Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Glimpse Into Our Culture

The infamous former Governor of New Jersey who resigned because he was a "gay American" penned a biographical perspective entitled The Confession (which I have not read).  But I did read a news story about it.  They drew two quotes from his book and the interview about it and his life to date.  Both quotes are telling but not so much for Mr. McGreevey as for our culture in America today.

Mr. McGreevey admitted to having a lifelong addiction to “having a public,” and described his new ambition as attaining “a life organized in harmony with my heart.”"Having a public" certainly means being in the public eye, calling attention to himself, being seen as important or significant in the general population, having access to the public media (both because he is "public" and because comments on public things).  However you read this, you cannot help but recall Warhol's "fifteen minutes of fame" and see how thoroughly this has been absorbed into our culture.  I should talk, right, cause I write a blog.  And I suppose there is truth to this.  We all seek to make our lives significant in some way and one of the ways we verify our significance is the fact that others pay attention to us.  In this way Mr. McGreevey is hardly different from the typical American.  We use the social networking media in order to elevate our exposure and we judge our success from the number of friends we have.  Even among Christians it is hard to take our identity and self-esteem from the baptismal declaration of God.

Under this is a very empty soul seeking to be exchange this emptiness for ultimate meaning.  However successful we might be at having a public, our quest for significance and our desire to be noticed will hardly be satisfied by the momentary view of others.  It is a desire which must constantly be fed.  We delight in the elevation of solitary life, of living apart, to the beat of a different drummer, but in the end we march in step with our presumed public in search of more and more ways to connect.  It is a quest for community and friendship that drives us but in the distorted way of sin it ends up settling for having a public.  What will satisfy us is nothing less than the real community afforded by the friendship of God in Christ and the koinonia or life together afforded by Him and sustained by His through the community gathered around the Word and Sacraments.  Which makes Mr. McGreevey's case even more ironic because is desire to have a public is now shaping his question for the priesthood (albeit in the Episcopal Church, a decidedly more gay friendly place than his form Roman Catholic home).  If he is successful and continues to seek a public by being a priest, he will fail in the first and have corrupted in the second.

And then there is the great line about attaining a life in harmony with my heart.  Romantic, emblematic of our culture, noble in its expression.... but a proven way to lose your self.  It is not our heart which needs to shape our lives but Christ.  It is not harmony with the heart that brings blessed peace but harmony with God through the reconciliation worked in the death and resurrection of Christ.  I could spend paragraphs on this but, again, the point is so ironic.  He who would be a priest is in search of a life in harmony with his heart.  If anyone should know that this is foolish and empty, it should be a priest.  But alas, he is not much different than the rest of us who figure out what we believe and then seek after a faith and a life that reflects this homemade faith.  Christianity condemns this not because it is idolatry (which it is) but because it leads to nothing and only the revelation of Christ leads to the something that truly does bring harmony and peace that passes understanding....


Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

Well said. "Follow your heart" has become a noble endeavor instead of the glorified selfishness that it is. The Christian hears (or at least ought to) 'follow your heart' and remembers Jeremiah 17:9, Matthew 15:19, Romans 8:13, and says' 'following my heart? That's the problem, not the solution!'

Your heart will lead you to break your marriage vows, abandon your family, defy God's created order and convince you that all this rebellion is the path to inner peace.

Anonymous said...

McGreevey is an egomaniac who wants
to flaunt his homosexuality. He has
decided the Episcopal clergy is the
best place to do it. Perhaps he will
encounter the Scripture text:
Be not deceived, God is not mocked.

Love of self is one of the besetting
sins of the Last Days. The Bible
reminds us that there will be many
false teachers who believe in
themselves but not Christ.