Core: noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the Latin cor, meaning heart.

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 Volume 2.11 This View’s Prose November 18, 2002 


    The Children of Grace and the Children of Legality    
         
   

“Sacrifice” is another word liable to misunderstanding. It is generally held to be noble and loving in proportion as its sacrificial nature is consciously felt by the person who is sacrificing himself. The direct contrary is the truth. To feel sacrifice consciously as self-sacrifice argues a failure in love.

When a job is undertaken from necessity, or from a grim sense of disagreeable duty, the worker is self-consciously aware of the toils and pains he undergoes, and will say: “I have made such and such sacrifices for this.” But when the job is a labor of love, the sacrifices will present themselves to the worker — strange as it may seem — in the guise of enjoyment. Moralists, looking on at this, will always judge that the former kind of sacrifice is more admirable than the latter, because the moralist, whatever he may pretend, has far more respect for pride than for love.

The Puritan assumption that all action disagreeable to the doer is ipso facto more meritorious than enjoyable action, is firmly rooted in this exaggerated valuation set on pride. I do not mean that there is no nobility in doing unpleasant things from a sense of duty, but only that there is more nobility in doing them gladly out of sheer love of the job. The Puritan thinks otherwise; he is inclined to say, “Of course. So-and-so works very hard and has given up a good deal for such-and-such a cause, but there’s no merit in that — he enjoys it.” The merit, of course, lies precisely in the enjoyment, and the nobility of So-and-so consists in the very fact that he is the kind of person to whom the doing of that piece of work is delightful.

It is because, behind the restrictions of the moral code, we instinctively recognize the greater validity of the law of nature, that we do always in our heart of hearts prefer the children of grace to the children of legality. We recognize a false ring in the demanding voice which proclaims: “I have sacrificed the best years of my life to my profession (my family, my country, or whatever it may be), and have a right to expect some return.” The code compels us to admit the claim, but there is something in the expression of it that repels us.

Conversely, however, the children of legality are shocked by the resolute refusal of the children of light to insist on this kind of claim and — still more disconcertingly — by their angry assertion of love’s right to self-sacrifice. Those, for example, who obligingly inform creative artists of methods by which (with a little corrupting of their creative purpose) they could make more money, are often very excusably shocked by the fury with which they are sent about their business. Indeed, creative love has its darker aspects, and will sacrifice, not only itself, but others to its overmastering ends.

   
         
   

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957)

   
   

The Mind of the Maker (1941)
Chapter IX “The Love of the Creature” pp. 133ff

   

    The Defense of Liberty    
         
    What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling seacoasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength of our gallant and disciplined army. These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of them may be turned against our liberties, without making us stronger or weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage, and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises.
   
         
    Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
   
    from Speech at Edwardsville, Illinois, September 11, 1858
Collected Works
Volume III p. 95
   



 Volume 2.11 This View’s Prose November 18, 2002 





The View from the Core, and all original material, © 2002 E. L. Core. All rights reserved.

Cor ad cor loquitur J. H. Newman — “Heart speaks to heart”