Faking it till you make it
BCC is having a discussion about the case for hypocrisy. The idea is straightforward: Martin (and those in favor of hypocrisy) believes that hypocrisy is a claim levied against anyone who has and strives toward ideals. Because we are not perfect, we will not reach our ideals, but that doesn’t mean we cannot preach for those ideals.
This idea reminds me of the “hypocrisy upward” talked about by Wayne Booth. In his words:
…my hypocritical years taught me the inherent value of one kind of hypocrisy, what I have elsewhere called “hypocrisy upward.”9 The word hypocrisy originally meant “playing a role on the stage,” and it is clear that all of us at least some of the time are playing out roles we think appear superior to what we “really” are. Every parent tries to play a role that he or she knows is to some degree doctored, purified for the child’s consumption. Every teacher knows that the “self” who stands before the class is an utterly different and (usually) superior person as compared with the one who the night before swore over her income tax returns or slapped his five-year-old daughter. If we did not rise above our “everyday selves” in that way, hypocritically enacting superior selves, our culture would collapse much faster than even the most cynical see it as collapsing today.
I thought this was a novel idea at the time, and so when reading about it again from Martin, I was mostly on board. But I could see (anticipate?) the two other general reactions to this idea.
First, there were those who insisted that what is being described above is not hypocrisy, and that hypocrisy still is heinous. For example, these people said that a hypocrite condemns but holds himself above condemnation, whereas someone who simply has ideals might not condemn (or might not hold himself above condemnation) so is not a hypocrite. Others raised the point that if everyone is a hypocrite, then no one is (if everyone is special, then no one is.)
But then the second kind of response was that hypocrisy is simply bad, and not an ideal that is taught (or should be taught). This was, in other words, a complete disagreement with Martin’s point. The idea here is that no one need specifically fake it to make it…they can honestly strive for an ideal without pretense.
There were those who agreed with the virtue of hypocrisy, the virtue of “faking it till you make it.” Even though I was in general agreement with the idea of “hypocrisy upward,” as these certain commenters relayed their stories, I felt an uneasiness. For example, from this account, I was worried with the probing questions that could suggest that “faking it till you make it” could be conflated with “doing the right things for the wrong reasons” (and that such could be desirable), and in the end that these two could be conflated with faith itself.
I was disturbed by the frequent imagery of a person being disgruntled or begrudged with the commands or actions required of them in church, but of their doing it anyway. I have heard people talk about things that are supposed to be joyous with this imagery; people saying things like, “Well, of course if I were just doing the things I wanted to do, I wouldn’t be married, wouldn’t be faithful, wouldn’t have a family. These things are a burden, but I need to do them because that’s what the Lord has asked.”
I can’t help but feel for a spouse and family in that situation.
But what one commenter said later really hit close to home:
I’ve also seen lots of people crash hard on the rocks of NOT serving and NOT acting as if they believed, because they were waiting until it seems authentic and feels right to them. And it never just comes, which leaves them feeling inadequate and unloved by their father in heaven, or just leading them off in other unsavory directions in the meantime.
I guess I can see Naismith’s point though. If someone is waiting for something to seem authentic or to feel right, then they will perhaps be waiting a long time. I could see the argument for striving for authenticity. But I feel that there is something to be said for someone who strives to act a certain way, and *never* feels right at it for an entire lifetime.
What do we have then? I guess we have Pascal’s Wager…