The Prig in us all (Surprised by Joy, Chapter 7)

In his book Surprised by Joy, the autobiography of his early years, C.S. Lewis says, “The moment good taste knows itself, some of its goodness is lost. Even then, however, it is not necessary to take the further downward step of despising the “philistines” who do not share it. Unfortunately, I did.” And thus, Lewis begins to describe how he began to walk down the road toward becoming what he calls a “prig.”

For Lewis, a “prig” was someone who exalted his own tastes in literature and despised everyone who did not share these exalted tastes.

And, if we are honest, we are all prigs at some point. We all exalt our own tastes in literature, clothing, ideas, churches, and even simple things like food or entertainment. We exalt what we like. That in and of itself is not the problem. The problem arises when we think less of others because they do not share our taste.

There is a horrible pride at the center of it all. A pride that exalts my taste in things, and therefore, exalts self. One of the great challenges of gaining understanding is to remain humble as we gain that understanding. It is far too easy to elevate our own position as we grow. Simple fools just do not understand what we people of taste understand.

It is all so childish. It is all so arrogant. And yet, it is all too present.

May God destroy the prig in us all.


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