King David: Warrior and Poet After God’s Own Heart (14)

King Saul and David (1 Samuel 18)

In the previous post I introduced the concept of narcissism.  Perhaps a working definition is needed prior to  proceeding:

extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.

John_W._Waterhouse_-_Echo_and_Narcissus(1903)

Echo and Narcissus* – John W. Waterhouse (1903)

The Narcissism of our Present Age

The core conceit of current narcissism is this:

The evidence-less presumption that I and my like-minded comrades stand at the absolute pinnacle of human virtue.  Therefore, anyone who deviates from my worldview, regardless of if they are my contemporaries or lived centuries earlier, can be motivated only by a combination of inexcusable stupidity and evil.

man-selfieAlthough the above description is useful in a general sense, there remains a significant gap between it and a compelling explanation of its application to our particular time and place.  I finally ran across a passage, from a piece discussing the current situation in France (by Christopher Caldwell) that excellently fills this need (emphasis added):

Upwardly mobile urbanites, observes Guilluy, call Paris “the land of possibilities,” the “ideapolis.” One is reminded of Richard Florida and other extollers of the “Creative Class.” The good fortune of Creative Class members appears (to them) to have nothing to do with any kind of capitalist struggle. Never have conditions been more favorable for deluding a class of fortunate people into thinking that they owe their privilege to being nicer, or smarter, or more honest, than everyone else. Why would they think otherwise? They never meet anyone who disagrees with them. The immigrants with whom the creatives share the city are dazzlingly different, exotic, even frightening, but on the central question of our time—whether the global economic system is working or failing—they see eye to eye. “Our Immigrants, Our Strength,” was the title of a New York Times op-ed signed by London mayor Sadiq Khan, New York mayor Bill de Blasio, and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo after September’s terrorist bomb blasts in New York. This estrangement is why electoral results around the world last year—from Brexit to the election of Donald Trump—proved so difficult to anticipate. Those outside the city gates in la France périphérique are invisible, their wishes incomprehensible. It’s as if they don’t exist. But they do.

Yes, there is no doubt in my mind that these “fortunate people” are deluded to a degree that is nothing short of scandalous.  That they occupy the pinnacle of power in our nations can only be explained by a monumental failure of the temporal Christian church, parenthood, government, education and media, among others.  This is what civilizational failure looks like.  In the following post I will address the central delusion that has resulted in this sorry situation.



*Echo and Narcissus is a myth from Ovid‘s Metamorphoses, a Latin mythological epic from the Augustan Age.

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Why Can’t You be Nice Like Christians are Suppose to Be? (Part 2)

How did you respond to the previous post’s questions?  My answers are:

  1. Only in the first scenario did the wife demonstrate love for her spouse
  2. In the second scenario, the wife demonstrated the opposite of love, which is not hate or anger, but indifference

When we are angry with someone it means that we care enough to respond strongly to what we consider to be their wrong beliefs and/or behavior.  However, when we are indifferent to someone, when we have no feelings one way or the other about what they believe and/or do, we are showing that there is no care in our heart.

The wife in the second scenario was so indifferent to her husband that she raised no opposition to his self-destruction.  The wife in the first scenario cared so much that she engaged her whole self in an attempt to prevent that same self-destruction.

When I engage in criticism of the PCUSA leadership it is a sure sign that I care about them and about what they are doing to the church.  I believe that their beliefs and actions are causing destruction to themselves and the church, and thus must be opposed.

Were I to cease this criticism and move on to other things, that would be indifference.

The question now is how did we arrive at an understanding of Christianity that has led to practical indifference to virtually anything that others believe and/or do, which I believe is the exact opposite of love.

Why Can’t You be Nice Like Christians are Suppose to Be? (Part 1)

the-niceties-of-being-nice

Opening Comments

I’m certain that some who read this blog are uncomfortable, if not off-put, by my deep, broad and sustained criticism of the PCUSA leadership.  This reaction may be independent from the merits of my arguments.  That is, there is a powerful presumption that the defining characteristic of a true Christian is that they are always nice to everyone.  I’m going to explore this idea in the following posts.  But, before I dig into the details, I’d ask that the reader consider the following two scenarios.

Background

There is a married couple with a young child.  They have been married for three years.  The husband injures his neck, and, is prescribed pain medication.  His condition improves, but, he has become addicted to the medication.  So, he begins to obtain these and other drugs illegally, and, over time his behavior shifts markedly towards dishonesty, unreliability and selfishness.  These behavioral shift and the underlying addiction have a negative impact on all of his activities and relationships, most severely on his family.

Scenario #1

Early on the wife senses subtle but disconcerting changes in her husband’s behavior.  She engages with him in conversation, attempting to understand what’s going on in his life.  However, he is not responsive, and, over time, his condition worsens.  His wife begins to investigate this change.  She engages the husband in probing conversations, she thinks about his words and actions, seeking to find a credible motivating cause, and, she becomes progressively more aggressive about engaging her husband on this set of issues.  But, all is for naught.  As her husband descends into ever more serious deception and addiction, his job suffers, their friends are off-put and their once happy family begins to fall apart.

Finally, after having tried every other conceivable means, the wife confronts her husband directly.  She forces him to observe the wreck his behaviors have wrought.  She exposes the lies that he has told.  She points back to all that has been lost.  In this last desperate measure she is attempting to save him and all that his life had meant prior to the descent into this dark and dangerous addiction.

Scenario #2

Although the wife eventually becomes aware of changes in her husband’s behavior, she is so focused on her own personal and career issues that she doesn’t pay much attention.  Over time, as his condition worsens, she responds by taking on responsibilities that her husband had previously covered.  This added load causes increased stress, which leads her to further distance herself from her mate.  Over time, their lives increasingly separate, with him descending into ever greater addiction.  As his life falls apart she focuses on creating a new life for herself and the child.

Finally, she files for a divorce.  She puts her husband behind her and moves forward into a new life.  She loses touch with him, and has no idea if he was able to right his life or not.

Questions:

  1. In one of these scenarios did the wife show love for her husband?  If so, which one?
  2. If you said “yes” to one scenario in question 1, how would you characterize the wife’s behavior in the other scenario?