A Life of Humility

These culture wars aren’t new. Via the magic of RSS and Google Reader … a reply to Jared comes apropos post from the Desert (and I quote in full, because that’s sort of the point):

It was said concerning Abba Agathon …that some monks came to find him, having heard tell of his great discernment. Wanting to see if he would lose his temper, they said to him, “Aren’t you that Agathon who is said to be a fornicator and a proud man?” “Yes, it is very true,” he answered. They resumed, “Aren’t you that Agathon who is always talking nonsense?” “I am.” Again they said, “Aren’t you Agathon the heretic?” But at that, he replied, “I am not a heretic.” So they asked him, “Tell us why you accepted everything we cast you, but repudiated this last insult.” He replied, “The first accusations I take to myself, for that is good for my soul. But heresy is separation from God. Now I have no wish to be separated from God.” At this saying they were astonished at his discernment and returned, edified.

Aren’t you one of those right winger Christians who [hates gays, is a hypocrite, hates women … does or says or thinks X, Y and Z] ?? Well, we might say  … yes, unless they accuse of separation from God.

[Update]: I should add the reason we might say yes is not because it is true (which is usually not the case) but because it is good for our souls to bear the burden of false accusation.

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  1. Humility is recognizing that when someone accuses you of hating gays, the most important thing is not that you, personally, are being insulted and/or slandered, but that something you have said or done is being interpreted as stemming from a hatred of gays. The humble thing to do would be to carefully go over your words and deeds and see how you could have given anyone that impression.

    Ditto hating women. Hypocrisy you can say yes to, if you like.

  2. Mark says:

    Abba Agatha disagrees (and so do some other of the patristic writers, John Climacus writes similarly). Bearing false accusation without complaint was seen as a virtue.

    I’m putting forth the notion that it isn’t wrong. Although I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say, “yes” … if it wasn’t true. Perhaps, “I won’t deny it” or “I have nothing to say to that” would be more accurate and have a similar effect.

    We’ll see how it goes on the Monday links discussion I’m having with Boonton. I was about to defend myself against what I saw as a false accusation/interpretation of what I’d written … when I decided to try Abba Agatha’s advice and accepted his criticism as true without argument. I’m curious how that will play out.

  3. I was just thinking that agreeing that you hate gays/women would contribute to an environment where people think it’s okay to hate gays/women and to express that hatred. Agreeing that you’re a hypocrite/poopyhead/whatever doesn’t carry that moral hazard.