Is the Age of Authenticity, as so many proclaim?
Popular speakers, like Brene Brown and Oprah Winfrey, say we should embrace our authentic selves. And, after 11 weeks of lockdown, we’re certainly being “authentic” — without haircuts and shaving, manicures and makeup.
The call to authenticity began long ago. Soren Kierkegaard, the 19th Century Danish philosopher, was the first to emphasize its importance. Kierkegaard looked around his sophisticated city of Copenhagen, with crowds flocking to concerts and public events, luminaries publishing books and giving talks. But Kierkegaard looked more deeply at the motives of his fellow citizens. He saw that many of them were anxious to be seen, to get ahead, to fit into society, to not be ostracized by the powers that be. Many were deadly afraid of boredom.
This inauthenticity even extended to faith. Kierkegaard wrote that people were “playing at Christianity” – for them, the church was no more than a social world of Sunday church going, beautiful holidays and gift Bibles that were never opened.
But, is such inauthenticity solved by just, “be yourself,” and, “keep on being you”? Isn’t that what those Danes were doing already?
This Sunday we’ll look at the call to authenticity, through Genesis 20. Abraham and Sarah lie about themselves. Their dilemma deepens our understanding about how hard it is to tell the truth and be authentic about who we are.