Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Culture of Narcissism

When the mail arrived yesterday morning, I realized again how blessed by God I am with such wonderful friends. Cory and Joelle, friends from San Luis Obispo, read about my stolen laptop and burned a CD with pictures of the girls and me from their wedding last summer at Mare Island.

The silver lining of it all is I now have some pictorial memories on my new laptop that I didn't even have on my old laptop!

Thanks, Cory and Joelle. And Suzi, the Woodward Park paparazzi. And everyone else who has shared pictures with us. You all are great, great blessings in our lives!


Here's three really intriguing paragraphs from Christopher Lasch's book The Culture of Narcissism. It's amazing how cyclical life is, when you weigh Lasch's analysis of our narcissistic culture against the root causes of the Fall. As I continue to study Genesis 3, I continue to be amazed at how much of our current culture mirrors the very basic deceptions of Satan in the Garden.

Regarding consumerism: "In a simpler time, advertising merely called attention to the product and extolled its advantages. Now if manufactures a product of its own: the consumer, perpetually unsatisfied, restless, anxious, and bored. It educates the masses into an unappeasable appetite not only for goods but for new experiences and personal fulfillment. It upholds consumption as the answer to the age-old discontents of loneliness, sickness, weariness, lack of sexual satisfaction; at the same time it creates new forms of discontent peculiar to the modern age. It plays seductively to the malaise of industrial civilization. Is your job boring and meaningless? Is your life empty? Consumption promises to fill the aching void" (72).

Regarding generational transfer: "Wisdom is one of the few comforts of age...The real value of the accumulated wisdom of a lifetime is that it can be handed on to future generations. Our society, however, has lost this conception of wisdom and knowledge. It holds an instrumental view of knowledge, according to which technological change constantly renders knowledge obsolete and therefore nontransferable. The older generation has nothing to teach the younger...except to equip it with the emotional and intellectual resources to make its own choices and to deal with unstructured situations for which there are no reliable precedents or precepts" (212).

Regarding aging: "The prolongevity movement (the desire to live long for the sake of living long)...arises not as a natural response to medical improvements that have prolonged life expectancy but from changing social relations and social attitudes, which cause people to lose interest in the young and in posterity, to cling desperately to their own youth, to seek by every possible means to prolong their own lives, and to make way only with the greatest reluctance for new generations...The dread of age originates not in a cult of youth but in a cult of the self" (216-7).