Thursday, April 19, 2007

(1) The Stoa

I am going to take the opportunity to talk some
about the Stoa, the ancient school of Stoic philosophy,
which is some 2300 years old. Over the centuries it
changed, progressed, disappeared, came back, and
continues to change into ever new stages. I guess one
could say that the Stoa is a living, evolutionary philosophy.

In the Hellenistic world, in ancient times, the Stoa went
through three stages: Early, Middle, and Later. It had
schools all around, like in Rhodes, Athens, Rome, and
Tarsus (where some speculate St. Paul may have listened in).
Three of its greatest philosophers were Marcus Aurelius
(a Roman emperor), Lucius Seneca, (a member of the
Roman Senate), and Epictetus ( a freed Roman slave).

The philosophy of the Stoa preached equality amongst
classes and gender--which is incredible when it came to
the conditions of the Ancient World. And it's major focus
was on living a virtuous life as a child of God.

Upon the advent of Christianity, a good number of Stoics
became Christians and brought their manuals along with
them. As time went on, some of the Christian Fathers
(who were classically trained) inserted some of the thought
of the Stoa into their own theological thinking. So it's no
surprise that our modern-day encyclopedias oft declare
the Stoa as "the nursing mother of the Early Church."

What about the Stoa today? After being pretty much
ingested by the Church, it would have seemed to have
disappeared. But it's philosophy was re-discovered by
the Renaissance and eventually made its way back to our
times. Eventually we can determine the connections of
the Classical Stoa, the Christian Stoa, and the CyberStoa.

The Christian Stoa has been fairly active from the late
18th century unto our own times. It has included major
Christian thinkers as well as priests from religious orders,
like the Jesuits and the Franciscans. As for the CyberStoa,
well today's Stoa pretty much resides in the NetWorld, amongst
groups devoted to its great philosophy.