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Posts Tagged ‘convenience’

The Greeks had a god for everything, and temples were erected all over their cities to facilitate the worship of them.  As time goes by, America is becoming much the same.  Here is a list of a few of the most popular gods within our culture.

 

  • Self– Certainly self absorption is nothing new for mankind, but previous generations didn’t have the amazing technology that we have to assist them.  American’s are completely consumed with making sure everyone knows their status (Facebook, Instagram), hears their opinions (Twitter, the Blogosphere), see’s their images (selfies, YouTube, Snapchat) and is appraised of their likes and/or dislikes (all social media).  The cumulative effect is that it keeps most people focused on themselves, and on what everyone else is thinking & saying about them.

 

  • Technology– Americans pay billions of dollars a year to be a part of the newest technological craze.  Whether it be the latest i-Phone, or a hover-board, or a GoPro, or self-driving cars… we can’t stand the idea that there is something newer, and possibly more advanced, than what we have already.  Sadly, the emerging generation has so much faith in the power of technology that they’ve become largely disconnected from the lessons of the past.

 

  • Humanism– We’ve become a society that willingly disparages the character of God in order to substantiate the inherent virtue of mankind.  We shun the “Holy Spirit” and celebrate the “human spirit”.  Collectively, we’ve decided that if God has a problem with us, He must not be as loving as we’ve been told, and thus we have every right to ignore Him.

 

  • Convenience– Our culture is absolutely obsessed with making everything fast, easy, and achievable with the touch of a button.  We have an “app” for just about anything you can think of, and a huge amount of an average person’s life is channeled through their electronic devices.  But with every advance in this direction, we become less tolerant of things that require any sort of sustained effort on our part, or things that take time.  We also become more dependent on the technology for even the most basic of functions.  Given the fact that life is a long journey, which requires genuine determination, perseverance and patience, this trend doesn’t bode well for our future.

 

  • Sensuality– Without a doubt, sex is meant to be one of life’s great pleasures, but just as doubtless, there is a context within which it was meant to fit in our lives.  In the decades since the “Sexual Revolution” began, our culture has found ways to inject sex into all sorts of settings, circumstances, and contexts where it doesn’t belong.  This has not only resulted in confusion and dysfunction, for many it has reduced sex to little more than a bodily function.  That’s sad, because it was intended to be so much more.

 

  • Voyeurism– My kids have no idea what a “Peeping Tom” is, and I would submit that this is due to the fact that (figuratively speaking) peeking into people’s windows has become a national pastime.  While it may have started with a litany of “Reality TV” shows, there are now surveillance cameras everywhere, a host of scammers combing the web for personal information, and millions of would-be photographers/reporters carrying portable electronic devices, and looking for that next viral sensation.  Indeed, there is little within our present culture that could accurately be characterized as “private”.

 

  • Celebrity– The insatiable craving for notoriety within our culture continues to fill our screens (both large and small) with images of people willing to eat bugs, wife swap, gender swap, submit themselves to dangerous circumstances, fix bad tattoos, torment their kids, wrestle alligators/snapping turtles/wolverines, bully their wedding planner, search for Bigfoot…  And all of this has created a new breed of celebrity that includes people like the “Reality TV Star”, and the “You-Tube Star”.  Many of these folks are not known for a specific talent, or some meaningful contribution to society, they’re simply famous for being famous (e.g. the Kardashians); which somehow manages to take the superficiality of “fame and fortune” to a whole new level.

