Friday, February 26, 2010

Book Review: The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers

Mark Sayers has written an engaging study of the way modern people struggle with the question of identity. And when I say “engaging, I mean I couldn’t put it down.  We live in the age of the “horizontal self”, pressured to create public personas based on the images around us.  We brand ourselves in order to become socially acceptable and relevant. We compartmentalize our lives to fit in with different groups. Our horizontal selves worry about what others think, about status, about achievement, about today.
Whether we realize it or not, we’ve lost our “vertical selves.” The vertical self is concerned with character, holiness, contribution, eternity.  Even believers and churches fall prey to the trap of the horizontal self: we want to be Christian and cool too. We’ve chosen self over soul.
What is the answer? Discipleship and accountability. We must rediscover what it means to be holy.
I found the history of how we arrived here fascinating: when did it become cool to be cool, how the definition of “sexy” has changed, how we’ve traded spiritual holiness for secular holiness.  I will never look at another advertisement, movie, or staged political event the same way.  I highly recommend this book for everyone, Christian or not, because Western society is playing us for fools. And we’re playing along.

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