Category Archives: GERMAN



Setting: Catholic religion class at school.

Characters: New teacher – a man. A bunch of 9-year-olds.

Open discussion about covenants. (Based loosely on recollection, don’t shoot the messenger!)

Girl in my daughter’s class, with genuine curiosity: Why are all the priests men? Why are there no women priests?

Teacher, gently: Well, you see, Jesus was a man, and his apostles were men, and…

Several girls in my daughter’s class: But his mother was a woman!

Teacher, full of kindness: Yes, but she could not have brought Jesus into the world without a heavenly Father…

Red-haired girl: He couldn’t have been born without a mother, either.

Teacher, softly: Yes, you’re right… but, maybe, you know, if some priests were women, then the men in church would stop paying attention to God and stare at the pretty priest…

My daughter, mumbling to herself: But the same can be true the other way around. If the priest is handsome…

Boy seated next to my daughter, searching for a solution: Maybe men are just uglier than women!

Red-haired girl: But if the women were really ugly, could they be priests then?

My daughter, musing after class: What if all the priests were women? Then there wouldn’t be any male priests to tempt… 🙂

(Ah, the dilemmas, quandaries and predicaments that arise when children are allowed to think freely. 🙂 Which, thankfully, they are.)

Spirituality, modernity and Brownian motion


Just a thought…

So many of us feel depleted, drained, stressed out. Our beings flogged from within, our lives – our biggest gift – turned into empty chases. Pursuing a zillion things that we can grab and touch and display, but which aren’t real. We live in societies that prioritize task efficiency, competition, action, and the accumulation of stuff over family, over time with friends, music, celebration, inner peace, or the contemplation of beauty.

The spiritual, once a central component of daily life – that umbilical cord to the divine – has been all but banished, relegated to the periphery, exiled to the realm of the exotic, the archaic, and the ‘oppressive’. The daily recalibration of prayer has fallen from grace and with it we have fallen – literally – from grace. From the grace of communing with the universe and with each other, the grace of transcending and accessing our higher purpose. From peace and vitality.

We bet everything on the card of desire, sleepwalking through life in a state of sterile and destructive arousal, as if remote-controlled via our most basic reflexes and deprived of the light of transfiguration. Do not be fooled that we no longer worship. We do. We worship the idol of self – the crumbling ‘natural man’ – while cutting ourselves off from our spiritual potential – the human person inhabited by holiness, true love, generosity, and joy. 

The unhappiness that brings. 

And how freely available the healing can be.

Old woman praying in the fields at midday, as church bells toll in Rebrisoara, Romania
(Source: Photo taken by Marian Ros in Rebrisoara)

P.S. For more (and better!) on our aimless restlessness, our addiction to illusion and distraction, and our loathing of Eden – take a listen here: An episode I stumbled upon today – no kidding – after writing this blog. There are very few coincidences in life.

River Revival


Trying to stay in shape during social distancing.

A river, a grove, a few less trodden paths on a sun-flooded morning. Glimpses of real beauty. And a little piece of heaven.

Copyright A. Sepi 2020. All rights reserved


(Post)modern obsessions


Have you noticed how the following themes keep popping up, almost obsessively, in contemporary discourse – in the media, in the public sphere and increasingly in ourselves?

This obsession with sex – and complete devaluation of love and tenderness and commitment.

This obsession with doing – and complete devaluation of being.

This obsession with the intensity of fragmented experience – and complete devaluation of profoundness and resilience and eternity.

This obsession with work and maximization – and complete devaluation of contemplation and spirituality. Of the time it takes to realize that you have a soul, that you are a human being capable of transcendence, not a machine plugged in to churn out as many objects as possible per unit of time.

We treat ourselves and each other as equipment, as products. We apply to beings the logic of machines. We have transferred the maximum efficiency mantra of the technological sector to human life. We have internalized the algebraic depersonalisation, the callous disregard, the flattening subjugation of being to efficiency and utility present in our discourses. We find it OK to behave and to be treated increasingly like predictable robots or like working animals. Like mammals, all dapper and happy to be allowed to act out their basest instincts.

