Monday, October 13, 2008

Analysis of the 'American Dream'

Well; it's inevitable. The onslaught of the commercial Christmas season is creeping in..I was picking up a few things and while there were some fall items-the lights, oranments and yard stuff were already encroaching on the Halloween section. Soon it will be talk of Black Friday specials ( because who can resist getting a DVD player for 20 bucks, even if you have to stand in line for 2 hours and clothesline little old ladies in the process, right?) and Christmas shopping countdowns.

Sigh.

I love the holidays, but I can't help but be depressed at the thought of family and friend relationships being reduced to cheap, crappy, commercially produced items that nobody will remember by next year anyway. We have decided to try to by the least amount of presents possible this year- instead make gifts ourselves. They will probably involve some sewing and craft projects, baking and other things.

But as I ponder this...I can't help but think about the fact that the best parts of the holidays always involve community-family or friends, doesn't matter. Community...the thing that America doesn't know a whole lot about.

The American Dream- I was raised to idolize and strive for it. Make money, save money, have a nice house, nice cars, a pretty little family. Many people do have those nice new homes and nice pretty lives- yet are lonely, so lonely. How can that be? We isolate ourselves in climate-controlled comfort, living through TV and video games, cozied up in our private worlds. I work in the medical field, in a hospital, where people are at their worst. People attempting to commit suicide out of lonliness, people who make themselves sick so they can at least be around others. Elderly folks who die alone, every single day. Parents completely overwhelmed by caring for a diabled child, at their wits end because family and friends feel too uncomforable around an 'abnormal' child to offer any help or support. Prosperous, comfortable, successful and yet utterly alone.

Could it be that the American Dream is nothing more than an illusion? Could it be that happiness comes from our relationships with others- through everyday interactions, support through good times and bad...leaning on eachother? Early Christians understood this- they lived and worked together, shared money and resources. Where has that gone? Why is it that the church is just as influenced by consumer culture as the general population? I find it quite interesting that the common model and structure of a modern church looks eerily similar to that of a business.

What if? What if people lived and worked together in intentional communtiy-forgoing 'independence' in favor of inter-dependence? What if we said no thank you to mega churches with plasma tv's and 8 pastors on staff and a budget that could feed and clothe and support hundreds ( if not thousands) of local people in need..but is instead spent on a new addition or new 'program' for the kids, a new associate pastor or a church growth plan?

Mainly what I wonder is how the American Dream morphed into the American Christian Dream. Seems to me....Jesus' plan for a Christian's life looks quite different.

1 comment:

Mrs. Amy Brigham said...

You evil socialist you!!! How dare you question the American Dream :P

Sorry, couldn't resist ;o)

As you can probably guess, I agree with your thoughts 110% While I was in high school, my family attended a BIG mega church for a few Sundays. This church has a huge bookstore and everyone was lining up to purchase books after the service. My mind couldn't help but wander to Jesus kicking the money changers out of the temple. Making money in a church, as this church was doing, smacked me as very wrong then, and even more now that said church has a Krispy Kremes and Starbucks last I heard.

Church shouldn't be entertainment and neither should youth group. There are so many lost souls, hurting people, and those in the community who need help. Why not offer this help? Why go on mission trips to foreign countries when Habitat for Humanity is hurting for volunteers at home? When there are elderly folks who need help with yard work and home repairs?

We don't need fancy stained glass windows, cutting edge sound equipment, and leather covers for pews. Folding chairs in a former grocery store are fine. A single microphone carries the ministers voice. Hymns can be sung without a praise band. The money should be the entitlement of the needy, filling clothes closets, food bank shelves, helping start a low-cost daycare for teen and single moms. Something....anything....not what's going on now.