Matthew Henry John Bartlett

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Sunday 13 September, 02009

Being yourself

by Matthew Bartlett @ 9:40 pm

I was thinking about the idea of ‘being true to myself’. I will grant for the sake of this exploration that my self is accessible to me and can give me useful guidance. But there are still forces acting on my self that are at more or less beyond my control or even awareness. These include my upbringing, physiology, class, and perhaps especially the ideas-environment my society (mediated by e.g. friends, church, the internet, ads, books, tv) provides me. My self is at least partly formed by these things, and perhaps is the sum of all these influences. So if I consult it, I’m not necessarily hearing from a more authentic or reliable guide than e.g. 3 News.

Maybe there is a Christian way to rescue the idea – maybe there is some immutable core or divine spark that is immune to these influences and therefore potentially reliable. If there is I suppose you would call it a soul, and consider it the part of my self that is e.g. connected to God and the source of creativity. But I’m reading Jacques Ellul’s The Subversion of Christianity, and if I understand him correctly, the Christian claim that God is revealed in Jesus means that there is no other connection to God, hence there is no soul of that sort, or self with special access to the ultimate.

Deleting the privileged self like this opens me up to social interdependence. Others are just as likely as me to have useful things to say into my life, perhaps more so. In fact, I haven’t got any choice but to be affected by others’ input. So maybe my energy ought to go into getting into a good social configuration, rather than to listening hard to my inner voice. Being married to Eliza, being part of St Michael’s Church and Steele Roberts Publishers fit with this.

Your thoughts?

5 responses to “Being yourself”

  1. I think that prettymuch summarises my thoughts on the matter also. I don’t buy into the idea of an inner ‘God-link’, but I don’t know how us ‘imaging’ God peripherates with that concept. In what way(s) does our ‘soul’ or innerness or whathaveyou mirror God? Yeh

  2. danyill says:

    ha. But even so, how will this decision be made? And is it not – even now – perhaps especially now – your inner voice speaking?

    Or perhaps I am hearing only the crash of the waves on the shore?

  3. Matthew Bartlett says:

    I’m saying there isn’t much advantage to peering within and thinking overly hard about how the decision is being made.

  4. danyill says:

    well, i confess that i could never *ever* make that kind of statement and see myself as more of an enlightenment individualist than anything else ;-)

  5. hahsee says:

    There is a book called “Man God” which may help here Matt
    hahsee as ever

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