This post is part of my ongoing response to the questions I posted as part of this month's book discussion
on Colossians Remixed
by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat over at the Emerging Women blog
. (read my other responses - here
Question #6 -
What is your reaction to this quote? "Does the child who sits in front of a television set for three to four hours a day, shops at the mall with her parents, goes to school and recites the Pledge of allegiance, plays computer games, listens to her president encouraging everyone to go out shopping in order to defeat terrorism, wears clothes from the Gap, and plays with the toys created out of the imagination of Disney and Hollywood, ever actually choose the American way of life? ... Was there a moment of conversion in her life when the American dream became her dream? No. She imbibed the monocultural consumerist dream in the fast food she ate, the polluted air she breathed and the visual culture she inhabited. And so she was converted, made into a cult member, before she knew what was happening." (p171).
So I read this quote the other evening. Emma was sitting on her Elmo chair wearing her "Future Jedi Knight" t-shirt and watching Dora the Explorer. We had spent the afternoon at playgroup at the mall. Oh, and we had gone through a fast food drive through for lunch on the way to the mall. My initial response – “oh crap, I’m a horrible mother/person. I need to feel guilty.”
But I don’t. Well, not completely.
I’m a fan of moderation. As I’ve mentioned recently in other posts, I don’t think most (if any) things are evil in and of themselves. Kinda Shakespearean “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” sort of thing. So while I think there are serious things wrong with the world we live in, I don’t see the best response to be withdraw from that world.
For example I see the abuse of alcohol as a bad thing, but I don’t think that means that all people should always avoid alcohol. I see being consumed by greed and the desire to acquire stuff as well as an ignorance of the global implications of our purchases as bad things, but I don’t think it means that all shopping must end. I see a world where children lose the ability to be imaginative and creative as a bad thing, but don’t think imaginative stories/movies (even if they have an agenda) should be condemned and avoided. (As for the fast food thing. That’s just pretty much evil and harmful to our bodies, our families, and the environment. I have no excuse there).
I’m a fan of engagement over withdraw. To explore with my child the world around her. To not mindlessly accept and consume, not reject for the sake of rejection. To teach her to value people over stuff. To encourage her imagination. Will this affect our habits? – it should if we are in any way different from the empire around us. Just being aware that our shopping habits affects families and children around the world changes a lot.
And I see nothing wrong with enjoying life. I enjoy a well cooked meal. I enjoy a good glass of wine. I enjoy a good movie or book or TV show. I try not to be consumed by such things (although there are times in my life when I’ve leaned in that direction, especially when it comes to certain fiction genres. And please no LOST comments…). I see no problem with Emma enjoying Dora, or the children’s museum, or the Zoo. But if our enjoyment comes at the expense of others (dark chocolate made by trafficked children…) then there are issues.
Its the whole in but not of the world thing. At this point I see it as possible to live in this world counterculturally. That doesn’t mean a rejection of all that the world has to offer, just a need to engage thoughtfully with it and to constantly be self aware.
All that said, there is still some guilt. I know there are still things I need to change. Areas of my life where I knowing support the empire over Christ. I want to get past the guilt and find positive ways to live. It’s a fine balance between guilt induced through education and awareness and the healthy changes they can effect. But I’m trying to be aware. To not let my daughter be initiated mindlessly into the cult. To not promote values that I disagree with just because they are easy or expected. And to encourage her to subvert the empire when it needs correction. Do I have a clue most of the time as to what I am doing? No, but I’m going to keep on doing it.
Labels: Book Reviews, Colossians Remixed, parenting