Preaching Connection: Pride

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Reading for Preaching

The Dark Night of the Soul in Devotional Classics

“Beginners in the spiritual life are apt . . . to develop a kind of secret pride . . . Such persons become too spiritual.  They like to speak of ‘spiritual things’ all the time.  They become content with their growth.  They would prefer to teach rather than to be taught . . . they...
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The Seven Perennial Sins and Their Offspring

Quoting “Memoirs” by Louis de Rouvroy: Louis XIV of France “liked nobody to be in any way superior to him.  Thus he chose his ministers not for their knowledge, but for their ignorance; not for their capacity, but for their want of it. He liked to form them, as he said, liked to teach them....
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“Notebook”

A client of a NY lawyer that Lapham spoke with was a woman reconstructing her Central Park apartment. She wanted to impress the best people, and had already spent $3 million. “The woman wasn’t yet satisfied. In order to make a bath and dressing room spacious enough to accommodate her self-esteem, the contractor had broken...
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The Bonfire of the Vanities

Sherman Mc Coy, the super bond salesman, and his six-year old daughter Campbell, walking on Park Avenue in Manhattan: “He held her hand tightly and led her across the street. He was her protector. He glowered at a taxi as it came to a noisy stop at the light. He would gladly throw himself in...
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The Good Times

Morrow discusses “. . .good Baltimore society [mid twentieth century], than which there was nothing more conservative. Good Baltimore society was likely to think unionism intolerable not because it was Bolshevism pure and simple, but because union people didn’t dress properly. It was impossible to have such a creature to dinner.”
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“Reading, Writing, Social Climbing”

Parents choose private schools in NYC not so much for what the school can do academically for their child, as for what it can do socially–and not so much for the child as for the parents. Headmasters and -mistresses of prominent schools, e.g. The Spence School, tell how parents lobby to have their child assigned...
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Conspirata: A Novel of Ancient Rome

quotes J. G. Farrell, The Siege of Krishnapur, who writes that “we look on past ages with condescension, as a mere preparation for us . . . but what if we’re only an after-glow of them?”
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Reflections on the Psalms

Theologians are tempted not just by “ordinary pedantry and conceit,” but particularly by spiritual pride. “One is sometimes . . . . glad not to be a great theologian; one might so easily mistake it for being a good Christian. The temptations to which a great philologist or a great chemist are exposed are trivial...
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Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945

“The vast majority of men and women who witness great events recall them solely in terms of personal experience. I met a woman whose anger about the occupation of her house by GIs, the casual theft of cherished possessions, remained as great in 2002 as it had been in 1945. It would have been meaningless...
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Jurassic Park

“Scientists have an elaborate line of bullsh*t about how they are seeking to know the truth about nature. Which is true, but that’s not what drives them. Nobody is driven by abstractions like ‘seeking truth.’ Scientists are actually preoccupied with accomplishment. So they are focused on whether they can do something. They never stop to...
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Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith

“While gurus might wish to appear infallible to their followers, all too often I suspect that they merely reveal the dangers of being, in the astute words of Alfred Kazin speaking of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘the only saint in the neighborhood.’ The ‘little people’ who have to deal with bestselling gurus on an earthly plane–booksellers,...
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“Another Look at the parable of the Good Samaritan”

Interprets the parable ingeniously as addressed not to the hard-heartedness of the interlocutor, who then needs to become more compassionate as the merciful Samaritan was, but to his pride. The interlocutor is self-justifying–like the Pharisee in Luke 18–and needs humility. He thinks he’s got the first commandment–to love God above all–cased by his rituals, and...
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Remembering Denny

“It has been my experience that almost anyone who asks to speak at a funeral or a memorial service wants to talk about himself.”
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“The Sin of Pride”

“Intellectual pride wants to master an area and call it ‘our subject,’ or ‘my area.’ But if we are concerned with truth, with any truth, we must be subject to it, not it to us. Pride is the belief that we can do anything without God and it leads to the ultimate madness–a blindness whose...
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Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963

“W.E.B. DuBois, founder of the NAACP and editor for 24 year of its magazine, The Crisis, was brilliant, graceful as an essayist, and haughty in the extreme. Once, complimented on the honor of being Harvard’s first black Ph.D., DuBois is said to have replied icily: ‘The honor, I assure you, was Harvard’s.’”
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The Stone Diaries

Eleven-year-old Daisy Goodwill, sick in bed: “Lying in bed, she apprehended life going on around her–which only worsened her sense of mourning. She could hear dogs barking in the neighborhood, and birdsong welling up, and the sound of the milkman going his rounds on Simcoe Street, his horse making a whinnying sound at the corner...
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The Last Lion. Volume 2: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940

Churchill expected his women dinner guests to be escorted, to smile when he made a clever remark, to nod vigorously when he expressed an opinion, and to express no opinion of their own. “This is not sexist, however, because it also applies to gentleman guests as well. Winston means to dominate them and cheerfully acknowledged...
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The Emperor : Downfall of an Autocrat

In the totally corrupt empire of Haile Selassie, even the slightest and least effective reform (and that is the only kind there were) had to have his imprimatur. “ . . . His majesty did not oppose reform. He always sympathized with progress and improvement . But he could not stand it when someone undertook...
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An Innocent Millionaire

Marianne Hardwick–rich, beautiful, pampered–gets irritated by one of her servants, Fawkes, “objecting to his insincere solicitude and demanding that he behave naturally with her, express his true feelings. ‘I was hired to do my work,’ he protested. ‘I got no time to worry if my feelings pleases you.’ It wouldn’t matter, Marianne argued, whether she...
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“Small Gestures” in Harvard Diary: Reflections on the Sacred and the Secular

This piece tells of a Harvard girl who is struggling through her freshman year. From a blue collar background, she has had to earn part of her way cleaning the bathrooms of other students: “I’ve had some terrible times here. The worst of them is being a cleaning lady for some of these rich guys....
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Best Intentions: The Education and Killing of Edmund Perry

Students at Phillips Exeter may compete to participate in the ‘Harkness Table,’ (106) a seven-by-eleven foot oval table . . . around which would sit no more than a dozen boys, who would learn their lessons not by rote but through argument, discussion, and interchange. (107) In The World According to Garp, a thinly-veiled commentary...
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Horowitz: A Biography of Vladimir Horowitz

Around 1979. On tour, Horowitz’s requirements were detailed. Fresh grey sole flown down from MA, a limo, lavish accommodations with a nine-foot Steinway in the living room, his own water purifier, personal omelette pans and special thick black-velvet drapes for his bedroom. Shaw management wrote ahead to get specific window measurements so that Horowitz’s special...
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Of Human Bondage

Young Philip Carey, who struggles with his talipes (earlier called “club foot”) and who may be Maugham’s alter ego lives with his uncle, a curate, a vicar. The vicar is a cold, indifferent man, who patronizes Philip by lopping off the tops of his boiled eggs at breakfast and saying to Philip, “You may have...
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The Glory and the Dream: A Narrative History of the United States 1932-1972

When Army General Douglas MacArthur was preparing in the Capital to crush the ‘Bonus Expeditionary Force,’ the World War I squatters who were destitute and wanted their congressionally promised bonus early (because they were starving now), some argued that “it was highly inappropriate for a general to become involved in a street-corner brawl. The general...
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