Tuesday, June 06, 2017

He who flatters you deceives you ...

Like when they 'Like' you on Facebook maybe?

That is why Facebook is so addictive I think.  "They like me, they really, really like me!"  You tell yourself it isn't true - that it's just a thing - but deep down, you believe it.  Yes you do.  What?

I was happy the Holy Father mentioned flattery in his homily for today.  Flattery is lethal - for me especially.  I fall for it all of the time.  I do better with scorn and contempt.  But I digress.

Flattery, the Pope said, is triggered by “bad intentions” as in the case of the doctors of the law in today’s liturgical reading. They put Jesus to the test, flattering him first and then asking him a question with the intention of making him fall into the wrong: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”

[Flattery] the Pope continued “is that the language of hypocrisy is the language of deceit, it is the same language the serpent used with Eve.”

It begins with flattery, he said, and ends up destroying people: “it tears to pieces the personality and the soul of a person. It destroys communities”. - VR

I've had blogger friends who just loved me at one time, complimented me, even praised stuff I wrote. One in particular corresponded with me extensively by email, this former friend used to call me to talk - about stuff I used to write about more often than I do now.  I was always honest with him, and when I would say something critical - or question him about something, he took offense.  Over time, he dropped me from his links and followers, all that stuff one does on social media to unfriend a person.   As Pope Francis might say, 'he maybe had something to hide' - for a time, I was deceived by his flattery.

There is a meditation from Thomas Merton I wanted to reflect upon, but for now, I'll just post the following. Merton speaks about the 'false self' saying, "Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person."  On some level, this is who we project online, especially when we put our best self out there. Or, those looking at us, may view us from the perspective of their 'illusory self' - seeing in us, reading into our posts, what they want us to be, or want to hear. Maybe. Kinda/sorta. It's a complicated thought ... but I think it's related to flattery ... kinda/sorta.

"But there is no substance under the things with which I am clothed. I am hollow, and my structure of pleasures and ambitions has no foundation. I am objectified in them. But they are all destined by their very contingency to be destroyed. And when they are gone there will be nothing left of me but my own nakedness and emptiness and hollowness, to tell me that I am my own mistake." - Thomas Merton

That really hit me over the head.  A vain man seeks approval from others.   For what?

John of the Cross quotes Isaiah saying, "He who praises you deceives you." It seems to me that is always true - for me at least. Vain praise has caused me so much harm in the past. Though the one who flatters or praises may be sincere, I remain the one deceived. No matter how much I would rebuff these things, there is always some level of unconscious satisfaction or sense of approbation which often leads to a certain presumption, or at least complacency.

You will soon be deceived if you only regard the outward show of men. - Imitation, Bk. II, Chp. 7:3

Song for this post here.


  1. Well, fine then! I'll never tell you I love you ever again! And...........no more "likes" either.

    1. It's funny because I just paid a sincere compliment to someon on Facebook, and thought of my post. I wasn't trying to flatter however - so there is a difference I probably should write about.

  2. This post is *amazing*! Seriously, you are the best! Did anybody ever tell you that you have amazing cheek bones? And your spelling is freaking AWSUM!

    1. I am swooning. Thanks Mark! It means so much. I will do and say what ever you want now.

  3. Giving positive feedback has become fashionable. Flattery implies insincerity to me. Also, an element of manipulation too.

    1. I agree - positive feedback is different, also encouraging words. Vain praise is completely different. Rejoicing in it opens one to manipulation.

  4. That blogger you used to correspond with and chat with...I just KNOW it was Fr. Z!!! What?


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