Abductive Columns

Saturday, December 10, 2005


One in five of us has already been hit by “identity theft,” a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of information such as Social Security and driver's license numbers and uses such data for their own personal gain. To 21st century house thieves, the TV and DVD player are less valuable than personal information from bank statements and other documents. Strategies for stealing your identity range from low tech (lost post, shoulder surfing, dumpster diving) to high tech (phishing, pharming, keylogging, social engineering). But no matter what method is employed, “identity theft” is one of the worst nightmares of your life, resulting in financial loss, bad credit rating, and untold hours of phone calls undoing the damage done to your records and reputation.

Our spiritual identity is stolen by the same means. Does scripture not teach that the evil one comes like a thief in the night . . . to steal, pillage and plunder our identity as sons and daughters of God? In fact, a key indicator of identity theft in postmodern culture is the prevalence of the psychiatric diagnosis of “borderline personality,” which covers a multitude of symptoms that have one thing in common: people are in desperate straits trying to compose a coherent and compelling narrative for “who am I?” There are so many choices, so many options, that one’s identity gets scattered and fragmented. The borderline personality, and its surging cousin, multiple personality disorder (MPD), are psychological signposts of postmodern culture. My story isn’t working for me anymore, so let’s try another one. But I don’t want to totally let go of the one that isn’t working, so I’ll simply add on other one.

The whole of “celebrity culture” can be seen as a narrative vehicle for people who are looking for a rewrite, for potted narratives, or a copy editor (internal or external) to give them a bigger and better storyline. From the standpoint of the celebrity, however, it’s a Faustian deal, not with the devil but with vampires. For the price of becoming a “celebrity” is the loss of self. Your very “self” is sucked out of you to become a public possession. The notion of a “self” disappears since everything about you—-your authenticity, your integrity, your selfhood----becomes a transaction with the public.

Jesus in the copy editor of human life.
from the book “The Three Hardest Words in the World to Get Right" by Leonard Sweet; release date: March 2006


At 4:35 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

That's some good stuff there.


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