Thursday, June 9, 2011


As I write the occasional bog, and read those of others, I’m becoming more, and more, aware of the need to avoid self-promotion of any kind.

When I read a blog which chronicles the exploits performed in the Name of Christ by the writer, I sometimes have a real sense of unease about what is going on.

Marlena Graves, a guest blogger on Her-menuetics, the Christianity Today womens’ blog, wrote an article entitled , Is Self-PromotionSinful?, in which she refers to J.D.Salinger’s book The Catcher in The Rye.

In her article she refers to  Salinger’s “efforts to spurn fame and self-promotion because they can lead to phoniness, something Salinger abhorred.”

As her article continues, Graves speaks of her own thoughts when writing, 
"Am I doing this only to build a bigger platform? Is this just self-promotion? Sometimes, “You have to have an audience built up before you write a book” gets translated into, “Throw yourself down from this high point of the temple" (do something spectacular to get attention) (Matt. 4:5-6) or, “No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world” (John 7:4). Some readers might accuse me of scraping my conscience or of being oversensitive; on the other hand, some may think that I’m using this very post to promote myself."

She goes on to quote Salinger saying something  about this in “Catcher in the Rye. When protagonist Holden Caulfield’s sister, Phoebe, asks him why he doesn’t become a lawyer like their father, he says:

[T]hey’re all right if they go around saving innocent guys’ lives . . . but you don’t do that kind of stuff if you’re a lawyer. All you do is make a lot of dough and play golf and play bridge and buy cars and drink Martinis and look like a hot-shot. . . . Even if you did go around saving guys’ lives and all, how would you know if you did it because you really wanted to save guys’ lives, or because . . . you really wanted to . . . be a terrific lawyer with everyone slapping you on the back. . . . How would you know you weren’t being a phony? The trouble is, you wouldn’t. (p. 172) 

This fictitious character is right. That bothers me when I write, right at this moment. It bothers me when I make subjective judgments about the writings of another, because I don’t know the other person and their thinking, to legitimately make the judgments I am inclined to make. As much as there may be some truth in what we say we need to be careful how we critique a particular post, or article, with which we disagree, without taking into account what the author has revealed he/she thinks in their other writing.

I wonder if this is what Spurgeon had in mind when he said, Self-love is, no doubt, the usual foundation of human jealousy...the fear lest another should by any means supplant us.”


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