Saturday, December 21, 2013

Cultural narcissism, Obama's selfie, and prophecy

When Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela died, Barack Obama attended the memorial service. There were many other Heads of State in attendance of course. Memorial services for Heads of State are usually somber, filled with gravitas, and dosed with a healthy portion of dignity.

Not so with Barack Obama. So childishly entranced by the pretty blond girl next to him (who is the Prime Minister of Denmark by the way), Obama put on a white man's overbite cell phone picture with her and a giggling UK Prime Minister David Cameron, risking the ire of his wife (who is making the 'I'll get you later' angry wife face next to him).
British Prime Minister David Cameron, Denmark's Prime Minister
Helle Thorning Schmidt and President Barack Obama pose for a
“selfie” picture during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.
ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images
The Oxford dictionary crowned selfie as word of the year and defined it as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

The NY Post described selfie another way in their article "Obama’s ‘Selfie Presidency’ - It's All About Me!":
"Selfie! It’s the concept of the year. Maybe — given its accompanying connotations of technology, media, instantaneous global transmission, carelessness, solipsism, frivolity, youth, inappropriateness and ironic juxtaposition — it’s the concept of our age."

And there we have it summed up our world culture today: a pandemic of narcissism, solipsism, lack of gravitas, and instantaneous global transmission. The bible sums it up this way:

"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people." (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Let's look at the instantaneous global transmission first. Remember when the news of Osama bin Laden's death came across the wires? ESPN reported:

"The "U-S-A, U-S-A" chants began at Citizens Bank Park in the ninth inning Sunday night, as the New York Mets' Daniel Murphy batted as a pinch-hitter against Philadelphia Phillies reliever Ryan Madson. And as the news filtered among the announced crowd of 45,713 -- the 137th consecutive sellout in the stadium's history -- about U.S. special forces killing accused Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the chants grew louder and more widespread, and people could be spotted all over the ballpark checking their phones."

The moment that bin Laden's death became public, thousands upon thousands of attendees at a baseball game knew it, and erupted in cheers. Those who were a few seconds behind the news, caught up almost instantaneously as they checked their phones for texts from friends or family, or internet news. The big news was the death, but the second most reported news was how fast the news got out.

The UK Daily Mail reported,

Ecstatic fans at the game in Philadelphia held up their mobile phones
showing the news that Bin Laden was dead as they received messages
from friends. source
Hold this thought. I'm going to come back to it.

As for instantaneous global transmission, I think of this heartbreaking series of tweets from a woman who is slowly discovering her husband had died in a car crash. We not only share news after it happens, we now share it while it happens. Toledo News Now has it:

I am 53 years old so that means I grew up with phones that hung on the wall and you could only walk as far as the cord would let you. There were no cell phones. If you were out and about you had to use a pay phone (if you had a dime) or ask to use a business phone. We got along perfectly fine.

I remember the first time I saw cell phone selfies. It was 2007. I was attending a religious revival, and there were some high school kids on the bleachers. They were almost in unison taking photos of themselves. It was unusual enough that I shot a photo of them taking a photo of themselves. (I was there to take pictures for the newspaper). I never used the photo but I kept it. This was before the word 'selfie' was coined but it was the time when all people under the age of 25 had a cell phone in their back pocket and instantaneous global communication was born.


Now in 2013 we have this from Breaking News,

@BreakingNews
On Youtube I watched a flash mob re-enact the scene just before Rembrandt captured it forever in his painting The Night Watch. The final scene of the flash mob was to station themselves as Rembrandt did in his famous painting. Prior to the final scene, men dressed in Dutch Renaissance clothing were running all around a mall trying to capture a robber. Men in armor tramped through, a chicken was released, ropes dropped from the ceiling and people clambered up and down. In the video I noticed this woman. Either she is so involved in her texting she is oblivious to the strange goings-on around her, or she is so aware of what's happening, she's texting someone as it is happening. Either way, the technology is globally instantaneous; and either way it's tragic.


This is what satan has always been after. God gave us Himself so we would look at Him. Satan gave us enticements so we would look at ourselves.

"So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate." (Genesis 3:6)

Immediately when satan enticed Eve, she turned her thoughts to herself, my food, my pleasure, my wisdom. And we have been off and running ever since. Because the curse always gets worse, we are coming to the moment when all of 2 Timothy 3:1-5 will be true for almost everyone on the planet. If a culture reflects itself in who we elect to lead us, then Obama certainly shows us that it's all about MEEE!!! Satan's work since the garden will be almost completed. Sin, which is narcissistic after all, will soon be making its final run.

Though there are advantages to instant global communication which are selfless and culturally elevating, technology soon turns to a vast wasteland. That is what satan does, he takes everything that is at hand and turns it to waste. (John 10:10). And it will be the same with technology. In the end technology will be used to instantaneously celebrate the deaths of the Two Witnesses that God sent for their edification and salvation but instead will be used to endlessly repeat the news loop of their putrefying bodies in the street of Jerusalem.

And when the Two Witnesses die, can't you see the same thing but even even more instantaneous than bin Laden's death? If people discovered the hated man's death when it occurred, how much more will the virulently hated Two Witnesses' deaths be celebrated? After all, the prophecy says 'every tribe, people, language, and nation'.

"And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth." (Revelation 11:7-10)
The global instant communication is here, ready for the prophecy to be fulfilled. The mental and emotional state of pandemic narcissism Paul warns Timothy of is here also. The combination is one that will see the Two Witnesses deaths instantly known and instantly celebrated.

Christians will be gone well before that. We will be raptured prior to the Tribulation AKA Time of Jacob's trouble. It will happen in the blink of an eye, so that no one will be able to capture our disappearance on cell phone or other instant media. The aftermath, yes. But our disappearance, no.

Come soon Lord Jesus.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further reading

GLAAD: The Vicious Tolerance Police

Infamous Selfies

4 comments:

  1. What about the "comedian" who live-tweeted about a couple breaking up on his apartment roof?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your'e right. It reminds of of briefly famous Elan Gale who "live tweeted" his in-flight feud with a woman a few aisles back. That one turned out to be a complete fabrication. Gale is a writer trying to get noticed. You can't trust anything any more.

      The woman unknowingly tweeting her husband dying in the crash is a real event because the woman was interviewed later and the police were too and it was confirmed. But I hesitated at first in case it was just another person trying to get famous. That's why I waited to post this essay a few days after the selfie. I got burned by putting up the Sphinx photo covered in snow. That was fake too.

      Delete
  2. I don't use a mobile ( i.e. cell ) phone. Never have, and never intend to. I hate the things. They ruin conversations, and people are obsessed and addicted to them. Not me. These tech.junkies need to get some perspective in their lives. They've become willing slaves to technology. There's nothing wrong with some technology ( I do use the internet ), but they've let it take over their lives.

    We should be focusing our attention on God, not ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I feel like the woman's situation was in part a selfish act to garner attention for herself. Why would you put out something so devasting, and then say that you will respond to the responses later on that night? Maybe I am just weird but we as a cultural over share way too much and for the gain of what? It is a bit sickening to me.

    Btw, Michelle didn't wait for them to get home before letting Obama know she was mad because I saw (in pics after this one was taken) that she made him switch seats with her and Obama looked somber after that lol.

    ReplyDelete

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