The Thinning Heights of Hubris

There are two competing viewpoints in the Modern world. 

Read NYT, WP, and HP media outlets for a while and you will get the feeling that you’ve climbed Mt. Everest and are looking down on the whole world below you from Modernia’s zenith of human achievement. You also may feel just as exhausted and short of breathe for thinness of air. But it is from just such a height that one can see both everything and nothing. From some 29,000 feet one can see all of India below but one cannot see the little boys playing soccer, nor the joy of a mother with her newborn, nor the farmer’s sweat and toil in the field, nor any manner of natural, earthly, human goings-on. 

I am speaking here of the nationalist level and the local level. The one is modern man’s position he has created for himself; the other is natural man’s position as God created him.

The national is high, lofty, abstract, absolute, sweeping, totalizing, tyrannical. Perched upon its height, it sees all things with infinite clarity and yet sees nothing at all. The very height that provides its omniscience also renders it ignorant of reality. It see generalities abstracted from particulars as they lay, swaddled in mangers. It claims also to know all problems and solutions from its totalizing global studies conducted by priests of modernity at its officious academic monasteries. Thus, it would dictate revolution doctrine, human health and morality, sea levels, global temperatures, and fertility fittedness. It is so high that it is but a little jump to reach the sun. But it is at its zenith that a mountain is most precarious. That little leap to divinity is its own unbalancing ruin. The higher one climbs, the farther he has to fall. It forgets that there is One who sits on the circle of the earth, who looks down upon the children of men, who comes down to tread our high places. 

Yet, the national height has climbed so high that the clouds above and below make an enclosed view, betraying claims to a universal meta-narrative that overrides anything experienced or thought to be true at the local level. “What do the ground-dwellers know, living under – and therefore apart from – our clouds as they do?” Though at its peak is a mountain most small, narrow, limited. Thus, this national looks down; yet the local also looks down. The national does so because it thinks itself high and lofty. The local does so because it loves the ground upon which it dwells. The local doesn’t look up because it loves life where it is. The national doesn’t look up because it thinks nothing is higher than itself. There is no one higher by whom it can swear, so it swears by itself. Self-swearing, it brings a curse on itself. Self-deifying, it condemns itself.

The little boys are still playing soccer. The mother nurses her baby. The farmer’s crops are ripening. The local gets on without needing to look up because the Most High descended to men in a starry field, to little children who run into his arms, to a mother embracing her nursing child; in a manger, on the road, in a boat, on a cross, up from the grave, into the air, far above all rule and authority; and he now sits at the right hand of God with all power in heaven and on earth, with which he rules the nations until all enemies are made footstools for his feet. 

Therefore, you kings, be wise;
    be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear
    and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Kiss his son, or he will be angry
    and your way will lead to your destruction,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
    Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
– Psalm 2


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