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Monday, January 14 2002

Logismoi

Don't be intimidated by the unknown word at the top of today's entry. I'm not sure how to pronounce it myself and am just beginning to get acquainted with its meaning. In fact, it's Greek to me (and to everyone else, as it is Greek, literally).

It comes from a wonderful book I'm now reading, The Mountain of Silence, by Kyriacos C. Markides, a professor of sociology at the University of Maine. Though the professor intended to write a book about the main center of Christian monasticism in the world, Mount Athos near Thessaloniki, Greece, the main monk he planned to write about was, before the author's research sabbatical began, transplanted from Athos to Cypress, the island in the eastern Mediterranean that has a history of Christian activity dating to the faith's first generation, when Lazarus, the same one raised from the dead by Jesus, tradition says, was its bishop. Ironically, Cypress was also the boyhood home of Markides, who found himself spending his sabbatical there living near elder Maximos, the abbot of the island's Panagia monastery and "interviewing" him for months on end.

Markides defines logismoi (the plural of logismos) as "thought forms; negative logismoi obstruct our vision of God." Though there are also positive logismoi (thought forms sent by or on behalf of God), all logismoi should be suspected or guarded against. As I read it, it's logismoi that we're talking about when—or if—we say, "lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil." I always wondered how God could lead us astray, but this insight helps clarify the concept. Logismoi are entirely natural, and under the fall (humanity's sinful inherited predilection), negative ones are as inevitable as thought itself.

As you can see, it's a complicated idea too big to fit on a postcard, so I'll leave you with the most mind-boggling aspect of it (to me): Markides says that psychological research has found that people with a 70-year lifespan have approximately 100 million thoughts that can be called logismoi.

Such a big lot of "temptations" to resist may indicate why the most basic of prayers includes an antidote.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

More things to be thankful for

Ever notice that the people who are late are often much jollier than the people who have to wait for them?

If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?

Most of us go to our grave with our music still inside of us.

If Wal-Mart is lowering prices every day, how come nothing is free yet?

You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.

—Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for the day

Charles Plumb was a U.S. Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"

"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.

"I packed your parachute," the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!"

Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today." Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat, a bib in the back, and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor."

Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?" Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory- he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.

Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason.

As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachute.

—Sent by Mike Harrison

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