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On humility
intellibear
ursusanglicanus
The concept ‘humility’ is not without its problems, particularly in an autocratic (Orthodox, especially Russian) church environment in which power and authority (vlast) tend to get emphasized. Too quickly calls for humility are really calls to shut up and do as you are told (i.e. as I tell you). Humility can become the palimpsest of humiliation. Humility can also cover cowardice: the failure to speak up when necessary: when people are being belittled or misused.

To get up out of this problem, perhaps we should use instead the word ‘simplicity’ in the old Latin meaning of ‘simplicitas’ is better. That is, living with extreme simplicity and truthfulness and lovingness towards everyone, regardless of outward rank, getting on with the job which has to be done without complaint, with no ‘this is too low for me’. This was Jesus’ attitude. Yes, it got him into trouble, and it will get us into trouble.

Incidentally on ‘autocracy’: I am increasingly thinking that the borderline between (Russian) Orthodoxy and the rest of the Christian world has little to do with doctrine, or perhaps even ascetic/mystical theology, and everything to do with mindset. The (Russian) Orthodox one is essentially autocratic (in western parlance: dictatorial), that of the Western church essentially democratic (some western churches have direct democratic governance, like the Anglicans, others like the RCs, while not internally democracies, feel distinctly more comfortably in democratic societies). It is oil and water. It explains why ‘Western Orthodoxy’ has largely failed: all went well until its well-meaning neophytes, generally from the intellectual and creative classes, hit a typical Eastern bishop, who expects things to be done exactly as he says. Then Schluss.