This obsession with Darwinism, with us as little more than physical organisms in biological evolution, this bench-marking against apes, not against angels or saints. This devaluation of angels and saints as melodrama and cheap esoteric – or, even, as oppression. This talk of our “natural instincts”. Nature, our nature, as a new goddess. But should we always make way for our natural instincts? Will that improve us? What will build more character and more goodness and a deeper path to the absolute we secretly yearn for?

(Is something good or legitimate simply because we were born with it? Because we acquired it? Because it is fun? Because it brings pleasure or monetary value? Are we not supposed to transcend ourselves?)

This frenzy of devaluation… No religion, but brand religion. The branding iron.

What is slavery for theoretically free individuals? According to Simone Weil, the disconnect between one’s efforts and their life’s work. (We work, but we no longer have a life’s work, an opus, an oeuvre. We expect our work to be the foundation of our identity, but in fact, so many of us no longer feel like creators. We no longer develop our being in the process of our work. Work all too often feels like odd life-draining tasks under excruciating time pressure, away from the ones we love. It no longer feels like purpose. Just endless busyness. Our work has control over us, but we no longer have much control over it.)

What else is slavery? In Gravity and Grace, S. Weil goes on to say it is the coercion to accept that “reading” of yourself, that interpretation of yourself, which others stamp on you. Having no choice or having only wrong choices. Allowing yourself to be devoured by exhausting activities, and making all this daily effort simply to stay in your current condition – no horizon, no finality, mere survival. Day to day to day. The arbitrariness of how you are treated. The dependency. The addiction.

Any illusion begins to feel real when enough people accept it and internalize it as “the thing to do”. Repeated, it reproduces, it propagates.

This destruction of the human soul…

We no longer recognize the sacredness of our own and each other’s being.

Will the human spirit ever rise against this flattening iron?…



The Sacred and the Profane


“Just as a modern man’s habitation has lost its cosmological values, so too his body is without religious or spiritual significance. In a summary formula we might say that for the nonreligious men of the modern age, the cosmos has become opaque, inert, mute; it transmits no message, it holds no cipher. The feeling of the sanctity of nature survives today in Europe chiefly among rural populations, for it is among them that a Christianity lived as cosmic liturgy still exists.”

Mircea Eliade – The Sacred and the Profane (The Nature of Religion) – written in 1956

PS: Could science (or rather, scientism and other isms) supply the new non-theistic religious experience? Certain ideological positions seem to enjoy “sanctity” status, while others are taboo. There is even talk of “brand religion” in marketing, with brand communities built around a consciousness of kind, traditions and rituals (for shared memories, experiences and behaviors), and a sense of solidarity and moral responsibility among members! Can man make sense of his journey and his life without transcendence, and without a higher authority or a fixed frame of reference (the Absolute)? What do you think?

Quotes of the Day


“When one tries to rise above Nature one is liable to fall below it. The highest type of man may revert to the animal if he leaves the straight road of destiny. (…) There is danger there – a very real danger to humanity. Consider, Watson, that the material, the sensual, the worldly would all prolong their worthless lives. The spiritual would not avoid the call to something higher. It would be the survival of the least fit. What sort of cesspool may not our poor world become?”

Arthur Conan Doyle – The  Adventure of the Creeping Man

“- Your life is not your own, he said. Keep your hands off it.

– What use is it to anyone?

– How can you tell? The example of patient suffering is in itself the most precious of all lessons to an impatient world.”

Arthur Conan Doyle – The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger

Revisiting the Stoics


Well, you know what they say, some things never change. Anxious, dissatisfied, relationship not going well? So what else is new?

