Are We in a Narcissism Epidemic? | Newsweek Culture | Newsweek.com: "But no matter how you were raised, the handiest cure for narcissism used to be life. Whether through fate, circumstances or moral imperative, our culture kept hubris in check. Now, we encourage it. Pastors preach of a Jesus that wants us to be rich."
This is from an article on a new book by Jean Twenge and W. Keith Campbell called "The Narcissism Epidemic," released last week.
I haven't read the book but the article makes no mention of God or religion save the quotation above. So, let me say that "the handiest cure for narcissism used to be" religion. Or more specifically Monotheism. "God is God and you are not" is a handy cure for narcissism.
The Newsweek article submits this as evidence of our culture encouraging narcissism: "Pastors preach of a Jesus who wants us to be rich."
Hmm. Religious leaders have always done this since Jesus walked dusty streets of Jerusalem. Most of Jesus' first hearers thought he would make them all rich and prosperous by becoming King and throwing out the wicked Romans. So, there was narcissism in the Jesus' day. Fascinating. One of Jesus' closest friends and disciples, Simon Peter, tried to tell Jesus to stop talking about giving his life for others and Jesus told him to put a cork in it (here and here). It's hard to stay a narcissist when you follow Jesus.
The article has no mention of pastors who preach that when you stop worshiping the Triune God you necessarily begin to worship an idol and that all idolatry is a form of self-worship. You can find those pastors here, here and here. Why no mention of these? It's not like these churches are in a corner somewhere either. In fact I think Tim Keller has been featured in Newsweek.
So why not mention pastors of nationally prominent churches who attract young people by preaching against narcissism? As I mentioned here: "blogging (long form tweeting) fear, loathing, and high-handedness..." about X "...sells more books and blog ads than blogging about the balance between narcissism and self expression in general, which is as old as Job's laments."
If this generation is more narcissistic, it is because it is the least religious generation. But even as I write those words I suspect them as overstatement. Narcissism is the binary alternative to worship of the the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It always has been and always will. In this sense I am as big a narcissist as Simon Peter and Abraham. God help me.