Eric's Sunday Sermon; The Arrogance of Man
Are we arrogant toward the heavens or love?
Arrogance is weird
We see arrogance in all that man does. Arrogance is just a word. Arrogance has negative connotations like so many words now banned in the name of sensitivity. To get into this point let us look at the word “weird”. For many like myself the word “weird” has a literary meaning and so we use it as such. The father told the daughter that a school mate of hers was weird. The daughter was just so offended that she spoke harshly at her father for calling the student weird. In the sub-social group of affluent High Schools calling someone different is taboo, yet almost all students are trying to be different yet accepted which is the literary of weird. But you cannot use that word because the definition has been changed by social acceptance.
Hair style is just the best area to look into in this regard. Of course we had long haired hippies in the 70’s and in the mid-range we had the Beatles and there was a group called “skinheads”. Now the man going bald generally either goes shaved or comb over, or spends hundreds or thousands on treatment of alopecia capitis totalis. Gray hair is sometimes dyed and sometimes worn as a symbol of wisdom. Radical coloring is not looked at as crazed but commonly accepted. So in a way everyone is weird. Diversity is OK but that means people are not the same but weird.
So that brings us to arrogance. We just assume that word means something bad. Arrogance just seems like another form of false pride, vainglory, over confidence, egocentric and hubris. But maybe it is a little different. Is arrogance the opposite of meek, mild, humble or quiet? In fact a closer look at arrogance shows us that it is a personal concept but it is made evil by how others view it. A man alone on an island who is arrogant does not offend himself. But put him with others and this attitude is only seen as negative. Even by himself, if he tortures animals or burns the forest, these are bad. But there is no absolute that arrogance by itself is bad.
Check out this arrogance -- yet it promotes a song that is about the power of love.
Takes a little arrogance to make this hike
Sometimes it is the situation that makes something wrong.
So some things in life are only wrongful in how they affect others. Foul vulgar language may offend a proper lady, but has no intrinsically evilness to it. Gross farting by oneself is not wrong but perhaps very wrong in a car with four people especially if it is raining. Scratching one’s privates is not wrong at all but depending how it is done in public is horrible.
So this arrogance is more closely akin to a matter of how it is perceived. Is a bully arrogant? And yet I am not at all bothered personally by bullying. But school teachers very much are. Have you ever met a person with some authority and/or ranking within a religious group that was not arrogant? It does not even have anything to do with pride. It has to do with the self-importance of the virtues of a man.
So if arrogance is truly only a “relative to others issue”, then we look at the spiritual. If we are arrogant how does our God perceive and receive it? Is arrogance a barrier to that essential characteristic we must have called love? And so now do we concede that arrogance in itself is not evil, but in fact blocks good?
Does the artist or performer actuate their calling in a vacuum? Or must they retain just enough arrogance to abandon pride and share their work for better or for worse. Could it be that really arrogance is the absence of fear? We can think that a two word synonym for arrogance is “over confident”. Perhaps that is true, and I think it is. You see most of us are “under confident”. We have a fear factor of those who appear to possess great confidence. Fear in such a manner produces a resentment that is focused on the one with confidence. Should we consider it an envy, a jealousy? Funny thing about that; I am far more envious of someone with more inner strength than I, than I am of someone with more stuff or money. We know that is dangerously close to coveting thy neighbor’s stuff. But is it wrong to covet another’s peace and closeness with God? Most translations of that anti covet commandment (which can be anywhere from 10-14) simply deal with things not spirituality. So I think it fair to say that we can covet a person’s grace and love within. Do I covet your arrogance?
Who created this flower, the gardener or the ultimate gardener
We must be careful not to take credit for God given talent
Do not judge yourself harshly, part of what makes you special is your humanity.
So can we agree that for better or for worse the “arrogance of Man” is responsible for much? Let us make a short list. The Great Wall of China, the Sistine Chapel, Mount Rushmore, Pyramids (Middle Eastern and in the Americas) the Taj Mahal, Eifel Tower, oh how the list goes on and on. And of seemingly miraculous things like penicillin, voyage to Mars, electricity and refrigeration. And of course any great work of art from writings to sculpture to music to paintings even athletics and dance. Indeed the mechanics and electronics of writing this and publishing it worldwide. What great confidence above the ordinary is responsible for such achievements? Is arrogance bravery?
Let us not confuse arrogance with consuming hate and lust for power. But we must also admit that there is much arrogance in starting a war. Perhaps not in defending one. But in such matters it is not the arrogance at fault but rather its misguided direction.
So we take an attribute that is not evil in itself and make it evil because of its visceral impact on us. I always like the spewed words of “I could do that if only….” I would definitely be a better writer if I had more hutzpah.
So let us be a little slower in the condemnation of those with arrogance including ourselves. And yet let us not allow our arrogance to block the good and the love from coming into us. Our connection with our God would suffer if we do not have a doorway that is left open through that which can be the wall of arrogance. If arrogance offends our neighbor, we must be cautious that it does not offend our God.
Let us end with these question in our minds. Is a creation truly a creation if it is not shared with others? And doesn’t it take some arrogance to think that our creation is worthy to be shared? We think that arrogance in and of itself is not evil. Although we acknowledge that its use must be guided and a “thing” that is used for good. I pray that I may be given that “over” confidence that allows me to be the best me that God intended.