Demons of Desire: Gluttony, Lust, and Avarice

As I’m sure you all remember, dear readers, we are spending Lent with 4th century mystic Evagrius Ponticus, taking a pilgrimage back to the self and God. Sadly, our journey is thwarted by adversaries, demons that seek to distract us from our task. This past Sunday, we met our first adversary in the story of Jacob wrestling in the night. Through Jacob’s story, we learned that our struggles may not produce the certainty we seek, but they might tell us something about ourselves. For everything we might name, so much goes unnamed. This week, we meet the demons of desire: gluttony, lust, and avarice.

In the understanding of Evagrius’ time, these evil thoughts were lower thoughts that arise out of our experience of our bodies. Our bodies tell us we are hungry, so we eat. However, gluttony is not just about food, but a craving for experience, a need to consume. Our bodies tell us we need sex, so we… Well, I’ll let you work that out. However, lust is not just about sex, but a need to project the ego out into the world, to control it, to subdue it. And avarice is the fear that it will all run out, that at some point there will be no food and we will be impotent. So we consume and use and hoard to stave off or forget the inevitable: our mortality. Desire comes out of the very real limitations that go along with having bodies.

In our modern world, it is common to assume that bodies are the problem. We should just eliminate desire, detach from bodily yearnings, and engross ourselves in higher pursuits. Or perhaps we should simply desire better things, friends instead of feasts, salvation instead of sex, God instead of gold. Were it even possible, it would turn the body against itself and against God. The demons would have their victory.

Though the modern world has forgotten it, Evagrius knew that bodies and the desires they produce are good, drawing us toward God and neighbor. But the demons of desire are tricky. They tell the truth, but distort our view. They can turn noble desires, even our desire for God, toward evil. Join us at the Kessler on Sunday at 11:00 am to discover how they do it and how we can fight back.

Grace and Peace,
Scott

February 26: Our Demons, Our God, Ourselves
What does Jacob wrestle with?

March 4: Demons of Desire: Gluttony, Lust, and Avarice
How do we draw the world in and push God out?

March 11: Demons of Repulsion: Sadness, Anger, and Acedia
How do we push the world away God with it?

March 18: Demons of Reason: Pride (and Shame)
How do we lie to ourselves?

March 25: Fear
What is the source of the demons’ power?

April 1: Palm Sunday
What happens when we find the voice that God gave us?

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