Life in an over-stimulated world

Ryugyong hotel, Pyongyang/Wikipedia

We live in a world wherein most everything over-stimulates our grandiosity, even as we are handed less and less tools to deal with that, writes Fr Ron Rolheiser.

Several years ago, Robert L. Moore wrote a very significant book, Facing the Dragon. The dragon that most threatens us, he believes, is the dragon of our own grandiosity, that sense inside us that has us believe that we are singularly special and destined for greatness. This condition besets us all. Simply put, each of us, all seven billion of us on this planet, cannot help but feel that we are the centre of the universe. And, given that this is mostly unacknowledged and we are generally ill-equipped to deal with it, this makes for a scary situation. This isn't a recipe for peace and harmony, but for jealousy and conflict.

And yet this condition isn't our fault, nor is it in itself a moral flaw in our nature. Our grandiosity comes from the way God made us. We are made in the image and likeness of God. This is the most fundamental, dogmatic truth inside the Judaea-Christian understanding of the human person. However it is not to be conceived of simplistically, as some beautiful icon stamped inside our souls. Rather it needs to be conceived of in this way: God is fire, infinite fire, an energy that is relentlessly seeking to embrace and infuse all of creation. And that fire is inside of us, creating in us a feeling of godliness, an intuition that we too have divine energies, and a pressure to be singularly special and to achieve some form of greatness.

In a manner of speaking, to be made in the image and likeness of God is to have a micro-chip of divinity inside us. This constitutes our greatest dignity but also creates our biggest problems. The infinite does not sit calmly inside the finite. Because we have divine energy inside us we do not make easy peace with this world, our longings and desires are too grandiose. Not only do we live in that perpetual disquiet that Augustine highlighted in his famous dictum "You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you!" but this innate grandiosity has us forever nursing the belief that we are special, uniquely-destined, and born to somehow stand out and be recognized and acknowledged for our specialness.

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Struggling with grandiosity (Ron Rolheiser)

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Roman Harak/Wikipedia CC 2.0

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