Who does J.P. Moreland think he is? (distinguished professor of philosophy at Biola University/ director of The Eido Christian Center/ B.S. from University of Missouri/ ThM from Dallas Seminary/ MA from University of California-Riverside/ oh, and a PhD from University of Southern California/ and there are also the contributions or authoring of 35 books plus more than 200 magazine and journal articles)
But still. Who does he think he is to totally call me out as an empty, self-serving, hobgoblin of the Christian faith? Ok, so he did not say I am a hobgoblin but that is the title of the section in the book I am reading by him. For reference, the book is called Love Your God With All Your Mind. It was originally put out in 1997 but this is the latest and greatest from 2012 through NavPress. The section that is laying the smack down on me is called “The Empty Self as a Hobgoblin to the Life of the Mind: seven traits of the empty self”(Pgs. 101-107).
See if any of these apply to you. I might tell you what applies to me…might.
- The empty self is inordinately individualistic…But the empty self-populating American culture is a self-contained individual who defines his or her own life goals, values, and interests as though he or she were a human atom, isolated from others with little need or responsibility to live for the concerns of the broader community. Self-contained individuals do their own thing and seek to create meaning by looking within their own selves.
- The empty self is infantile…The infantile person is controlled by infantile cravings and constantly seeks to be filled up with and made whole by food, entertainment, and consumer goods. Such a person is preoccupied with sex, physical appearance, and body image and tends to live by feelings and experiences…Boredom is the greatest evil, and amusement the greatest good.
- The empty self is narcissistic. Narcissim is an inordinate and exclusive sense of self-infatuation in which the individual is preoccupied with his or her own self-interest and personal fulfillment…Self-denial is out of the question…The narcissist evaluates the local church, the right books to read, and the other religious practices worthy of his or her time on the basis of how they will further his or her own agenda.
- The empty self is passive...We let other people do our living and thinking for us: the pastor studies the Bible for us, the news media does our political thinking for us, and we let our favorite sports team exercise, struggle, and win for us…Holidays have become vacations. Historically, a “holiday” was a “holy day,” an intrinsically valuable, special, active change of pace in which, through proactive play and recreation, you refresh your soul. A “vacation” is a “vacating” – even the language is passive – in order to let someone else amuse you.
- The empty self is sensate... In 1941, Harvard sociologist Pitirim A. Sorokin wrote a book entitled The Crisis of Our Age. In it, Sorokin claimed that cultures come in two major types: sensate and ideational. In a sensate culture people believe only in the reality of the physical universe capable of being experienced with the five senses. A sensate cutlure is secular, this-worldly, and empirical. By contrast, an ideational culture embraces the sensory world but also accepts the notion that an extra-empirical, immaterial reality can be known as well – a reality consisting in God, the soul, immaterial beings, values, purposes, and various abstract objects like numbers and propositions. Sorokin claimed that a sensate culture will eventually disintegrate because it lacks the intellectual resources necessary to sustain a public and private life conducive of corporate and individual human flourishing.
- The empty self has lost the art of developing an interior life...In the last few decades, however, the self has come to be defined in terms of external factors – the ability to project a pleasurable, powerful personality and the possession of consumer goods – and the quest for celebrity status, image, pleasure, and power has become the preoccupation of a self so defined.
- The empty self is hurried and busy...One must jump from one activity to another and not be exposed to quiet for very long or the emptiness will become apparent. Such a lifestyle creates a deep sense of fatigue in which passivity takes over. And fatigued people either do not have the energy to read or, when they do, choose undemanding material…Distraction and noise are enemies of an intellectual and spiritual life; focus and quiet are its friends.
So here’s to you Professor/Director/Doctor J.P. Moreland for bringing to the surface the selfishness and inadequate search for purpose in life to the forefront of my reality. Now for the hard task of restructuring my worldview in light of this material.