Whether oscillating between righteous indignation and moral outrage or pontificating on why and how just about everyone else fails to live up to their (i.e. the Almighty’s) standards, the sanctimonious are particularly tough to take.
When those whom the Lord of Hosts has on speed dial do deign to speak to us mere mortals, it is often done in a tone that is dripping with condescension. How can it be otherwise? To paraphrase Whit Stillman’s line in his movie Metropolitan, they see the world from such lofty heights that everything below is a bit pathetic to them.
And yet not quite so trivial and pathetic as to keep them from beaking off at the drop of a mitre (or yarmulke). Their disdain is, sadly, rarely quiet, their disapproval almost never silent. They are more than happy to spout off about whatever it is that they feel needs the firm hand of their correction. Our errant ways being a constant affront to their pious sensibilities, their only recourse is to give us a judgmental smack on the wrist at best or a holy tongue lashing at worst.
It seems to me that there is a barely concealed pleasure in doing what they do – a sickly sweet, dark delight in not only pointing out the error of our ways but rubbing our noses in it and all the while holding up their own saintly schnozzes when doing so.
Maybe that is why it is gives us such a guilty (or not so guilty) pleasure when we see the condemner himself get condemned. Religious leaders exposed in sex scandals and bible-thumping ministers caught in some moral malfeasance or other. That ‘status drop’ satisfies our inner sense of justice, especially if said justice is of the poetic kind. Seeing someone ‘hoist with his own petar,’ as Hamlet would say, restores our faith that the wicked do not go unpunished.
And while the final judgment is ultimately up to a Higher Power, I have an almost uncontrollable urge to take the biggest, thickest, heaviest biblical tome and say to the smug hypocrites, “Let me impress upon you the Word of our Lord!” just before pounding their heads into their chests.
Not the most angelic of approaches, I’ll grant you.
Unless you count the Angel of Death.
Or at least the Angel of Severe Blunt Force Trauma.