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November 27th, 2007

credo fervor



Today I was discussing my law firm with a fellow when one of those moments of credo fervor set in. You may know what I mean by the euphonious but sweet-nothing phrase "credo fervor". The credo fervor is that moment when you realize that you believe in some things about how and why you should work and live very strongly, and you believe that as a positive good in your life you should work for those things as if they were your creed.

I'm always impressed by the idea of first generation v. third generation. The archetypal formulation of this is the early members of the Society of Friends--termed "quakers" because the first generation's zeal produced bursts of religious enthusiasm which were
popularly portrayed in terms of the physical manifestations of the spiritual experience.
Under this myth, the "third generation" quakers had lost the "fire", and settled into a more complacent "institution". This trite little formulation over-simplifies and compartmentalizes the history of the thing. But there is something to be said for the idea that one has to work out what one believes, and then live it. Yet sometimes it all sneaks up on one, a bit. I love that rush that arises when one realizes that one sees what one ought to do, and then sets out to do it.

I like that idea from icelandic mythology that the point is not necessarily to secure some great victory. The point is that the fight is worth fighting because the fight is noble--even if the fight cannot be won. I also like that idea that you don't measure devotion to a cause with a math based upon sheer abundant giving. The person who gives her all to what she believes in--even if it is only a mite--is worth more than someone who gives a lot, but far from their all.

Yet the religious trappings of the analysis freight it all down, a bit, and make something feather-light into something needlessly heavy. It takes a courage to have the right kind of ambition. It's easier to surrender, to submit, and to conform rather than be transformed.

I must remember to own my ambitions, and work to achieve the goals that bring me the delicious feel of that kind of fervor.