A number of years ago, my wife Kitty decided to surprise our family and guests for Thanksgiving with a meal based on her recent fascination with a raw plant-based diet. The first clue was a platter with a lump about the size and shape of a small chicken that she called the turkey. The lump was made primarily of raw nuts and naturally cold. This avatar replaced the turkey.
In the same way, an avatar made of raw cauliflower replaced mashed potatoes. Something with carob power and avocado replaced chocolate. But, the raw blueberry pie did actually contain blueberries. The “coffee” was a brown liquid, I will grant that point. In every case but the blueberries, nothing was what it claimed to be.
We also, in order to present what we consider to be a healthier version of being Christians, have a tendency to create an avatar self using the “as-if” functions of our dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. (You can read more about that in Escaping Enemy Mode.) The people closest to us, those seated around the Thanksgiving table, easily notice the difference between our avatar identities and who they know to be real.
We can look at this raw food meal a different way, as well. A healthy diet would be an acquired taste for most of us. The raw nut lump would, if we didn’t try to think of it as turkey, actually taste pretty good. I cannot extend the same courtesy to the “coffee” substitute.
Our true and best selves are also an acquired taste and something quite unexpected. St. John tells us, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.“ 1 John 3:2 NIV.
We are in the middle of becoming someone who has never been here before.
We can create our own avatars and “as-if” selves or we can become more than we could imagine – a new self of God’s design. A truly new self is an acquired taste and a reason for thanksgiving.
Who will gather around your table?