Friday, 11 March 2011

Narcissus and the death of the Church.

The ancient Greek legend of Narcissus

“Narcissus or Narkissos (Greek: Νάρκισσος), possibly derived from ναρκη (narke) meaning "sleep, numbness," in Greek mythology was a hunter from the territory of Thespiae in Boeotia who was renowned for his beauty. He was exceptionally proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. As divine punishment he fell in love with his own reflection in a pool, not realizing it was merely an image, and he wasted away to death, not being able to leave the beauty of his own reflection.”  (from Wikipedia)

What the legend fails to reveal is that any reflection in a pool is inevitably distorted by the sunlight or lack of sunlight, by the ripples of the water, and by the depth of the pool.

Reflected light always has distortions.

In Christian theology the Church is meant to be a reflection of the glory, compassion, grace, and mercy of God.  Indeed, that’s why there is a Church.  It exists to reflect the goodness of God, NOT to project its own glory!

At its best the Church, with all its flaws, is an imperfect reflection of everything that this good and true about God.

At its worst the Church is in love with its own image, and like Narcissus it  is doomed to die.

The death of the narcissistic Church will be good news for the world.  And when that happens the loving and gracious God will find some other way to disclose her glory, compassion, grace and mercy for the utter well-being of humans and of all creation.

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