Friday, April 5, 2013

Contrasting H. and F..

Recently, we have dug into both the life of Heraclitus (through his epistles) and that of St. Francis (through G.K. Chesterton's writing). I hope you were still able to follow along as I went back and forth and back and forth between both of their two worlds. So far, we're about half way through the epistles and just getting to the tip of the iceberg in Chesterton's writing.

But, what in the world do these two men have in common with each other? What do they have in common with us?!

In a way, everything. And, in another way, nothing.

Although these two influential characters may have more differences than similarities, they both relate to exactly who we are now.


These two men lived in completely different worlds.

Heraclitus found himself in the Pre-Christian land of Ancient Ephesus (circa 500BC, before the Apostle Paul was born, let alone writing letters to the Ephesians). While, Francis lived in the town of Assisi (1181-1226AD) where Christianity was the norm.

The Pre-Socratic Philosopher lived in a place peaked with hedonism with immorality running rampant. While, the Gentle Monk matured in a land of penance where a false morality reigned.

The Thinker would be forever-known as "The [lonely] Weeping Philosopher." While, the Man of God would be forever-loved as a man of joy, basking in the Lord's presence.

The Ephesian was seen as a misanthropist, a hater of humanity. While, the Italian would be remembered as a philanthropist, a lover of humanity.

These two fellows come from opposite worlds and would seem to be opposite men.


But, I am still able to say about both of these characters, what G.K. Chesterton has said about St. Francis, "at no stage of my pilgrimage" have they "ever seemed to me a stranger."

Although, we live centuries after both of these iconic figures, we are still able to relate to them every day.

Even though, we cannot know a world that is Pre-Christian, we do know that some of our world has attempted to become Post-Christian. Some places might seem to find Christianity as the norm. But, it isn't likely the Christianity practiced at the time of Frank.

Hedonism, the lust for pleasure and momentary satisfaction, runs rampant through-out the streets. It is broadcast to the world through omnipresent screens. "Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing." At the same time, we are called to repent. We plague ourselves with guilt. And, we strive to be better people in order to redeem ourselves.

Here, in this bipolar world, we are called to stick out. We are to be the contrast, just as both Heraclitus and Francis were. We are not to worship a striving after wind. But, we are not to falsely convince ourselves that we may become perfect by our own power, through our own means either.

We weep because we know the fate of the world. But, we rejoice, as each day is a gift from God... our true and only Redeemer.

Heraclitus may have been seen as a misanthropist and Francis a philanthropist. But, in reality, they would consider themselves as neither. Humanity played no stake in their lives. It (humanity) is only a vague concept, a general people. Heraclitus and St. Francis both loved man. I know that may seem to be conflicting. But, Heraclitus himself (or at least this record of him), loved man. What he hated was their vice, their taint, their sin. In the same way, Francis loved man. He didn't love the potential construct of civilization or the organization of government. He loved each man as he loved each animal, as an individual soul, created and loved by God.

Can we do this?

I pray so.

We need more life-changing, culture-shocking, history-quaking people like these in our world....

People who do stand out, not specifically at one extreme or the other. But, for what extreme the culture needs... which could be neither... Or, perhaps, both.

And, good, faithful men, who still hold on to God... even when all else fails.

Some Side-Notes:

Concerning Heraclitus' health, he trusted himself and divinity more than he trusted any other man in V-VI (and, with the medicine of the time, I can completely understand why). In today's world, though, medicine is trustworthy, as a mask of God.

Heraclitus of Ephesus is remembered as "The Weeping Philosopher," probably because he wept for the people, seeing himself as the only virtuous being in the town. He could not crack a smile, because the immorality of those surrounding him extremely bothered him. This becomes even more interesting when Paul, during his journey to Ephesus over 500 years later, also wept for these people so that they might heed the Gospel: "Be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears..."


Here's a little more biographical information on Heraclitus and Francis.

Otherwise, feel free to search around on the blog --->

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