new life fellowship

serving jesus christ the king

Solar Collision

I came across a quote the other day that made me stop and think:

“The public display of one’s wrongs, one’s pitiableness, which would have seemed shameful, ignoble, and even disgusting before World War II, became in the 1970’s the distinctive American style.” (David Frum:
How we got here)

It struck a chord—ok, it might have taken a few decades for it to make it over this side of the pond. But how often do we see people displaying their wrongs and their shameful behaviour with no concept of remorse? Talk-shows abound with people queuing up to admit and defend all sorts of behaviour. Dirty washing is aired in public—and without shame. Formula One chief Max Mosley is less concerned about being caught in a sadomasochistic orgy than with there being Nazi overtones to it.

Rather than simply lamenting these changes, we need to understand why they happen.

Society, instead of being ordered around virtue, has become restructured around the self. The values we hold have become focused on ourselves and what works best for us.

There has been a shift from virtue (standards of right and wrong) to personal preferences. There has been a shift from character to personality. The focus used to be on character traits such integrity, kindness, duty, reputation; now we focus on being attractive, fascinating, outgoing, flamboyant etc. And people are famous because of their personalities, not because of their deep-rooted and admirable character traits, but almost rather for the lack of them.

The fascination with wealth and what we can buy, and the ever changing, reissuing, re-branding and updating of everything means that more and more we chase the tantalising dream of being with it. And so we commit ourselves to chasing valueless things, until our values become just as fleeting and changeable.

We have become self-absorbed and self-centred in our living. It all revolves around us. Magazines bombard us with articles focused one way or another on external issues such as looks, home improvements, fitness, purchasing holiday homes, etc. Look at how few people get involved in community association meetings or tidy-ups. Nearly everything we turn to accelerates this self-absorbed downward spiral. Is life all about me?

It’s as if everyone is trying to be the sun in the solar system, seeking everything to revolve around them. We want to be free to live how we want, regardless of how it impacts others. We want to be free to get what we want, regardless of others slaving in sweatshops on the other side of the world.

And when everyone wants to be the sun in the solar system, you don’t have a solar
system; you have solar chaos and collision. There can only be one sun in the solar system. And instead of the planets fighting out who revolves around whom, we need to acknowledge that there is one greater than us, and it is only when we order our lives around God that we can break this downward spiral.

It is no co-incidence that as we have lost sight of God there has been a loss of thankfulness. We have reduced everything to a consumer mindset, so why should we be thankful when we are only getting what we deserve. In becoming pre-occupied with ourselves, we think that we are the great providers. Yet we forget how much of life depends, not on what we can do for ourselves, but on circumstances beyond our control.

We are not the great gods we think we are, and we need desperately to humbly extract ourselves from our self absorption and lift our eyes upwards before our self-centredness implodes on us.