I love the dark side…

Yes!  Dark chocolate m&m's are back!  Oh how I've missed you and your sheer superiority to regular m&m's!

The dark side has returned!

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You can post on LJ too!

Yay! Vox can finally cross post to LJ! 

I'm testing it out. 🙂

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Humility and the Downward Dialectic

This excerpt is again from The Way of Suffering: A Geography of Crisis by Jerome Miller.  It describes how a truly humble person must react to praise.  Before this, he talks about how a humble person must not recognize his humility as a trait that somehow makes him greater or more profound than others, as that would defeat the purpose of being humble.

"For, in the first place, humility is always a destination, never a position one can claim to have reached; one's awareness of one's inadequacies is itself always in some way inadequate.  The person who, as shame's docile pupil, knows how little he meansures up to all the virtues, knows more about himself that those of us who praise him.  For he has a much clearer inkling than we do of how far he has yet to go; we only think he has arrived because, having stopped at the verge of it, we are not in a position to realize that the abyss he is exploring is bottomless.  His reasons for deflecting our praise of him are more profound than our reasons for offering it.  His knowledge of his inadequacy is a deeper truth than our knowledge of his excellence.  He already knows that he will learn shortly how superficially he has understood his insignificance.

Nevertheless, it is true that such a person, precisely because he is headed into the abyss of humility, precisely because he knows he cannot ever get to the bottom of it, has reached a depth of existence compare to wich all other modes of living are superficial.  The person who reaches that depth cannot help but be aware of having done so.  If he allows us to adopt him as our model, it is on the condition that we recognize him not as an achiever who, happy, successfull, rased up on the height of his deeds, breathes the heady air of his own greatness, but a failure who is plunged, by a vertigo he ceases to resist, into a crisis he can neither understand nor control but only suffer.  If he does not take our praise seriously, it is not because he is naively unaware of his exceptional character or of the extraordinary depth at which he lives.  Rather, it is because he appreciates, as we do not, that humility is not a virtue one practices like any other.  For one possesses it not by virtue of an accomplishment but by virtue of a fall.  He smiles a knowing, ironic smile at the words of praise because he knows that, far from humility being his achievement, he did his best to prevent the mortification that has brought him to it."

So, we are to think of life not as a ladder in which we climb to better and better heights, but as a downward plunge.  Each time we must be willing to give up our self-delusions of control or superiority, and sink further downwards.

I love this passage because it makes so much sense, and provides a great insight.

If you are inclined to think biblically, is this not exactly the kind of humility that Jesus showed us?  Isn't this how Jesus lived?  Wasn't it the fact that he was a complete failure that actually led to our salvation?

If bible talk is not your thing, what does this say about how those of us who feel like we've penetrated truth deeper than people around us?  We constantly seek a high position from which we can look down on others.  Who have you been looking down on lately?

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All this talk in the media about public figures and hypocracy…between Haggard and Foley…

It's bad yes, but my question is:  Why is everyone so surprised?

They don't do it to lie to the world, they do it to lie to themselves.  So that they can convince themselves that they are still good people.  They become obsessed with championing the cause which they are most weak in.  It's a way of mastering your faults.  Not a good one, because it is a lie.  They were hoping they could fix themselves by pretending to be the opposite of what they were.

Again, not good, but how is this not understandable?

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I recently posted this in a reply on Amanda's post on career choice.

I really love this poem, so I'm posting it here for my future reference, and so that more people can see it.

Annunciation by Denise Levertov

What do you think?

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An absolute belief in an afterlife is a subconscious attempt to avoid facing our own finitude and to avoid letting the idea of death scare us properly.

Notice the word "absolute" and the ommision of the word "just."

That is, I did not say that any belief in an afterlife is just an avoidance.

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