"Valley of Humility/Mountains of Conceit"

From: Carl W. Conrad (cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu)
Date: Fri Nov 15 1996 - 09:57:35 EST

Randy Leedy has written me for some clarification about my comment the
other day in the silly little post with the subject-header "Carolina
Greeks" about North Carolina as "a valley of humility between two mountains
of conceit." And lest anyone else, whether or not they reside in any one of
these grand states, should have been misled by the tone or import of that
comment, I want to make a clarification about it right now.

Randy, please, please, please! Do NOT imagine that even in humor I meant
anything personal about YOU, any more than that I meant anything personal
about our list-owner. The point is the one in the second paragraph, and it
derives from a humorous piece that I read many years ago based upon the
parable in Luke of the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector. It was called "The
Prayer of a Modern Pharisee," and when I find it among my mother's papers
somewhere, I'll post it to the list. The real butt of the humor was the
North Carolinian, whose prayer parodied the Pharisee's "I thank thee, Lord,
that I am not like other men, such as that Tax Collector over there ..."
Specifically, the line in question went something like this: "I thank thee,
Lord, that I am white, male, Anglo-Saxon, residing in the state of North
Carolina, that valley of humility between two towering mountains of
conceit, Virginia and South Carolina ..."

I wondered as soon as I had posted that weird "Carolina Greeks" thing
whether it had been a mistake to include the "valley of humility/mountains
of conceit" thing without explanation, and I am sorry to see I had reason
to worry. Of course the North Carolinian in the prayer has delusions of
personal Uriah Heepish humility and thinks of the smug old colonial pride
of the rich plantation-owners of ante-bellum Virginia and South
Carolina--but in the context, the North Carolinian here is meant to be seen
as subject to his own towering delusion of innocence. Make any sense?

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018
cwconrad@artsci.wustl.edu OR cwc@oui.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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