Monday, March 01, 2010

Yes, This Describes Us

I was recently introduced to a book called Steering Through Chaos: Vice and Virtue in an Age of Moral Confusion by Os Guinness.

There is a review here that is only visible in Internet Explorer, but I want to thank the reviewer for the recommendation. It is on my to read list. Here is an excerpt:

"The legend of our times, it has been suggested, might be "the revenge of failure." That’s what envy has done for us. If we cannot paint well we will destroy the cannons of painting and pass ourselves off as painters. If we will not take the trouble to write poetry, we will destroy the rules of prosody and pass ourselves off as poets. If we’re not inclined to the rigors of an academic discipline, we will destroy the standards of that discipline and pass ourselves off as graduates. If we cannot or will not read, we will say that "linear thought" is now irrelevant and so dispense with reading. If we cannot make music, we will simply make a noise and persuade others that it is music. If we can do nothing at all, why! We will strum a guitar all day and call it self expression. As long as no talent is required, no apprenticeship to a skill, everyone can do it, and we are all magically made equal. Envy has at least momentarily been appeased and failure has had its revenge.

"Envy grows naturally" said Aristotle in relationship between equals. "We live in a society that perhaps as much as any other has pitted equals against equals," writes William F. May but I think he misstates his point. The United States and other western societies are not pitting equals against equals but unequals against unequals as if they are equals. This is a distortion of the idea of equality and it is this distortion as much as anything else that has enabled the enemies of genuine equality to move on the offensive."

"The idea that we are equal has been perverted into the idea that we are identical; and when we then find that we cannot do and experience and enjoy all the things that others do and experience and enjoy, we take our revenge and deny that they were worth doing and experiencing and enjoying in the first place. What we are unable to achieve, we will bring low. What requires talent and training and hard work, we will show can be accomplished without them." Henry Fairlie

"The same can be asked of much of the revenge that envy is taking today to conceal the sense of failure . . . We are giving the name of art to what is not art, of poetry to what is not poetry, of education to what is not education, of achievement to what is not achievement, of morality to what is not morality, and of love to what is not love. We trivialize our concepts of them all to make them seem as if we may all attain them. None of us is wholly exempt from the corruption. We find no place for the unique, for what is rare and cannot be imitated, since we would then not be able to achieve it. We seem no longer able to admire, respect or be grateful for what is nobler or lovelier or greater than ourselves. We must pull down - or put down - what is exceptional."

The world is living so many layers deep in lie after lie, illusion upon illusion it's a wonder any of us can penetrate through to the truth for even a moment. Thank God for making it possible.

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