Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why I Am NOT Proud to be a Christian or an American

Dante characterized pride as love of self turned into hatred and denigration of others.

I think of this, and the sinfulness of pride, whenever I am asked to proclaim that I am proud to possess some attribute such as, most often, being an American. On occasion, I have even been invited to express my pride in being a Christian!

God forbid that I should ever express any such pride. For to do so is to pervert the gratitude and joy that I feel to be a Christian into the vainglorious and mean spirited denigration of all those who are not. Moreover, being a Christian is not any sort of achievement for which I may take credit. All the credit goes to Jesus, and if I presume to be proud I must presume to share in His glory in my own right which I certainly do not. Finally, if I boast of my Christianity, I set myself up for judgment as an ideal practitioner of the faith, and I am the least worthy of all Christians to assume such a role.

I am grateful to be a Christian. I am blessed and joyful. I am awestruck. I cannot be proud.

Nor am I proud to be an American. I am grateful and happy to live in a society which affords relative freedom and prosperity, but I am unwilling to declare that I am a better human being on account of my being a subject of the United States than those who are not or that my fellow subjects are worthier of my esteem and compassion solely by virtue of their domicile than those who dwell elsewhere. Moreover, I did not create the positive conditions in America for which I am grateful, and I am an American primarily because I was born in America to American parents. How can I take credit for any of this without usurping it and wallowing in vainglory? I submit that I cannot and that to express pride in being an American would, therefore, be foolish.

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