Guest / Limited Access /
Strive to Be Inauthentic!
Nick Briggs / Carnival Film and Television Limited

In that last episode of Downton Abbey, Tom Branson finds himself in a very uncomfortable circumstance, one which most Christians should be able to identify with.

In previous seasons, Tom had moved quickly from family chauffeur to in-law (having married one of the Grantham daughters, Sybil) to widower. Though anti-aristocratic to the core (with a history of radical agitation), he agreed to live with the Granthams to help raise his newborn daughter. He tries valiantly to fit in the upper-crust setting but finds himself failing miserably in the second episode of season four. While the Granthams entertain a number of their wealthy and connected friends, Tom blunders socially time and again. He pleads with Countess Violet about the logic of one courtesy, to which she says, "If I were to search for logic, I would not look for it among the English upper class." So Tom increasingly feels the fool, as if he's merely play acting the aristocrat: "I'm a fish out of water," he blurts one evening, "and I never felt it more than today."

Tom is a modern man; he feels compelled that there should be congruence between who he is privately and how he presents himself publically. He is, in short, very much like you and me. We live in an age that yearns for authenticity, in our leaders, in ourselves. To be authentic is, according to the dictionary, to be "real and genuine," and "true and accurate." It has become an essential moral virtue. To say someone is not authentic is to suggest they are, at some level, lying, bearing false witness about their true self.

But perhaps the attempt to be authentic might be more sinful, and to be inauthentic may be the virtue that Scripture calls ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

SoulWork
In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is Editor of Christianity Today in Carol Stream, Illinois.
Previous SoulWork Columns:
Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueWhen God’s Mercy Sounds Like Bad News
Subscriber Access Only
When God’s Mercy Sounds Like Bad News
The patience of the Lord can be a heavy burden.
RecommendedPentecostalism: William Seymour
Subscriber Access Only Pentecostalism: William Seymour
What scoffers viewed as a weird babble of tongues became a world phenomenon after his Los Angeles revival.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickLent Is Here to Throw Us Off Again
Lent Is Here to Throw Us Off Again
Finding healing in repetition, community, and art.
Christianity Today
Strive to Be Inauthentic!
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

January 2014

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.