Recently I watched an interesting documentary called, "Requiem for the American Dream." In it, social critic Noam Chomsky described several ways people with wealth and power maintain their power while keeping the poor poor. One way to do so is to create consumers. This idea was cultivated and nurtured in the 1950's when American communities were struggling to recover from the Great Depression. Social unrest threatened to shake up the power distribution. To keep the oppressed down, those with wealth and power sought to turn angry communities into blissful consumers. Advertising took off like a rocket ship and the acquisition of products became a primary American pastime.
Fast forward 60 years and we have some of the most unhappy citizens in the world. It turns out the acquisition of stuff doesn't lead to happiness at all. Thankfully, we live in a time when we are beginning to wake up to the reality of the dream-turned-nightmare. We are questioning the wisdom of consumerism and we are learning to reshape the way we think about stuff and about happiness. Happiness isn't purchased in a store or online. Joy comes from within (nurturing self) and from outside ourselves (God). The nurturing of faith, community, well-being -- these are the things that lead to joy.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Psalm 52
Why do you boast, O mighty one,
of mischief done against the godly?
All day long you are plotting destruction.
Your tongue is like a sharp razor,
you worker of treachery.
You love evil more than good,
and lying more than speaking the truth.
You love all words that devour,
O deceitful tongue.
But God will break you down for ever;
he will snatch and tear you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living.
The righteous will see, and fear,
and will laugh at the evildoer, saying,
‘See the one who would not take
refuge in God,
but trusted in abundant riches,
and sought refuge in wealth!’
But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
for ever and ever.
I will thank you for ever,
because of what you have done.
In the presence of the faithful
I will proclaim your name, for it is good.