Monday, September 22, 2014
The Death of Humility
I have been writing a series of essays for Radio 3 about national characteristics that have, for better or worse (usually worse), been dispensed with in the past 30 years. These include respect for manual labour, regarding Sunday as special, not being greedy about food, gentility… and the regarding of modesty or humility as significant virtues.I cannot help but reflect that this very real trend comes not only from the general absence of faith in out society, but that it is also reflective of where more modern religious expression has gone wrong.
Of all of them, I now realise, the last is the most striking change. It is self-evident that modesty is not prized highly in this age of the selfie, Simon Cowell, the celebrity memoir, the first-person blog, and industry awards.
oastful character was a freak, who pointed up the virtues of the hero, as Falstaff does with Prince Hal. So Tintin had Captain Haddock; Winnie-the-Pooh had Tigger; and Ratty and Mole had self-described “handsome, popular and successful” Mr Toad, and his self-advertising motor car. I think of that vehicle when I note that, in my boyhood, personalised number plates were an extreme rarity; but there are now four million, many sported in combination with smoked-glass windows. The driver seems to be saying, “Don’t look at me” and “Look at me” at the same time, although clearly the latter message predominates.
For the sake of "the gospel," literature that is reflective of the gospel without blatantly stating it has gone away. We have substituted "The Four Spiritual Laws" for a life encompassing reality. We have placed theological statements ahead of character formation.
What makes an enterprise "Christians?" Is it just a matter of branding or is it not a matter of the character of the people engaged in it?
The world did not chase us out of relevance, we abandoned it.