Monday and Tuesday was the Westminster Confession of Faith conference, which I thoroughly enjoyed :). More to come on that later. Between the conference and our epileptic computer, I haven't been doing much blog drafting recently. It is highly annoying to be typing on a computer and have it seize up and black out on you periodically, with no reason!
Today I was looking at a wad of papers that I found tucked in one of my grandfather's books - presumably some old sermon notes. It was fun to read through his sermon and I found the following anecdote on the "inferiority complex" to be interesting:
Have you read the late Dorothy Thompson's answer to Frank Lloyd Wright when he said that public rooms should be only about 12 feet high so that people in them would not have to feel inferior or insignificant?
Miss Thompson replied, "The GI Joes Whom I saw standing awestruck in the Salisbury Cathedral, or watching the robed procession climb the vast stairs of Canterbury, or kneeling under the lofty arches of Notre Dame, or staring upward in St. Peter's at Michelangelo's immense dome were not feeling insignificant. On the contrary they were realizing that life has a grandeur and a beauty and a significance above and beyond themselves that wakened in them high aspiration. The terrible heresy of our time is that everything must be keyed down to our understanding. . . lest we get an inferiority complex. Books must be written in the language of the gutter. The height of inspiration must be put not over twelve feet; one must not expect him to life his eyes beyond his own stature."
She goes on to say, "This is scientific dribble. Every boy or girl, wants to be something better than he is and other than the mass. They do not want a ceiling put over their life. Emerson did not advocate a twelve-foot ceiling when he said, "Hitch your wagon to a star." He knew the wagon would never reach the star, but it would stay out of the gutter.
The height to which we grow is communsurate with our vision. Set our ceiling at only 12 feet and we will eventually be living underground.
Now, I would like to clarify that (a) I don't know who Dorothy Thompson is, (b) I'm not guaranteeing that I accurately quoted her (since I'm merely pulling from an old sermon manuscript), and (c) her comment seems to have a humanistic flavor. But it is still something to consider.
We often, in the Christian life as well as the secular world, dumb things down out of fear for the "inferiority complex." We don't want to to challenge a kid too much in school, or his self-esteem may suffer. We don't want to attempt to read a difficult piece of literature like The Count of Monte Cristo, because it is "above us." We remove our children from the preaching of the Word, not wanting to bore or confuse them with all that "dry and difficult theology." Yet scripture is full of commands to strive for higher things, even unreachable things. We are to strive for perfection; how's that for a comforting goal? As C.S. Lewis said, Aim at Heaven and you will get earth "thrown in": aim at earth and you will get neither.
If all we ever search for is that which we know is attainable, what a miserable existence we will live. I am most comforted in my Christian walk, not by seeing other forgiven sinners tripping along the road of sanctification, but by seeing the perfect holiness of God. Like Dorothy Thompson's account of the GI Joes, when I get even a small glimpse of the true character of God, I suddenly realize that life has a grandeur and a beauty and a significance above and beyond myself. There is a higher purpose, a bigger plan. It's not all about me. And it's comforting, not frightening or stifling. How's that for an inferiority complex?