22 June 2010

On pride

 "[I had]...dreams of success, fame, love, and the like...I have had dozens of them...dreams in which I said clever things...fought battles, and generally forced the world to acknowledge what a remarkable person I was."
- from an essay written in 1941

"The side of me which longs...to be approved as a writer, is not the side of us that is really worth much.  And depend upon it, unless God has abandoned us, he will find means to cauterize that side somehow or other.  If we can take the pain well and truly now and by it forever get over the wish to be distinguished beyond our fellows, well: if that we shall get it again in some other form.  And honestly, the being cured, with all the pain, has pleasure too: one creeps home, tired and bruised, into a state of mind that is relatively restful, when all one's ambitions have been given up."

- from a letter to his friend Greeves

"... Perhaps it will be the most wholesome thing for my soul that I lose both fame and skill lest I were to fall into that evil disease, vainglory."
- from a letter written at the age of 50

_ references from p. 120-123, The Question of God

I've been reading The Question of God, a comparison of C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud on worldviews, life, death, and the existence of God by Dr. Armand Mr. Nicholl, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.  The snippets of time as I brush my teeth and before going to bed are when I've been able to read most, and so far it's been a fascinating and well-researched read.  Whether an atheist or faith-believing person, readers including myself would find challenges within its pages, methinks.

The chapter on happiness also addresses pride, or self-conceit (not self-love, a clarification Lewis makes).  The quotes above probably speak for themselves, but I found them relevant as I've been grappling with my own pride lately.  Since I got to HK, a whole slew of my own "vainglories" were made starkly apparent: the wish for acceptance through speaking Cantonese well, the wish to boost my credentials through overseas work experience, the wish to become well known for new research or design interventions . . . even the wish for more people to read this blog, among others.

But to what end?  These skills or "success stories" in themselves aren't worth much, this is true, if just for myself and not really for any other benefit unless focused outward for the larger glory of one more deserving.  So I guess I'm now trying to keep my eyes open to what God might be teaching me and how He might be using me during the rest of my month and a half here.

This song - "At the Foot of the Cross," written by Tre Sheppard - came to mind and may be what Lewis was talking about in the 2nd quote, especially verse 2:
At the foot of the cross
I give up my vain ambition
And I leave my selfish pride.
In the peace that is there,
Will you restore my vision,
In all the places that are blind?

I will wait here at the cross.
- - -
  • feeling : sick
  • weather : super air conditioned inside

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