Pride and Virtue Mix Like Oil and Water

Watching Chain Chronicle has proven quite fun so far. This classic fantasy provides the viewer with a bevy of strong heroes, implacable foes, beautiful warrior maidens, and a Luke Skywalker-ish hero for its viewers to engage in “egocentric castle building,” as C. S. Lewis termed it in An Experiment in Criticism. This is a fantasy fully in the spirit of Dungeons and Dragons. It’s fun, but nothing within the story thus far has struck me as uncommon.

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Bruckhardt’s fall from grace counts as the most interesting event of the story thus far. From the first, my ears heard “Blackheart” when the seiyuu pronounced the knight’s name, and episode three revealed his transformation to a Blackheart indeed. The twin scourges of pride and melancholy oppressed him on account of the preferment Yuri gave to Aram. This allowed him to fall easy prey to the evil influence of the Black King’s demon. There is no faster way to hell than pride: the way Lucifer fell and the chief fault of Adam. Even the early Church Fathers wrote that pride alone suffices to send one to hell, even as humility provides the surest means to salvation among the virtues.

 

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Bruckhardt had what St. Francis de Sales labelled Senecan virtue, after the Roman playwright and Stoic philosopher Seneca (4 BC – 65AD). St. Francis claimed Senecan virtue was the very opposite of Christian virtue, because the former bases itself on the sandy foundation of pride. (Consider that it was the crestfallen publican who went from the temple justified rather than the haughty Pharisee in Luke 18:10 – 14.) As soon as Bruckhardt finds himself mildly chastised for his prejudice towards Aram, he begins to lose confidence in himself and resorts to blaming other people for his own faults.

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His shortcomings are not so much deficiencies in noble deeds as they are deficiencies in mercy—misericordia in Latin. Misericordia literally translates to “miserable heart” and denotes a heart capable of being moved by the weak and suffering. Virtue based on pride lacks the ability to feel mercy: the debasement and abjection of the incontinent and the vicious add to the vainglory of the proudly virtuous. The Senecan views weakness and sin as contemptible and finds no excuses for them.

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If one closely watches the fall of Bruckhardt, one sees that the succubus or whatever here only influences him. It was not until Bruckhardt deliberately takes off his talisman that his transformation to the dark side is complete.

 

In viewing weakness as contemptible, Bruckhardt found his own faults and weaknesses unendurable: his quick temper, hasty judgments, willfulness, and vanity. His method of dealing with his faults, blaming other people, was completely the wrong way to deal with them. What can be greater weakness than blaming others for one’s own faults? What is a greater sign of strength than picking up one’s cross daily and taking the blame for one’s faults while attributing one’s virtues and good works to God’s grace?

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In the end, Bruckhardt’s pride led to an all-consuming preoccupation with himself. Preoccupation with the self rather than God and other people is a very hell. One has no doubt that a great deal of the angst felt by the young derives from this preoccupation, which is made worse by our present culture of appeasing “No. 1.” To escape this self-constructed hell in order to pursue a life of thought and usefulness, one greatly needs the grace of God. And, no better means of obtaining grace exists than showing mercy towards the faults of others as we work to overcome our own.

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12 comments on “Pride and Virtue Mix Like Oil and Water

  1. Luminas says:

    Interesting article here, Medieval! Here’s my commentary for this one.

    “The twin scourges of pride and melancholy oppressed him on account of the preferment Yuri gave to Aram.”

    Well, sort of. “Pride” doesn’t sound like what’s afflicting him if that’s his problem— Envy is. I’ve made this point before, but I think I’ll make it again here. One of the things I really liked about Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood is that Envy was the most warped and sadistic of all of the Humonculi. And when Envy finally fell apart, they (Singular pronoun meaning “neutral gender,” which is what Envy was) died of suicide. Suicide in desperate envy of what they couldn’t be and have. And similarly…I never quite get the impression that a being that “wants to be God,” and “wants what God has,” is prideful. Instead, it’s almost more like the root sin is a feeling of inferiority and envy that uses pride as a defense mechanism, i.e. narcissism. If you’ve ever been a powerless teenager (And you had to have been, once), then you yourself should be aware of what actually happens.

