Every time I create something, whether an idea or a work of art, initially, its supposed completion seems absolutely perfect to me. However the more I think about it, stare it down, the more it marinates in my soul over the hours, days, and weeks, the more flaws I start to find in it; and finally, the more I'm pressed to continue enhancing it. It essentially turns out that whatever thing a flawed and imperfect, human eye once thought was amazing begins to appear quite wretched. This is why, eternally, God cannot be impressed by mere talents or by mortal achievements. To perfect eyes, I imagine that great is not really that great; rather, humility is ultimately a human being's true greatness.
It seems to me there is less meanness in atheism, by a good measure. It seems that the spirit of religious self-righteousness this article deplores is precisely the spirit in which it is written. Of course he's right about many things, one of them being the destructive potency of religious self-righteousness. (p. 146)
You don't read Gatsby, I said, to learn whether adultery is good or bad but to learn about how complicated issues such as adultery and fidelity and marriage are. A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil.
Time and time again does the pride of man influence his very own fall. While denying it, one gradually starts to believe that he is the authority, or that he possesses great moral dominion over others, yet it is spiritually unwarranted. By that point he loses steam; in result, he falsely begins trying to prove that unwarranted dominion by seizing the role of a condemner.
Clara shrugged and immediately knew her betrayal of Peter. In one easy movement she'd distanced herself from his bad behavior, even thought she herself was responsible for it. Just before everyone had arrived, she'd told Peter about her adventure with Gamache. Animated and excited she'd gabbled on about her box and the woods and the exhilarating climb up the ladder to the blind. But her wall of words hid from her a growing quietude. She failed to notice his silence, his distance, until it was too late and he'd retreated all the way to his icy island. She hated that place. From it he stood and stared, judged, and lobbed shards of sarcasm.'You and your hero solve Jane's death?''I thought you'd be pleased,' she half lied. She actually hadn't thought at all, and if she had, she probably could have predicted his reaction. But since he was comfortably on his Inuk island, she'd retreat to hers, equipped with righteous indignation and warmed by moral certitude. She threw great logs of 'I'm right, you're an unfeeling bastard' onto the fire and felt secure and comforted.
When the subject is sacred, proud and clever men may come to think that the outsiders who don't know it are not merely inferior to them in skill but lower in God's eyes; as the priests said, 'All that rabble who are not experts in the Torah are accursed.' and as this pride increases, the 'subject' or study which confers such privilege will grow more and more complicated, the list of things forbidden will increase, till to get through a single day without supposed sin becomes like an elaborate step-dance, and this horrible network breeds self-righteousness in some and haunting anxiety in others.
The deceitfulness of the heart of man appears in no one thing so much as this of spiritual pride and self-righteousness. The subtlety of Satan appears in its height, in his managing persons with respect to this sin. And perhaps one reason may be that here he has most experience; he knows the way of its coming in; he is acquainted with the secret springs of it: it was his own sin. Experience gives vast advantage in leading souls, either in good or evil.