Sunday, December 15, 2013

Self Actualization Is Sin

12/15/2013—I was introduced to a fragment of Christian theology, based I believe on the thought of Eberhard Jungel, that was surprising. According to this thought, the drive for self-actualization, which we hear in the language of striving for excellence, is itself sin because it leads to the nothingness of the relationless life. Instead, God comes to us in the interruption of all of our plans for our lives. God comes to us in the person of the other as the one we did not expect and do not wish to hear about and now must serve.

What was strange about this is that we all teach our children something quite different. My children were certainly taught to seek excellence, in sports for example. We all think it is good that we have plans and hopes and dreams for ourselves. All this, says Jungel, is self absorption and lead us away from life. Life is interruption.

This way of thinking has obvious implications for marriage and family life. Marriage can be thought of as a way of fulfilling one's own needs. Or, marriage can be thought of as service to the needs of one's beloved.

Children are the ultimate interruption. Their interruption, of course, turns out to be the call of real-life over against our delusions.

Jungel's thought illustrates how Christianity is the best antidote for excessive capitalism. Capitalism worships excellence and self-actualization. Capitalism wants us to ignore the needs of the unexpected and unwelcome other. Christianity stands against this. It might be asked, what else in the world stands against this?

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