    “As soon as Bruckhardt finds himself mildly chastised for his prejudice towards Aram, he begins to lose confidence in himself and resorts to blaming other people for his own faults.”

    Exactly. For me, “a lack of confidence in oneself” and the traditional understanding of the word “pride” are completely incompatible. A person with an egotistical confidence in themselves can’t be someone whose confidence tanks like this— They have to be the opposite, posing as the former. But looking at what Satan’s sin seems to have really been….It makes a great deal more sense. That kind of “pride” I knew too well, once.

    “In the end, Bruckhardt’s pride led to an all-consuming preoccupation with himself. Preoccupation with the self rather than God and other people is a very hell. One has no doubt that a great deal of the angst felt by the young derives from this preoccupation,”

    Yep. This is why depressed people appear to be three times as selfish as they were before the disease makes its appearance, and why when you’re miserable you can’t think of anything but yourself.

    “which is made worse by our present culture of appeasing “No. 1.”

    And this is the point where I think we differ. See…If you reject yourself and deny yourself even further when you have a cancer that’s caused by self-loathing, you just edge yourself closer to either megalomania or suicide. The reason that I often find myself empathizing with the Devil is because I remember what it was like being rejected at every turn, being always “damaged” and “inferior.” …..I remember how it was when the feeling was at its peak. How angry and cruel and sadistic you became inside. The irony of it is that someone with no self-love at all has the potential to become the greater monster than someone with trust in themselves.

    What cured me wasn’t rejection, but acceptance by others. Friends who loved me for who I was, warts and all. A job where my skills are respected and my weaknesses understood, so that I could be free to stop despising my own weaknesses and thinking they were the cause of all my failures. Their love turned me into a much less selfish person than I was, able to laugh at my own faults and acknowledge their successes.

    God’s glory becomes in many ways more natural and obvious when He kneels down next to you—–So grand and bright is He, and you’re this hideous squirming bug— and tells you that He’s seen the better, stronger you. The one who was humble and kind, reflecting His light. That He sees this you that you deny with every arrogant defensive statement…The one made to glorify Him…That is the key to finding it again, and being free of yourself.

    • That is excellent commentary on envy and how it can eat away at one–even to the point of mostly cancelling out self-love. Self-love can’t ever be really destroyed, but it can be so diminished and twisted that one loses even that sort of self-love we justly owe ourselves. Thus, some people destroy themselves out of self-love, because they don’t see the state of living/being they want for themselves in themselves. But, it is odd to think of what we term self-hatred as being motivated by a twisted self-love!

      In Christianity, pride and envy are paired as closely as humility and charity. This is because the conditions of pride and humility are weighed according to truth rather than opinion of self-worth: “Humility is truth.” God recognizes Himself as the most perfect, most holy, eternal, and greatest being in the universe and is humble. A human being says to himself: “For this particular good, I am solely responsible,” and he’s proud. Conversely, a human being might also say: “I’m completely worthless with no good purpose toward which I can be put,” and he’s prouder still. But, many saints have reflected that they have committed more sins than all the devils in hell and claim themselves to be more sinful than Lucifer, and yet manage to preserve holy joy in themselves. If they do pour so much contempt upon themselves that they go off the deep end, Christ Himself consoles them as you wrote in your comment. There is also a famous story about St. Francis of Assisi to that effect: https://www.ccel.org/ccel/ugolino/flowers.iii.ix.html.

      Love is most essential to avoid the lows of pride and the heights of pride–also the heights and lows of envy besides. When I wrote that angst “is made worse by the culture of appeasing No. 1,” I especially had in mind how self-love exacerbates it. But, gift-love, if you will, breaks the clouds of sadness and makes life worth living. Still, doing good is known to increase one’s self-worth and proper self-love along with it. And, few pleasures surpass the pleasure of good friends.

      • Luminas says:

        “But, it is odd to think of what we term self-hatred as being motivated by a twisted self-love!”

