On Charm and Character Development

Saw this article title from BBC, “The Tricks to Make Yourself Effortlessly Charming” To be clear, I’m not against people being charming. In fact, if somehow there really are simple lifehacks that enable you to become charming, I suggest you take them right away. Charming is infinitely better than borish, draining, and toxic.

But I’m intrigued by the idea of an ‘effortless’ transformation into charm. Is ‘effortless’ the thing that is meant to attract us to this pursuit?

Most character development takes discipline and work, because for us to become better, there are obstacles within ourselves that have to be overcome. For instance, what if the reason I am boorish is because I love to talk about myself and I’m generally not interested in other people. Then there is a vice standing in my way between me and charm. That vice being self-centeredness. Charm will be impossible until that vice is overcome.

That vice cannot be overcome until I discover that the new virtue is more beautiful than the selfishness I presently have and currently enjoy. And even once it does become beautiful to me, it will require work re-wire my habits of thought and body towards that new virtue.

And the hang-up beneath that is the vice of laziness that sees work and discipline as inherently ugly and unattractive. This too must be overcome.

All this to say, the idea of effortless transformation sounds great to us. But it tends not to be how true transformation happens. And for that reason there is a deeper work in the soul that has to be done before we can do the work to be charming or whatever else.

Tradition and Scripture in the Reformed… Tradition

“Just because one seeks to recover a tradition, one is not necessarily
committed to what we have called an archaeological reconstruction of the tradition. For a Reformed theologian any tradition, the Reformed tradition as well, needs to be measured against Scripture to determine whether it is of value. It is Scripture which has authority and the tradition only has authority when it is based on Scripture. The tradition needs to be evaluated and re-evaluated and those elements in it which are most solid emphasized. In any tradition there are elements which have played a significant role because of the needs of the day, but which in few generations no longer seemed meaningful. In every tradition, there
are the marks of compromises with the culture. There are things the
religious leaders would have liked to have done but which the state would not permit or the people would not support.” -Hughes Oliphant Old, Worship

Thomas Merton’s Description of the 21st Century

A society “whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and to create as many new desires and synthetic passions as possible, in order to cater to them with the products of our factories and printing presses and movie studios and all the rest.” Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain