ADVERTISING
 
Thursday, January 24   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 
 

POLL
Bible literacy
How often do you read the Bible?







SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Rene Breuel
 

Dancing Hula-Hula in Tahiti

It would be wise to acknowledge what raw individualism takes away from us.

CULTURE MAKING AUTHOR René Breuel 22 DECEMBER 2018 17:00 h GMT+1
Photo: Dan Gold. Unsplash

In an 1867 play called Peer Gynt, Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen expresses what would become one of the fundamental dogmas of modern, and even more post-modern, humanism: “What should a man be? Himself”.



A person is not to become, or to be discovered, or to be pruned and refined, or to conform to an ideal; a person is to be expressed.



As philosopher Tzvetan Todorov explains, “the individual is not formed by succeeding attempts, through encounters or experiences which constitute his destiny, but reveals – or does not reveal – an identity which has always lied in him… No experience is negative in itself, provided it conforms to the being who lives it.”[1]



Though simple common sense in the 21st century, this belief, which Robert Bellah names “expressive individualism”, in his classic Habits of the Heart, was not as obvious in the 19th or even 20th centuries.



For ages men and women understood themselves according to their roles, their duties, their place in society, or the expectations God or people had for them.



People married who was assigned to them; they took the profession their parents had or variations permitted in their social class; they strived to be good fathers, mothers and children; they kept traditions, prayers and prejudices.



We know all too well the wonderful benefits individualism brought us: freedom to follow our own conscience, deeper awareness of oneself, an appreciation of individuality and authenticity, liberty to marry the person with whom we are in love.



We are more in tune with our desires, we can gather the courage to venture into unprestigious or low-paying professions, we choose the lifestyle we want. We can follow or not our parents’ political allegiance, religious beliefs and social self-understanding.



We can, in summary, abandon everything to marry a local Tahitian and establish a Bed & Breakfast in Bora Bora, praying to the spirit of the island, voting Communist and dancing the hula-hula in the evenings, and feel okay about it.



But while still enjoying the benefits of our freer social self, I guess it would be wise to acknowledge also what raw individualism took away from us. If my personal purpose is to just become and express myself, then I lose all meaningful outside sources of identity.



To grow is to refine and use my talents; to love is to follow my tastes. Gone is the notion that I am to be challenged, that often I am in the wrong, that I should resist inclinations and walk away from temptations.



We become a self-referential self, and our windows to the outside world get so fuzzy that they become distorted mirrors of ourselves. As someone put it, “The narrowness of such a gaze, caused by its attention to only one object, causes us to miss the world (not to mention God) for what it is.



All else sits in fuzziness of peripheral vision and is only seen in reference to the primary object, ourselves”.[2]



I should be myself, true. But I guess I should be also my richer self, a better me, and if that is to happen, I have to look beyond myself: I have to listen and to be willing to be challenged.



I have to raise my gaze and look at the world, look at the marvel of existence without having me at its center, and be open to change and grow.



I may still abandon everything and head for Tahiti, but that would be not a decision of someone who shut himself from the outside world, but who chose to listen meaningfully and to become my better self.



[1] Tzvetan Todorov, La Bellezza Salverà il Mondo: Wilde, Rilke, Cvetaeva [Les Aventuriers de l’absolu] (Milano: Garzanti, 2010), 34-35.



[2] Matt Jenson, The Gravity of Sin: Augustine, Luther and Barth on Homo Incurvatus In Se (London and New York: T & T Clark, 2006), 73.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Dancing Hula-Hula in Tahiti
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Bulgaria: Evangelicals ask government to protect religious minorities Bulgaria: Evangelicals ask government to protect religious minorities

Christians rallied in Sofia on November 18 to defend their rights. It is the second Sunday of peaceful demonstrations against a new religion draft law that could severely restrict religious freedom and rights of minority faith confessions.

 
Photos: #WalkForFreedom Photos: #WalkForFreedom

Abolitionists marched through 400 cities in 51 countries. Pictures from Valencia (Spain), October 20.

 
Photos: Reaching people with disabilities Photos: Reaching people with disabilities

Seminars, an arts exhibition, discussion and testimonies. The European Disability Network met in Tallinn.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Did Hitler base his anti-Semitic views on Christianity? Did Hitler base his anti-Semitic views on Christianity?

An answer by Richard Weikart Professor of Modern European History, California State University Stanislaus.

 
China rises 16 places in Open Doors World Watch List China rises 16 places in Open Doors World Watch List

There has been an serious increase in persecution of Christian communities in China in the last months.

 
The source of longing, according to C.S. Lewis The source of longing, according to C.S. Lewis

Jerry Root compares the search for meaning of C.S. Lewis with Saint Augustine's reflections.

 
Bulgarian evangelicals ask politicians to defend “basic freedoms” Bulgarian evangelicals ask politicians to defend “basic freedoms”

Protests and prayers continue in Bulgaria for the sixth week.

 
That night That night

“No one came ot help that night, no nurse to numb the fright...”

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.