This is a repost, the article originally appeared at the Otherwhere Gazette two years ago.
Cedar’s note: this post engendered a lot of discussion, much of it from failing to read carefully: the First Reader is talking about the church as a political entity, not as a body of people. There’s a comment on the original blog I’ve included at the end which illustrates his point perfectly.
Written by Sanford Begley
Pride. It is a necessary part of heroism and heroic characters. It also gets a bad rap from far too many people. The people who belittle pride come in two very unrelated types. The Christians who consider it a deadly sin and those who want to destroy a nation by destroying its pride in itself. The two groups have little in common and would be surprised to discover that they had this point of agreement.
The Christians are easily understood, their problem is simple ignorance. You see, Pride is listed as one of the Seven Deadly Sins and easily the cardinal sin. What they don’t realize is that the pride referred to in the SDS is more akin to hubris and less to do with simple pride. It is a confusion of semantics not of thought. These same Christians are quite proud of their church and its good works, never realizing that pride is the proper word for what they feel. The business of the meek inheriting the earth factors into it as well. The Christian religion was largely designed with keeping serfs in line, not being responsible to the practitioners of the faith. Do not take this as a condemnation of Christianity, it is rather a condemnation of the early church leaders and the politicians of their countries working out a deal where the state could back the church because the church backed the state. Oddly enough most folks on either side probably never realized that was what they were doing.
The other group which dislikes pride is a bit more insidious, and much less honest. It can be easily noted that they only despise pride when it is the pride of a great nation or those who power it. The U.S. is evil for being proud, they are not exceptional. Tiny backward nation? Their pride is something to be celebrated. Odd how that works isn’t it. Want a good example? Read the Wikipedia article on pride. Notice that ethnic pride for most groups is lauded as a good thing, ethnic price for whites is rated as racist. So, if pride is bad if you are white or American but good otherwise there must be a reason. Looking at it objectively it is a matter of hate for the U.S. and whites. Obviously the work of enemies of the United States and those of European descent. Strangely enough most of those holding the views seem to be “progressives”.
Pride is a good thing. I take pride in my work. When I build a scientific instrument it looks good and functions well. I am proud of that. When I flipped burgers for a living they were well prepared and as good as the ingredients would allow, I took pride in that too. I am proud to be a member of several social organizations that are made up of intelligent patriotic people. I am proud to have served my country in the Armed Forces. And I am -proud of my brother in arms who stood and stand between our people and our enemies. If you feel that I am wrong for that pride I don’t want to know you.
Characters in SF and Fantasy often have pride, the heroes at least. It is after all part of being heroic to have pride in oneself and one’s accomplishments. Often in literature entire peoples are described simply as “Proud warriors of a proud warrior nation”. Just that line of description tells you much about the entire nation of people under discussion. Note that there are no negative connotations when the phrase is used that way. For that matter when someone refers to “The Few, the Proud, The Marines” there are no negative connotations and many positive ones.
I have been described many times as a proud man. I never really thought of myself that way. Then it was pointed out to me by my family that what was being referred to was my desire to take care of myself, by myself. I hate asking for help, or accepting more than the minimum necessary. I don’t need charity, I am more than willing to help those in need but don’t want to take it if at all avoidable. Apparently this is pride. I guess it is. I am proud to be able to care for myself and my family. I am proud to be able to help others. I think we all need a little more pride.
There once was a church in Speck, up on a hill in what we call suburbs and larger towns might call pretensions. It was a fine brick building with white columns. Good roof, well maintained. Nice level parking lot (hard to find in these bottomy hills). Well trimmed hedges. Overlooked a nice view of the town, green hills bracketing it. Pretty as a picture. Cars in the parking lot were uniformly shiny and new.
Well, with one exception. An old battered Ford set waaaay back in the corner. That would be me. How I got there is another story.
Inside this church, on Sundays and Wednesdays, you’d find lots of fine people. Everyone from distinguished old men in their black suits and ties to teeny little ladies in their first dresses, all neat as a pin. On the pulpit was quite the pastor, the very picture of one indeed.
He was a large man, was Pastor Black. Expansive in all his gestures, in his generosity, in his middle, too. *chuckle* I remember he was always wanting to send me away- on mission trips and the like. They funded quite a good many trips- to quaint little islands in the Gulf, as I recollect. There was quite a lot of fellowship and warmth for their fellow man. Just ask.
They were proud of their church, these fine people were. Bright, caring, faithful people.
Neighborly close to this lovely church was a tiny little house. It wasn’t a very new house, but well taken care of. Always at least a dozen kids running about, a few dogs and cats and chickens. The people there were honest poor, but worked like all heck. I got to know the patriarch of that family.
Amos is an American born out of place, and has more pride in his country and people than any two I’ve ever met. “Here, you make something, you can *keep* it. Is freedom. Is why wife and I have so many kids, da?” And he laughs. A happy man, is Amos. A proud one. Of his family, his country, his *people.*
When he was laid off back in ’02 I think it was, he never asked for one thin dime. Just a chance to earn his pay. And he worked, part time, about five different jobs to make ends meet. Darn near killed hisself. I gave him what work I could. He put a new roof on my grandfather’s house. A few other things.
That year, the church sent about a hundred people to the Bahamas. They paid a contractor several thousand dollars to put in a new flower garden, and remodel a perfectly good playground. That year, I also stopped going to that church. Didn’t stop visiting the area, though.
There’s things that are good to be proud of. A job well done. A pupil, when they master a difficult task. A difficult accomplishment, but one that benefits more than just yourself. A family member, when they succeed at something they worked hard for.
But that sort pride should be a quiet thing. At least I think so. Something that isn’t and I *am* sort of thing, but something you can point to and say, “this is good.” Well, mostly quiet. I do love me some fireworks on the fourth… *chuckle*