In which there is good defiance and bad

by Craig on January 14, 2011

There almost seems to be a good side and a bad side to each of the steps of pride.

Too much good is bad – and a little bad can be good. Not evil –  evil is never good. But more like how a little hardship builds wisdom – but too much destroys. This next one has a good and bad side too. In Bernard of Clairvaux’s 12 Steps of Pride, allow me to introduce…

Step 10.


The setting: World War II

Hitler ordered a mass offensive against Allied forces. It was a desperation move designed to cause division between the Allies. Hitler’s depleted forces “bulged” out of Germany in an all out assault to cut through the Allies and take the city of Antwerp – a major supply hub.

Nazi forces extended out of Germany 60 miles in two days and then a stalemate occurred. In main part this happened because of the defiance

of battered US forces,

with little chance of survival,

in one key town,


This letter went out to them:

“There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well known American humanity.

The German Commander.”

The American forces were outnumbered, outgunned, out positioned, cut off from help, and sitting ducks targeted for a massacre.

Ever felt like that?

But the American forces would not yield. After discussing it over with his commanders the American General McAuliffe sent this eloquent message back:

“To the German Commander,


The American Commander.”

This is the good defiance. To see evil, not yield, believe that there is help on the way, be resolute, dig in, and fight the good fight – that’s good defiance against a ignoble enemy.

But that’s not this defiance.

This one comes when I know I’m wrong. I’m fighting the ignoble defense against the noble force.

This defiance curses the light in the darkness.

This defiance is the feeling of being wronged, being over-punished, being unjustly handled – all the while knowing that the wrong is mine, the consequences fit the wrong, and the only one being unjust is me.

Oh how we can twist things.

I would have said “I” there – but I really didn’t want to feel alone in this.

This defiance is where the blame switches from the wrongdoer to the judge.  I color the judge, the offended one as mean, cruel, and vindictive.  It’s when I strike out in order to defend my wrongdoing – targeting them to take the target off of me.

They have little compassion.

They have even less understanding,

and absolutely no mercy.

This defiance is the voice, which cries,

I’m the one being wronged.

You are so unfair.

I may have made a mistake,

but you are destroying my very soul

for simply stealing a crumb of bread.”

Oh I have been there. And I’m ashamed to admit it.  I hate being able to say I know all these steps so well. I do feel a little better though, about being able to say I’ve seen them from three viewpoints.

I have traveled them well.

I have looked up at them from the darkness.

And now,


I’m looking back at them – and want no part of their ugliness.

Thank you for reading.

I really mean it.

God Bless.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie January 14, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Thank you for showing us the difference between good and bad defiance. On this one, I’m not sure that I had thought much about the good kind . . .was more familiar with the bad. Unfortunately. :) God bless you and the journey you are taking us on!


Craig January 15, 2011 at 5:56 pm

That’s funny – I had never seen the bad side of defiance until Bernard. You’re a better person than me!!!!! :)


Anonymuss January 15, 2011 at 12:39 am

Craig, now I am reflecting…thank you for this. Targeting them to take the target off of me-that is a sneaky one!


Craig January 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Pride A. Pride is so sneaky – it really is. It worms it’s way in and soon all the humble is gone – and then how can we find God – can’t do it without the humble.


Joyce L Gibson January 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm

I have been very fond of our friend Barnard of Clairvaux, but was not familiar with his book which, thanks to you, has brought such brilliant insight and painful conviction. I was ready to ask you when your blogs would be out in print with an accompanying revision of his book. First, though, I checked Amazon. Was surprised at the choices offered. Question: Which one would you recommend for someone who needs to keep a copy handy for frequent surgical treatments?

Thanks for all you pour out of yourself and into our hungry hearts.


Craig January 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm


Find me a publisher and I’ll get that book right out to you – free even :)

The one I found was in the Seminary Library and is long out of print. I really don’t know which to recommend, I only read that one.

This was the book: The Steps of Humility, by Bernard of Clairvaux, translated by George Bosworth Burch University of Notre Dame Press 1963.

And it means so much to me that you read my words. I know I’ve said it before – but it does.

God Bless.


JennaFarelyn January 16, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Thank you for taking the time to write all these steps out. I dont have anything terribly helpful to say, or great insight to share, but I am very thankful to see the journey written out and easily followable. It is always my hope that when I have been through a hard lesson to be able to share the lesson, to help others avoid the suffering. I appreciate your sharing not only the Biblical but the affecting of your heart as well.


Craig January 16, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Thank you Jeni. He walked into a mess, Bernard. Must be few things worse than a bunch of wayward monks on the loose. He grabbed them hard by the neck and tugged them back or pushed them out.

Were your words helpful?

They sure were to me :)


Kim January 16, 2011 at 11:51 pm

“I would have said “I” there – but I really didn’t want to feel alone in this.”

Oh, Craig, you are *so* not alone in that.

I like the contrast you draw between the good defiance against an ignoble enemy…and an ignoble defiance against the noble force.

And I’ve certainly been known to twist those two around…maybe even once or twice this very day.

Perhaps I need to check out each of the previous steps. I’m sure I’ll see myself in them as well.


Craig January 17, 2011 at 10:17 am

Thank you Kim – I kinda hate alone. I think we’ve all spent some time on these steps, some of us all the way to the bottom and back. Thank you for reading.

God Bless


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