Saturday, November 14, 2009

I ran across this quote by Robert Louis Stevenson where he was, as always, busy contemplating the nature of men. Here he makes some intriguing comments about the reformed drunkard whose life and identity is wrapt up in abstinence.

"Hence the comparative success of the teetotal pledge; because to a man who had nothing it sets at least a negative aim in life. Somewhat as prisoners beguile their days by taming a spider, the reformed drunkard makes an interest out of abstaining from intoxicating drinks, and may live for that negation. There is something, at least, not to be done each day; and a cold triumph awaits him every evening.”

I had to think that through a few times, visualizing a prisoner taming a poisonous spider, so at least at the end of the day he could say he was not bitten, which is some “cold triumph” that he can feel good about. Now the drunkard or drug addict is not the only one who becomes preoccupied in negatives; I ran across this quote about Christianity that is equally as stinging –

“Mr. Mills says, in his book on Liberty, that “Christian morality is in great part merely a protest against paganism: its ideal is negative rather than positive, passive rather than active.”

So my point; the recovering addict, who has made tea totaling his goal and his only goal, to abstain from the bite of abusing again, it becomes the focus and can be the entire goal of life to abstain, or as Stevenson puts it, “He may live for that negation.” So at least at the end of the day, although he has done nothing for others, he has, at least, this cold triumph. Now initially this is a most commendable goal, but at some point one must move on to living a positive life with offensive goals, concerns for others and not just saving one’s own soul or sobriety.

So in like manner, Mills quote that Christianity has reduced itself, in large part, to merely a protest against paganism, is the same principle, isn’t it? We do little to change the world, but we protest much, be it political issues, school policies, permitted words and lyrics, and of course those nasty agendas of the “gays”.

So in our idle time we boast of not being bitten by the spider, and with great conviction protest the ungodliness of the day, but booing the rival team that is carrying the ball will never win the game. One must play offense as well as defense.

Freaky picture of the black widow taken from the Internet, man spiders freak me out.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Tricky balance. You do too much, you trespass, you do nothing, and nothing comes... but I certainly agree against the constant protests and apologetics.