instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Triumphalism of the truth

The thing about condescension isn't so much the lack of charity expressed toward those being condescended to as the lack of humility expressed toward the truth they allegedly lack.

I mean, how do you reconcile these two statements:
  1. "I possess the truth, and you do not."
  2. "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
The truth isn't something you possess, it's Someone Who possesses you. And if it's really this Truth by Whom you're acting, you don't say, "Neener neener," or, "Let me know when you've finally arrived at the correct answer," you say, "Friend, rejoice with me over what I've found!"

My "Self-Directed Catherinian Mini-Retreat" was a light-hearted post, but now I think it should have come with a warning: "Not for children, invalids, or the complacently self-righteous." Meditating on the fact that God is He Who Is and you are he [or, in certain circumstances, she] who is not is a dangerous and destructive act that just might shred any sense of boastfulness or triumphalism you depend on to get through the day. It's positively vertiginous for those of us who habitually think it's us who somehow steady the Rock upon which we build our faith and hope.

Here's a rule of thumb for guarding against triumphalism of the truth: When, in your view, someone else takes a step in the right direction, don't think it's because he's stepping in your direction.

Update:Someone forwarded me an unattributed comment that led to this post. Originally, that comment was at the beginning of the post, but its writer noticed it, identified himself as its author, and objected to its use, so I have removed it.