I’ve recently come across the following, from Epictetus:

“There are things which are within our power, and there are things which are beyond our power.” (…)

“Within our power are opinion, aim, desire, aversion, and, in one word, whatever affairs are our own. Beyond our power are body, property, reputation, office, and, in one word, whatever are not properly our own affairs.” (…)

“Remember, then, that if you attribute freedom to things by nature dependent, and take what belongs to others for your own, you will be hindered, you will lament, you will be disturbed, you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you take for your own only that which is your own, and view what belongs to others just as it really is, then no one will ever compel you, no one will restrict you, you will find fault with no one, you will accuse no one, you will do nothing against your will; no one will hurt you, you will not have an enemy, nor will you suffer any harm.” (…)

– from Enchiridion I

And also, this:

“When I see anyone anxious, I say, what does this man want? Unless he wanted something or other not in his power, how could he still be anxious?  A musician, for instance, feels no anxiety while he is singing by himself; but when he appears upon a stage he does, even if his voice be ever so good, or he plays ever so well. For what he wishes is not only to sing well, but likewise to gain applause. But this is not in his own power.”

– from Discourses, On Anxiety.

Source: W. Ferraiolo, Stoic Counsel for Interpersonal Relations

Educația, între formare și informare


Recent am dat, la grădiniță, peste următorul poster care mi-a plăcut foarte mult și m-am gândit să nu îl țin numai pentru mine. E schema rezumată plastic a unui concept pedagogic preuniversitar (până la gimnaziu, după cum deduc).



Ce-mi place la el?

În primul rând îmi place la nebunie chestia cu rădăcinile. Faptul că omul e (sau ar fi ideal să fie) un copac complet, la fel de bogat și armonios dezvoltat sub linia solului, ca și deasupra. Că astfel are stabilitate și își poate trage seva vieții, poate crește solid.

Îmi place că trunchiul comun include pedagogia integrării și a gestionării tranzițiilor.

Apoi îmi place la nebunie că ramurile superioare (temele de studiu) includ Sănătate, Cunoștințe despre lume, Sport, Educație estetică, Științe ale naturii, Limbă, Media și Religie (valori morale). Mi se pare foarte bine echilibrat.

După cum înțeleg eu, conceptul pleacă de la premisa copilului ca teren fertil, ca material bun, și distinge 5 categorii esențiale de competențe de bază (Basiskompetenzen) care se construiesc pe bază de atașament (Bindung). Competențele astea absolut fundamentale (rădăcinile) sunt:

  1. Competențe privind sinele (încredere în sine, independență/autonomie, capacitate de auto-organizare, gestionarea rutinei zilnice, un concept de sine pozitiv)
  2. Competențe personale (încredere de bază, competențe emoționale, gestionarea propriilor sentimente, abilitatea de a se juca, toleranță la frustrare, abilități de orientare, competențe cognitive și motorii, creativitate, flexibilitate, competențe lingvistice)
  3. Reziliență, un termen pe care l-aș traduce drept curaj+tenacitate+optimism în fața vieții (optimism, abilitate de a crea relații, interese multiple, o imagine pozitivă despre sine, toleranță la frustrare, valori morale și religioase, motivație)
  4. Competențe de învățare (curiozitate, interes, motivație, memorie, liniște interioară, capacitate de concentrare, cunoștințe de bază, metode, abilități de rezolvare a problemelor, metacogniție = cunoaștere despre cunoaștere)
  5. Competențe sociale (comportament democratic, toleranță, disponibilitate de asumare a răspunderii, competențe de a face față la conflicte, abilitatea de a participa la relații, empatie, întrajutorare, respectarea regulilor, competențe de comunicare).

Am întâlnit părinți care înțeleg să delege aproape integral educarea copilului către sistemul de învățământ în masă. În realitate, nu doar experiența de milenii ci și cercetările moderne în materie de pedagogie arată că valorile de bază, atitudinile fundamentale ale copilului față de lume și viață, felul lui de a privi și înțelege, de a se raporta la oameni, mediu și învățătură, se construiesc preponderent în familie.  Căci unde e atașamentul mai profund decât în familie.

