March 14, 2011

Choice

A caviat: this is the first post I've published in a long time - I'm aware. About a year ago, while working at my last church, I was asked to stop writing because my thinking was, apparently, "too controversial" for some people of influence to handle. While I've since moved to another church (who do not hold that opinion), it's been very hard for me to start thinking like a writer again ... my thanks to Shawna for giving me a kick in the mental butt to just start writing again and see where it goes. Please be kind; it's been a while.


I think our culture is bored.


We Americans have so much, and it's not even that challenging to get more, relatively speaking. Middle and upper-class kids have the easiest lifestyles on the planet; everything is handed to them on a silver or gold or platinum platter (we have options), and so what else do they have to do but find ways to seek thrills in one form or another? Girls go online and take their clothes off not to make money but just to do something dangerous and "taboo," something against their parents' wishes, something that gives them a rush (though they'll take the money too). Guys and girls alike experiment with drugs, sex, alcohol, parties, and the like to find some sort of high, artificial as it may be, to stimulate their minds without all the hard work of learning something useful or meaningful. Their parents' body language and actions - if not outright verbiage - have told kids that they are entitled to this lifestyle of privilege.  As human beings, it's easy for us to believe because, let's face it,

we want to.

But it leaves nowhere to go except to consume, and we human beings are not meant to be consumers, we are meant to be people who make more of the world, who create and love and learn and build and grow.



Our culture's obsession with sex and the adrenaline-rush (in one form or another) seem, to me, to stem from a search for meaning. But that search has been limited because we've been looking only in the only places we've been taught to look: the places we're most comfortable. Instead of breaking out of our boxes, instead of moving beyond the world of consumption, we simply try to find new ways to consume, new thrills, ever more exotic and provocative, but fundamentally the same as the last. A girl taking off one more piece of clothing each time she gets on a webcam is thrilling for her, but it only can escalate once the thrill wears off - one more piece of clothing, one more provocative act. Likewise, a guy drinking only demands that he drink more and more to get the same thrill. More parties, more drugs, more violence, more more more ... we will consume ourselves into oblivion, all because we have become bored, lost in our search for meaning to the point that we've essentially given up, numb to the pain we're really causing ourselves and others but unable to break the cycle for fear of losing the pleasures that we think are all we have; we don't want to give up what makes us feel good, even if for a moment. Our happiness is fleeting, but it's all we know; we want more, but are not willing to sacrifice to get it.




But perhaps that's the very thing keeping us from finding meaning that will last. Perhaps joy is something found when we give up what makes us feel good in the short-term, when we stop seeking pleasure for ourselves and instead seek to do good to our neighbors and to better our world. Perhaps moving beyond our ease is exactly what we need to do; perhaps the meaning we seek only comes in conflict and blood and sweat and tears, the things that make us uncomfortable. Perhaps joy is found in the midst of pain and work and sacrifice.


Perhaps the problem has been choice all along: we didn't know we had one. Maybe what we've done is bought into the lies of consumption because, deep down, we don't WANT to sacrifice, we don't WANT to give up of ourselves because it's HARD. But instead of facing the facts, instead of owning up to our own decisions about what we do and why we do it, we make it the fault of others, of our culture, of our parents, of our genetics, of our family, of our history ... of our world ... of anything except the one place where blame must eventually fall:


ourselves.


Yes, things happen that are not our fault, but it is WE who choose how to handle those things, whether to let them make victims out of us, or innovators. Do we accept the subliminal messages of the matrix and so doing commit ourselves to a mental and cultural prison, or do we reject the lie and instead choose to move beyond, to a new way and an ancient way, a way borne of mercy and justice, love and sacrifice,


... death and resurrection ...

6 comments:

Shawna said...

So glad to see you back Chris, and glad I could help...although I have to give a nod to the Holy Ghost -- love He uses me, can't take any credit :). Amazing 'choice' goes all the way back to the beginning. God gave Adam and Eve a choice, and then when they got in trouble for it they didn't want to take responsibility for it...amazing how nothing has changed.

Chris said...

Something else strikes me about this as I continue to reflect on it ... maybe we don't really want a choice! Maybe we just really want to be in a computer somewhere with everything predetermined so that nothing is our fault ... it would explain the popularity of calvinism these days; either I'm completely predetermined to heaven and thus I can tell others why I'm better, OR I'm predetermined to hell and can't do a thing about it ... either way, I am not responsible, it's God's fault ... theological laziness ...

Dan Underwood said...

great to see you writing again Chris!

hblogan said...

Good to see the creative juices flowing again on your blog. I look forward to being challenged...thinking outside the box...

Adam Caldwell said...

Chris...Congrats on the new position. I'm just across the state in St. Louis. If you ever want to get away for the weekend with the fam and catch a cardinals game or head to the zoo le me know. We've got a room waiting for you. I Pray all is well!

Adam Caldwell said...

Chris...Congrats on the new position. I'm just across the state in St. Louis. If you ever want a weekend away with the fam just let me know. We've got a room waiting for you. I pray all is well! I'll hollar at ya if I'm in KC anytime soon.