We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
My men's study/confessional group has been reading the Letter to the Hebrews for a couple of months. One of the topics we stumbled into this week was a discussion of obedience to God, and dutifulness. (Here's a recent post on obedience via Vanderleun.)
While we guys all seem to acknowledge the need for discipline for spiritual growth, many of us confessed our tendency to lazily and self-congratulatingly replace a life in the spirit with "Christian" dutifulness and "doing good." We more or less ended up thinking of moral and religious dutifulness, if lacking the Holy Spirit and the direction of God, as clanging cymbals - empty noise. Of course, that was one of Christ's teachings.
From a Christian standpoint, pride in one's Christian dutifulness and righteousness is a devil's snare - as is pride in one's humility. From Screwtape's Letter #14 with his advice to his apprentice Wormwood:
Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is especially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, “By jove! I’m being humble”, and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt—and so on, through as many stages as you please.
Ben-David ... I like you! I really like you. And I love that joke. The ability to ridicule oneself is one of the most civilized talents. So few of us here have that ability, and usually we come into the talent really soon before we die, and the Lord takes us away. Or not.
The best jokes are universal. Jewish jokes become Irish jokes become hillbilly jokes become...
Jacob dreams of a ladder stretching from earth to infinite heaven. That is every one of us. If you can't laugh at the contradictions that flow from these opposite aspects of our nature, you can't grow.
Which brings us back to Lewis - pride stems from taking yourself too seriously.
The synagogue was crowded on Yom Kippur and the ushers were told, "Only admit members with tickets."
A fellow comes up, no ticket, and says, "I've got an urgent message for Dr. Baum."
"Okay," says the usher. "You can go in for a moment. But don't let me catch you praying."
Ben Franklin commented on the problem of being proud of his humility. I have felt myself in that trap a number of times.
The Puritans distinguished between one's general calling - to be obedient and humble -and one's specific calling - to be a tanner, minister, or sailor. They held the latter to be of little importance compared to the former.
Assistant Village Idiot