Tuesday, 20 December 2005
The world rushes back and forth and 'round and up and down like a pack of ADHD seven-year-olds on a sugar rush. No, seriously.
Individuals may, at times, have long attention spans. Long being a relative term here, being, like, three hours if referring to something like a movie; ten hours if referring to a book; six months if referring to some obsession or infatuation, a year for a phase. A mass, however, really doesn't have an attention span much longer than that of its most distractable members. And humanity today--what with phones and the Internet and a thousand strings of global community--is a very large mass.
A band comes on the scene. It becomes immensely popular. They are invited to perform on Saturday Night Live. Their debut record goes platinum. The wave crests, passes over them... They appear on the Ellen Degeneres show. Their sophomore album doesn't go past gold. Another year, and when you mention their name, people say "Who?"
A movie comes out. It recieves two thumbs up by Ebert and Roeper. The opening box office numbers break a few minor records ("biggest opening weekend in winter on a leap year"). Mad TV parodies it. It recieves an Academy nom or two, takes home a Golden Globe. Everyone talks about it around the watercooler. It goes to DVD. Sales do moderately well. A year passes. A sequel is attempted, falters, goes straight to DVD, and no-one buys it. The Director's Cut is released, but doesn't reboot the sales. When people get together to watch a movie, and that film's title is mentioned as a possibility, someone says "That old thing?" with pure derision in their voice.
A new cut of clothing appears on radar--a blouse, for example. Tabloids catch several prominent celebrities wearing them. They appear in designer stores. "Good Morning America" talks about where you can get knockoff versions for less. Then comes a period of time--roughly a month--in which every popular girl at school wears one, all the celebrities are wearing them, they appear in movies. Overnight, sales drop. A girl not in tune with the ebb and flow of the fashion tide comes to school in one of those blouses, and is picked on mercilessly until she goes home to change. Stores are stuck with boxes of blouses that would not sell. A year later, on an episode of an HGTV makeover show, the designer takes the blouse out of a woman's closet, exclaims, "You're never going to wear THIS again!" and throws it in the trash.
There's something shiny. We run over to look at it. When we're bored, we throw it away and amble off toward the next thing.
Is it any wonder that so many in this mess of people, so many find life to be empty?
(Nonconformists, you're not off the hook either. So often you're still running around as bad as everyone else, only in the opposite direction. Popular new movie come out? You won't go see it. New book being read, clearing the New York Times Bestseller list for weeks on end? You'll never read it. Popular clothing? You'll avoid it like the plague. There's still little motive and less reason behind your choices other than public opinion--though for you it's a repulsion rather than an attraction.)
As I run on to the next big thing, the New One, my soul echoes the words of Cpt. Malcolm Reynolds. "I got no rudder. Wind blows northerly, I go north."
What do we need? We need rudders, anchors, ropes, canvas. But unless you have a rudder and a lot of sail hidden in that bodice of yours--unlikely--we cannot rely on that, but something else. Something to simultaneously break us away from the draw of the current, from the need to go with (or against) the random movements of culture, and to also draw us to something solid and real and meaningful.
Then a voice whispers,
Be. Thou. Transformed.
It's not hopeless. I am not doomed to ebb and flow with the culture I was raised in.
"A faith perspective gives you a vantage point from outside history so you are not captive as a child of your time." --Os Guinness.
Speaking of conformity... and culture...
What would any good Christmas celebration be without a rousing round of Slap the Heretic?
"During the Council of Nicea, jolly old St. Nicholas got so fed up with Arius, who taught that Jesus was just a man, that he walked up and slapped him! That unbishoplike behavior got him in trouble. The council almost stripped him of his office, but Nicholas said he was sorry, so he was forgiven."
"...Department store Santas should ask the children on their laps if they have been good, what they want for Christmas, and whether they understand the Two Natures of Christ. The Santas should also roam the shopping aisles, and if they hear any clerks wish their customers a mere "Happy Holiday," give them a slap."