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SOAPBOX WARNING!
My friend Katie posted this note earlier today, and frankly, it irritated, and to an extent, angered me.  And so, I first reprint here what she placed on Facebook.

“Father Paisios said: As a person becomes more spiritual, so much fewer rights does he have in this life. He is obligatory to be patient, to accept injustice, to accept evil words from others. A crooked stick (perverted person) who is distant from God has many rights: to strike and shout and act unrighteously. Our rights God keeps for the other life. Out of ignorance however we often seek our rights here. Let us not damage things at all. If they say anything to us, immediately we give them the right. And later we think we trust in God. That is a big joke. Human justice doesn’t mean anything to a spiritual person. But it is a great concern for the perverted person.”

Okay, let me say now, that to me, this is utter crap.  Being a spiritual person, a dedicated and faithful person, does not deny you the rights that anyone else has.  I believe the good Father is rather misguided in his meaning of the word “rights”.

Webster’s dictionary defines a “right” as:
1 : qualities (as adherence to duty or obedience to lawful authority) that together constitute the ideal of moral propriety or merit moral approval
2 : something to which one has a just claim: as a : the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled <voting rights> <his right to decide> b (1) : the interest that one has in a piece of property —often used in plural <mineral rights> (2) plural : the property interest possessed under law or custom and agreement in an intangible thing especially of a literary and artistic nature <film rights of the novel>
3 : something that one may properly claim as due <knowing the truth is her right>
4 : the cause of truth or justice

Of most importance to us are articles 1 and 2, with 3 and 4 claiming a special prevalence to further discussion.

What this means is that, as the good father speaks it, the “crooked stick” is then “something to which one has a JUST claim;”, but then goes on to say that that same person is acting unrighteously.  This is a serious contradiction.

A right is a “quality (as an adherence to duty or obedience to lawful authority) that together constitute the ideal of moral propriety or merit moral approval.”  This means then that a right is something that can only be claimed by someone adhering to a moral cause.  Not immoral, amoral, perverse or twisted, but moral.  This then disqualifies the idea of a “crooked stick”, or one who has defied the will of God for us all to be great and noble of heart, from having a right.

Let us also speak on the ideal that what Father Paisios is discussing is, in fact, in direct defiance of Scripture.  The passage in question appears in the Gospel according to Luke, referring to to the fact that the good father is sitting in judgment on his fellow man.

Luke 6:32-42
” 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.  33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that.  34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full.  35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.  36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

39 He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?  40 A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

This plainly speaks that it is our DUTY as men and women, made in the image of God himself, The Most High, to give to our fellow men and women the benefit of the doubt, and to insure that we ourselves are humble.  When we perform that DUTY as we are guided to, we are given rights in the eyes of God, as per the first definition of what a right truly is.  And that right is NOT to then turn our backs on what we did right and become judges of our fellow man.  What it does do is entitle us to the right to help our fellow men and women in this world, in what way we can.

When we do such things, we are in fact further acting in accordance with God’s will for us mere mortals.  The more we do so, the more we will find we have rights in this world:  the right to happiness in our hearts; the right to close and faithful friends; the right to deep and meaningful relationships.  And more beyond this.  Luke goes further on to say,

“43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers.  45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”
Luke 6:43-45

We truly reap what we sow.  The good father is confused about justice as well.  He is equating the justice of man, which is in accordance with man-made laws, and the justice of God, which is in accordance with the laws given to us by man.  In the age before the coming of the Christ, there were ten basic laws given to the tribes of Israel by God, through Moses.  This formed the Covenant of the Israelites with God.  In time, they would, according to Scripture, lose sight of the purpose of this covenant, and God would send his Son to seal a new covenant with all of man.

They would consist of three simple rules:
Love Thy God.
Love Thy Self.
Love Thy Fellow Man.

The penalty for defying these laws, according to God, would be a distancing from the presence of his Light.  What is odd, though, is that one most first distance oneself from the Voice of God (the Holy Spirit), in order to defy these laws.  So, in fact, it can become a deadly spiral.

There is no talk of taking the life of a man, or of ill luck befalling he who defies the Laws of God.  There is no talk of denying him even salvation at the end, should he repent his sins.  He accepts all who, in their hearts, wish to come into His presence, and is patient in waiting for them to do so.

2 Peter 3:8-9
” 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

This means that even the “crooked stick”, as spoken of by the good father, is welcome in the Kingdom of God, should he truly desire it.

Back on track, rights.  Rights are not something that man can claim for himself, but can only be bestowed upon him by his action, his acting in accordance with what is right in  his heart.  By doing so, he finds himself propelled further along a path that leads him to more rights, and more entitlements, leading up to passage into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Acting in accordance with the 3 simple laws of God, as given by the Christ during his years of ministry, are what permit us those rights.  Not the rights of man, which include equality, happiness in the mortal world, and freedom, but the rights of God, which include eternal happiness, a closer relationship to our fellow men and women, and indeed, further duties to ourselves and others.

I am a religious, spiritual person, but I do not proselytize.  I do not say that the Christian path is the only path into the presence of the Divine.  In fact, I understand that most all great religions of the world preach much the same message, just in different words.  In many ways, this also describes the path of Dharma, in Hindu belief (that following one’s duty in life leads one closer to the Divine itself).  I do not say to you that my way is the only way.  (In actuality, my way is very, very, very different from any proscribed way)  But I do say to you that the Divine, whether you call him Allah, Yahweh, Jehovah, God, the Kami, the Celestial Bureaucracy, Ahura Mazda, or whichever name you wish to use, does not seek to defame those that have lost the path, or instruct you to disregard them as lost, but instead to serve your fellow man (and woman) as best you can.

After all, though God is with us in our hearts, we are all we have in this world.

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