Saturday, January 07, 2012

Taught a lesson by a philosopher

"The difference between the tragic hero and Abraham is obvious enough. The tragic hero stats within the ethical. He lets an expression of the ethical have its telos in a higher expression of the ethical; he reduces the ethical relation between father and son, or daughter and father, to a sentiment that has its dialectic in its relation to the idea of the ethical life."--Soren Kierkegaarad, Fear and Trembling

I just plucked this book off my shelf, opened to this page, and read this paragraph.

And to be honest, it shredded me. Just shredded me.

And I don't know precisely why.

But I believe it's because of this:

The "tragic hero" looks at life sentimentally. He says to himself, "Well, it's a rough lot, but I'll endure it." His actions convey that yes, he knows he's suffering, but he's going to endure it patiently. He looks at himself in the mirror and says, "What a fine, heroic figure I am! How many men could endure the hardships I have endured? And yet here I am, carrying on boldly in the face of adversity."

He sheds crocodile tears, but even those are for show. For himself and for others.

Abraham, though, is the man of faith. And he wastes no time making himself the tragic figure. He simply hears God, and he obeys God. He believes that what God says is good. "This is no hardship," he says, "this is God's good will! I won't pretend to understand it, but neither will I allow myself to be pitied. I have God, and He is always good. I have no need for pity."

And here's the rub:

I've spent a lot of time and effort throughout my life in playing the tragic hero.

How much better to simply be a man of quiet, humble faith. That simply walks where God leads. That believes and does not doubt that God has a redemptive plan for all hardships, all difficulties, all trials.
In other words, the man who has learned to stop looking in the mirror and congratulating himself on what a fine fellow he has proved to be under pressure, and instead simply looks to God for all that He declares to be "good."

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