Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Muggeridge and Virtue

I've been having a great time reading Malcolm Muggeridge's 3 volume autobiography 'Chronicles of Wasted Time'. It's a wonderfully cynical and humorous work, and is an invitation to deepen one's own cynicism about politicians and, especially, journalists (the way he writes about his time as a journalist at the Guardian is as illuminating as it is wicked). I'm just coming to the end of the second volume which deals, among other things, with his time in the secret service in Africa during the Second World War. He makes this observation:

"As so often happens, Afrikaners tend to combine a tolerance of collective wickedness, as is embodied in the vile doctrine of apartheid, with particular squeamishness in matters of personal behaviour. Similarly, the privately immoral are often the loudest in protestations of public virtue. Hence the insistence of the New Testament that a balance must be struck and maintained between our duty to God and to our neighhbour."

As a Lutheran I would prefer to say that we must distinguish but never separate our duty to God and to our neighbour. But still, an interesting observation that seems to hold good today.

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