Narcissism

Often, modernism or ecumenism is identified as the cancer that is eating away at Christianity (forgive the cancer reference, but I have it on the brain right now). I believe, however, that one of the diseases from which these other symptoms emerge is narcissism, and that it not only affects Christianity, but society as a whole.

Focusing exclusively on Christianity, however, when a woman says, “‘And all mankind’ makes me feel excluded,” she is being narcisssistic. The church and its worship is not about her, or me, or how it may make us feel. It is about worshipping God. Period. My feelings, exclusion, political correctness, all of these are substituting ourselves as the focus of worship. Further, it is narcissistic to the point of dishonesty, as she knows that “mankind” is a gender-neutral word, as is “man.” By insisting that it is not, she is placing herself at the center, and demanding that the liturgy revolve around her.

The crucial concept here is substitute. Narcissism is not merely injected into worship. It replaces God with oneself. It is the purest, most heinous blasphemy. And it goes far further than just wanting “inclusive” language.

Churches can be divided into two groups: Those who view worship as worshipping God, with God at its center; and those who view worship as affirmation of one’s essential goodness, in which God plays no real part. Liberal, mainstream Protestants fall into the second category, as do the Episcopalians. The church is there to make everybody feel good about themselves, whether it is because they are attracted to members of the same sex, or whether it is because they want to grandstand about how open-minded they are about those attracted to the same sex (or pick your favorite liberal issue). Deacon Greg has a couple of examples of narcissism, here and here, and Scelata, here. In fact, there are so many examples of how we have made ourselves God and pushed God out of worship that it’s almost ridiculous to point them out.

Because naricissm replaces God with ourselves, it is fundamentally anti-Christian. Giving in to the narcissistic demands of others is fundamentally anti-Christian. That the church for two thousand years did not confuse the roles of men and women within it is the supreme argument against confusing those roles now, whether by allowing girls access to the Holy Table or creating a deaconess — not the historical deaconess, but the functional equivalent of a deacon — for women. It is not that women have no role within the Church; it is that narcissistic women demand that the roles of men be opened unto them, an entirely different issue. These women have no theological argument other than how they feel — their own narcissism.

Were I a bit less foggy from the morphine, I would argue that the two forces most destructive to Christianity and by extension, civilization, are narcissism and the social gospel. I have dealt some with the meta-heresy of the social gospel in this article. Unfortunately, it has a far more insidious hold than narcissism, and the two will destroy what realms of Christianity eschew God for feelings.

(The particular expression of narcissism I have chosen ties in with another issue Leon J. Podles addressed in his thought provoking historical study, The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity which he has placed online here. I just discovered that he’d placed it online — I own a hardcover — and may well blog it more now that I can provide online links.)

Now, a church is certainly primarily a place for worship, but it isn’t entirely so. A church is also a social unit, a community, a network of missions, a body that has all kinds of social functions. Yet all of these are subsumed by the church as a place of worship, and although one needn’t be as mindful of narcissism in more social contexts, one should still be on guard that it doesn’t bleed over into worship. Once God has been displaced, there is no more worship, and no more church, only a social club.

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2 Responses to Narcissism

  1. Dirk says:

    You touch on so many issues I have been dealing with, and do such a wonderful job of putting them into coherent text that I have to admit to being a little jealous, and at the same time suspicious that you have somehow been secretly following me. The narcissistic woman I have run into is the minister at the church I no longer attend, the one my ancestors helped start well over 100 years ago and one in which my family was still very active. The worship services are no longer about worshiping God buy about worshiping the minister, we are automatically forgiven for every sin we commit so do whatever you want, God is good with it. God’s forgiveness has nothing to do with repenting, that is expecting too much.

  2. retriever says:

    Bird Dog linked your blog (where I have often read and usually agreed with your comments), and just wanted to let you know that I will be praying daily for you. May God strengthen you, and lighten the weight of your physical pains, may your church share His love with you, and may you draw closer to Him in this time of trial in the knowledge that He holds you close.

    So, please forgive a stranger commenting, but wanted to wish you well, and remind you of those words of Dame Julian of Norwich who, even if a “mere” female (ahem..do not agree with you on women’s ordination, tho on much else I do) from “Revelations of Divine Love”:

    “And with this insight he also showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand. It seemed to me as round as a ball. I gazed at it and thought, ‘What can this be?’ And I was given this general answer, ‘It is everything that is made.’ I marveled how this could be, for it was so small it seemed it might fall suddenly into nothingness. Then I heard the answer, ‘It lasts, and always will, because God loves it; and thus everything has being through the love of God.”

    Liked what you wrote about the difference between liberal and orthodox churches. It is not that we ourselves are the be-all and end-all or that the faith is about making us feel good. But that the point of our lives, sometimes small, sometimes hard, sometimes seemingly nothing, is that they partake in God’s glory. Which lasts, and always will…

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