The story of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32) has both a positive and a negative side. on the positive, it shows that great desire which humanity has to find something or someone beyond themselves, so that they can transcend their own limits. On the down side, it reveals that a lack of patience and a search for instant gratification or a quick fix to this search will end up with a misplaced devotion to a substance, or a creature, rather than God.
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The term “narcissism” is currently popular, in the unfortunately all too common social and political habit of slandering people and name-calling rather than engaging in substantive arguments about issues. It’s not a new phenomenon, of course: the Greeks and Romans had a myth for it. Human nature retains a breathtaking consistency, even in the face of cultural diversity. St Augustine had a term very similar to narcissism which he used to describe the sinful condition of humanity: incurvatus in se (turned in on oneself/ self-absorbed)- and thought it affected even babies, so often considered cute and helpless.
The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) contain an antidote to narcissism. They propose a way of looking at the world, governed not by the cares of the individuals, but by right attitudes: to God, and other people. The first 4 commandments deal with God, the last 6 with relating to others.… Continue reading →