An Admirable Life-23-Joy as Celebration-Recognition

"…years ago I set my little son down in front of a large mirror. At first he did not recognize himself. He quite obviously enjoyed seeing the small image that smiled at him from from his glass wall. But all of a sudden the expression on his little face changed as he began to recognize the similarity of the motions and he seemed to be saying, 'That's me.'"


                            —–Helmut Thielicke

                                   Introduction from "The Parable of the Prodigal Son"


   Joy springs forth when one recognizes himself in a place where he wants to be. He can have joy in a crowd, with one other person, or alone. Celebration occurs among the many. The Latin word celeber actually means "populous." From this comes the Latin celebratus, "to honor in a large group."

   There are three "places" (actually "states of being") where you might celebrate to find yourself; Recognition, Completion, Immortality. Each of these is enhanced by the presence of other human beings. Ethnic diversity is most helpful in celebration, since it expands sensitivity and, so, enhances joy. 

   Recognition is initial. Completion is tertiary. Immortality is finality. 

   Recognition is the most infantile state and so may be the most seductive. Self-recognition is the stuff of myth. These are the stories we hear as a small child. We will claim to remember them as adolescents and live them out as adults.

   A myth, remember, is a long held story,  a true story, but one not necessarily factual. All important truths are subject to mythological comparison in various stages of life.

   A small child lives his myth. In fact he discovers it day by day as his language grows. The adolescent cherishes his myth, as he does his close friendships, exclusive and possessive of his friends and his ideas. The infant hatches the myths. The adolescent fosters them. From adolescence to death, then, the fellow's joy comes to him when he sees his myth realized.

   In his myth-fulfillment, the man comes to know ego-centrism (the source of most of his unhappiness) is more lack of distance from his own personal decoding than it is love of self. He needs what Thielicke's son got in front of his mirror as a little boy: the space to discover he could behave like himself without the burden of prematurely recognizing himself.

   Humans mostly gather with persons with whom they share myths. Church attendance in the United States is declining, in fact, not because churches got old but because people stopped sharing the Christian myths. 

A Second Day's Thoughts on Recognition

"In beginning God created the heavens and the earth…"

            The Book of Moses called "The Beginning"

            Chapter one and verse one.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…"

            St. John, Chapter one and verse one

"And he (God) said, I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, 'The Lord'; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But, he (God) said, you cannot see my face; for no one shall see my face and live."

                The Book of Moses Called "These are the Names"-(Exodus)

                Chapter thirty three and verses nineteen and twenty

   From Creation to Christ to Consummation the Christian story (Kingdom Mythology) once dominated Western culture, when Western culture was thought worth saving. Myth functioned as the Christian story in days gone by, for even persons who did not know the facts of the story (or recognize them as facts) believed the Christian myth. Most of the culture felt it should attend to worship. God was assumed.

   Nor is this a finally invalid way to approach the divine. In point of fact, the Hebrew Bible assumes God and moves from there. The Christian Bible's most deeply theological gospel assumes God and His Christ. For this assumption Christian doctrine was (is) thought irrational but it was always (is always, will always) be necessary for Man-in-the-flesh to look on God as clearly as he can but not more closely than he should.

   There must be some mist between Man and God. For this reason Jesus remained veiled while He pitched His tent here.


Opinions expressed here are mine alone.








4 thoughts on “An Admirable Life-23-Joy as Celebration-Recognition”

  1. Dear Mr. Revier,
    No, this is not about one’s genius, but about the genius of the Gospel. The Gospel Myth provides the foundation to guide our archetype(s) toward true individuation, i.e. real spiritual maturity. The genius lies not with us, but with God who gives us the story so that we an recognize who we are in the light of reality instead of the pseudo-identity that craves the recognition of others. If the story is not told, the people walk in the darkness of their own illusions.
    Thank you Dr. Davis for these thoughts.

  2. Sam…,
    Ahso, it(genius/gospel/salvation/testimony of Glory to God) is a ‘gift of/from God’ and would probably be perceived as a particular person’s ability by people of the flesh. Even the purest of Christian people tend to make value judgements based on their own experiences and interests, so that the manifestation of ‘Genius’ is often described, however erroneously or correctly, as a particulr person’s genius or even foolishness.
    Dr D,
    Would you not consider that Jesus as Jesus is the veiling of God to the world that we might ‘see then feel’ what is needed for us to be prepared(by God) for the eventual eternal fellowship with God.

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