On whatever day of Christmas it was yesterday, I indulged myself by lying back on my tinsel bedecked couch crumbling gingerbread cake all over my new shiny copy of What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Meanness. It is a very funny book and I plan to read it out loud to all my dear family.
Strangely, however, the more I read, the more I was reminded of Girl Wash Your Face and Girl Stop Apologizing, both of which, you might remember, were billed as *Christian TM* books whenever it was that they hit the market. Indeed, they are right back there in B&N in the “Christian” section along with Joyce Meyers and Joel Osteen et al. That is very strange, you might think. Why would a “Christian” book have so much in common with a funny one about terrible corporate executive culture in one of the richest countries in the world? Indeed, I myself thought it was rather strange.
But cast your mind back to the long lost past. This little book is quite ancient. It was published all the way back in 2000, when, even though corporate culture was appalling and even small people like me had read that the likeliest place to spot a psychopath was in a boardroom, we were still whole years away from the total societal breakdown we are now experiencing. Back then, narcissism will still a bad thing. Twitter had not even been invented. Self-deprecation was still a virtue. Kindness was not the chief scolding preach-moment of the woke. All that, as we are daily experiencing, is lost in the golden glow of the past. And so…
A cutthroat CEO-type “influencer” like Rachel Hollis can take the life lessons of Machiavelli and repackage them as “Christianity.” Consider just some of her advice versus that of Machiavelli.
“When you really want something, you will find a way. When you don’t really want something, you’ll find an excuse.”
“I cannot continue to live as half of myself simply because it’s hard for others to handle all of me.”
“…decide that you care more about creating your magic and pushing it out into the world than you do about how it will be received.”
“You are allowed to want more for yourself for no other reason than because it makes your heart happy. You don’t need anyone’s permission, and you certainly shouldn’t have to rely on anyone’s support as the catalyst to get you there.”
“Embracing the idea that you can want things for yourself even if nobody else understands the whys behind them is the most freeing and powerful feeling in the world.”
Machiavelli, translated for us by Stanley Bing,
“…would realize that loving yourself means never having to say you’re sorry.”
“He would be in love with his own destiny.”
“He would think Big.”
“He would make a virtue out of his obnoxiousness.”
“He would be way upbeat.”
“He would treat himself right.”
I mean, there a lot of things Machiavelli said and did that Rachel Hollis does not actually advocate doing, like nursing psychotic levels of unpredictability, generalized cruelty, lying, and other kinds of behaviors that Bing promises will make you a CEO in no time. But there is one underlying commonality that both espouse, indeed, are practically married to. You have probably already spotted it. It is a deep abiding, unwavering, unbreakable commitment to the Self At All Costs. For Bing, back in the olden timey days, this was funny because it is so evil. For Hollis, it is a new parasitic religion—Christianity under the guise of the greatest virtue of the day, loving oneself to the outermost depths of the sea.
This is not only too bad, but apocalyptically dire in that it signals the trampling down and throwing away of Common Grace. Common Grace, for those who remember, was the outflowing of God’s sane virtuous wisdom, the ministrations of a gracious society that encouraged the least and the greatest—both together—to put to death the more repulsive parts of themselves, the greatest of all which is self-love itself. Society works when everyone is willing to die for something greater, nobler, more beautiful than the small, paltry, ruinous god of the self. But our society has taken what is ugliest and smallest and, under the guise of “self-care,” elevated it to the very heights, has told each person that if he or she worships that god, he or she, or xer or xim, or them or they, will indeed be holy, will be good, will ascend that hill with a clean heart and hands scrubbed clean.
So, that’s really too bad. And I’m sure it’s what Machiavelli would do. But not Jesus. So, if you’re a Christian, for real, and you are so obsessed with the loving of yourself, the care of yourself, are thinking constantly about yourself rather than, say, God, or even other people, you’re wrong. It is Hollis and Machiavelli together who are your guiding star. Good luck!