Don’t mention the ‘H’ word

HUMILITY is one of those words—like grace, sacred and holy—that seem to be archaic and somewhat embarrassing in this market-driven age. The meek might inherit the earth—eventually—but not right now.

Many of the thousands flocking to New Age faiths to channel their goddess, their inner child, personal angel or the shaman chief they were in a previous life are searching for consumable spirituality—a quick guru fix.

They are merely trying to elevate their ordinary narcissistic impulses into a religion when they really need to discover their own insignificance in the universe, and be humbled.

The poet William Stafford said successful people do not write poems. The poet has to kneel down for them, he said.

Writer Louise Rafkin went further. She wrote of indulging in the Japanese practice of cleaning communal toilets as a way to self-knowledge and discovering that the best writing, like the best music and art, is grounded in ordinary experience.

We do well to repeat Galileo’s modest “I do not know’’.

The 19th century Christian William Temple counselled his congregations to avoid the sort of obsessive religious humility that “consists in being a great deal occupied about yourselves’’.

“Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people. It means freedom from thinking about yourself, one way or the other, at all,’’ he said.
For Temple, there was no greater example of humility than Jesus Christ who “although born rich, became poor’’.

Born amid the dung in a stable, a humble carpenter for most of his life, homeless during his ministry and dying naked on a cross, he placed himself on a very human level.

He expressed, in human terms, the stress he faced via his temptation in the wilderness, and his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The lesson is that sometimes one must go as low as possible to find God.


4 thoughts on “Don’t mention the ‘H’ word

  1. Have you been consulting Monica’s dud guru, lad?
    This –> ” discover their own insignificance in the universe, and be humbled” is a non sequitur based on an unfounded assumption.
    On what basis do you say we’re ‘insignificant’ in the universe ~ and in any case how does that translate into an imperative to ‘be humbled’?
    Even a universe is made up of its component parts, so what’s wrong with being proud to be one of the component parts of a stunningly brilliant ‘universe’? (even if we’re the only ones who might think it is)
    As for ‘narcissistic’, how do you distinguish any of the other ‘quick-fixes’ from any other ‘religion’ ~ particularly christianity?
    Who but a self-centered narcissist would claim that the god of all the universes talks to them, contravenes all the natural ‘laws’ to do them a favour or cares with which hand they wipe their bum?

    Perhaps this …”Born amid the dung in a stable, a humble carpenter for most of his life, homeless during his ministry and dying naked on a cross, he placed himself on a very human level.” explains why he invented Centrelink; but it doesn’t explain “although born rich, became poor’’.


    • ….and at the risk of arcing up Monica again 😯 !….I’ve gotta query the whole ‘requirement for humility thing’.
      As far as memory serves Jesus nowhere even makes an issue of (let alone demands) our humility.

      Is the (add-on) suggestion that we cannot love our neighbours, do ‘good’, offer forgiveness, even ‘serve god’ etc. etc. unless we do so in a self-deprecating manner?


  2. I have known some very commendable people, talented, intellectual, and generous, who had the most humble attitude. You had to love them. But conversely I have known others who did not ”suffer fools gladly”.

    In the past many felt a duty to be humble, and considered it self defeating to blow your own trumpet. But this was either not true humility, or if truly felt was a degradation of the gift of God. It caused people to never try to reach the potential God had made available. We were proud to wear the label of poor miserable sinners. Forgiven sinners, yes, but you still had to be humble.

    I hope we can recognise our God given talents, recognising at the same time that without Him we are nothing.


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