Thursday, December 05, 2013

Selfie Scriptura

Neologisms for Neoevangelicals

Selfie Scriptura [sel’ fee  skrɪpt ər’ uh] 

[(Selfie: high tech, publicly-displayed self portrait, Oxford Dictionary word of the year 2013). (Scriptura: Middle English and Latin scrīptūra, writing. See script, -ure). Literally: self scripture.]
“…the selfie is either a pure expression of self
or the surrender to conformity.”

1. Like taking a picture of themselves, selfies believe they have received individualized and intimate communication(s) from God as stimulated by and resulting from their pietistic and personal contemplation and/or imagination. To validate that the messages have been received from the divine realm, the selfie links their revelations to scattered Bible references, most often irrelevant, to the messages both received and then transcribed. This linking tactic makes their novel communications more palatable and marketable to other members of the “selfie-needy” pan-evangelical kingdom. 

 2. Along a selfie’s spiritual journey a special visitation of receiving divine words that transport the hearer to higher realms of glory, thus affirming their personal progress towards deification. Achieving a higher state of communion with the Divine by engaging in various spiritual arts, methods and disciplines, in order to attain God’s indulgent divulgence of revelatory words – new words that are to be written down and shared with other supplicants in their journeys. By practicing the contemplative exercises of solitude and silence, which, it is expected, will engender a tabula rasa (Latin for ‘blank slate’) within one’s consciousness, it is hoped that a voice will be heard, a vision will be seen, or a visitation experienced to create excitement in otherwise dull and dimly lit spiritual lives. Or, by engaging in raucous shouts and/or mantra chant-like singing during deafening music with a mind-numbing beat it is believed that one can approach the throne of God in the heavenlies to receive a supernatural word to deliver to earth-bound believers. Thus the selfie purveyor of new verbage is privileged to revel in his/her own exalted status as the channeler of transcendent messages. 

3. In contrast to the tired old way of reading and meditating on Holy Scripture (Bor . r . r . r . . . ing!), selfies desire, whether individually or as a group, to experience Jesus in fresh and exciting new ways. (Jesus, speak to Me!) These experiences are then personally transcribed to be shared and compared, usually (but not always) self-effacingly, with the other selfies who have similarly embarked upon a spiritual journey in seeking a divine Presence. There is great anticipation that if the revelations are scintillating and enticing enough then a Christian publisher might even reproduce the startling new revelations in a book (bound in a leather-like cover simulating the value and sacredness of the Bible). And if the book becomes a bestseller, then who knows, the publisher might capitalize on the book’s fame by creating and marketing complimentary personal and/or group study guides to go along with the book of new revelations. Perhaps a spiritual-life study Bible might even be published to promote experiences of walking more deeply with the selfie’s own novel “Jesus-voice”. In these days of Christian consumerism, there are ways, given the right marketing techniques, to turn these selfie prophecies into profits. Thus all the selfies, from contemplators to corporations to consumers, fervently hope that by discovering the secrets of the path to success and significance, they will ultimately possess the material and spiritual wherewithal to live fabulously rich and self-fulfilled lives. (Contra Matthew 16:24; see 1 Timothy 6:10.) 

4. “Selfie religion includes written and/or spoken words of prophecy, declarations, decrees and other religious pronouncements, based upon heretofore unrevealed (“secret”) divine messages, which mark the recipients as “special,” a cut above other evangelicals. (See Jeremiah 23:28.) This resonates with a culture that needs heroes and stars. Publishers and publicists then seize their revelatory words and promote these spiritual mediums to be worthy of the esteem and adoration of the less privileged, though often well-intentioned, mass of evangelical seekers. In the minds of their fan base, these recipients of the divine voice are seen as more closely attaining a divinized state of soul. Their followers flock to the conference circuits and eagerly pay money to devour every exclusive new word dripped from the mouths of these exalted Ones. These selfie celebrities thus are crowned luminaries in God’s kingdom, and the cult of the personality is formed.[2]

5. The method of centering prayer (a form of contemplative prayer) which selfies employ is, after all, self-centered! This goes over big in a culture which nurtures an “I-am-special” individuality (It’s been called ‘self-esteem’). Even as they stroke their egos and covet personal peace and prosperity, selfie Christians (an oxymoron) seek heightened spiritual experiences that they “feel” will justify their carnal pursuits. Though selfies claim they’re all about Him, their prayer and worship activities really are, when you get down to the nitty-gritty of it, “all about Me.”

Note: Selfie Scriptura is not to be confused with Narcigesis, which is reading into and interpreting Scripture through the lens of one’s own self.[3]

Oxford Dictionary’s 2013 official definition of selfie

“A photograph that one has taken of oneself,
typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam
and uploaded to a social media website.”

In justification of its decision to legitimize the word, Oxford wrote that, “Language research conducted by Oxford Dictionaries editors reveals that the frequency of the word selfie in the English language has increased by 17,000% since this time last year.” 

So by August of this year 2013, Oxford proclaimed that selfie deserved a place in the English-language word and authorized it for their dictionary, a continuing step for the word’s entrance into lingual infamy.[4]

This post was co-authored by Pastor Larry DeBruyn and Sarah Leslie, and inspired by Warren Smith's new book "Another Jesus" Calling, reviewed in the previous Herescope post.

1. Dan Zak, “’Selfie’-reliance: The word of the year is the story of our individualism,” The Washington Post, 
2. See Herescope articles “The Cult of Evangelical Leadership”: 
“Sacred Cows and Stars”   
“Stuffed Shirts & Their Sycophants” 
"Scurrilous Shepherds & Their Starving Sheep”
3. See the bottom of this Herescope post HERE for a complete listing of other similar satires.
4. The Washington Post, Ibid.