Mega Ego Infusion
Robert Wurtz II
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:16, 17)
The Century of the Self
In the early 1900’s Edward Bernay’s, nephew of Sigmund Freud, worked with banks, manufacturing companies, Hollywood, the Federal Government, and a host of other groups to exploit discoveries Freud had made about human psychology while performing psychoanalysis. All he really discovered is that human beings have unconscious desires that dictate their decision making. Basically, he discovered clinically that people are subject to the three things mentioned in 1 John 2:16, 17. Edward Bernays knew he could manipulate people in various ways by appealing to their unconscious desires because he said people were ‘stupid’. He was master of propaganda and invented the term, ‘public relations’ or ‘P.R.’. By appealing to men and womens ego (desire for self-exaltation), he could manipulate them into working hard and buying products designed to express themselves. It was at this time that products began to be marketed and sold for the sole purpose of feeding men and womens ego. Once we understand this fact, a lot of things about the world we live in today and why people behave as they do makes perfect sense.
Possessions, Pleasure and Popularity
1 John 2:16, 17 is summarized as possessions, pleasure and popularity. This is critical to understand because a person that is moving in these things is of the world and is at enmity with God. That is a very very sobering thing to consider. If your life is about your possessions, living for pleasure and exalting in popularity you are a friend of the world and the enemy of God. Edward Bernays was the key figure in exploiting these things in modern times. He basically invented pop-culture. Think about it. We are taught in the world that we should build ourselves up so as to be envied. If people want to be like us then we have achieved the goal. This is the epitome of pride. This is the personality of Satan reflected in his present evil world. What? Should we think the world is in the image of Jesus? No! It is in the image of the Devil. Jesus was in the form of God, but did not think equality with God a thing to be grasped. He walked in utter humility. Satan uses every means he possibly can to exalt himself above others, including God. Jesus told the people that they were of their father the Devil and the lusts of their father they will do. This is why the rat-race of popular culture, that lives for possessions, pleasure and popularity is so effective. Forsaking this mentality would mean a complete change of personality and nature. God’s children have the mind and nature of Christ, not the mind and nature of Satan. If we pretend to be of God when we live for possessions, pleasure and popularity we add to all of our crimes the fact that we are misrepresenting God and are in line for a greater damnation.
There is a tremendous danger I want to explore in this entry that plays out on multiple levels. The danger is that we would turn the churches of God into a microcosm of the pop-culturalism we see in this present evil world, that we ought to be not only be immune to, but being salt and light to offset the moral degeneracy that accompanies it. Many believe that the only way to reach the world is to become like them, but this is obviously not Christianity. It is diabolical. Rather than being lights in the world, we become lights for the world. John gives us a snap shot of the primary motivators; the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Again, this is pleasure, possessions and popularity. They have been called the only three tools in the Devil’s tool kit with which he damns the race of men. To be given over to these three things is to be at enmity with God. To teach people that this is the path of Christianity is to play the Devil at the highest level.
The ‘Rock Star’ Generation
We see the fruits of Edward Bernays strategy on every hand. The world makes zeros into hero’s and we call them, ‘rock stars’, ‘teen idols’, or ‘celebrities.’ Once these people are exalted, they are then used to promote (peddle) products that when purchased will give the buyer the sense that they are just as ‘cool’ or ‘hip’ as the celebrity that dons them. The working of these things is so subtle that one may think that this is happening through a natural course of events, while in reality powerful forces are at work utilizing television, radio, magazines, Internet social media, etc. to make people into stars that become similar to what are known in business as cash cows. In business, a cash cow is a product or a business unit that generates profit margins so high that it is responsible for a large amount of a company’s operating profit. People are made up and built up to become icons that ‘sell’. They become powerful influences upon the everyday behaviors of the people that follow them. They influence how they act, how they carry themselves and most importantly to them, where they spend their money. When this process begins they are watched to see if they have what it takes to draw a crowd and sell goods. They get promoted until their popularity no longer has legs and they are eventually discarded as washed up. When the crowds start coming the money starts flowing. For example, when a rock star can no longer draw a huge crowd as before they drop their venue from the large football stadium, to the local basketball arena, to the large old theatre, to the county fair, and then finally they’re back to the bar or club scene they started out in. Then comes the mockery stage. Not long after the crowds stop coming the person is usually strung out on drugs and alcohol, dead, or mocked by the next generation that loathes their accomplishments almost as much as their admirers loved them. Very few fully escape this fate. All the while they that bought products to identify with the star such as clothing, etc., go into their closets and throw it all away and replace it with the latest stars clothing. When looking at old pictures they are horrified to think they used to dress that way or wear their hair that way, while at the same time not realizing that in 20 years they will be horrified by how they are dressing right now. It is folly to the uttermost. But it goes to show that what the Devil is doing in the world is working and working well!
