I like to consider myself a critical consumer. This could be credited to my mom (still won't allow the internet in the house - gotta love her!), my upbringing, or my own inquisitive nature. Regardless, I struggle against the culture encouraging our mindless consumption of new trends in TV, clothes, music, and food.
Don't misunderstand - I give in all too easily, but I try to at least be aware. I've been wondering about an ad I've seen lately. Even without TV, internet, or magazines in my apartment I can't escape the onslaught I see on my way to and from work everyday. I've seen this particular ad numerous times, always wondering at its purpose. The ads are real odd, involving myth-like characters or obscure situations or settings and accompanied by the words, "They miss you."
I didn't know if I was simply not the target audience or if the unfortunate public relations firm completely missed the mark. I finally realized this past week the point: dreams.
I was looking at an elfin man sitting in too-small a chair inside a cozy, dimly lit grandmotheresque attic. Beside him sat YODA and they were both looking at the empty seat (mine, of course) over the chess game that was spread out on the small table. Odd, for sure, but I realized that Rozerem (pharmaceutical of some sort) is advertising to the sleep deprived.
Then I saw a man wearing purple jeans on the subway and thought, "I wonder who targets his audience?"
Media is really very fickle.
I was talking to my new friend who runs the book table at church, Bob, last Sunday. He was telling me about this spiritual housecleaning book he'd read. The idea was that, without intending to, we physically bring in objects to our homes that Satan uses to distract us from our purpose. This really struck me. I'm sure I just stared for a good 10 seconds because I was thinking about it.
I thought about what I had chosen to bring into my apartment in the near 2 months I've been here. Everything from pictures to books to decorations to food - all conscious decisions to be a part of our lives. It's easier to analyze the apartment because I haven't had as much time to accumulate, but a short survey revealed exactly what my friend Bob was getting at.
My roommate works with other girls our age and someone had given her a copy of Chicago Social, a modern fashion magazine. She brought it back and shrugged it off. Neither of us were particularly interested in it or its content, but it seemed like one of those things that girls just have in apartments. I had actually picked up a free H&M magazine when I was in the store awhile back for the same reason. It was free and I thought it could add something to our extremely modest decor. But, I realized that I had spent time flipping through each of those magazines.
I know it seems petty and possibly over-analyzing (like always), but I really asked "what good came from that time?" My mom always says if it is not of God it's of Satan. There isn't an in between, tepid compromise on things we say are "really not that bad." Well, if they're really not that bad, are they really that good?
I feel so, so blessed to be without TV. Sure, I sorta glaze over when conversations turn to the latest Bachelor episode or the near-death of the hero on 24.
But, I experience so much more of reality by being in it - living it.
Like this morning. I have class on Wednesdays, so I don't have to wake up quite as early, but my body's on a schedule so it does anyway. You probably know how that goes... Once you get in a groove you'd better just give in to it, because if you don't you run the risk of confusing the system. So, I woke up early and decided to get out walking.
I knew before I left that I would be tempted to buy a coffee or tea (still doing pretty well on the whole becoming independent of coffee), so I brought 5 singles that I picked up from coat tips last night. I started walking and before I'd gone far I met Sisco. He looked downcast and I actually met him as he was searching trash cans. He asked for something to eat in a way that didn't expect any sort of response. I stopped and asked if I could buy him breakfast. He was very grateful and we started walking toward a food store. We ended up walking in an enormous circle, completely opposite the orginal direction I was heading.
In that long walk, I found out that Sisco, after getting out of prison, tried to get his life back in order. He tried to get a job, but that extremely difficult with a record and without the proper papers. Then, he filled out all the paperwork to take classes. Being homeless has left him pretty jaded, but as I shared with him my heart he shared a depressing perspective on my 'fellow believers.'
He showed understanding of Scripture and professed belief, but he couldn't understand why he would show up to churches and hear "sorry, some other time. .. we'll pray for you... the pastor's out... no room here..."
This is the body? This is the Church I call home and family? I was ashamed. I offered to buy him breakfast at several places, but he insisted on going to a very cheap food mart so that he could get more food. I told him I had $5 and he spent $3.04. I also told him about Park (my church) and he was really interested, asking about a bible study. So hopefully he will follow through and I will see him this Sunday.
So, I had $1.96 left, right? Well, I continued on praising God for His sovereignty and hurting for the image the Church left on Sisco. Then I came upon another man. He just wanted coffee and wasn't as interested in conversation. But, I understand the need for coffee :) so we stopped at Corner Bakery for a cup that pretty near finished off my 5 bones. I left him with a "have a good day" and continued on.
Wow. This is the honest playing out of the Proverb, " Many are the plans of a man's heart, but the Lord's purpose prevails." How true and how blessed. Sometimes we are called to conversations and other times we are just called to love through things like coffee.
Okay, this is entirely too long and I'm going to be late for my next class.