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Why You, Christian, Shouldn’t Strive to “Be Yourself.” You Should Be Something More.
We hear this advice a lot over the course of our lives, but what does it really mean? To the thinking of the world this short phrase connotes a kind of individualism, an individualism that is often understood as a rebellion against what is perceived as the “norm.” It is the adolescent cry of the heart, or the sentiment of the old Frank Sinatra song, “I Gotta Be Me,” as if this were enough to excuse any and all actions. But is this really all there is to this idea of being yourself? For the Christian, being “yourself” carries a much different connotation. The above interpretation is rooted in the thinking of the world, which is finite and often shallow and materialistic. For example, we live in what we have commonly come to understand as a “consumer society.” Our economy is no longer based on industrial or agricultural, labor-intensive output. Rather, the health of today’s economy is based more and more on the idea of our spending as consumers. We make less and less, but spend more and more on entertainment and stuff at every level and every kind. Matthew Kelly opens his book Perfectly Yourself with three questions: “Are we still consumers, or are we being consumed? Have we lost something or ourselves to this unbridled consumerism? Can we get it back?” In Disney's "Aladdin," the genie reminds the hero to "bee" himself. As Kelly then goes on to talk about, Aladdin's eyeroll response might be more appropriate - and telling. He writes about the idea of “branding.” Noting that our first use of brands was to mark ownership of cattle, and more terrifying, of human slaves, it is a bit odd that we go about every day wearing brand names on our…