Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Saints, not Suburbanites

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are
just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report,
if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. ~ Phil 4:8

Mediocrity...suburban American malaise....the frog in the pot...becoming a lemming... lack of inspiration: these are things I fear have characterized the last year for me.
The symptoms of the disease?: Too much television, not enough reading. Too much Jim Belushi-George Lopez-Ray Romano-Homer Simpson, not enough Fess Parker and Ben Cartwright. Shopping at the Big Box where I don't know anyone vs. the Ma 'n Pa shop where I know Ma and Pa. Eating dinner at McTacoBee's vs. our family dinner table. Sitting at an air-conditioned, halogen lit Charbucks for a $6 grande no-fat extra-dry half-caff' mocha-latte-cheeno instead sitting in the fresh air breeze in my front yard in glorious rural WI with cup of coffee from my kitchen with my neighbors.
A lot of different things, including what I've written above, have gotten me thinking about the verse above. For examle: going to a town fair and seeing the disparity between a band singing beautiful harmonies to the sound of clean, crisp, musical guitars and drums and doing it for the sheer pleasure of it vs. having my eardrums blown out by the screaming and distorition of drunken middle-aged men trying to relive their Senior year of high school 25 years later..."Dude!" Seeing myself and my friends and family glutted by TV, movies & video games vs. great literature or board games. Going to the mall or the movie theatre vs. Old World Wisconsin or the park.
As I said, much of this has been a sense of frustration with myself because I've spent too much time in column A pursuing mediocrity instead of beauty and virtue. We visited very dear friends of ours recently in Omaha and had a wonderful time of fellowship and respite. One day I said to my dear buddy Jeff, "I don't read enough great literature. I really need to read more classics like the Brothers Karamazov." He looked at me and replied "You've been saying that to me for ten years Joel". And he's right. It made me think about how much time I spend living unintentionally and in mediocrity. Sitting down and turning on the TV, not because there's something specific I'm interested in watching but, just because I'm lazy and/or bored. Or always wanting to eat out instead of sitting at the table in our home. Or wasting an entire evening watching a mindless movies when I could be playing a board game with friends or family. Or constantly thinking about the stuff I want (that I convince myself I need) instead doing things that build the virtue and character of myself and my wife and son. Spending my leisure time doing things that are mediocre instead of things that fill me with inspiration and life, things that help me become the more true and real version of Joel Allen Prather that Our Lord Jesus Christ intends.
So I have a new Rule of Life I'm gonna give a try which is simply spending my time on things that are "true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy." I want to live like a Saint, not a Suburbanite.
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