 

  • Autonomy– In our culture, we don’t generally admire people who follow the rules.  More typically, we revere those who make up their own.  Increasingly, people don’t feel as though they should have to abide by a rule that they think is stupid, or unwarranted, or that they simply disagree with.  This trait is commonly reflected in the people our society raises to the level of “hero”, and in the characters popular entertainment presents as “super-heroes”.  While a life with “no boundaries” may sound appealing, it is by definition a state of lawlessness.
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  1. Convenience – Our culture is absolutely obsessed with making everything fast, easy, and achievable with the touch of a button.  We have an “app” for just about anything you can think of, and a huge amount of an average person’s life is channeled through their electronic devices.  But with every advance in this direction, we become less tolerant of things that require any sort of sustained effort on our part, or things that take time.  We also become more dependent on the technology for even the most basic of functions.  Given the fact that life is a long journey, which requires genuine determination, perseverance and patience, this trend doesn’t bode well for our future.
  2. Sex – Without a doubt, sex is meant to be one of life’s great pleasures, but just as doubtless, there is a context within which it was meant to fit in our lives.  In the decades since the “Sexual Revolution” began, our culture has found ways to inject sex into all sorts of settings, circumstances, and contexts where it doesn’t belong.  This has not only resulted in confusion and dysfunction, for many it has reduced sex to nothing more than a bodily function.  That’s sad, because it was intended to be so much more.
  3. Stardom – The insatiable craving for notoriety within our culture continues to fill our screens (both large and small) with images of people willing to eat bugs, wife swap, gender swap, submit themselves to tortuous circumstances, fix bad tattoos, torment their kid on the pageant circuit, wrestle alligators/snapping turtles/wolverines, bully their wedding planner, search for bigfoot…  And all of this has created a new breed of star that includes people like the “Reality TV Star”, and the “You-Tube Star”.  Most of these folks are not known for a specific talent, or some meaningful contribution to society, they’re simply famous for being famous (e.g. the Kardashians); which somehow manages to take the superficiality of “fame and fortune” to a whole new level.
  4. SWAG – Though the exact meaning of this term continues to evolve, it comes from the word “swagger”.  And it refers to a person’s attitude, self-image, and self-confidence.  Sadly, for the emerging generation, this confidence doesn’t necessarily need to be rooted in any sort of reality.  With a steady diet of trash talk, and brash posturing, one’s “SWAG” is often just an alter-ego (i.e. the person they wish they were or imagine they will become), and ultimately how they choose to market themselves to the world.  In such cases, life has a way of reducing these facades to rubble (e.g. OJ Simpson, Allen Iverson, Tiger Woods, Lindsay Lohan…).
  5. Self – This is the age of the “Selfie”, where people spend countless hours each day broadcasting their “status”, their reactions, their opinions, pictures of themselves, pictures of their food, videos of themselves…  And while a certain amount of that can be relatively harmless, the cumulative effect is that it keeps most people focused on themselves, and on what everyone else is thinking & saying.  Ultimately, the most miserable life that one can lead is one that is all about themselves.

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I have often referred to the emerging generation as the “Drive-thru Generation”, in recognition of their steady refusal to endure anything that isn’t quick and easy.  But in many ways, we older folks are no different.  Just because we can remember a time when we had to warm-up leftovers on the stove, or to find a pay phone, doesn’t mean that we’d be willing to do that today.  In fact, we are the ones who are principally responsible for cultivating this expectation of convenience within the lives of our children.  As human beings, we tend to want what we want, and we want it now.  And to be honest, we’re perfectly willing to sacrifice nutritional value to get it.

 

Unfortunately, this paradigm often spills over into our spiritual lives as well.  We can say that we are committed to following God’s principles, or maybe even the leading of His Spirit, but we regularly find ourselves unwilling to submit to His process or timetable.  Like the prodigal son, we can legitimately claim to be an heir, but we are unwilling to wait for our inheritance.  In Charismatic circles, we often try to masquerade this impatience as “faith”, by boldly declaring our desired outcome as being attained; but like a baseball player trying to hit an off-speed pitch, we’re way out in front and swinging too hard.  We like to think of it as calling on the promises of God (as though we need to hold God’s feet to fire in order to get Him to live up to His word), but the reality is that for everything there is a season, and we’re not in control of how a season unfolds.  When “name it & claim it” doesn’t work, we may decide to take matters into our own hands, but in such instances we run the very real risk of giving birth to an Ishmael (i.e. something illegitimate, distracting, troublesome, heartbreaking, chaotic…).  Like Abraham and Sarah, we can try to rationalize that we just want to see God’s promises fulfilled, but our real struggle is rooted in the fact that we’re just not willing to wait on the Lord.

