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American Idols and Monks

What if we draw a comparison between how we think today compared to what a Medieval monk might think? In other words, today we seek happiness, getting what we want, climbing the ladder, success, fortune, and so on. What about days of old? How did they think?

In his book, Words That Work, Dr. Frank Luntz writes the following. It very accurately describes the current American mindset.

Americans are easily bored. If something doesn’t shock or surprise us, we move on to something else. We are always in search of the next big thing, whether it be the next American Idol, a new television ‘reality’ show, a new gee-whiz techno-gizmo, the latest Madonna makeover, or something else that we haven’t seen or heard of before. Our tastes change as quickly as the seasons, and we expect the rest of society to keep up.

While there are lots of reflections on American society, Dr. Luntz sums things up nicely. What’s interesting, is that the religious, Christians especially, are being called hypocritical and shallow by the same folks that live this, obviously shallow, American life.

Christians have certainly made a mess of things. John Ortberg notes that Christianity has produced more hypocrites than anyone – ironic considering Jesus gave the word it’s current meaning. That said, the Church is on a path to self-correction. It’s mind numbingly slow, but it’s moving forward.

In stark contrast to the American way, Medieval monk, Thomas a Kempis writes:

Be patient my soul; await the fulfillment of God’s promise, and you shall enjoy the abundance of His goodness in Heaven. But if you hanker inordinately after the good things of this life, you will lose those of heaven and eternity. Therefore make right use of this world’s goods, but long only for those that are eternal. This world’s good things can never satisfy you, for you are not created for the enjoyment of these alone.

Kempis puts the focus on God. He puts God first and the things of this world in their proper place. This is the kingdom of the heavens living that Jesus invited folks to participate in. Anyone trying to live as Kempis describes is worthy of our respect – regardless of our beliefs. This, however, cannot be said of Luntz’s description of the American way. They’re polar opposites.

Despite this, it’s religion that’s made fun of, and the American way that’s exalted. Seems a tad upside down, no?

Thanks for reading,
~ Ted

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