“He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly. . .”
There’s a great tradition in the Jewish and Christian religions (and in religion in general) of God cutting “the proud” and “the powerful” down to size, as we see in this snippet from Mary’s famous “Magnificat.”
This tradition has a great purpose: reminding people not to lord themselves over other people – a very big problem.
But this tradition doesn’t just warn people off from being authoritarian jackhammers.
It also tends to make us really insecure about enjoying our own strength or skill or accomplishments – and the pride and confidence that come with them. Ask anyone who grew up religious.
We take the warnings against “pride” in all our religious texts and so feel uncomfortable with any sense of self-satisfaction. We fear that it will soon be our turn to be “cut down to size.” And so we put on false humility, self-deprecate, and try not to look too happy with ourselves.
Maybe – just maybe – we’ve got God or the Universe or Reality all wrong.
Look, we generally acknowledge that it’s a pretty ****ty thing to do to undermine someone because they’re better than you. Envy is an ugly emotion for people who are choosing to be small, like those folks on Twitter who leave nasty comments, sore losers in sports, or those people who want to steal all of Jeff Bezo’s wealth.
So why should we assume God wants the same kinds of things?
Maybe we’re projecting our own envy onto God.
Maybe we’re projecting our own pettiness onto God.
Maybe we’re wrong in imagining that God reacts to confidence or pride like we do when we see it in others.
The best people in this world – the ones we love and respect the most – typically want us to be happy and free and, yes, proud.
Maybe God does, too.