Faith: True Identity - The art of not disappearing

Faith: True Identity - The art of not disappearing

A famous anthropologist was confronted with a startling revelation when he spent some time with the Hopi people, one of the oldest indigenous tribes in America. He noticed the dominance of the rain theme in the art and music of the Hopi people. He sat with a tribal elder keen to know why so many of the people’s songs dealt with rain. The Hopi elder’s response was simply, “Water is so scarce in the land where they live.” The Hopi leader asked the anthropologist, “Is that why so many of your songs are about love?”
- Gila: The life and death of an American River.

The above is a passage from The Art of Not Disappearing, a testimonial book about identity from Christian writer Dr. Vangjel Shore. Dr. Shore delves into heavy concepts in a completely vulnerable, autobiographical manner. The premise of the book looks at stripping away our masked selves to reveal our true, vulnerable, God-given selves.

Shore says: “Children love to play hide and seek. It’s the one childhood game we all remember playing. But think for a moment about how we, as adults, often continue this game throughout our lives… a fear of self disclosure and genuine intimacy causes us to mask our true selves and project an image that either we are comfortable with, or we believe others want to see.”

Reading Shore’s very personal journey leaves you with an intimate knowledge of his struggles. Struggles not isolated to any one person. Through Shore’s insight, we gain insight. It's humbling information that makes you laugh, angry, ashamed and weepy. His truthfulness is a testament to his Jesus-loving character.

After reading the book I was reminded of a John Butler Trio song, Peaches and Cream, a song about Butler’s wife and daughter. The intro lyrics are forever circulating in my tone-deaf head:

“For I wear too many masks, to tell if any of them are wrong or right.”

How apt. Some masks are placed upon us, thrust upon us, or we manufacture masks for ourselves. One can easily get lost in the costume shop of identities we cultivate. 'Who we are' is some very perplexing fodder. Shore acknowledges this and offers simple advice: Jesus.

“You have your heads in your bibles constantly because you think you will find blessed life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.” (John 5:39-40, The Message)

Obviously we all want want lives of love. I cannot speak for everyman, but the craving for love and fully disclosed acceptance seems a common (and timeless) theme in our society. In a very minimal, one word nutshell, Jesus preaches our true selves as this… Lovers.

Emma @ Girl With a Satchel


Lauren said...

What a great review. That has encouraged me to go find this book. It is challenging to strip back the masks and reveal your true identity when masks are being placed upon you quicker than you can sometimes work through them, or the fear of removing them can sometimes be too great.

I love all the faith related posts on GWAS. Such a refreshing encouragement.

Erica Bartle (nee Holburn) said...

Thanks, Lauren - I'm sure Emma will be delighted. I really look forward to bringing more faith-based posts to GWAS in the near future.

Vangjel Shore said...

Thank you so much for your encouraging critique. This is my first published work. Currently this is the first of a trilogy on Identity. You have captured both my heart and head in relation to vulnerability, transparency and responsibility. When these are our escorts in our faith journey, it is then that we know that we are being known by Jesus!