Eric's Sunday Sermon; Of Pride and Prejudice
Of what good is confidence if not used?
Get rid of your prejudice about pride and prejudice
Exactly what goes into the self is a mystery. You need both pride and prejudice. If you quote a Bible verse saying that pride or prejudice are sins you are reading and quoting it wrong. Pride is simply not a sin. Prejudice is essential to normal function. A glass of wine sitting on a table is not intrinsically bad. Tobacco growing in a field is not evil. There is no shame in being of the elite it is a responsibility not a badge.
Let us first establish a “we” or “us” as times are changing. If you are reading this you are part of the intellectual elite. Welcome. This is not snobbery or self-elevation of one’s readers it is simply fact. We do not “network” here. There is no attempt to reach the masses in this or any other sermon in this series. We do not promote here we only attract and at that very little. People do not read this because it went viral. People read this because they somehow want to broaden their horizons in thought and spirit. Well it may be news to you but that puts us in the intellectual elite. Oh for sure there may be millions of us, but there are billions on the planet. (about 7 billion) And each one is a complete individual. So there is a mystery of self.
All I have to offer you is me. What a great name this fellow has.
Someone has to wear the black hat!
Pride can build hospitals
Ah hah! You were beginning to feel uneasy about being called an intellectual elite. You were thinking about denying it while reading it. Admit it. It is uncomfortable to elevate yourself to a spot a bit higher than the average Joe. There is that humble pie in all of us that is bashful about being put into a class above. And to boldly say it about ourselves is down right – what? Prideful? Oh, to think of yourself as an elite is just so sinful. Think of the guilt that some are experiencing right now. So perhaps it is just better to deny your elite status. Sure just deny the gift that God has given you. That is better than being prideful. Well friends that is just plain sad. So there is that mystery of self.
After years of being active in a congregation I was gradually asked to become and do things that were increasingly of more responsibility. Dare I say it? The roles became more and more like leadership and a step by step elevation in position. Each step of the way I initially refused the “promotion”. Somehow being asked to serve in a more impactful manner just made me feel like I was in no way worthy of such. And yet in each phase I spent time in meditation, prayer and consultation with others and came to accept the new position. When I was ultimately asked to serve in reading the Gospel, preaching and serving communion I was just not ready, I could not do it, but God could and would do it through me. So there is that mystery of self.
Our world requires us to act in it. It is often of no importance how we come to the conclusion that we must act. At some point we must act not just think and feel. It sometimes matters little what motivates us, if we ask the hungry child that we just fed. There was a man who coordinated, organized and supervised and labored to build three housing structures for an orphanage just south of Tijuana Mexico. When in admiration he was asked just how he did it, he responded; “I am just that kind of guy”. In fact he was a conceited, egotistical narcissist, who was self-absorbed and self-worshipping. The closest I would get to associating with him would be like studying a specimen in an enclosed Petri dish. But what the heck, he built the three structures, good for him and the children. So there is that mystery of self.
Here is an interesting concept: Lions live in a societal fashion among others -- a group is called a pride. Tigers are solitary with no pride.
I am such a bad guy, I take real pride in my roses!
How about you?
Are you proud of yourself?
Today I will attend a church service. Meet and give hugs to like faith friends. We will sing and give praise and we will hear and study some scripture together. Our preacher man will give us some awesome food for spiritual and intellectual thought. But before I go, I will take a full shower, shave and iron some nice clothes to wear so that I look all nice and presentable. I will tell myself that it is in honor of God and respect for friends that I get all gussied up. Excuse me but that is bull. Me, myself and I want to look good and have some pride in our self. Is that so wrong? Why can’t I just accept that that is why I do it. I want someone to say that I look good today. Not that God looks good in me, but that I look good. Having admitted that to myself and to others should I go and flog myself and do penance for two weeks? I think not. So there is the mystery of self.
It would seem that we forgot all about prejudice. Prejudice simply means to prejudge. Only fools do not prejudge. I judge the height of the stair before (pre) stepping up to it. Back when I drank a bit more than was healthy, I would fail to prejudge or prejudge incorrectly. Need I tell you that I fell down more than was necessary? I see a man beating a child, I judge that man before I get to know him. Oh and I judge parents before I get to know them if I see a dirty, unkempt, sickly and hungry child who is weeping. Of course I may change my view in full judgment which comes after prejudgment or prejudice. I will remain open but I do not walk around failing to make judgment calls as situations arise.
Prejudice is not a nasty ugly word. We have come to think of it as such. We think of it as such because so many people only prejudge. People for whatever reason, fail to do more than prejudge. They actually start and stop with prejudice. We will not say they are stupid, but they are at least ignorant. We have a blast around here with a 5 year old. The questions are endless. So instead of just answering them all we are developing the habit of thought. Observe, Investigate, Evaluate, Analyze then Conclude and remain open to new information. Interestingly enough fire was easy. Touch it and it burns you. Be prejudice against fire but remain open to using it to cook. Also around here we live in a Vietnamese/American household so be prejudice about someone who looks Vietnamese and prejudge whether to speak Vietnamese or English or whether to serve hot coffee or cold. A wrong prejudice may make them feel less welcome in our home. But this requires a constant teaching of ourselves. It takes effort to stay on top of our prejudices that are ours alone based on our experience. We have to keep learning so as to make ourselves better. By denying our prejudices we cannot refine them. So there is the mystery of self.
My son was just passing out “I love you’s” to his mother and I and it was time to have the talk about the essential love. So we went through all the people to love including of course Jesus and then he ran out. He had forgotten or did not know the essential love of self. “Son you have got to love yourself, maybe not first or foremost and not more than God, but you have to have a good healthy love of yourself.” While dysfunctional love of self can be a horrible vice, healthy love of oneself is critical to health. So there is that mystery of self.
I am very proud to have been raised in this country.
Certainly not a conclusion, but some parting words
Food is often best with salt. Too much salt tastes bad and too much in a diet is bad for you. Total absence of salt is bland and not healthy for most. So we use care and use just the right amount of salt. It would seem that we have certain folks that need complete abstinence from certain things to function well. A monk would be celibate and an alcoholic would be completely alcohol free. Perhaps there are those who need to live completely without pride or prejudice. They simply cannot take them in moderation. But for most of us we need a healthy dose of pride and prejudgment.
I have used “mystery of self” here repeatedly. There is method to that madness. There is no formula or equation to get the proper amount of self which includes pride and prejudice. We can dwell in a land of debating ego and id or we can just accept that how much pride and prejudice we need is a mystery. A balancing act. Each step forward on the tight rope of life requires concentration, contemplation and adjustment. Today we do not know how much we will need to adjust tomorrow so we must be present in the now to gauge how much or how little we need to have right now.