"I've Been Reading....": Quotable Quotes from Excellent Books, Issue II
Image and Reality
What is real? What is image? Many people today spend much of their time in 'virtual reality'. It is axiomatic that 'virtual' reality is not true reality. In fact, my dictionary defines 'virtual' (as in virtual reality) as that which is "practically a reality, but not a reality in actuality, only in name." Christians must be discerning of the difference between image and reality. Image is what we seem to be. Reality or our character is who we truly are.
It would be simple to say that image is concerned with the external person, what ideas about oneself one wishes to convey to another. In contrast, character is something developed internally over time (by God's grace) and manifests externally (quite naturally) in our character ("You will know the tree by the fruit it bears" suggests that there is a difference between real fruit and 'virtual fruit').
Here are three quotations submitted to you today that hopefully will help you to reflect on your image and your reality. Our hope in Christ is that our image and our reality will be harmonious. In other words, what we seem to be and who we are will not be in tension. First a quotation from social historian Daniel Boorstin, from his great book 'The Image' (1963) where he defines the expectations of modern man in the real world and how this reality tends toward making images more attractive to us.
(1) "We expect anything and everything. We expect the contradictory and the impossible. We expect compact cars which are spacious; luxurious cars which are economical. We expect to be rich and charitable, powerful and merciful, active and reflective, kind and competitive. We expect to be inspired by mediocre appeals for excellence, to be made literate by illiterate appeals for literacy. We expect to eat and stay thin, to be constantly on the move and ever more neighborly, to go to the 'church of our choice' and yet feel its guiding power over us, to revere God and to be God." -Daniel Boorstin, The Image, New York: Pelican Books, 1963, 76.
(2) "The real world and our daily experience in it cannot measure up to our expectations- - but the world of image can, at least for a little while. If we hold dearly to our expectations, the image world can become more real than reality itself. The real world becomes bland or gray in comparison. We 'can' make images that 'do' meet our expectations, or pay others to make them for us- - and those images are far more vivid." -Dick Keyes, 'True Heroism in a World of Celebrity Counterfeits', NavPress, 1995, 65.
(3) "Today, however, style has become an end in itself. No longer expressive of substance or inner character, style is all that matters now. No longer enduring, it is transient, changeable, and fashion-oriented. As a glance at any magazine rack will show, style is the number one mantra of late twentieth-century America. Used more often on magazine covers than even the word sex, style is a leading source of anxiety, hope, and fascination for millions. To be up-to-date and in touch with one's style is essential; to be out-of-date or out-of-touch is unforgivable.
At a time when permanence of personality is as forlorn as permanence of place, change is the order of the day. Identity is now a matter of perception and presentation. And style is the art of skillfully presenting illusions as we walk down the corridor of images that make up modern society." -Os Guiness, 'Fit Bodies, Fat Minds; Why Evangelicals Don't Think and What to Do About it', Baker Books, 1994.
Col. 3:9-10: Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him...