I go through life as a transient on his way to eternity, made in the image of God but with that image debased, needing to be taught how to meditate, to worship, to think (Donald Coggan).
In reading the scriptures suggested by Richard Foster, I was most struck by Romans 8:18: “I can will what is right, but I cannot do it.” As one raised Mormon, I have tended to avoid Romans, so beloved as it is by the evangelicals who are most critical of Mormon works-based soteriology (as they see it). And yet, it is Mormon scripture that reminds us that “the natural man is an enemy to God” (Mosiah 3:19). So, I’m with St. Paul: I know what is right but I’m terrible at doing it and in my natural state, I cannot help that.
The Christian disciplines are an attempt, I think, to “put off” the natural man, to be better at being good. I was struck by Foster’s warning (p.12 in the 1989 Hodder paperback) to avoid letting the disciplines become virtuous in themselves. I think I may be susceptible to this. In flicking through the chapter on fasting, I have to admit to being attracted to the idea of an extended fast. It sounds like a challenge, something to put alongside triathlon or bike racing as an achievement to be experienced. But if the disciplines are not a means to a spiritual end, they are just vainglories.
That’s the natural man again, I suppose.
I will post next week about the first discipline — meditation — for practice and discussion over November. If anyone would like to connect on Facebook to discuss this, or better, to meet in the flesh, especially to practice pilgrimage, I recommend joining the Mormon Confraternity of St. James. On the first post, Melody talked about a study group in Utah County; there has also been talk on FB about walking in California. &c.