The lust that our culture has for authenticity is so deep, and so unthinking, that it is the driving cause of our widespread acceptance of, and indeed insistence upon, sham authenticity. From factory-ripped jeans to locally-grown apples, and from them apples to politicians in photos with sleeves rolled up and jacket thrown carelessly over the shoulder, we insist upon the highest manufacturing standards for our authenticity. Just like the ad man said, if you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made.
Of course, there are two different ways to desire authenticity. One is true repentance and the other true guilt. The repentant one knows that he is fake and phony and then some, and he wants to find authenticity so that he can be right with God. The other, far more common today — in fact, common enough to support a number of major industries — needs the world to be fake and phony. Other people have to be superficial. Then, in that setting, when he has found authenticity, what he has actually found is superiority to that “superficial world.”
And so the lust for authenticity is in most cases a lust for superiority, which, in this world should come as no big shock. What should come as a shock is the inability of our contemporary sham-meisters to see this as a desire for superiority, which at least the Pharisees of old acknowledged to be the whole point. With artificial grease in their hair, artificial rips in their jeans, artificial alternative bands on their iPhone, and their artificial pose to all their friends, they cannot see that they are everything but authentic. They can stare right at the point, flickering on the screen, and wonder what this babbler is trying to say.
Here it is, in plain English for the denizens of this pomo century — fake is not real. True guilt is.