from rusticus

One of the things that has drawn me back to words has been the words of the Stoics as I pour myself into understanding something that had been forbidden fruit for so long. I’ve been through quite a lot in recent years and I’ve always done my best to keep myself grounded but that has not always been easy because when one experiences as much evil as I have, it is challenging to find the capacity to heal that much pain and learn to remain calm in the storms of life and throughout there’s been this quiet whisper in the back of my mind, “Stoic… Be stoic…” And truly, this Stoicism has been what has kept me sleeping peacefully through the most recent turmoils.

When I was young, the word Stoic was spoken in the hushed and disdainful tone of those who have absolutely no idea what Stoicism really means or why it is such a peaceful and powerful way to look at the world, which is ironic considering what I ponder tonight. For those who despised Stoicism, I cannot claim to understand their dislike of this way of thinking and meeting the world. It seems that they despised it out of a selfish belief that others should emote in the ways they felt others should rather than contemplating why others chose to seek to find peace in the the Stoic mindset and, quite likely, the belief that Stoicism was somehow anti-faith. It is a shame they never learned what the only philosopher emperor of Rome Marcus Aurelius learned from Rusticus:

“From Rusticus… I learned to read carefully and not be satisfied with a rough understanding of the whole, and not to agree too quickly with those who have a lot to say about something” (Meditations, 1.7.3).

Huh… Do not be satisfied with a rough understanding of the whole.

Far be it from me to proclaim myself to be any sort of expert on Stoicism but if those who had claimed it was such a terrible thing had learned anything about it or had stepped out of their own expectations and experiences, they might have found a different view. The central idea of Stoicism is that the world is organized in a rational and logical way that operates in individuals but also in the universe as a whole by a force called logos, which incidentally is the same logos referenced by the author of the gospel of John (writings which, incidentally, weren’t connected at all to anyone named John until almost 200 AD (1) roughly around the time Irenaeus got salty about gospels that didn’t make him happy or happened to be written in a first person account by a woman so he declared that because there were 4 corners of the universe and 4 principle winds, the cardinal directions, there must only be 4 gospels (2) and those 4 seemed to sort of, mostly, kind of match). The unknown author referenced The Word, logos, saying Logos was with God and Logos was God (3).

Yep. The author of the gospel of John talked about the Stoic belief of logos as God. He or she was a Stoic, it seems, and also, incidentally, the earliest known copy of that gospel was written right around the time Marcus Aurelius ruled Rome. Don’t be alarmed; Paul quoted Plato and Aristotle, a fact modern Christians have ignorantly believed he was quoting God’s order of things rather than quoting the ancient Greek’s belief that was written into Roman law. (4) The point here being this: it is easy to dismiss beliefs and ideas without ever taking the time to learn how they are interconnected with one’s own.

Back to my point for writing tonight, though, is the fact that far too often we tell others to believe what we say and we go along with believing things based on short soundbites we receive in discussion, in pews, in classrooms, or from whatever source of information we choose and are quick to agree with what is comfortable or what simply agrees with what our beliefs are or have been, which themselves are also frequently born out of the same places we seek information. It is easy to dismiss the experiences and wisdom of The Other when the only voices you are willing to listen to are those who you already know agree with you, but that doesn’t make it wise.

I have chosen to take slow, meticulous steps into Stoicism as a way to look at and approach the world not because I lack faith but because I treasure logic, the humility to understand humanity from a perspective outside my own experiences, and the peace that comes from acting rationally out of what I can control rather than the emotion of what I cannot. I will continue to learn everything there is to learn about that which impacts or interests me so that I can learn to separate myself from my experiences and let the overwhelming emotion connected with the horrors that I could not control fall away. It does not mean that I have or have not forgiven those who have harmed me; to be quite honest, it means I have decided that they and their crimes are not worthy of an ounce of my emotion because their crimes reflect nothing on me, my worth, or my actions but instead are only a reflection of the darkness within them and as such is out of my control, it is also that which I should feel no compulsion to think or worry about. It is in this way that I am capable of no longer feeling the pull of every difficult or tragic moment into the whirlpool of emotion that would take me down to the darkness and despair I once felt unable to escape from.

If this is not the way for you, carry on in your own path but at least take the time to learn about that which you reject before attacking someone else’s journey through the challenges of life. Learn that from Rusticus. It’s a good lesson.


(1) “Who Wrote the Gospel of John?” Zondervan Academic, 23 Mar. 2018,

(2) “The Story of the Storytellers – the Emergence of the Four Gospel Canon | from Jesus to Christ | FRONTLINE | PBS.”, 2014,

(3) Aurelius, Marcus, and Gregory Hays. Meditations. New York, Modern Library, 2003.

(4) Beth Allison Barr. The Making of Biblical Womanhood : How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth. Grand Rapids, Michigan, Brazos Press, A Division Of Baker Publishing Group, 2021.

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