"To whom much was given, of him much will be required."
Noblesse oblige—it's in the Bible. I've never seen a stronger sense of this than I did in my teacher and friend Harold O. J. Brown, a Harvard College graduate magna cum laude, Danforth and Fulbright fellow, coach of the Harvard rowing team the year it won the Henley Regatta, fluent in a number of modern languages, etc., etc. He had a strong sense of his giftedness, but what I think was seen as humility among those with whom he worked most of his life I would interpret as noblesse oblige, which isn't exactly the same thing.
Not that he wasn't genuinely humble, too—he understood perfectly well that we are to esteem others as greater than ourselves—but I did see signs that it wasn't exactly easy for him. Joe liked to belt out "Bow, bow, ye lower middle classes" from Iolanthe from time to time, and with some gusto. This, however, he would only do in the company of close friends, probably when lowliness of heart was getting to him and he was tired of dealing with exalted lowliness of brain.
S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more from the online archives