Thursday, April 15, 2010
I love Greek myths. You may remember the story of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool, staring at himself and finally dying when he realized that he could not “have” himself. The nymph Echo repeated Narcissus’ words endlessly, until she too was reduced to mere vocality echoing into the woods.I agree with this entirely and his observation that this is pure narcissism is deep wisdom. To it, I want to add one other observation - it is a recipe for permanent immaturity.
The lesson from the myth is that we are supposed to avoid the vanity of too much mirror-gazing. When we become too absorbed with ourselves, or, by extension, people who look like us, we are worthless to the world.
I think about this frequently when I see how easily churches slip into the subtle narcissism of age segmentation:
In other cases, even worship options reflect age segmentation. One service is “traditional,” with softer music and a bit more liturgy. Another is peppier, with a praise team. A third, livelier service meets on Saturday nights, hoping to target young adults. In some cases, the average age of the worshiper varies by more than a decade between the various options. What’s more, this segmentation can be passive: the volume of one service is just as effective in keeping out the “oldsters” from that service (for fear that they will “harsh the worship buzz”) as were the stern-faced deacons in many Southern churches who once kept out the folks of a darker hue of melanin. The Perry Como-esque music of another service likewise keeps out the “rambunctious whipper-snappers” who tend to “disrupt” the quiet of that setting.
In the end, we run the danger of turning church into a narcissistic pool where we see our reflections and miss out on the true object of our worship: God. We allow our group identity to drive our Bible studies and sermons, rather than allowing His Word to speak to us as a faith community.
If we stay segregated in our own age group, we never get to pick up on the wisdom of age. There is much "support" with our peers, but there is much to learn from those that have been down the path before.
In the narcissism of age segmentation we hide from growth - we hide from wisdom. Proverbs opens this way:
Prov 1:1-7:One wonders is the age segementation discussed here is not foolishness?
The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction, to discern the sayings of understanding,
To receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity;
To give prudence to the naive, to the youth knowledge and discretion,
A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
To understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. [empasis added]
Personal/Administrative Note: As this post automatically appears to day I will be wheeling in to the O.R. at a local hospital to undergo about 6 hours of plastic surgery. Regular readers know I have lost weight measured in the hundreds of pounds over the last few years and that results in "leftovers" that no amount of exercise can fully deal with - hence the surgery.
This blog will be on "auto-pilot" during recovery - all written and scheduled to post. If you want to keep up on the gory details, find me on Facebook. Your prayers are appreciated.