Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – David: “But the misplacement was, he [G.K. Chesterton] says now we have humility in a heart, which makes you think your aims aren’t even good enough. I’m not even worth dreaming. I shouldn’t even dream this dream. He says that’s a misplacement of humility. If you can misplace humility of all things. Most people would think: I know my limitations, my inadequacies. I have a certain humility. No, that’s a wrong one. You’re supposed to strive, and that’s not arrogance or pride.“ Check out today’s transcript QAND Clip of The Day for the rest….
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Mike: Let’s get to Chesterton. We covered a little bit of the free speech aspect. I want to come back to this. We can tie this to Chesterton today in our Wisdom Wednesday discussion. This is from Orthodoxy, Chapter Three, “Suicide of Thought.” Folks, if you have not read this book — it doesn’t matter what your religious denomination is. Yes, Chesterton was a Catholic.
David Simpson: Not when he wrote that book.
Mike: Not when he wrote that book.
Mike: It’s funny. It’s timely. It’s brilliant. It’s challenging. There are not enough superlatives to go along with the description of Orthodoxy for me to list. Here’s a sample from a third of a paragraph, not even a whole paragraph. Here you go:
The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.
Mike: That’s one-third of a paragraph from “Suicide of Thought.”
Mike: It is remarkable.
Simpson: Everything is wrong in the world, I mean, everything, just about. How many times have you heard “But he’s a good man”? It’s because they don’t understand what true goodness is all about. If they did, they’d say: No, he’s not being a good man because he’s being lazy or slothful. Maybe he’s being prideful. Maybe it’s false philanthropy where he’s going out and doing all these great things but for all the wrong reasons. There is such a thing about your conduct does have to be not only good but principled. There’s a reason behind the conduct. We have completely flushed this down the toilet.
Mike: There’s very little concept any longer of not only proper conduct, because we do have some idea, but our idea of conduct is not informed by Christ, it’s not informed by religion, it’s not informed by religion orders anymore certainly, it’s not informed by trying to pass through the narrow gate. It is informed largely by our popular culture, as it’s called, and mass media. How does my conduct comport with the way you think I ought to act? There’s only a couple people on the planet that I actually care what they think about my conduct. Number one is Father Jeff. Number two is Father Ian. I’m talking about men that I’ve confessed to. These are important men who I need to satisfy. I need to tell them: Father, you’re not going to believe what I did. He’s going to tell me: Here’s what you need to do. To me, that’s the best advice. That’s as close as I’m going to get to the Vicar of Christ, so he’s giving me good guideposts and good guidance on where I should direct my attention to reform my conduct.
Simpson: A moral framework.
Mike: I get that from reading and praying and meditating and going to mass and doing the other things.
Simpson: But they incarnate it. They make it into the world, the man that has to act in this world. It’s one thing to have an idea of a moral framework. It’s another thing to talk to another person and say: Was that right? Was I good? Did I make the right decision in that process?
Mike: Then the other person says: How about no?
Simpson: That’s tough.
Mike: It is tough. I don’t think it’s any more tough today than it was tough at the time — I wanted to throw this one on you — at the time the Book of Wisdom was written. A Father told me in a sermon: Get a Bible and read the second chapter of Book of Wisdom. I never understood why — I heard this about a year ago — until yesterday morning when I read the second chapter of the Book of Wisdom. Then I went: Holy moly! I don’t know if you recall it — they think that Solomon wrote the Book of Wisdom. It’s basically Solomon starts that chapter off saying: Hey, we’re modern man. (Of course, this was in the third millennia BC or whatever time Solomon lived.) We have all these modern contrivances. Man, we can grow all this food. We’ve got these fancy clothes. We’ve got gold. We have all these spirits we can consume. We’re growing beautiful flowers we can adorn our houses with. Forget being modest and all that stuff. We should go out there and do all of this.
Of course, you go through the chapter — it’s not very long. It would take you five minutes to read this. They go through and spend all of it. They pass the poor and modest man and make fun of him. Then the last part of the second chapter is basically what theologians call a type. They describe the birth of Christ, his life, his elevation to a position of prominence, and, of course, his fall, his humiliation and his death, and then his resurrection. This happens I don’t know how many thousand years —
Simpson: It’s a prefigurement of.
Mike: It’s a prefigurement of. The fascinating part about it is the life they are told to lead. I’m reading this going: That’s how they tell us to live! Read the second Book of Wisdom. The first three verses are setup. The next fifteen or so is: No, no, you don’t need to listen to those pious people. Don’t listen to those priests and theologians. Don’t try to live like a saint. Go out and smell the roses. Get drunk, spend all your money, and build big houses. All the things we do are in the second Book of Wisdom.
Simpson: So you got a little “there’s nothing new under the sun” lesson.
Mike: There is nothing new under the sun. We perceive in our arrogance that there’s something new under the sun.
Simpson: And we’re going to do it different, and we’re going to make it successful where they couldn’t.
Mike: We’re not going down the escalator into Hades because we have movies and iPhones. Steve Jobs would never let us go to hell.
Simpson: And wouldn’t even desire it of us.
Mike: The Weinstein brothers would never let us go to hell.
Simpson: Is that, do you believe, part and parcel of these misplaced virtues that are running wild?
Mike: Do I believe in them?
Simpson: No. Do you think that this recurrence of man’s folly is part of these, what Chesterton was talking about, these misplaced virtues run amok?
Mike: I hadn’t thought about it until you just said that. When I read Chesterton, I read that yesterday. Then I read it again this morning in my little preshow meditation. I thought about it and said: Man, this is just deep.
Simpson: He goes on to talk — I hadn’t read that chapter in a while. He talks about misplaced humility. You think: How do you misplace humility? He says humility was supposed to be a spur in a man. A man was supposed to think he wasn’t good enough for the task and then because of the humility would really strive to overcome whatever he thought his inadequacy was.
Mike: But he would never achieve good enough humility. He would always think he was still overcoming. It had to overcome or else he was going to hell.
Simpson: But the misplacement was, he says now we have humility in a heart, which makes you think your aims aren’t even good enough. I’m not even worth dreaming. I shouldn’t even dream this dream. He says that’s a misplacement of humility. If you can misplace humility of all things. Most people would think: I know my limitations, my inadequacies. I have a certain humility. No, that’s a wrong one. You’re supposed to strive, and that’s not arrogance or pride. You, for instance, fighting the fight against corruption in government and the misunderstanding of politics. Here I am waging my small war on economics is all screwed up and we’ve got to fix the financial world and we can only do it one person at a time. These are small wars that we’re waging, and we’re waging them knowing that quite frankly we’re not up to the task. There’s no way we can accomplish it, but you get up every morning. I come here at 7:00. You come here at what, 5:00?
Mike: Four o’clock.
Simpson: I’m thinking: How in the world does he get the energy to come in here and do that every morning? It’s got to be a proper virtue exercising itself. We have too many people who — I think Chesterton is right — have virtues that are just going astray. They’re not in their proper location.
Mike: It’s almost impossible to gather them in their proper location, because the source of where they should be gathered — which you and I probably agree on — is not the first choice of where people think the positive virtues ought to be. The positive virtues can be anywhere, in any man, any person. You don’t have to ascribe to a certain faith. You don’t have to believe in a certain manner of living. As a matter of fact, many people have been goaded and misguided, I think — and this is lethal, especially as far as your soul goes — into believing that one solitary act is all that is requisite.
End Mike Church Show Transcript