        Ahhh, but as you’ve so elegantly shown us, it very much is. : ] The two are linked like vines wrapped around one another, because a humble person is also a person who isn’t thinking about themselves. Because they don’t need to— Knowing that God loves them is quite enough. A humble person doesn’t need to feel “powerful” or “important” to feel loved, which is really what everyone wants. Power is as much about a desire to be loved as it is about feeling powerless.

        “A human being says to himself: “For this particular good, I am solely responsible,” and he’s proud. Conversely, a human being might also say: “I’m completely worthless with no good purpose toward which I can be put,” and he’s prouder still.”

        Yep. Because at least the first guy sees the world still as a place filled with good people. The second guy has decided that the world is against him personally, and so in his aggrieved state is more arrogant. (As if it were all about what everyone else thinks of him/her…)

        Reality is, as with most things, in moderation. Nobody is perfect: In fact all have at some point sinned enough (Internally or externally) to be called “monster.” But similarly, no one is completely irredeemable.

      • Aggelos says:

        Hello Medieval,I read your post and I see it’s rife of moral values.This topic about “pride” brings up the conceit,so it reminds us the quote by the philosopher Heraclitus:”It’s such a Greater need someone to fight off Arrogance rather the fire”.
        But about the fallen Angel there’s something inaccurate:His original name wasn’t Lucifer,but it was Sataniel(:The First archangel),but due to his immense pride he refused to bow in front of Adam˙thus he was immediately expelled from Heaven. Since these Ancient days he’s been called Satan:The Angel of Hell,he’s a vowed Enemy of Adam and Eve,and of every Human as well.
        You see Christ made an interesting remark:”You should be prudent like the snakes,and harmless like the pigeons”. Mathews:10,16.
        Plus:Could you take and read something too in John’s Revelation? “I’m the root and the family of David,I the Bright Morning Star”.22,16.
        Thanks for your post.

      • I’m glad that you enjoyed my post. Heraclitus gives some excellent wisdom in the quote you give.

        Are your sure that the devil’s original name was Sataniel? As far as I know, Satan comes from Greek and means “the adversary,” which is similar to “fiend,” as in “the foul fiend,” which is from the German word for “enemy.” It’s sort of like how everyone refers to a group of Indians in the southwest as Apache, even though they call themselves “Dine’e.” The name “Apache” is from the Zuni tribe’s word for “enemy.”

        We don’t really know what the devil’s real name is since he’s just the enemy to us. Tradition suggests Lucifer, a name with a Latin etymology meaning “bearer of light,” in order to show that God created the devil good–even as the best of the angels–but the devil rejected the goodness God imparted to him and wanted to take God’s place. For which, he was cast into hell. But, we can’t be all that particular over what we call the fiend: St. Pio of Pietrelcina called him “barbablu,” i.e. “Blue Beard,” which is good enough for the devil.

        I’ve been reading snippets of Revelation here and there. I have not taken much time to understand the work, but if I feel like I have enough understanding for a post, I’ll write one. 🙂

  2. Samuru says:

    Great article! I’ve never seen this anime, so I will be checking it out. I do not agree though with one of your last statements.

    “And, no better means of obtaining grace exists than showing mercy towards the faults of others as we work to overcome our own.”

    It may be because it’s late, but I would like to mention that grace is a free gift given from God. We do not obtain any of it from what we do. It’s a freely given blessing from our Heavenly Father. I do agree that we can receive grace from people when we show mercy towards them though, that is 100% true. We can find favor with man based on how we treat each other. Overcoming our own faults is a daily task, as you mentioned. I struggle with my own cross, as we all do. Resting in His peace and mercy gives me the strength for the next day, and I pray that I will continue to lean on Him and not my own understanding to do so.

    • Thank you for your comment! Of course, grace is free, but there are certain human actions which impede grace: “But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offences,” (Matt. 6:15) and “Give, and it shall be given to you: good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over shall they give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again,” (Luke 6:38). Forgiving others’ sins is vitally necessary to living a life of grace. Not doing so is sure to provoke the justice of God (Matt. 18:21-35). If God is so incensed by unmerciful conduct and so generous towards the merciful, it seems fair to call showing mercy towards the faults of others a means of obtaining grace. Unless we show mercy, we shall not obtain it.

