and his book about him walking through a deconstruction and rebuilding of his faith. He and I spoke after the event and due to the fact that I was in the throws of my study of philosophy, the subject was discussed. I have since enjoyed immensely reading his book and really think it was a great story about his journey. It offered insight into my own journey. Also on how to share my own story. All of this has truly brought me to a place of understanding in my faith and my philosophy. I will share more soon. I will likely write a book review of Stephen Copeland's book Where the Colors Blend. I do recommend it to anyone who has questioned their faith. He offers insight from his story. All of that to say I am sharing this all with you now very happy to call myself a Stoic Christian!