Monthly Archives: January 2014

Our “Authenticity” Confusion

For several years now I’ve been concerned by a trend I’ve seen among many evangelical Christians in their understanding of the word “authenticity.” In 2012 I wrote a post on this blog, “Brokenness Equals Authenticity?” in which I said:

We’re all broken, yes. But that doesn’t mean we should pat ourselves on the back about it and languish together in stagnant waters of self-satisfied imperfection. No, we must always be striving for better… moving toward righteousness, in a positive direction from broken to more whole, from screwed-up to less screwed-up, by the grace of God.

Recently I expanded upon some of these thoughts in a longer piece that published today on The Gospel Coalition’s website. In the article, titled “Has ‘Authenticity’ Trumped Holiness?” I explore whether evangelicals, by focusing on brokenness as proof of their “realness,” have turned authenticity into its own sort of badge-of-honor works righteousness. You can read the full piece here, but check out this fantastic quote from Erik Thoennes, a Bible professor at Biola who I interviewed when I was preparing to write the article:

“There’s this idea that to live out of conformity with how I feel is hypocrisy; but that’s a wrong definition of hypocrisy. To live out of conformity to what I believe is hypocrisy. To live in conformity with what I believe, in spite of what I feel, isn’t hypocrisy; it’s integrity.”

Beautifully stated, Dr. Thoennes. May we always strive to live in conformity not to what we feel is right but with what we believe God has called us to be, even if at times it feels unnatural. It will feel unnatural until it feels natural, as all habits of virtue do.

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My Alternate Oscar Nominations

The Oscar nominations were released this morning, and as usual it was a mix of good, bad and ugly. Mostly it was a predictable list, following way too closely the media hype about certain Oscar bait movies. For me the biggest overall snubs were: No best actor nomination for Robert Redford (All is Lost); no best supporting actress nomination for Scarlett Johansson (Her); no best actress nomination for Julie Delply (Before Midnight); no big nominations for Inside Llewyn Davis.

If I had my way, this is what I would have nominated in some of the main categories:

Best PictureBefore Midnight, Her, To the Wonder, Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis, Museum Hours, Frances Ha, 12 Years a Slave, All is Lost, Short Term 12. 

Best Director: Richard Linklater, Before Midnight; Spike Jonze, Her; Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity; Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave; Destin Cretton, Short Term 12. 

Best Actor: Robert Redford, All is Lost; Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave; Joaquin Phoenix, Her; Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight; Mads Mikkelsen, The Hunt.

Best Actress: Brie Larson, Short Term 12; Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine; Barbara Sukowa, Hannah Arendt; Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha; Julie Delpy, Before Midnight.

Best Supporting Actor: Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; Will Forte, Nebraska; Nathan Fillion, Much Ado About Nothing; Keith Stanfield; Short Term 12; James Gandolfini, Enough Said. 

Best Supporting Actress: Scarlett Johansson, Her; Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave; June Squibb, Nebraska; Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Leslie Mann, The Bling Ring.