Monday, November 5, 2007

Color OrthoPATHY Purple

Oh my has been a very busy day!

Alan Hirsch's new post is highlighting the importance of ensuring a form of discipleship that emerges from the intersection of orthodoxy, orthopraxy and orthopathy. In my comment I called this intersection the "sweet spot." It is critical that all of these elements are blended if we are to be, as well as train up, fully-devoted disciples of Christ. And when blended, they become something new. Yikes...I'm thinking perichoresis and communitas here...again!

The Abbess seems to have a penchant for seeing "purple" things...and I was struck by Alan's post because it is the first time I have pondered the term "orthopathy" since the whole Purple Martyrdom theme has arisen here on this blog.

So let's get our definitions understood right off the bat, eh? Alan's post defines our three "orthos" like this:
  • Orthodoxy is understood as right belief.
  • Orthopraxy is understood as right actions.
  • Orthopathy is understood as right feelings.
But something pulled up short in me as I pondered the definition of orthopraxy as right feelings....feelings? That's just not quite right...what feelings?

No, lets back up a minute. The second part of this word, "pathy," comes from the Greek "pathos"... and I know that pathos means suffering.


Orthopathy means right suffering. And that's a horse of a different color....

Definitely more processing on this to come!

[Note: This site on it relates to health...will definitely need further follow-up by The don't hold me accountable for the fine details yet! But it does have my brain spinning about a gazillion miles an hour currently...]


alan hirsch said...

But O' Mother Superior, pathos surely means more than suffering, although it includes it. It includes the full range of human emotions.

Brad said...

I think Alan's got this one more holistically intact than our translation from the Greek *pathos* typically allows. But I'm not sure we have an alternative Greek root to use. Oh well ... more processing ...

Anyway, as a related resource on the ortho-overlap area, readers interested in the immaterial aspects of our humanity may want to read *A System of Biblical Psychology* by Old Testament scholar and commentary writer Franz Delitzsch. has a number of copies available and they occasionally pop up on eBay.

John said...

Dear Abbess,

Suffering certainly enters the equation but it is the notion of passion, of being moved. Not a sterile encounter with truth or even an exhausting exercise of right actions it is an encounter with the living God personally involved in the lives of His people.

I recommend Abraham Joshua Heschel's The Prophets for an unforgettable treatment of the divine pathos and its impact on the prophet and his hearers. I offer the following quote as a teaser...

"The prophets had no theory or "idea" of God. What they had was an understanding...To the prophets, God was overwhelmingly real and shatteringly present. They never spoke of Him as from a distance. The lived as witnesses, struck by the words of God."

Sounds like the very thing we, as followers of Christ, are called to do and be; witnesses struck by the words of God.

That said, HELP! Bro. Maynard has apparently excommunicated me. Can't break the code, unlock the door, or knock loudly enough for him to hear. Thanks for being an intercessor for me!


AbiSomeone said...

Very interesting...I'm going to read Brad's blog comment riffing on this first...and I've been doing a lot of processing--I remember saying that I was going to be processing this...

But first, John...who's suffering ;^) did not fall on deaf ears!

Bro. M hasn't had time to find your e-mail address :^( ...but he suggested to me that I might subscribe to his blog and that should clear it that's what I'm going to do...and you're welcome to do the same!

In any case, you have not been excommunicated, dear Shepherd!

Stay tuned, all, the Abbess will be back!