Parking? Really??

21 10 2008

I sat in on one of our church meetings the other day and it got me wondering about the mindset or attitude of this generation or just people lving in current times. We are so flooded with conveniences that at some point it’s become necessities. Does anyone ever watch TV without a remote these days? Is anything less than an Ipod inadequet for your music entertainment? Can you imagine having to go to a bank teller to draw money instead of an ATM (Do you even know what ATM stands for?)? I’ve been so enculturated with the email culture that I had to recently learn what the phrase ‘snail mail’ referred to. And also can you recall back to the days when pagers were the new technology or even further back when we actually had to set meeting times and be punctual because there was no way to call our friend and say, “Oh, I’m gonna be a little late’? Can you imagine a world where if you took a plane, it possibly meant you would never see those people you are leaving behind ever again? Yes, there was such a time. I think the only time my dad saw my grandfather tear was when my grandfather was sending his son to America with a couple hundred dollars not knowing if he’ll be able to see his son again. We live in a world where long distance calls are free and you can even video chat around the globe at no expense. This world has become extremely convenient. That’s not a bad thing. It just turns sour when we consider it a necessity. Walter Brueggemann, in The Prophetic Imagination, comments (in a church context) on why it’s so hard for us to escape our comfort zones of convenience:

“The contemporary American church is so largely enculturated to the American ethos of consumerism that it has little power to believe or to act.”

So recalling the discussion on parking availability at the church meeting, I honestly couldn’t help but be critical. Are we really that eunculturated in consumerism? Yes, parents have it tough, but hey parents, have you thought about how your parents dealt with you with far less niffty gadgets, carts, and such? But regardless, if this is the primary concern and discussion, rather than the welfare of our neighbors, it makes me wonder if we really do have the “power to believe or to act,” or the ability to be a light in the community, as they mentioned in the meeting. What kind of light are we shining? What kind of flag are we waving? The one of American consumerisim? Or the one that says, “I’ll inconvenience myself for your benefit”? I fear it will be the former. Maybe we need some ‘prophetic imagination.’




4 responses

21 10 2008

but is it so bad that we have grown accustomed to such luxuries in our lives? dont get me wrong now, i’m not promoting a life of debauchery, but the ability to travel across oceans and talk to people on the phone long distance.. one’s enjoyment of these luxuries doesn’t directly correlate to one’s decadence.. at the same time i don’t believe the christian faith calls people to lead completely stoic lives either. but i definitely do agree, that the lazy heart that finds complacent pleasure in such luxuries is wrong. i wasn’t there at the meeting, so i dont really know..

21 10 2008
Paul Park

Thanks for the comment Tom. If I may, to address couple things in your comment. My post wasn’t really directed toward debauchery, that is licentiousness. That would be a separate issue. And definitely stoicism has no place in Christianity, and I wasn’t promoting stoicism over and against superficial emotionalism, and again that would be a separate discussion. But to respond to your comment that is relevant to this discussion, “one’s enjoyment of these luxuries doesn’t directly correlate to one’s decadence.” Sure this phrase may be true by itself, but without the discussion of how tightly we hold on to these luxuries, it is rather unhelpful in diagnosing the condition of our consumerism. Also, i should have defined consumerism more clearly. Again, thanks for the comment.

21 10 2008

Consumerism is a challenge for the gospel message, but driving its culture is the me-attitude. Quite honestly, I get tired of people saying, “there’s nothing wrong with driving a Mercedes Benz.” Sure, there’s nothing wrong with driving a Benz or any car, unless you’re trying to run people over. But seriously though, what motivates someone to drive a luxury vehicle? Or want luxury? And once you have it, wouldn’t you want to show others too? I think Paul has a point to be well-heeded–not so much to drive ourselves into guilt, but to check ourselves and our call to discipleship, lest we cheapen grace.

24 12 2008
Louis CK on Technology: “Give it a second!!” « Paul Park’s Mental Meanderings

[…] August 2008 Louis CK on Technology: “Give it a second!!” December 24, 2008, 1:32 am Filed under: Anthropology, Comedy Louis CK’s social commentary on technology kind of goes well with one of my previous posts: Parking? Really?? […]

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