Transparent Self-Absorption

kinnon —  October 23, 2009 — 2 Comments

I have a friend who is a gifted and prodigious writer; often expressing both his deep love for, and deep frustration with, the church – writing openly as a flawed and broken individual.

He recently received an unsolicited email accusing him of being self-absorbed. This from a writer who wears his hubris on his sleeve, mouse clutched tightly in angry hand, stained grey by his clicks on Photoshop menus. My friend’s interlocutor – the trusted sidekick of one who is self-enthroned on the Judgment Seat of God, offering insight as to who is in and who is outside the Kingdom – the sidekick similarly infected.


My friend’s great sin, he writes transparently. He reveals himself, warts and all. His struggles, his passions, his musings, his diatribes, his insights – offered freely to all who are interested. And many of us are. His audience is one of the largest in the Jesus-focused blogosphere.

Baseball loving writer, Red Smith once said, “writing is easy, you just open a vein and bleed.” And this my friend does. Which is problematic for those who insist they have all the answers or follow another who does – reflecting the too-often binary nature of blogdom’s pushed pixel universe – one’s and zeros, black and white, in and out.

I am reminded of Jesus’ story of the tax collector and the pharisee. [Luke 18:9-14 from the Message]

He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income.’

“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.'”

Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

Like the tax collector, I am a flawed and broken man in desperate need of a Saviour. And when I climb up on the soapbox that is this blog with my latest pontification, it is obvious I am no pontiff. My writing simply the bleating of a wounded sheep still trusting in the love, care and mercy of the Good Shepherd.

As to my friend; he is no more self-absorbed than any good writer. He reveals himself to his readers – in the true sense of the word – and makes those who hate personal revelation uncomfortable. More power to him.

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

2 responses to Transparent Self-Absorption

  1. My heart goes out to your writer friend. Thanks to books like Prozac Nation, we tend to confuse narcissism with transparency. A key difference is that a transparent person admits to their flaws and brokenness. (With a narcissist, they’re the superior beings where it’s everyone else’s problem.) You take a writer like Henri Nouwen, who is so transparent especially in his later work when he moved to L’Arche, that it is like the pages of his book were blotting papers that absorbs all of his pain and joy so that you can get a real glimpse into the light of his soul – and by doing so, see us for who we are warts and all.

    That’s so freakin’ scary that we can so easily shoot the messenger thinking that will prevent us from having to deal with this message.

  2. Well, such an email from said person is no big surprise. I read his blog for about 6 months a few years ago, but had to cut it from my diet for fear of being cumulatively poisoned by his venom.

    Never in the history of Christendom has the name of a major, nationally-known ministry been so ironic.


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