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    Best Lines: Charlotte Mason on False Humility

    December 28, 2007 by Brandy Vencel

    Tonight, as the girls were playing in the tub, I had a chance to read for a moment. Charlotte Mason’s Ourselves is packed so full of insight that it is perfect for bite-sized reading. I like to take a bite and think about it as I do something else. Trust me, when you are reading something great, something brimming with ideas, even the humdrum tasks of the day are interesting. Bored comes from a general lack of interest in things, I think.

    Anyhow, on to humility:

    But no grace of heart is so travestied in our thoughts as this of Humility. We call cowardice Humility. We say–‘Oh, I can’t bear pain, I am not as strong as you are’; ‘I can’t undertake this and that, I have not the ability that others have’; ‘I am not one of your clever fellows, there is no use in my going in for reading’; ‘Oh, I’m not good enough, I could not teach a class in the Sunday School,’ or, ‘care for the things of the spiritual life.’ Again, what we call Humility is often a form of Hypocrisy. ‘Oh! I wish I were as capable as you,’ we say, ‘or as good,’ or ‘as clever,’ priding ourselves secretly on the very unfitness which seems to put us somehow, we hardly know how, out of the common run of people. The person who is loud in his protestations of Humility is commonly hugging himself upon his compensations we do not know of, and which, to his own thinking, rank him before us after all.

    This sort of thing has brought Humility into disrepute. People take these self-deceivers at their word, and believe that they are humble; so, while they acknowledge Humility to be a Christian grace, it is a grace little esteemed and rarely coveted. This error of conception opens the gate for Pride, who comes riding full tilt to take possession. We prefer to be proud, openly proud of some advantage in our circumstances or our parentage, proud of our prejudices, proud of an angry or resentful temper, proud of our easy-going ways, proud of idleness, carelessness, recklessness; nay, the very murderer is a proud man, proud of the skill with which he can elude suspicion or destroy his victim. “Thank God, I have always kept myself, to myself,” said a small London housekeeper who did not “hold with neighbouring.” There is hardly a failing, a fault or a crime which men have not felt to be a distinction, a thing to be proud of. We can do few things simply, that is, without being aware that it is we who are doing them, and taking importance to ourselves for the fact.

    [snip]

    The thing is, not to think of ourselves at all…There are many ways of getting away from the thought of ourselves; the love and knowledge of birds and flowers, of clouds and stones, of all that nature has to show us; pictures, books, people, anything outside of us, will help us to escape from the tyrant who attacks our hearts.

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