 

If Jesus, the perfect Son of God, was not willing to do “anything” until He saw His Father do it first, how can we expect to proceed differently?

 

(Note:  See Genesis 16 & 17 for an account of Ishmael).

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While an important part of parenting is caring and providing for our children, another equally vital element is preparing them for life in the adult world. Many times our efforts toward the former can unwittingly undermine our efforts toward the latter.  As I watch an unprecedented number of my contemporaries raising their grandchildren, most often because their own children can’t be bothered with it, I can’t help but think that some of these ideas may have contributed to the problem.  As you read through these it’s easy to see how interrelated they are.

 

  1. “Education is the most important thing.” While I would never argue the importance of a good education, I’ve come to recognize that ultimately there is something of even greater value, and that is work ethic. After dealing with highly educated people, who possess little work ethic, and uneducated people, who are hard workers, I would choose the latter every time. I’ve found that you can teach someone with a good work ethic just about anything, but without that quality, a good education becomes of little worth. Like education, work ethic is something that has to be consciously cultivated throughout a child’s formative years.

 

  1. “Why stand in line when you can drive thru.” Western culture has taken the attribute of “convenience” to absurd new heights, and, more often than not, has sacrificed genuine quality along the way. Few would argue that fast and/or processed foods have much nutritional value, yet we as American’s tend to view them as a worthwhile trade-off for the convenience that comes with them. Unfortunately, we are raising generations of kids with that same “fast food / microwave” mentality to life and relationships.  They increasingly have the expectation that everything should be fast and easy; and they have little patience or perseverance for anything that isn’t.  Unconsciously they are coming to prefer the weightlessness of virtual reality (e.g. Facebook, You-tube, Twitter…) to the friction and gravity of the real world.  These patterns render them unprepared for the adversity that is an inherent part of human existence.

 

  1. “I don’t want my kids to have to struggle like I did.” Undoubtedly, no one likes to struggle and as parents, we hate to see our kids struggle even more. Unfortunately, it is in the midst of the struggle that we tend to develop the character and work ethic that it takes to overcome adversity. Like lifting a barbell with no weights on it, the lack of any real resistance prevents muscles from developing.  A truly successful person isn’t as much defined by their victories as they are by how they handled the adversity they encountered along the way.  As I raise my own children, I’ve come to realize that saving them from every struggle will likely handicap them for life.

 

  1. “You’re the exception to the rule.” As a parent, it is important to let each child know that they are truly unique and special; but often times, in our efforts to convey that, we make them believe that they are the exception to the rule. While that generally does make them feel special, I’ve found that it doesn’t take long for a child to believe that they ought to be the exception to every rule and that “if you really loved them”, you’d find a way to exempt them from all the rules they don’t want to follow. For such a child, life becomes an endless series of rationalizations, negotiations and manipulations with the people who have influence over them (e.g. parents, teachers, coaches…).  Ultimately this pattern tends to carry on into their adult relationships (e.g. with their spouse, with their employer, with their creditors…) as well.

 

  1. Everyone’s a winner. My kids have walls full of trophies (and medals) from all the sports they’ve participated in. One day they asked me where my trophies were and they were genuinely amazed when I explained that, when I was a kid, only the champion’s won a trophy. While as a parent I can appreciate the idea of building self-esteem by giving everyone a trophy at the end of the season, as someone living in the adult world, I can also see the folly of it. That same kid who always had an excuse to miss practice, who never came to games prepared to play, who never really contributed to the team, and who got the same trophy at the end, is generally the guy who does the same thing on the job and expects to get the same paycheck as everyone else.

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