If you have really read any of the things I have written, and done so for a while, you may know that I am more analytic in dealing with the culture from a Christian standpoint then others; that is, I am more immersed in things of this world than what your typical Christian may look like. I don’t talk about it a lot for fear that I may weaken a brother’s view of myself or in God’s dealings with me. But, I am who I am, and by the grace of God I am saved, and I have the freedom to choose what I involve myself in. If God wants me to put something or other away from myself, it would be sinful of me to ignore Him. If it was that God called me to delete the Infected Mushroom songs off my ipod, I would. There are many things in my life that I have had a lifetime habit of, and God has called me away from that, yet I still struggle within me to free myself from such burdens.
It is a conscious choice I have to make every day.
That all being said, I wanted to talk about a book I have recently finished and the connections I see with our self-absorbed culture of today. Which is what I enjoy doing on this site anyway: view my life and/or the culture surrounding it, and it’s impact on who I am now, and it’s possible relationship to Christianity. The book is one typically not read on a regular basis by most Christians. I have a pile of books on my nightstand I intend to get around to, have half-finished, or stays there for reference. These are mostly of the Christian variety. Growing up I read a lot of horror. Generally in the vein of Stephen King and such. I still pick up an occasional King and I am eagerly awaiting the local library to hold my copy of “Doctor Sleep”, the continuation of his thirty-three year old book “The Shining”. I have picked up some of King’s books or many others, only to reject them because I am judging where content or theme is going, and it is not to a place I would rather go.
The seasons of this world affect my preferences of what I read. Autumn is the time when I like to read something a bit more dark. I came across several lists of the “most” scary books, and one came up on several. Being that I never actually read it, I decided to pick it up. The book is, “The Haunting of Hill House”. You may know the story: four people gather at a supposedly haunted house, get frightened by several strange goings-on, culminating in the death of one of them. The focus on the book is a woman named Eleanor. She seems to be a shy, unassertive person who creates a fantasy world in her own mind. My daughter just asked me if I liked it, (she is wondering what I’m doing), and I said, “Mmm… yeah.” The book had its frightening moments, I like a little horror now and then. But, it was the end that shocked me a bit and drew all your attention away from the accounts of the horror the characters experienced. It tells me something about our culture now, the one we built with the advent of the internet, facebook, twitter and the like. In fact, I may be perpetuating this culture in what I am doing now. Back when I had my operation, I wondered about how narcissistic I am in writing so many things about myself. How self-absorbed do you have to be to write all about yourself, and how the world relates to you, and your thoughts, and your feelings, and all this stuff about you, you, you? It is why I haven’t been writing as much lately as I use to. I have to sort it all out in my mind. I am a very introspective guy, you see, much like Eleanor is in this book.
Eleanor’s path of self-absorption, led to her destruction. “Is that where I am headed to?” I ask myself.
There is a scene in the book, the beginning of chapter 6, where Eleanor and Luke are talking outside. All Eleanor can think about is whatever Luke answers to her, is that he is trying to impress her and how he answers reveals his real understanding of who he thinks she is. Whether she is simple and easily impressed, or looking for someone gallant ready to sweep her off her feet, or that she is complex and mystical. With each answer she predicts he will say, she is disgusted and looks down on him for his trite ways he is looking to impress her. It is revealed later that Luke is in with Theodora, perhaps. The book is vague on some points. But, the fact is she is so self-absorbed, she thinks all Luke wants is her, and she is unwilling to concede that he may be worthy. Now, in previous chapters, her flights of fantasy in her head are truly a bit more simple: where she would live, what her house would look like, that sort of thing. Now that she is in situation where she thinks she may be wanted, or needed, a perception I believe she is doing herself, she is making herself more complex, more difficult to be swayed.
Later on in the book, Eleanor is wandering around, listening to three different conversations. With the first conversation overheard, she wants to hear her name be spoken. “Say my name!” she implores in her mind. The people talking say everyone else’s name in the house except hers. She goes on to the next. Again, all other names are said but hers. And again, the same thing. I started to imagine that Eleanor was really a part of the house the whole time. That she put herself in these previous situations, where they responded to her, only in her own mind. When she first got there, she was witty, playful and involved in the group. They all seemed silly. Then Eleanor went off on strange rants about her name and how important it was that they knew her name. The silliness of the group began to dwindle, and Eleanor began to have more inner thoughts as at the beginning.
Names are important. I just got through reading in the Bible the section in Genesis where God asks Jacob, “What is your name?” The last time someone asked him this, he lied, said it was Esau. God knows names are important, valuable even. When He renames people, it takes on a deeper meaning. Their previous name was just a reflection of how God saw them.
When I was younger I had built many fantastical ideas around who I was, where I was, how I affected the world, and who I would become. I had created alter egos to deal with situations I knew I could never deal with. But, God called my name. Yet I still deal with the residual ideas I created in my own head; as you can see in the long introduction trying to convince you that I am not who you may consider me to be. But God knows me. He understands me. I may not fully understand what that means, as I’ve told people the reason I blog is to discover more about what I understand who I am. Isn’t it enough that God understands me? I am reminded of a song we sang in church when I was younger that stuck with me: “To be understood as to understand”. That is a big part of me: understanding who I am.
Eleanor wanted to be known; to be understood. Whether she was a personification of what the house stood for, or if she was a real person and the manifestations of the house were completely her responsibility, she had a desire to be needed; to be understood.
I asked someone today, who asked me to be friends on that one site, why he is on there. He didn’t really have a good answer. He doesn’t do much on the site, but I suppose he feels it mandatory to be on there. There are many different types of facebook users as there are people, but I can group them in three categories: The person who contributes everything, the person who contributes some things, and the person who contributes nothing.
Why are we on there? To be understood? If that is the case, is it the right medium? I’ve written about this all before, and there is nothing new under the sun. What I write has probably been hashed out to death. But, it is something I need to hash out for myself. To understand. I have come to the point on that one site, that I know who I am on there now. It took a lot of soul-searching and struggle, but I finally know. Have for some months now. “What?” you say. “A lot of soul-searching?” you say. Yes. As I’ve said, I am quite introspective, almost to the point of self-destruction. I admire those who never delve too deeply within themselves and can smile confidently meeting someone new, casually carrying on easy conversations of not too important subjects. But I can’t do that. I push myself hard to meet new people. To talk. Maybe, lately it has been a bit easier, because I do understand that I don’t have to understand myself fully, but God does completely. And that is enough… (yes I am working on this too).
I know who I am in Christ. I am His son. Thank God that all who I understand needs to understand me is Him, and I will strive to serve Him all my days.
“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 4:6-7
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10