On the way home from orchestra rehearsal (Brahms, albeit anachronistically, rocks) I heard on radio3, a recording from a Free Thinking festival in Liverpool. They were discussing privacy and the lack of it in society, and while discussing facebook, and the extent to which we invite 'invasion' of privacy, one panelist suggested that we delight in creating many different versions of ourselves for different contexts: to only have one 'self' would be boring. I thought this horrendous: I do want one self. But that is perhaps because I am happy with this one self.
Not that I have already attained it, but Christ Jesus has laid hold of me to transform me increasingly into His image, to be restored to the glory of God. I don't need to play-act. I don't need to experiment with 1000 faces: I want only one, which is centred on Jesus, growing into the shape of Jesus. When children play-act, it healthily engages their imagination, and helps them grow their own character. But the idea is that in growing maturity they grow increasingly confident in who they are - and grow in grace (albeit common), establishing themselves in honesty and integrity. Have we really so lost the grace of God that we are immaturing, making life a game, in which we play many roles?
The panelist said that we don't want "a coherent sense of self" - it's "an old idea". There used to be a name for people who didn't present 'a coherent sense of self' - at least, "two-faced". So now I am expected to be a different person in my work from at home, at home from in my orchestra, in my orchestra from with friends. People find it quite strange that I would wish these worlds to intrude on each another. But only with the knowledge of the Creator do you have a basis for consistency of self, and of external reality. We are not just compositions of the impressions we give others. There is an objective Observer, a greater Other than those who see but one of our faces, and He made us as coherent 'selves'. But as we have rejected knowing God in whose image we are made, it is no surprise that has given us over to incoherence even in knowing ourselves. As Calvin said, without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self.