07 January 2008

People

There exists a Dilbert cartoon in which Dilbert is sitting at his computer, fully wired, and realizes that with the internet at his fingertips, he no longer needs to seek human contact. He bursts into song: "People, people who don't need people, are the luuuuuuckiest people in the woooooorld!" This is, of course, a play on the famous song "People", from the musical Funny Girl, in which Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice celebrates people who do need people, which concept really confused me from the first time I heard it sung: Even at age 13, I was definitely of the Dilbert point of view, plus the Funny Girl song seemed to hint of a sort of codependent neediness.

There also exists a popular proverb relating to the human race: "It takes all kinds of people to make a world." My father, who is a man of age and wisdom (and also an introvert), puts it rather differently: "It doesn't take all kinds; we just have all kinds." And you know, that's generally how I feel. I'm not much of a people person, or more accurately, I'm not any kind of a people person at all. I'm usually pretty comfortable with my lack of social drive, but it was then irritating to spend all those years in seminary, being told, "As humans, we need others; God created us to be in community with each other and with Him."

Lately, I've been thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know), and it occurred to me that the thing about people is that we all carry the image of God. It's a damaged and sullied and defective image, because we are sinful and fallen beings, unworthy of the glory of being His creation and bearing Him in our persons; but it is there nonetheless, and to meet and interact with another human being is to see a flash of the Almighty God Himself. And perhaps through being with a whole lot of people, we can cobble together all the different flawed glimpses of God and gain a slightly clearer composite picture of Him. In community, in a cluster of God-images, we experience God, however briefly and darkly through a glass.

Implications? Definitely.

10 comments:

The Real Deal said...

I love Dilbert.

And God.

Jeff Feely said...

AAGH my wife posted nudity!


soon you will see what us extroverts have known all along. come to the dark side. Join us, jooooin uuuusssss!

Kiti said...

Well, I don't have to actually LIKE people. I just like the GOD-image IN people. See?

I'm just trying to discover rational arguments for why GOD made so many and different people. It's not intuitively obvious to me why we need so many people. So it must be GOD trying to reach out to us, putting so many little images of Himself in the world.

The Real Deal said...

I think of it in terms like this:

If a painter paints or a musician makes music, and someone asks them why they did that, or why they made so MANY paintings/songs, the simplest answer may be "I felt like creating."

Since we know that God is vastly/infinitely creative, it could simply be that He wanted to express Himself creatively by creating...a lot.
(a la Occam's Razor)

debbiefeely said...

I love it when you write like this. Well crafted! Seeing the unique godlike characteristics in people is one of my favorite things, but I think you actually truly like more people than I do. I like the masses,while I think the looming forest of people overwhelms you. But when it gets down to individuals you are loyal and loving to more than most of us. I suck the interesting parts of people and move on. It is my goal though to show Christ to the world in as unflawed way as possible.

The Real Deal said...

Ironically, Wendy and I often joke about how we aren't "people persons". I personally detest "small talk", and try to avoid eye contact in supermarket lines and elevators hoping that people catch my vibe that I don't want to chit-chat.

So maybe I'm not as loving as you think...although the closer I am in relationship to someone, the more fiercely loyal I become. But I suppose that's true of most people. I think the people who are genuinely friendly/loving with total strangers are rare birds.

Willow said...

I have met a only few (maybe one or two) people who are genuinely friendly and loving with every one including total strangers and they shine like nothing else. They always think the best of everyone they meet and rather than making me feel ashamed of myself (as I should feel) they simply make me want to live up to their expectations. Rare, indeed, and truly Christlike.

word verification:
lqieapia--- condition of seeing water up close.

Willow said...

This will be a long comment--I may have to break it into multiple messages. IMNSHO, the finest single piece that CS Lewis ever did was a sermon called "The Weight of Glory," although "The Inner Ring" comes close. Maybe that's because they speak to two sins that I struggle with constantly. Anyway, the conclusion of TWOG speaks eloquently, I think, to the issue you have raised here. I have added a few paragraph breaks to make this more readable:

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted
to worship, or else a horror and a
corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one
or other of these destinations.

It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection
proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are
mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting
splendours.

This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.

Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

The Professor

Kiti said...

Professor - I thought someone might bring up Lewis and The Weight of Glory, and it shouldn't surprise me that it was YOU. I see a parallel between my thought and his, though he focuses on future glorification of humanity, whereas I am focusing on the present glory of God within humanity. Does the distinction make sense?

Sara said...

Wow, I was just checking in to say thank you for leaving a comment on my blog the other day and fell into this fascinating conversation! As I was reading your post, my thoughts immediately went to CSL's TWOG also. And those very same selections the Professor quoted. I read it last year and copied those paragraphs into my journal.....because I wanted to try and remember them and be influenced by then in my interactions with others.

I'm so glad to hear there are other "non people people" out there!

And, re your comment to me - can there really be too much reading? And as far as I'm concerned, the less TV the better!

Thank you for visiting.

I've really enjoyed your blog this evening!

Sara