I am my own biggest critic. Before anyone else has criticized me, I have already criticized myself. But for the rest of my life, I am going to be with me and I don't want to spend my life with someone who is always critical. So I am going to stop being my own critic. It's high time that I accept all the great things about me.
To be a critical reader means for me: (1) to affirm the enduring power of the Bible in my culture and in my own life and yet (2) to remain open enough to dare to ask any question and to risk any critical judgement. Nothing less than both of these points, together, can suffice for me. I was a reader of the Bible before I was a critic of it, but I found becoming a critic to be liberating and satisfying, and therefore I judge criticism to be a high calling of inestimable value. Yet, I recognize the prior claim of the text and the preeminence of reading over criticism; accordingly, I see and occasionally am apprehended by moments in which the text wields its indubitable power. The critic's ego says this could be a taste of the cherished post-critical naivete; the reader's proper humility before the text says that a reader should not judge such things.
What the critic as a teacher of language tries to teach is not an elegant accomplishment, but the means of conscious life. Literary education should lead not merely to the admiration of great literature, but to some possession of its power of utterance. The ultimate aim is an ethical and participating aim, not an aesthetic or contemplative one, even though the latter may be the means of achieving the former.