Grades, know-how, skills at fixing bikes or friendships with members of the opposite sex, respect of peers, the right address in the right part of town: grade school, middle school, and high school train us well for living with the kinds of goods that sustain adults in our society. Promotions, respect of colleagues, skills at fixing deals or the plumbing, the right address in the right part of town: jobs, clubs, political parties demand “the right stuff” from us and give us in return some sense of who we are, where we’re going, and how safe we’ll be as we go.
But adolescents and adults alike have experienced how tenuous the regard which we have for another can be. Prestige and respect depend too much on circumstances and happenstance-–on the whim of others and the energy which we can muster for the moment. They offer no abiding and permanent haven or identity.
Our gods do not work very well, however clever we may be in shaping and reshaping them. But we have to have identity, security and meaning. And so we choose to live with the lies we have forged to provide the foundation and structure of our lives. Self-deception permits us to control the gods who control our world.
Teach God’s Children His Teaching: A Guide of the Study of Luther’s Catechism