Hiding weaknesses

Caveat lector:  this was written many moons ago and just dusted off for posting.  Please do not assume anything is “about” any specific person from this phase of life or that.

==> It’s uncomfortable for us humans to be vulnerable, to show to the world the holes in our armor.  So we like to hide our weaknesses.  We all do this.  We put ourselves over as though we have it all together.  It’s kind of a self-protection mechanism, but in its extreme measure, it can amount to dishonesty.  Most often, I think it is simply an unhelpful attribute of humanity.

[Aside:  for some inspiration, listen to this:  Twila Paris:  The Warrior Is a Child.]

Humans generally want to present ourselves as competent.  Moreover, when in our spheres of influence perceptions of competency take a downturn, and we begin to feel insecure, we may even want to present ourselves as experts.  We pretend.  We compensate.  We hide the fact that we have insufficiencies and downright gaps in our training, knowledge bases, and abilities.

Applied music studios

I have seen this tendency in a few music studios:  the studio teachers are at times set up as though they are beyond questioning.  They supposedly have the answers to everything about the instrument being studied.  But they do not always have the answers, and each one’s teaching can be weaker than supposed.  One may trumpet her methodologies and results, but the plain facts will almost always betray the fact that she is insufficient to meet some challenges, and she may be more run-of-the-mill than she would have you believe.

Actually, I’ve rarely perceived blatant, Machiavellian self-aggrandizement among studio teachers.  They are smarter than that.  The problems come when the students presume their teachers are near-deities.  And the problems are compounded when the system (e.g., academic, cultural, social) presumes that the students must submit to every word, every opinion, every pronouncement — whether half-baked or fully cooked.


I also see this syndrome in the realm of religious professionals.  As with the above group, the problem is more likely located among the so-called laity than among the clergy, though.  In other words, it’s not that the professional priests and pastors and preachers really view themselves as infallible, super-examples of all that is good and holy; it’s that their flocks don’t question them enough.

To see clergy types as the humans they are would serve everyone’s purposes — the clergyperson’s, the layperson’s, and certainly God’s.  They are as weak as the next person, although surely more literate and capable in many ways, and just as much in need of God’s grace.


In all of us, there is weakness and inconsistency.  We have holes in our logic and gaps in our theology — and, most of all, hypocrisy in our lives’ ways and means.  We cannot save ourselves — not from current-time disillusionment or hopelessness, and not from the wrath to come.  We are weak, and we are insufficient, and this is the intended status quo, this side of eternity.


3 thoughts on “Hiding weaknesses

  1. Brian Casey 01/07/2014 / 6:53 pm

    From Anne Boyd, via e-mail:
    Right on! It’s more often the laity that demands that the teacher, minister, elder, deacon be near-deity. And, it’s usually the laity that turns on the teacher, minister, elder, deacon when it is learned that the individual is only human. Satan enjoys watching the chaos he creates when we fall into his snares…but we’re only human. ;-)”


    • Brian Casey 01/07/2014 / 6:58 pm

      Anne, could it be that your years of experience have included actual observations of actual human tricks in actual churches? :;-)

      (Not sure what the issue is with your posting comments directly — any chance you have a new computer or new blog settings? I think this happened once before, about a month ago….)


  2. Brian Casey 01/07/2014 / 6:56 pm

    From and to Bob Bell, via Facebook:
    Bob Bell: I enjoyed your article. I really liked the reference to people being “run-of-the-mill”. Of course by far…my favorite comment regarding human shortcomings was: “blatant, Machiavellian self-aggrandizement”. I applaud your enlightened observational skills.

    Brian Casey: Far, far too kind and complimentary. Now, I have to keep myself from believing that I am actually enlightened!

    Bob Bell: Fret not my friend. You see, “enlightened” is one of those relative words. It’s a sliding scale rather than a Boolean! So worry not if you are enlightened. Ask instead, how enlightened are you?! Of course since I omitted any referential comparison (such as Copernicus, Plato, or Mandelbrot), when I call you enlightened the implied comparison is with myself.

    Brian Casey: Your logical mind and well-read-ness far exceed my own. Who the heck is Mandelbrot? (Could have looked him up, sure, but why miss an opp to prove myself less illuminated? Do you blog, by the way?)


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