Moving to the Limelight
What happens? The world makes a person popular and a multitude of trappings ensue. They constantly have to be coming out with a new hit song or a new ‘cool’ outfit ad infinitum. The popularity of the movies, songs and clothing lines are designed to be so fleeting, that a steady stream of them have to be being put forward continually. They operate on the old saying, “a fool and his money are soon parted.” These people set the trends for youth and even adults that seek to be culturally ‘relevant’ in order to capitalize on them. This is one of the reasons why we have plunged into moral degeneracy in Western society. The television, radio, magazines, etc. of the 1950’s-1990’s changed the face of Western Nations by exploiting the lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and the pride of life. This opened the door for the social media influences of the 2000’s and beyond. Suddenly, everyone on the planet was enabled to market themselves like a rock star, pro athlete, or Hollywood celebrity. This is what Myspace, Facebook, and other popular media outlets enabled. There was even a popular song written about it that suggested, “I’m soooo much cooler online!” If you will stop and think about it, this whole system has cultivated in the mind and heart of the average person a tremendous desire to be popular and idolized. Coupled with this was a new brand of reality shows that created a means of young people expressing the very desire the world was cultivating and that desire was to be an idol like the idols that were created before them. I don’t think its a stretch to say that it opened a desire in the hearts of young men and women to be worshipped and adored. Suddenly the young guy wants to be the object of a thousand young girls gushing and weeping holding their mouths in awe at a concert as when the Beatles came to America or as Elvis went on stage at the local concert. Talk about a mega ego infusion. But what happens when this shows up in the churches of God?
We all have talents and abilities, but what are we using them for? Do we use them to exalt ourselves? What about our possessions. Do we use those to boast against others? Edward Bernays taught men that if they bought a cool car they could pick up girls. He advertised women with their arm around the man looking all starry-eyed. The sad thing is, many of man have bought a Corvette, Mustang or Camaro to pick up the girls and it worked. Too bad they didn’t know how Bernays thought they did these things because they were stupid. All he seemed to care about was getting paid to present these concepts and exploit fallen man’s unconscious sinful desires. What about athletes? They use their athleticism to exalt themselves. There is no new thing under the sun. I recall as a child watching Andy Griffith sitting on the porch under the moonlight playing his guitar to his girlfriend. Why? The same reason why girls in the 80’s wanted to marry a drummer like the ones in the hair bands. I watched it go on all through high school. It was like guys and girls sat around trying to figure out what they were going to do to get themselves exalted and marketable. These are all worldly mindsets and contrary to the Kingdom of God.
The Greatest Idol
For all that is in the world we ought not to find it in the churches of God. Yet, it is amazing how many Christians will preface their self-exaltation with statements like, “hide me behind the Cross, Lord.” This is foolishness. God has told us to humble ourselves. It is our job, not His. If He has to get involved it’s going to be a bad day. Jesus made Himself of no reputation. He didn’t seek to be popular and envied. No one was ever jealous of Jesus’ worldliness. He was not a rock star. Nor does He want His children acting like rock stars no matter what pop-Christianity displays. We are called to have the mind of Christ.