Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Entry #5: Keywords - The Ego Has Landed

The Ego Has Landed
by Donald James Parker

"Space, the final frontier", starts out the memorable TV series Star Trek. I'm convinced that is a correct statement–if being applied to the space between our ears. Our brains are unbelievably powerful and complex computer-like machines. And one of the most amazing things about our ability to think is our capacity to analyze the perceptions that strike us and the opinions generated by those insights into the way the world works. In my many years of pondering the universe, I've come to the conclusion that truth is like an onion. Just when I think I've peeled away the last layer, I discover another one. My recent foray into the world of writing and publishing has caused me to do some more peeling. This layer I've exposed contains some very hard to swallow moral fiber. As I broach this topic, I feel like perhaps Einstein did when he revealed his theory of relativity. Some people got it, but most shook their heads. What I'm about to write will not be extremely popular and may alienate you. Do I care? Yes, but not enough to preclude doing what I feel led (hopefully by God) to say.

Ego is a very dangerous element of life. People such as Oprah are touting the importance of stroking the ego and feeding it. That perhaps fits perfectly into the mold of 'The World', but we as Christ followers are supposed to keep ourselves unspotted from "The world." How does ego come into play with that Heavenly directive, and what does this topic have to do with entertainment? I'm so glad you asked that question. I've come to the conclusion that the words Christian celebrity should constitute an oxymoron. Do they? I look around at the behavior of the modern world towards the few individuals who have the opportunity to strut their talents in front of the population of the globe. The term worship can be applied in some cases. I have a sneaking suspicion that God is not thrilled to see his children worship siblings because their visage appears on the big screen or the boob-tube or they've written best-selling books. Of course, I'm somewhat of an outspoken radical. I find a problem with clapping for someone who performs a beautiful song at church. I'd like to mentally clap for God for creating music and giving that person the beautiful voice and remain in an attitude of worship. We shouldn't attend church to inflate the ego of any pastor, teacher, performer, etcetera. We are called to love and encourage people. How does one do that without encouraging their ego? I'm afraid there is a very fine line.

I've dug into this dilemma fairly deeply, but believe me, I'm learning more as I type these words. As a writer, it makes me feel good to have people say nice things about my work. Is that the fuel that keeps this engine going? It shouldn't be, but I realize how hard it is to withstand the natural desires we have to be appreciated by other humans. If God gave me the talent to write, how can I claim any right to boast or even feel proud about what He wrote through me? There are a couple of examples that I wish to use to illustrate my point. Peter said that he perceived that God was no respecter of persons. But God loves everybody, right? How can he love without respecting? What did Peter mean by "persons?" To me he meant position: mayor, movie star, author, singer, etcetera. God does not think you are more special because you've risen to the top rung of the ladder in a field of human achievement. His interest is having you descend to a level where you don't consider yourself above the people around you. Jesus said the greatest among us would be the servants of all. Evangelists and preachers are no exception to the rule. Instead of seeing men in flashy clothes and jewelry strutting their stuff on the stage, I want to see people washing the feet of a homeless nobody, not to show how humble they are (another ego trap), but to demonstrate true love that they have for God's adopted offspring. We, my friends, are called to be like the perfume that Mary Magdalene poured out on Jesus. In order for that aromatic scent to flow, we must be broken like the alabaster jar. That container goes by another name: the ego – the insatiable ego. I don't think it can ever be filled and therein lies part of the danger. If we are not set on letting it starve to death, we'll fill our days fighting to pamper it. I watched the movie of Peter Seller's life. He was one of my favorite comedians and a very funny guy. His real life was far from humorous, due to his incessant ego trips involving ballistic tantrums whenever people didn't treat him like the "star" he was.

One of the things that used to bug me was autograph seekers. I did that once as a young lad (my target was a football player named Bobby Bell). Later I had a chance to meet Ken Griffey Jr., who at the time was THE major league baseball star. I passed up the opportunity because I'd arrived at a position where I realized that seeking autographs is part of the vanity spoken about in Ecclesiastes. When I became a writer and the book signing thing was foisted upon me, I had a shift in attitude. My signature blurb is not an autograph but rather a little piece of me given willingly with a blessing upon them. When I get a book signed by an author, that is what I want to take away as well.

I recently sent a letter to a friend of mine who is in the movie profession. My letter was not complimentary. I challenged him that if he indeed was involved in spreading God's word, he needed to improve the quality of his product. Our ego tells us that what we've done is wonderful, and we stand up against the critics. The word "mine" echoes through our heads as we even contemplate someone else tampering with our work. Believe me. I am sitting here now imagining people criticizing my writing and how defensive I would probably be. I was on pins and needles for days after I sent that letter. A zillion questions went through my head. Would my friend still be my friend afterward? Did I hurt his feelings? Was I being a spokesman for God, or just doing a fleshly thing? He has not responded.

The human body is composed of about 75 trillion cells. Some of them comprise the hand, some the foot, some the heart, some the brain, etcetera. They don't strive to become a portion of a body part which is more important and brings more glory. Can you imagine the chaos in our system if the foot cells decided the heart was the cool place to be and migrated up? For example, how I wish every Christian in the limelight could grasp this vision. I think it would revolutionize our planet if those in positions of honor, will honor only Him who put them in those positions. Perhaps you can direct some of your prayers for our representatives in Hollywood and Nashville, etcetera, so they might get the vision of how their talents are to be used to serve, not to win admiration and glory for themselves. And please help those poor folks who make it to the top by not placing them on pedestals where they don't belong.

My own journey is far from complete, but I see the destination. I realize for me to really produce something that is beyond human criticism, it has to be delivered by the Holy Spirit, which means that I really would not be doing it at all. All I would be doing is emptying out the pipeline so that I could be a conduit for the pure words of God. That is not an easy task, and I need encouragement. The competition for men's attention and respect is unbelievable. I've come to the conclusion that just like the game of Thermonuclear War can never be won, so too is the game of satisfying the human ego. Everybody loses. Instead of waking up every day with the question, "how can I enhance my reputation today", I want to say, "Lord, what can I do today to lighten the burden of someone else's yoke?" On Christ the solid rock I stand – all other ground is sinking sand. The ego trip is an arduous climb up a slippery slope, one more slippery than helping your unemployed Grandmother play midwife for a pregnant dolphin on vacation from SeaWorld.

Submitted by
Donald James Parker

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