7 Takes on Identity Mostly

7 Takes on Identity Mostly January 29, 2021

Well, it is Friday, and it sure is cold out there, and getting colder, so that’s super fun (by which I mean not fun at all).


Really good Stand Firm Podcast this week. There’s been a lot of stuff about Revoice swirling around because of the ACNA bishop’s statement and they talk about that. Great way to think more about that exciting topic, Concupiscence.


I am slowly working my way through Carl Trueman’s The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self and have broken down and violated my own rule of never writing in any of my books. I just don’t like to write in books because I feel like it spoils them when I want to read them again later. I end up just reading all the bits I underlined instead of reading them for who they are and that annoys me. However, in this case, almost every line is so interesting that I’ve taken a pencil and have been lightly making dots next to be most salient and enlightening portions. As I said, basically all of it.


Like this bit:

Satisfaction and meaning—authenticity—are now found by an inward turn, and the culture is reconfigured to this end. Indeed, it must now serve the purpose of meeting my psychological needs; I must not tailor my psychological needs to the nature of society, for that would create anxiety and make me inauthentic.

And this (going backward through the chapter):

Shattering sexual codes is therefore one of the principal emancipatory tasks of the political revolutionary. But few people have read Reich or Marcuse or Firestone. Fewer still perhaps accept the Marxist-Freudian metanarrative on which their politicized view of sex rests. But some of the ideas of these thinkers and philosophies are now part of the broader social imaginary of the West and have become the intuitive orthodoxy of much of society (for example, that oppression is primarily a psychological category enforced through sex and gender codes). That is part of the world of psychological man or expressive individualism, where personal authenticity is found through public performance of inward desires. And the most powerful inward desires of most people are sexual in nature, so identity itself has come to be thought of as strongly sexual in nature.

Like I said, so, so interesting.


For some reason, as I’ve been reading it, apropos of probably nothing, I keep finding myself thinking of Hélène Cixous and her bit about the orange (paging Eckhart Tolle):

The orange is a moment. Not forgetting the orange is one thing. Recalling the orange is another thing. Rejoining it is another. At least three times are needed in order to begin to understand the infinite immensity of the moment. I have been living around an orange for three days. I am scarcely beginning to measure its importance. It’s bearings. During the three days three thin nights flow, three winks of a day, a blink after each flash of red lightning. Its radiance. The beginning of the moment lasts seventy-two hours which don’t take place near the orange, seventy-two pages of the daily news of mortals, that I have not read, not received.

Should be in French, obviously, but I happened to have an English translation.


I’ve been circling around in my own mind for the last week (since the bishops put out their statement), the question of what is the trouble with identity anyway. The problem is that the self is so divided. There is no “integration” for lack of a better word. The modern person has to fight to join the parts of the subjective experience together to create a whole because there is no outside force strong enough to do it. Identities and feelings compete for ascendancy and leave a person feeling fractured, splayed out like pieces of an orange on a plate with no unifying perception or reality to put them together again. In the competition, something will win, and it is often sex (which is often simplistically mislabeled as “love”) because that part of the person is so much stronger than the others.

Which, in some roundabout way, I think is what the bishops of the ACNA are saying. Your primary identity has to be Christian, that’s the only thing strong enough to bring all the parts together as one. And this has a deep wisdom about it, because even in the world, identifying yourself by your sexuality does bring some coherence to the whole. The sex part is strong enough, in some sense, to provide the cementing identity that a person needs to be able to function.

When you bring that identity alongside the Christian one, and I think this has really been what’s bothered me all week, the Christ part says that the sex part has to go. You can’t have your sexuality as your primary marker of identity. The Christ part has to go first—of course—because he is the only one that has any power to unite and restore all the disparate and competing forces of desire and need into something integrated and holy. The person coming to Christ from the world has to lay down everything for the sake of Christ. To say that a person could lay any other identity alongside that of Christ, and that most of the identity is acceptable, but not the strongest part of the identity, the sex, what is being promised is something even more divided and non-integrated than before. Rather than death and resurrection, it is the juice of an orange, albeit a sweet and tantalizing one.


I did also read a lot about the stuff going on with GameStop and Reddit. I couldn’t follow it, though, because I am not clever enough and got lost in all the various explanations. I wish I could because it sounds so exciting and shocking. I guess I must confine myself to Bernie Memes, for those I understand very well, as deep calling to deep.


I guess I’ll go on about my day and think about something more on my level. Go check out more takes and stay warm if you’re in as cold a place as I am!


Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

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