Russell and Duenes

I Worship RIA!

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I had another piece ready to go about a particularly virile god, but it was too sanctimonious, mainly because I too worship deeply at the altar of this false god. What right have I to write about her? Maybe none!

Her name is RIA.

Radical, Individual Autonomy. Think about her name. Ponder her power and influence, even over the saints of God. Consider the length of her reach. Mull over her leavening extension into every area of our modern lives.

What seducing powers has she over us? Over the 20-year old college woman who is powerfully attracted to her boyfriend and conceives his child? Over the married couple who believes that anything more than 2-3 kids is at least undesirable, if not irresponsible? The manner in which the young Charlie is pursuing his career aspirations? Over the lesbian, Genevieve, who wants to get “married” and raise children with her partner? Over Joe who wants a “sex change?” Over Sue who wants to be “involved” in church? Over Michael who does not really want to know his neighbors too well? Over the older divorced Richard who wants to enjoy his sexual relationship with girlfriend without all the “baggage” of having to marry her? Over Jimmy who thinks that anyone over the age of 30 ain’t worth listening to, much less a person long dead? Over Sally who wants some “nice stuff?” Over Tim who just wants to be happy? Over the suburban family that loves the anonymity of the suburbs? Over ten thousand things? Over you? Over me?

Consider how RIA is explained in Daniel Yankelovich’s famous words? “If you feel it is imperative to fill all your needs, and if these needs are contradictory or in conflict with those of others, or simply unfillable, then frustration inevitably follows. To Abby and to Mark . . . self-fulfillment [i.e., RIA] means having a career and marriage and children and sexual freedom and autonomy and being liberal and having money and choosing non-conformity and insisting on social justice and enjoying city life and country living and simplicity and graciousness and reading and good friends and on and on. The individual is not fulfilled by becoming ever more autonomous. Indeed, to move too far in this direction is to risk psychosis, the ultimate form of autonomy.”

Can calls by Christians for more sexual restraint or less birth control or less materialism or greater holiness/ discipleship avail much without prolonged and repeated calls for and exertions toward the death of RIA? Somehow, it seems to me, RIA must be killed, her altars torn down, her temples smashed. How is it to be done practically? I don’t know, or don’t know very well. But I wonder if it might begin by naming her, describing her in all of her multiple tentacles, exposing her falseness and futility, also exposing our rather insatiable hunger for her, and commending life without her, such that we may pursue such a life. I don’t think it will happen if we continue trying to “live the Christian life” with RIA still in the driver’s seat. But I keep trying.


Written by Michael Duenes

June 7, 2014 at 9:46 am

Posted in Apologetics, Duenes

One Response

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  1. This post is right on the money. We exalt our desires of self-fulfillment over the Gospel every day while softly telling ourselves that we are doing God’s will. Preaching against this is most difficult, as it is typically unexamined and deeply entrenched in the lives of the faithful.


    July 9, 2014 at 3:29 pm

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