The empty self is narcissistic. Narcissism is an inordinate and exclusive sense of self-infatuation in which the individual is preoccupied with his or her self-interest and personal fulfillment. Narcissists manipulate relationships with others (including God) to validate their self-esteem, and they cannot sustain deep attachments or make personal commitments to something larger than ego. The narcissist is superficial and aloof, and prefers to ‘play it cool’ and ‘keep my options open.’ Self-denial is out of the question. The Christian narcissist brings a Copernican revolution to the Christian faith. Historically, Copernicus dethroned the earth from the center of the universe and put the sun in its place. Spiritually, the narcissist dethrones God and His purposes in history from the center of the religious life and places his or her personal fulfillment in the middle. The Christian narcissist evaluates the local church, books, and religious practices based on how they will further his or her agenda. The church becomes a means of fulfilling personal needs. God becomes another tool in a bag of tricks, along with the narcissist’s car, workouts at the fitness center, and so on, which exist as mere instruments to facilitate a life defined independently of a biblical worldview. The narcissist sees education solely as a means to the enhancement of his or her career. The humanities and general education, which historically were part of a university curriculum to help develop people with the intellectual and moral virtues necessary for a life directed at the common good, just don’t fit into the narcissist’s plans. As Christopher Lasch notes, ‘[Narcissistic] students object to the introduction of requirements in general education because the work demands too much of them and seldom leads to lucrative employment.’” — Excerpt from The Lost Virtue of Happiness by J.P. Moreland and Klaus Issler.

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