The Vertical Self (a review)

A number of weekends ago, the MyCareer section of The Age offered to help you ‘Reinvent yourself with personal branding’.

Welcome to the world of the ‘horizontal self’ as Mark Sayers describes it in his book The Vertical Self!

Sayers exposes how we’re seduced by our culture into mounting a personal PR campaign. Like a good episode of The Gruen Transfer, he insightfully exposes the mechanisms that have us trying to mask our inner emptiness by selecting from ready-made identities — like ‘cool’, ‘sexy’ or ‘glamorous’ — like consumer commodities.

At the heart of The Vertical Self is Sayers’ suggestion that the only escape from this toxic situation is reinvesting in the ‘vertical self’ — rooted in God’s view of us. This means giving up the never ending task of making ourselves look cool, sexy or glamorous. And pursuing holiness instead.

Sayers explains (in fresh and arresting ways) how holiness gives us what our culture’s off-the-shelf identities promise but never deliver: wholeness. For, understood biblically, holiness calls us not to ascetic withdrawal from the world but to fruitful engagement with it. It’s about reordering our desires not suppressing them.

While not flawless, anyone interested in living as a Christian in our culture should invest in this book.

(A complimentary copy of ‘The Vertical Self’ was supplied to me by Thomas Nelson through BookSneeze.)

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