The Virtue of Humility

The Antichrist boasts of bringing to human beings the peace and tolerance that Christianity promised but has failed to deliver. Actually, what the radicalization of contemporary victimology produces is a return to all sorts of pagan practices: abortion, euthanasia, sexual undifferentiation, Roman circus games galore but without real victims, etc.”

René Girard

During the Golden Globe Awards ceremony this month, Michelle Williams whilst accepting the award for best actress gave a speech in support of women’s choice to abortion. The actress stated that she could not have achieved what she did “without employing a woman’s right to choose. To choose when to have my children and with whom.” Her speech has been hailed by pro-choice activists, celebrities, and media pundits all around.

Yet the irony of Michelle Williams, in this age of secularism and post-enlightenment rationalism, openly advocating for the religious ritual of human-sacrifice seems to fly over most people’s heads.

Human sacrifice, whether in the form of ancient child-sacrifice or its modern counterpart in abortion, is the end-result of unbalanced mimesis. The imitating nature of human beings tends to develop into model-obstacle relationships. We tend to imitate people, and then, due to the resulting desire, we rival the same people and turn into their ‘doubles.’ This leads to violence. Celebrities are no exception to this rule. After all, flesh and blood are just that—flesh and blood.

Modern materialistic society, void of any transcendental meaning, is very much vulnerable to this law of unbalanced mimesis. What a person (an actress) may desire (an award) might very well be desirable because popular culture points at it being valued above all. We witnessed just that at the Golden Globe Awards. We witnessed that emptiness of winning an award, and more; we witnessed the violence, i.e. the ‘choice’ of abortion caused by such an achievement; and finally, we witnessed the cathartic reaction to the violence, which in this case was the cheering-on by the other celebrities in attendance.

What was in ancient times a ritual carried out by a powerful mob against the marginalized of society has turned into a ritual carved out by competing ‘victims.’ The accusatory spirit of the persecuting mob has taken on a disguise wherein it pretends to care for the victims and the marginalized of society, but the sacrificial mechanism remains the same. Evil must be vanquished by evil. Order can only be brought about from the murder of an innocent being—the aborted fetus. Therefore, the modern-day scapegoat ritual, though it concerns itself with the empowerment of victims, is a throwback to ancient pagan superstition and straight out sacrificial violence.

The summary of this entire secular materialistic experience is this: human beings cannot escape model-obstacle relationships; and as a result, we can’t escape human sacrifice. No matter how enlightened we claim to be, we always find ourselves reverting to the pagan sacrificial ritual. We will always find ourselves taking part in persecution and murder, that is unless we turn to the anthropological revelation found in the Bible.

In both the Old and New Testaments, we can read about characters that are both unique and revelatory. Let us turn to one of these characters.

Ruth is one of the most cherished biblical personalities. She is a Moabite woman who loses her husband. She must choose between returning to her country or following her Israelite mother-in-law Naomi. Ruth has the option to return to her homeland and worship the gods of her people. Now keep in mind that the god of the Moabites is ‘Chemosh,’ a deity considered to be the same as ‘Moloch.’ This deity quite evidently required human sacrifice. Child sacrifice was a common occurrence in Ruth’s native land.

Ruth chooses the path of her mother-in-law. She declares, “where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Thus, in making this statement, Ruth not only proves her loyalty and love for Naomi but also rejects the sacrificial mechanism of her pagan homeland. Instead, she chooses the biblical God of love.

As we read further on into Ruth’s story, we learn how Ruth repeatedly lowers herself in every situation. She follows Naomi to a town called Bethlehem where she gathers for herself the leftover grain in the field of a man called Boaz. She continuously acts on the advice of Naomi and is obedient to Boaz whom Ruth considers her master.

One can guess the reaction of those with progressive sensibilities towards these passages. To the modern mind, Ruth may seem to be suffering from an acute case of ‘internalized misogyny.’ But with the abandoning of modern academia’s dialectical lens, and with a plain observation of these passages, one will discover that Ruth is acting out her rejection of the sacrificial mechanism. Indeed, she is conceding the rivalry at the very outset.

Ruth, in becoming lowly and submissive, is, becoming an authentic and life-affirming imitator of Christ. The Apostle Paul explains for us what Christ-imitation looks like:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

(Philippians 2:3-8)

Ruth is becoming an imitator of the God-man who declared “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” In her imitation of Christ, Ruth is a truer human being than all those around her.

Ruth continuously demonstrates that her concern is always for the other. By doing this she wins the affection of Boaz and he decides to marry her. Boaz is revealed to us as a precursor to Christ, the very same Christ who himself knelt down and carefully washed the feet of his disciples. Through Boaz, Ruth is restored from being a grief-stricken, impoverished young widow to a devoted wife and loving mother of high standing.

In Ruth’s story, a new kind of existence is revealed—a way of life that eclipses the hyper individualist lifestyle preached by Michelle Williams and her fellow elitists. From reading Ruth’s account we learn that she became the grandmother of King David. She also shares an honored place in Christ’s genealogy. This indicates that Ruth’s acts of loyalty and devotion had played a much bigger part than what even the Old Testament authors themselves may have understood.

Humility is a virtue often ignored and underrated. In its place today, we often find false humility—a pretense for ritual sacrifice, as seen in Michelle Williams’ case. In Ruth’s case, however, we are confronted with the fact that true, Christlike humility can change the world. One small act of humility can change a person’s life. Likewise, endless acts of humility can change an entire society.

As Ruth changed the world and helped bring Christ into this world, may we imitate her and bring life through our positive mimesis of Jesus.