Sep 29, 2013
The sermon was delivered on Sunday, September 29, 2013, during the contemporary service at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by Rev. Tamara Lebak, Associate Minister.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, God creates humankind "in his own image." (Genesis 1:27) The word image refers to representation or perception, and the Latin, imago, also means the final stage of metamorphosis. Our identities are collages of our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, mixed with an understanding of how other people experience us. We craft an image of ourselves as we encounter each other and the world. That image of ourselves – who we think we are – is also influenced by our culture. Identity, very much like our understanding of the world, is socially constructed.
In Sartre's seminal work No Exit, he presents Hell as a place where we are defined solely upon how other people perceive us. In Sartre's version of Hell, we have no power over how we are perceived. The power lies entirely in the hands of others. Have you ever felt powerless over how you are viewed? This can happen when we feel categorized; it can happen when we feel defined by a single event in our lives; it can happen when we are stereotyped as only gay, only liberal, or only a person of color, and not as a complex human being.
Come and explore with me the nature of our identity, who we think we are, and why it matters.
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