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Chapter 5 - All the World is a Stage
Satan cannot be everywhere at once. As a result, he has to influence the world to adopt collective systems that will give him increasingly greater control. We are told that Satan sets the course of the world (insofar as he is allowed by God);
Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: - Ephesians 2:2
One of the ways Satan has set the course of this world is to place an emphasis on theater. The introduction of classroom education was clever in several ways. One of them was that the model of the teacher/class became a performer/audience model. We find that even churches often follow this model. Together with TV and movies, the imprint of the various roles with which our children are presented often makes more of an impression on them than the little time they have with their parents. Perhaps more insidious than being shaped to fit a particular slot in the world system machinery, is the further 'shaping' such influence can have on even thoughts and behaviors.
Our minds can be shaped to see ourselves as an almost fabricated persona complete with a script to follow.
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: - Proverbs 23:a
We get the word hypocrisy from the Greek 'hupokrisis' meaning acting or to speak from under a mask (a common theatrical method in ancient Greece). Our modern society makes this problem so much worse than it was in the past. Technology has produced media capable of almost constant bombardment.
The purpose of this bombardment is to influence the nature of people away from the image and influence of their parents to make them compliant components in the systems Satan needs them to fill. These forces of compliance manifest in driving us to act out roles as they are designed to resonate with our own internal fleshly inclinations towards Pharisee-like hypocrisy.
We are channeled to take our place in the world. If we are charming enough we can be popular, if we are clever or shrewd enough, we can acquire wealth. Even for the unexceptional, we can come to the expectation that our performance of our role will result in a 'successful' life.
One of the most basic things children learn is what they have to do to get what they want. For example, a baby quickly learns to cry in order to get fed. As the child grows, he will attempt exploring the utility of lying and stealing to get what he wants. If parents provide negative consequences, the child may learn to minimize these attempts. However, the question of what do we have to do to get what we want is still hard-wired into us (the selfishness of the flesh).
The theatrical role oriented perspective with which we are bombarded everyday carries with it the assumption of implicit cause and effect dynamics from which we come to have expectations of what has to be done to get what results. For example, the hard driving ambitious college student may come to adopt the role of the up and coming young lawyer who will get a big paycheck, a fast car, and have a successful urban life. That these roles are distortions of reality becomes more apparent when the person (no longer young) after working 90 hours a week as an associate at a law firm for 20 years finally realizes that he will not gain the partnership that he thought would give him the 'good' life.
When the media based theatrical imprint is intentionally diminished in a more natural home environment. The increased influence of family can work to help in the character development of a child as he learns that he needs to restrict his selfishness so that he can learn love (selflessness) and have more successful relationships.
In modern society, the advancement of social development (through the classroom, playground, TV, and the Internet) at the expense of familial development reduces the more natural development of impediments to selfishness. As a result, in addition to the expansion of things like consumerism, children grow to see relationships less in terms of affection, accommodation, and love and more in terms of utilitarian mechanical pragmatism (how people can be used).
As humans, we still retain the need for approval, affirmation, and understanding. However, now when the family is less a source of this than the peer group, the process of 'socialization' touted by educators tends to create an individual deficit that could be called social dependency. A child formed to have limited function outside a role provided for him may develop in such a way as to experience anxiety when even just considering acting independently.
The movie Zieleg was a fictional portrayal of a man who had a chameleon like ability to blend in with whatever group he was with. Today many children grow up with such a need for social approval that they assume roles which conform their behavior, values, and even thinking to accommodate conformity to the group.
Considering that we are immersed in a world where we see the future in terms of what roles we can fill, our friends in terms of adapting to their expectations, and our desires in terms of what we have to do to get what we want, it should come as no surprise that we are more vulnerable to the difficulties that can come from assuming a role than previous generations.
The Christian may also find a selection of stereotypes available in the religious realm. There is the faithful church goer, the zealous contender, the lofty lecturer, the long suffering server, the financial benefactor, or the autocratic administrator. There are also many other possibilities. The nature of an organizational system often aids in reducing activities to roles.
Systems with predefined functions often have predefined roles. When Christians adopt roles to serve the organizational purposes of a system, we often begin to see ourselves as a sort of mechanical extension of the system. We can lose joy and begin a sort of Christian 'drudgery'. However, the problem of hypocrisy emerges when we begin to see ourselves as Christian 'successes'.
But the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned: from which things some having swerved have turned aside unto vain talking; desiring to be teachers of the law, though they understand neither what they say, nor whereof they confidently affirm. - 1 Timothy 1:5-7
The example of the ambitious young lawyer that was tricked into a life of virtual economic slavery because he selected a role that was not as advertised is still better off than the Christian who ends up acting some parody of real Christianity and having to stand in front of Jesus one day filled with shame for his negligence.
There are Satanic as well as fleshly forces working to draw and keep us in the artificial reality of play acting roles. As Christians we need to be aware of these forces and endeavor to follow truth so that we are not diverted into the worship of self.
Modern society provides the prosperity needed for the mind to wander into delusional realms that were seldom explored when life was historically more difficult. Today many people have no trouble imagining that they are of the opposite sex, identify as animals, or even think they are dragons. The world of play-acting in imaginary realms can seem attractive, but like a Frank Lloyd Wright house, it is not conducive to real life.
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