      As for obtaining grace from people for showing them mercy, this is only true in certain cases. When we receive mercy from God, it necessarily changes us. When we show mercy towards another person, their attitude towards us may remain unchanged–even though our Father is pleased with our forgiving them.

      You very much enjoy the fantasy genre, so I hope that you find time to check out Chain Chronicle. The animation is great and the characters are very likable, even if the plot travels a well known course.

      • Aggelos says:

        Hello again Medieval!I see you resonded the same day. Well I’m Certain about that his original name was Sataniel. The Old source of suh Knoeledge comes from the Apokrypha,particularly the Latin Life of Adam and Eve.
        In this Book it’s where suddenly Satan recounts to Adam about his original name (Sataniel)and the Exile,plus his lousy feelings about the forever Lost Glory,such one he and his folloowers had enjoyed Up there(Chapters 9-17).

        Also there are Bartholomew’s Questions.In the ensuing confrontation Christ’s students have with Velial and the 600 Demons,it’s Bartholomew the curious and asks questions to the most Dread of these.The arch Demon replies:
        “If you want to know about Who I am,originally I was called Sataniel,namely Archangel of God.But when I refused to honor Adam,the image of God,I changed my name to Satan,it says Angel Of Hell.I’M FIRE MADE OF FIRE,HOW COULD I EVER LOVE THE ONE MADE OF CLAY?”.

        Do the above explain now the nature of the Case?

        Now I have some weird news:
        I don’t know how to continue and to finish off my fan fiction “Gargoyles In Roanapur”.I don’t have any new ideas. Got any clues about how to properly move it?I could really listen a piece of advice about writing my story.

        Your post about Girls With Guns is really Good.Could you bring us in more alike to this?

      • One has to be careful with the Apokrypha: some can be interesting and useful (the Book of Enoch, for example), but they don’t contribute to doctrine. In particular, many New Testament Apokrypha, like the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Judas, were written well after the canonical gospels and even were authored by Gnostic heretics.

        For example, let’s take the name Sataniel. The three angels whose names we know, all end in -el: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. The “el” means “God.” Michael means “Who is like unto God?”, Gabriel means “God is my strength,” and Raphael means “God has healed.” What would Sataniel mean? The answer is “Enemy of God.” It is not possible that God could have given the devil this name originally. Names carry meaning for those that bear them according to the Hebrew understanding. God giving a creature the name Sataniel would essentially make God the cause of the devil’s fall, which is contrary to the Christian teaching that the devil fell by his own fault. (The Manichaen heresy would be comfortable with the notion that God was the cause of moral evil, but the Christian finds this idea abhorrent.) Also, when the devil in your quote claims to be “fire made from fire,” this is more in line with Greek philosophy’s theory of the four elements, which has fire as the lightest and most subtle element. However, the Hebrews compare spirit to breath or air rather than fire.

        However, there is a long standing tradition that the creation of Adam, an earthly creature in the divine image, excited the devil to envy and rebellion. But, this shows that the Apokrypha contain truth and falsehood, which makes them sometimes useful and sometimes unreliable. Everything in the Apokrypha must be checked against the Canon.

        I’ll meditate on how your story should continue. May God grant that you or I come us with the inspiration!

        For Lent, I’ve decided to blog a post a day on one of my three blogs. Hopefully, my readers will get a few posts like Girls with Guns out of it. 🙂

      • Samuru says:

        Very good answer! Thank you for your words and sharing the True Word as well. Yes, we need to show mercy as God has showed us mercy. That is a daily practice I sometimes struggle with. I want to be right, and look down on the other person for “messing with me”.

        I will be sure to check that anime out 🙂 Thanks for the rec.

  3. […] of humanoid races, and stalwart warriors.  Yet, the warriors are not as stalwart as they appear: Bruckhardt first became subverted, and he was followed by the leader of the Volunteer Army, Yuri.  The anime introduces a different […]

  4. […] One of our dear staff writers, Medieval Otaku, put together a short post on the anime Chain Chronicle. I’ve never seen it myself, but it’s interesting how he talks about grace and pride in humanity. We need His help so we can forgive others when they fault against us. Good read. (Medieval Otaku) […]

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