Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Limits of Authenticity

There is legitimate cry for authenticity among the people of God. For too long we have been content with a superficial and passionless Christianity. But in our search for authenticity, there is a subtle temptation to exalt authenticity and passion as the greatest of virtues. But the problem with highlighting authenticity and passion as independent virtues is that they gain their virtuous status only in relation to what they modify. They cannot exist independently. Left alone, authenticity, and passion are like life without personality, substance without form. Authentic about what? Sincere about what? Passionate about what? The devil is authentically and passionately evil. In him authenticity is no virtue. Taken alone these descriptors are intoxicating, fresh, creative. They are limitless, without boundaries. But alas! Therein lies the danger, for exalted independently they are empty, and cannot sustain their own weight. Eventually they collapse back in upon them selves. Life cannot endure without personality, and substance must be poured into form. And form and personality necessarily excludes part of that substance and life. When substance is “informed” it is no longer without definition. It is no longer without boundaries. A line has been drawn. It seems stifling, I suppose, but in the end it is truly liberation. The lines of God are lines of freedom, for they provide the structure in which life and substance can actually exist through personality and form. When the blood no longer yields to the structure of the veins, death is the inevitable result. Without the lines of form and personality we have only the call of the siren; she looks right, she feels right, she tastes right… how could she not be right? But she is a mirage, a phantom that promises more than she can give, and in the end her paths lead to death. This is why we must be very careful about exalting authenticity as an independent virtue, chasing after it wherever it is found. To be authentic is nothing; to be authentically godly is everything.

2 comments:

David Nebraska said...

now where did this stem from?

the forester said...

Not only an insightful post -- but beautifully written, too, with vivid images: the blood in the veins, the call of the siren. And a powerful tempo and voice as this piece progresses to the end. Impressive, Gerald!