A good idea really needs a master

Such a method has the same dangers as an other; that is, it is quite sound when a master uses it, cheapens as it becomes popular, and is unendurable when it is merely fashionable.

So Augustine’s predestination was safe with him, comprehensible in Calvin, tiresome in the English Puritans, and quite horrible in the Scottish presbyteries.

There is no way of saving these things; even Francis of Assisi has produced, unintentionally, circle of hopeless bathos [really poor imitators].

All we can hope is that we may, by grace, recover different modes as and when they are most needed.

-Charles Williams, The Descent of the Dove, p.191

This is a really universal principal. A good idea requires much subtlety, wisdom, and just plain common sense to really be executed properly. It needs a master.

My wife and I were talking about this recently with regards to parenting. Some people have a knack for good parenting. It’s a thousand little things. Some are very strict with their children, making frequent use of corporal punishment. And they kids turn out wonderfully. Others read all the same books, talk the same talk, and it’s easy to see at a glance that their relationship with their children is a mess.

The deep religious writing of the wise 70-year old… in the hands of the 22-year-old zealot. Think it loses something? A ton! Even if the new generation is following the great idea to the letter. This applies the same whether the 22-year-old is a protester at an anti-WTO ralley, an angry Jihadist, or a cage-phase Calvinist.

Williams asserts that this sublty, this mastery cannot be saved. I think that maybe with close discipleship some of it can be. For the most part, he’s right though. We need to keep our eyes open, work hard, and figure out how to be masters ourselves.