The first will be last: Narrative, power and the Gospel.
Having done some more reading ready for my dissertation I have some thoughts to build on my post Story Crime from a few weeks ago.
In Beyond Good and Evil Nietzsche writes “Psychologists should bethink themselves before putting down the instinct of self-preservation as the cardinal instinct of an organic being. A living thing seeks above all to DISCHARGE its strength—life itself is WILL TO POWER; self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent RESULTS thereof.” Through this we have a window on why we may tell ourselves these narratives. It is not self preservation in itself that leads us to build our own protective narratives but “the will to power” – our ambition, the want to achieve and reach the highest possible position within life. Our narratives help us to continue to strive for this, convincing ourselves that we are good people, the right person for whatever it is that we are striving for and to smooth over our mistakes – anything that will contradict our will to power. Our hope is that our narratives will be externalised and that others will be on board with our take on what has happened, able to see that we are the right people to succeed in our will to power. So we build our narratives in order to continue to strive for first position.
In Matthew 19 Jesus says “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” And so, perhaps, to be considered great within God’s kingdom we have to lay down our will to power, to transcend our narratives and experience who we really are, as broken people.
In his recent work Peter Rollins asserts that true freedom is not the freedom to the pursuit of happiness but, rather, the freedom from the pursuit of happiness. In Philippians St Paul writes “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
And so once again we come to Jesus’ claim that the truth will set you free.