Thursday, April 27, 2006

Curmudgeonhood for the Masses

Let me re-explain the purpose and meaning of this blog.

My blog is called "The Constructive Curmudgeon" because truth-tellers, no matter how maligned or ignored, are crucial for living a serious and honest life. The curmudgeon is ever bothered by poppycock, humbug, bovine excrement, and every form of lies or intellectually lazy communication or inauthentic living. Curmudgeons have little tolerance for trendiness, cliches, or fashionable nonsense. Although they may be old and jaded, their hero is the little boy in the fable who said, "The emperor has no clothes." Indeed, curmudgeons denude pretense and prevarication for the sake of truth. That is the aim, the goal, the ideal—however inadequately realized. The curmudgeon himself needs to be corrected by fellow curmudgeons.

The curmudgeon is constructive in that half-truths, bovine excrement, fashionable nonsense, unfashionable nonsense, and other offenses to the Good, the True, and the Beautiful need to be exposed so that the light may dawn and reality be revealed. Reality denudes us all in the end, no matter how much we hate it. The curmudgeon tries to love reality, deep reality—whatever the cost. She or he encourages others to love reality as well, come what may.

In this sense, Jesus was the ultimate Constructive Curmudgeon. He brooked no spin. He exposed all pretense. His life was in perfect harmony with Reality. In fact, he was Reality Incarnate. He loved what was good; he hated what was evil. He was the Truth Teller extraordinaire. If you knew him, you either loved him or hated him. He is my model, although I will fall far short.


Michael Russell said...

Have you been reading Tolkien? Kreeft?

Your language, words, and style resemble greatly descriptions of Middle-earth and the virtues and values cherished there. Or, perhaps, your pre-modern Christian perspective (or so I would portray it, along with my own beliefs) follows down similar paths of those trod earlier by Tolkien, Lewis, and many others.

"For I too am a [curmudgeon]. Did you not know?"

Michael Russell said...

FWIW, I reviewed Kreeft's The Philosophy of Tolkien at my blog. If you have read it, I'd be interested in your take on it; if you haven't read it and have an interest in Tolkien, you might find it a good read.

Jeremy said...

I was having a conversation with my students this morning covering same idea. I'm dealing with a couple of students who have become rather disillusioned with the modern state of our particular tradition, to the point where thier original intention of becoming a minister in that tradition is waning.

The hard part is convincing people that the truth is worth the fight. One student told me that he didn't want to stay in the fellowship and fight its ideology for the rest of his life. I can understand this. It is, however, the call of the prophet (which not everyone is called to). The prophet called people to truth, and were often persecuted, often to death, for the message.

However, as you pointed out, our model should be Christ. He fought for the truth, and was killed because of it. Are we better then he that we should seek our own comfort in place of truth?

Cheerful Curmudgeon said...

I enjoy your blog and I often find it to be instructive for insights about our culture. I also agree with the majority of your definitive and descriptive statements that you presented in your most recent post: “Curmudgeonhood for the Masses”.

However, I believe that curmudgeons who claim Christ as their model must also be prayerful and careful to be led, empowered and adorned by the Fruit of God’s Spirit (i.e., love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) while exposing all pretenses. Yes, Jesus was the Truth Teller extraordinaire, but He was so empowered by God’s Spirit that He did not sin nor could He sin (not true of the curmudgeon) because Jesus was in essence fully Divine and fully human simultaneously as one congruently connected being fellowshipping in oneness. As Truth Teller extraordinaire, He also showed mercy and faith as a high priest and atoned for our sins (Heb 2:17). As Jesus the Truth Teller spoke, His actions showed mercy and faith and were congruent with the truth that He told.

Moreover, Jesus used Scripture to demonstrate why humanity should trust the Bible as true and enduring (Mt 5:18; Lk 16:17). Jesus taught that lack of knowledge of the Scriptures creates a likelihood of error in one’s thinking (Mt 22:29). Thus, believers are taught by Jesus to trust the guidance of Scripture for both faith and practice. Scripture is efficacious, living, and active (Heb. 4:12) in that the Spirit and the Word work together. Therefore, I also suggest that the Christian curmudgeon should be a prayerful and careful ongoing student of God’s Word while testing everything to Scripture in context when exposing pretenses.

Additionally, the Christian Curmudgeon must strive to ongoingly close the gap between what they write and speak and what they demonstrate in their personal relationships. This requires an ongoing battle in sanctification (the curmudgeon will not arrive at complete sanctification this side of glory). The process of sanctification is a joint-effort (divine and human, Phil. 2:12-13). God imparts righteous justification. The believer struggles and strives to follow His will, but at the same time retains the sinful nature. Even Paul fought this overwhelming battle (Rom. 7:14-24). Curmudgeons must constantly remember that they also have a sinful nature and so apart from God’s Spirit in exposing all pretenses, the Christian curmudgeon (acting in the sinful nature) might simply be a pretend servant who actually masquerades as a servant of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:14). This non-Spirit empowered action allows the curmudgeon to simply use their passions to vent frustration about what seems nonsensical or illogical resulting in acidic behavior and destructive action rather than constructive behavior and action.

Last, the Christian curmudgeon must clothe themselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5)" The Christian curmudgeon must regularly seek repentance and humility because when pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom (Prov. 11:12). The Christian curmudgeon must fear the Lord and seek His wisdom because “the fear of the Lord teaches a person wisdom” (Proverbs 15:33). The Christian curmudgeon must serve the “Lord with great humility and with tears” (Acts 20:19), because you will be severely tested by the plots of those who oppose His will. Just prayed for all of you in the Christian curmudgeonhood masses.

Bazencourt said...

It has always struck me as odd that you call yourself a curmudgeon since your usage breaks with any standard usage of the word that I am familiar with. I thought maybe you were trying to be ironic, bending the language in a postmodern way. Then, on reflection I thought that perhaps my knowledge of this word's meaning was somehow limited. So, I turned to my Merriam-Webster dictionary to find the following definition.

1. archaic : MISER
2. a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man

Just to double check I looked at their thesaurus too.

* an irritable and complaining person -- see GROUCH

My initial intuition seemed confirmed, but I am not one to leave a stone uncovered so I went to the granddaddy of sources, the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED is useful in that it tracks the historical usage of a word. In this case is defines curmudgeon as ''an avaricious churlish fellow; a miser, a niggard.'' Some examples include:

* 1593 Our English Cormogeons, they haue breasts, but giue no suck.
* 1626 Curre-megients, who scarcely know any other sentence of Scripture, yet..haue this of Paul in their mouthes; worke for your liuing.
* 1656 Certain greedy curmuggions, who value not the leaving of a good name behind them to posterity.
* 1860 A thankless old curmudgeon.

The origin of the word is shrouded in some mystery, but the OED makes a compelling case that the word stems from Cornmudgin, with the meaning 'concealer or hoarder of corn'. All this is a far cry from one who sniffs out the truth, exposes lies, and does it with humility at that. Maybe someone will point me to a different history of this word's usage.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

"I thought maybe you were trying to be ironic, bending the language in a postmodern way."

In no way do I mean that! I may be bending the term a bit, but I am inspired by a book called "The Portable Curmudgeon," that give a more positive understanding of it. My use of the term is a bit hyperbolically, I suppose. I mean someone who is a critical thinker, is not cowed by peer pressure, and is willing to speak the truth when it is unpopular.

Milton Stanley said...

Enjoyed the post. The church definitely needs more truth-telling, both in and out of the pulpit. Peace.