09 August 2007

I got into a long conversation today with a non-Christian, a particular kind I'm sure you've run across as well -- believes that all human motivation reduces down to selfishness / self-centredness. I'm sure it all comes from reading too much Dawkins.

Anyway, when the notion that love is other-centred rather than self-centred didn't really make a dent in the armour, I went for science: science only advances by people not being self-centred and sticking to their methodological / theoretical guns, but by giving those up and getting out of the way and making the thing they're studying -- the Other -- become more important, more determinative, than themselves.

Then I realized that I wasn't so much arguing for 'selflessness' as I thought I was at the beginning. Love isn't selfless. Science isn't selfless. Music composition, jazz improvisation is not selfless -- else it's just mechanics and we despise it. But neither is it self-centred -- we expect submission to the tempo and key and so on or at least the use of it as a springboard from which to make a musical point. When it is self/ego-centric we also despise it.

Stereotypically, I think God wants us to be ourselves in submission to him. So here's what I'm wondering today. What defines the point when self-denial goes too far to turn Christianity into mechanics and technique? And on the other end, what defines the point where personal response (which I think is good) becomes nothing but self-expression (which I think is bad)? Or am I off-track with all of this and it's all just a matter of taste or something?
This blog is closed now. I've moved to http://gempf.com