Type II Orthodoxy


I am a type II diabetic and have been so for 30 years. It’s not as bad as Type I, but Type II has its peculiar challenges. You can be Type II for a long time and not even know it. Of course, once you have the diagnosis, the greatest challenge is indifference. Unlike Type I, you can eat things that are inappropriate and you may not feel any adverse effects at all. What you don’t realize is the damage that is being done, the slow attrition that is affecting your arteries and internal organs. Even after the diagnosis, you can play the game of  taking enough medicine to get by while you continue to eat the way you want. You can use a blood tester, but after a while you don’t even know where it is. You foolishly believe you have plenty of time to get it right.

I am also Type II Orthodox. I have a chronic condition, but I am indifferent to it and what it is doing to me. I go on day after day, week after week, doing the same and being the same while throwing in enough piety to get by. When you are Type II Orthodox, you look good to everyone else. No one can tell that you have a chronic illness.  As St. Paul said, you have the form of godliness, but not the power of it.

Here is a great description of Type II Orthodoxy.

I am worthless but think much of myself. At church banquets I act pompously and seek honor. Yet, I do not want to honor those to whom honor is due. I never tire myself with work, but if someone doesn’t work for me, I become very angry. I avoid those who are ill, but if I become ill, I want everyone to serve me and feel sorry for me. I lie constantly, but become angry when someone lies to me.

I appear to have scorned worldly pleasures, but in fact I have not abandoned my desire for them. I defile the temple of my spirit with wanton thoughts. I strive to appear pleasing to women and if I see a woman, I go into raptures. I seem not to be acquisitive, but I have a lust for gadgets. I walk around in black robes, but I like nice clothing. I long for gifts, but I keep my wallet closed for others.

During church services I let my mind wander to vain memories. I appear to be poor, but I dream of wealth. During meal times I talk about foolish things and try to impress others with my humor and wit. I appear to have forsaken the world, but I talk about worldly things all the time. I want all to forgive me, but if offended, I dream of revenge. I condemn anyone who is a thief or who slanders others, but I am both a slanderer and a thief. I live in sin, but I strive for others to see me as a righteous man. The list endless: corrupt thoughts , fits of selfishness, gluttony, sensuality, vainglory, arrogance, lust, gossiping, fast breaking, wallowing in despondency, rivalry, indignation, and so on. If you peel away my veneer of piety, you would find worms inside. If the whitewashed cover is removed, everyone will see what lies in the grave. Sadly, I spend one day repenting and two offending. (This is a paraphrase of a confession by a monastic!)**

It usually takes some physical infirmity for the light to dawn on Type II diabetics so that they change their diet, monitor  blood levels, and take the appropriate medicine. In like fashion, it often takes a tragedy or great sorrow to wake us up to the fact that our Type II Orthodoxy has weakened or numbed our souls and damaged our faith.  If we can wake up to the situation, we can go on a spiritual diet that will restore spiritual health.

There is no getting around it, the diet is the same: for Type II diabetics – low carb; for Type II Orthodox -prayer, fasting, attending services, doing alms, study. The medication is powerful -the Eucharist. A doctor has us make regular appointments to check our progress. I hate to go because I will have to be accountable for what I have done or failed to do. Likewise, the Church calls us to regular confession. Confession can be a time of accountability or we can cancel the appointment because we just can’t face the shame. The real shame is hiding our condition.  Like any doctor, the Great Physician does not diagnose us to condemn or shame us. He works like any good physician. If I hide my symptoms from my physician, I can’t complain if I remain ill. My doctor loves me, but I remain ill. What is not acknowledged cannot be healed.

My first acknowledgement is that I am type II Orthodox. I regret that I am this way, but is this regret enough to seek healing? My spiritual Father always asked me if I am sorry for what I had done. I would reply that I am sorry, but not sorry enough to change. I guess that it will take a tragedy to turn me around. What an idiot.  The time is short to get it right. The alternative is not a pleasant thing to think about.

There is healing for Type II Orthodoxy. The Physician invites me. Will I make the appointment? Will I take the cure, or once again convince myself that there is plenty of time? How long has it been since you made an appointment, and kept it?

** Taken from A Spiritual Psalter, or reflections on God, by St. Ephaim, the Syrian, published by the St. John of Kronstadt Press, Liberty, Tennessee, 1990. The particular section is the Eight Kathisma, The First Stasis, number 55, entitled, “How to scrutinize and reproach yourself.” Even though it is St. Ephrem’s confession, it is mine as well.

One Response to “Type II Orthodoxy”

  1. Betsy Says:

    As a Greek Orthodox following the new calendar, I began the Christmas fast on the 15NOV. I armed myself with a lot of prayer and a couple of books on the Ladder of Divine Ascent and ascetic practice. I was determined at the beginning of what amounts to a good “fat-free” fast to really try to go “sin-free,” as well.

    HA! What a dismal failure. The light has really flooded the closet of my heart. I really wasn’t aware just how sinful I really am.

    One of the steps mentioned in one of the books was learning to stop idle chatter. One chapter was even titled “Learning to Shut Up.” I didn’t realize how self-centered what comes out of (and goes into!) my mouth is. In fact, much of my sinfulness could be cured, if I just learned to shut my mouth.


    Very difficult to do. Praying about it doesn’t seem to help. But I will keep at it–both praying for help and trying to cultivate a non-self-centered heart.

    The hidden disease is indeed chronic and deadly. I feel about as sad as I imagine a person with Type II diabetes feels when they first find out they are afflicted.

    Kyrie elaison, kyrie elaison, kyrie elaison.

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