I Need a Hero

The History Channel
The History Channel (Photo credit: Royal Sapien)

I’m thinking about a whole growing genre of television show.  There’s already, I think, enough shows to support a cable chanel.  Heck, the History Channel has pretty much given up on potraying actual history in favor of this new(ish) idea.

The idea?  Watching people buy crap.  Or sell crap.  Or trade crap.

You know the shows.  They focus on pawn shops.  Or pickers.  Or restore-ers.  Or barter-ers.  Or auctioneers.

I won’t deny the appeal.  Once in a while I watch them.  It was while watching one that I had this realization.

We have sunk so low as a society.

I think the forces of greed and our buying obsession are highly destructive forces.  In some sense, it’s probably better for our wallets and our collective economy that we are getting our purchasing thrills vicariously.  But the thing is, it’s kind of pathetic, too.  We’ve become so programmed to salivate at the idea of buying something that like good Pavlov’s dogs, we now salivate when others are buying things.

And equally sad?  We’re taking another step in the wrong direction, away from the heroic existence we were meant for.  It was a tragic thing when we decided epic adventure is merely for the person on our television.  But now?  Even our heroes are not heroic.  It’s not that they are doing things we fear we couldn’t do.  It’s that they are doing stuff that we are mostly too lazy to do.

These capitalistic reality shows are only part of a wider context.  Modern horrror movies are another place to watch the disingration of our view of what a hero should be.  Now, the heroes in these movies best hope is simply to endure.  Nearly always these films become contests of endurance, not bravery.  In horror movies, the question isn’t: “What can you rise above?”  It’s become “What can you suffer through?”

Similarly, these television shows don’t ask the question “What can you do?”  They ask, “What can you buy?”

This doesn’t seem good.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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