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In the newsroom we have a counter where people put doughnuts and cookies for everyone to share.
Today someone set out a container of humungous cookies. Each cookie is 480 calories with 23 grams of fat. For those keeping score, one cookie is 12 Weight Watchers points, which is more than half my daily allotment.
I'm telling you this because I am not eating any, not even a taste. Instead, I'm drinking a cup of decaf coffee, sipping it slowly as I listen for the sounds of other people nibbling massive amounts of caloric sinful indulgence and feeling quite pleased with myself.
A few people have asked if I tried any of the cookies and I've had to tell the truth. No, I haven't. I have my decaf coffee, thank you for asking.
Of course, I keep to myself what I'm really thinking: I'm not eating cookies and you are, which means at least for this moment I am better than you are, more self-controlled and disciplined.
I may even spend an extra 10 minutes at the gym later and eat two vegetables for dinner tonight. Oh, you're having pizza? Well, that's fine for you. Pass me the tilapia please, grilled, of course.
A few weeks ago, I quoted a former homeless man, Denver Moore, who wrote in his book, "Same Kind of Different As Me," "We all is homeless." He said rich or poor or in between, earth is not our final resting place. "So in a way, we all is homeless - just workin' our way toward home."
Well, if "we all is homeless," we all is self-righteous, too.
It's not just cookie abstainers versus cookie eaters. It's tea drinkers who feel morally superior to coffee drinkers, and coffee drinkers who believe drinking it black is morally superior to adding cream and sugar. (Did I mention that I drink decaf?)
It's vegetarians versus those who eat things that once had faces. Poor people think they're somehow more real than those who are rich, because the rich are just pure eee-vil. And don't forget about smokers - they're not even fit to share the planet with non-smokers.
Republicans think liberals are brainless and Democrats think conservatives are heartless. (Is that fur you're wearing? You actually buy your clothes at Wal-Mart?)
It's worse among churchgoers. Truly, the one requirement to becoming a Christian is the belief that one is totally without merit, that I am a complete and utter screw up and incapable of keeping even one of God's commandments consistently on my own.
That gets me in, but what happens? Bit by bit I start forgetting that apart from Christ no good thing dwells in me and start thinking I'm all that and a bag of chips and that my particular preferences are superior to yours - and that God likes me best.
So, my church is better than yours. We do communion the correct way. We use the only true Bible translation and our mode of baptism is the only right one. Our women do/don't wear make up and our people do/do not drink beer.
Also, our traditional/contemporary style pleases God and yours, sadly, doesn't. But maybe if it was more like ours, if you were more like me ...
What should horrify every Christian - we don't even know that that's what we believe. You, me, in all of our arrogance and pride, we think we're being humble. Often the most humble-appearing people are the most self-righteous.
That's the biggest danger of self-righteousness. I can see it in you, but not in myself, mainly because I'm too preoccupied with the things in others that feed my own sense of rightness.
It's sick and twisted - and a gift from God when he opens my eyes to see it in myself.
Self-righteousness affects everyone (and if you think you're exempt, that just proves my point). Not only that, it's something we'll never be rid of this side of eternity.
The only hope we have is in knowing it's ingrained in who we are as humans. Seeing it in ourselves is the first step. My uncle-dad says the next step is taking it to Jesus and then telling everyone we know that we've been to him and why we went there.
P.S. The truth is, if no one was around to see, I'd be eating one of those humungous cookies. God help me, I thought you should know.