Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pogo Was Correct: We Have Met the Enemy, and He Is Us

But in our case, human prudence and selfishness, and the lack of training and inclination to yield ready submission are a very great obstacle to advance in virtue, amounting almost to an armed resistance to those who are wishful to help us.  And the very eagerness with which we should lay bare our sickness to our spiritual physicians, we employ in avoiding this treatment, and show our bravery by struggling against what is for our own interest, our skill in shunning what is for our health.

For we either hide away our sin, cloaking it over in the depth of our soul, like some festering and malignant disease, as if by escaping the notice of men we could escape the mighty eye of God and justice.  Or else we allege excuses in our sins,* by devising pleas in defense of our falls, or tightly closing our ears, like the deaf adder that stops her ears, we are obstinate in refusing to hear the voice of the charmer, and be treated with the medicines of wisdom,† by which spiritual sickness is healed.  Or, lastly, those of us who are most daring and self-willed shamelessly brazen out our sin before those who would heal it, marching with bared head, as the saying is, into all kinds of transgression.  O what madness, if there be no term more fitting for this state of mind!  Those whom we ought to love as our benefactors we keep off, as if they were our enemies, hating those who reprove in the gates, and abhorring the righteous word;‡ and we think that we shall succeed in the war that we are waging against those who are well disposed to us by doing ourselves all the harm we can, like men who imagine they are consuming the flesh of others when they are really fastening upon their own.

Gregory Nazianzen, In Defense of His Flight to Pontus, 19-20

* Psalm 141:4
† Psalm 58:5-6
‡ Amos 5:10

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