A pune reușita educațională exclusiv pe umerii școlii e greșit. Studiile arată că pattern-urile de gândire și manifestare învățate acasă, precum și nivelul socio-economic al familiei au influența covârșitoare.

Iar dacă școala primară mai face cât de cât eforturi formative (deși e greu de imaginat cât sunt ele de eficiente cu 25-30 de copii la fiecare profesor și activitate), de la gimnaziu încolo simplul volum de cunoștințe de la fiecare materie face imposibilă concentrarea pe dezvoltarea de competențe personale, sociale, de caracter și așa mai departe. Școala devine aproape exclusiv informativă.

Și apropos de competențele de bază cu care pornește un copil în viață (1-5 de mai sus). Nu mi se pare potrivit când părinții sau bunicii emit non-stop sentințe demoralizante sau generalizatoare despre copilul lor de față cu acesta. De gen: “ești un…./ești o…., tu niciodată nu…./tu mereu …. , el niciodată nu….așa și pe dincolo“**. Asta induce copilului exact acea senzație de permanență, de definire identitară fixă, imuabilă, negativă, care se va transforma în self-fulfilling prophecy!  Atitudinea aceasta e total opusă acelui growth mindset responsabil pentru echilibrul și reușita în viață.

Growth mindset înseamnă a-i transmite copilului că greșeala nu e un capăt de drum, că ameliorarea și auto-depășirea sunt posibile prin deschidere, căutare, motivație, perseverență și învățare. Înseamnă, literalmente, a-i clădi caracterul și competențele.

Rădăcinile sănătoase fac tot restul posibil. O coroană bogată în materii abstracte se ofilește sau se răstoarnă fără ea.


(** Later edit: cel puțin la fel de mult mă intrigă și necăjește genul ăla de country-bashing transmis aproape simultan cu laptele de mamă. Idei cum ar fi “ca la noi la nimenea“, “așa ceva numai la noi se poate“, “România e singura țară care…“, “la noi niciodată n-o să…. “, care nu fac decât să ducă într-un excepționalism negativist și să cimenteze un pesimism neputincios și păgubos. Stilul ăsta de comunicare creează șabloane de gândire pe care le preluăm ca atare și le considerăm firești și care sufocă orice tentativă de efort constructiv. E learned helplessness. Dacă nu poți concepe reușita, clar n-o să reușești. Cuvintele au putere. Nu degeaba “la început a fost Cuvântul”…)


Ancient words of counsel?


“It may be said that every individual man and all men in common aim at a certain end which determines what they choose and what they avoid. This end, to sum it up briefly, is HAPPINESS AND ITS CONSTITUENTS. (…)

We may define happiness as prosperity combined with virtue; or as independence of life; or as the secure enjoyment of the maximum of pleasure; or as good condition of property and body, together with the power of guarding one’s property and body and making use of them. (…)

From this definition of happiness it follows that its constituent parts are:

  • good birth, plenty of friends, good friends, wealth, good children, plenty of children, a happy old age, such bodily excellences as health, beauty, strength, large stature, athletic powers, together with fame, honor, good luck, and virtue.

A man cannot fail to be completely independent if he possesses these internal and external goods (…). (Goods of the soul and of the body are internal. Good birth, friends, money and honor are external). (…)

The phrases ‘possession of good children’ and ‘of many children’ bear a quite clear meaning. Applied to a community, they mean that its young men are numerous and of good quality: good in regard to bodily excellences (…) and also in regard to the excellences of the soul, which in a young man are temperance and courage. (…) Communities as well as individuals should lack none of these perfections, in their women as well as in their men. Where, as among the Lacedaemonians, the state of women is bad, almost half of human life is spoilt.”

Aristotle – Rhetoric, 1360b-1361a.

(Translated by W. Rhys Roberts – The Modern Library, New York, 1984)