Given the thoughtful response to Bruce Herman’s Oxbridge 2008 lecture topic, we are pleased to post Wilfred McClay’s abstract of his Oxbridge 2008 lecture, “On Losing and Saving the Self.” Please write in with your thoughts.
“On Losing and Saving the Self”
By overthrowing all older sources of moral authority, modern culture has enthroned the individual as the sole valid source of meaning, and promoted the pursuit of happiness as the chief end of life. But if we accept this state of affairs, we make a dreadful mistake, one that places upon the self a greater burden than it can bear, and cuts us off from the very happiness we so avidly pursue.
But the Christian faith does not make this mistake. It envisions life as a steady parade of astounding reversals, in which the appearances are regularly turned on their heads: the first becomes last, the rejected stone becomes the cornerstone, and our weakness becomes our strength. So too, will the wounded and needy modern self find restoration and wholeness, not through its own introspective efforts, but by acknowledging that its chief source of meaning is something outside itself. The search for the self should lead us to what is beyond the self.
My title comes from words near the end of C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, in which this : “The principle runs through all life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it.”