From: The Grace Awakening
For the next few minutes let’s think about heresy. To begin with, answer this question: What would you consider the most dangerous heresy on Earth? Stop and think before you answer. The one I have in mind is not so bold and ugly that it would make angels blush. This one is subtle, rather attractive. For a long, long time it’s been a favorite of many. Actually, it has been around since the Garden of Eden. Let me give you a few hints:
- It is a philosophy found in numerous self-help books, many poems, and most rags-to-riches biographies.
- It is a recurring theme in political speeches and commencement addresses. It flourishes in academia.
- It feeds our pride, it fuels our self-centered bent, it pleases our flesh.
In a word, it’s humanism.
William Ernest Henley, born in Gloucester, England, in 1849 – crippled since childhood – was among the early humanists. He wrote a piece that is commonly quoted by valedictorians at high-school graduations all across America.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
Pretty heady stuff, isn’t it? Makes you want to get at it, to dig in deeper and try harder, right? After all, if you and I have souls that are unconquerable, the sky’s the limit. If we really are our own master and captain, watch out, world!