Vanity and anti Semitism

Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher,
    vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

Thus starts the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.

But what I really want to talk about is the anti Semitism that is supposedly rife in the Labour party: Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has said words condemning Labour over this . (Mr Cameron has better watch out, anti Semitism is not unknown in his own party).

Anti Semitism, like all forms of racism, indeed all forms of bigotry, is a form of vanity. We are vain to think we are better than others, there cannot be bigotry in humility. Which is why vanity is one of the eight deadly sins in Christian tradition.

What is that chorus I hear? There are only seven, and vanity is not on the list?

Well originally there were eight, but not sins but eight deadly attitudes. Vanity, or vainglory, was on the list. Evarigus made the list: Gluttony, fornication, avarice, anger, sadness, acedia, vainglory and pride.

By the time of Pope Gregory the list had become reversed, and the attitudes became sins. Sadness became envy, Acedia became sloth. But vainglory was not dropped when it was dropped from the list. It was included with pride.

So as long as there are people who seek after the praise of others, who see themselves as more important or better than others, who, inshort, are vain, there will not be an end to racism. No matter what political party, or none, they are involved in or support.


Inspiration for this was watching the news after reading Stephen Cherry’s excellent book The Dark Side of the Soul.

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