What is It OK to be Proud Of?
“It is shameful to be proud of the adornments that are not your own, but utter madness to fancy one deserves God’s gifts. Be exalted only by such achievements as you had before your birth. But what you received after your birth, as also birth itself, God gave you. Only those virtues which you have obtained without the co-operation of the mind belong to you, because your mind was given to you by God. Only such victories as you have won without the co-operation of the body have been accomplished by your efforts, because the body is not yours, but a work of God.” – Saint John Climacus
Editor note: the things we call “male pride”, “civic pride”, “national pride”, “personal pride” are all covers for things forbidden by authentic Christianity. You do find the sort of ‘victory’ ‘armies of god’ ‘triumphant’ megachurch insane power-mongering out there that makes of pride a religion – a religion cut almost wholly from the cloth of that grievous passion. But that is to Christianity what KFC is to Chicken, or MTV is to Music. The Orthodox Mind is forbidden all forms of pride, just as it is forbidden the fiction of “righteous anger” and all other forms of “virtuous sin” and “righteous unrighteousness” and “bullshit truth”. We are forbidden to turn the temptations of Christ into the virtues of the Christian, and any “Christianity” that does so is an abomination, besides not being that which Christ himself founded and has never ceased to preserve intact.
A Faith that can’t grapple with the actual teachings of the Church might be a cultural icon, a revered institution, in an NPR kind of way, but it’s still not Christian. Christianity is far more challenging than that. It doesn’t leave us all right in the main areas of our lives and just clean up our ethics a little bit. It’s not primarily a religious philosophy. It’s an ascetic war. It transforms the things we *most* want to protect. It casts down the established pillars of our culture that we consider most authentic and to be believed. That which we are most prone to wink at. That which we think is so “traditional” that it has to be accepted. That is the idol to be destroyed by the One who is before the ages, and the tradition that is older than our oldest institutions.