Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Follow Your Passion!" (and Other Ridiculous, Overrated, Unrealistic Cliches About Life)

Yeah, I’ve heard so many of them and I roll my eyes at most.

“Everything happens for a reason”
“Your grandmother was right”
“You can’t see the forest for the trees”
“If it works for you”
“Make the rich pay their fair share”
 (Any insult followed by) “…bless her heart”

Why is it that our culture comes up with (sort-of catchy) phrases that oversimplify issues or reek of schmaltz? Unfortunately, the conservative Christian subculture doesn’t do much better in the platitude, cliché area.

“Isn’t it good to be a Christian today?”
“The Lord is in control”
(When approached on the street):“If you died tonight, do you know where you’d go tomorrow?”
“Christian aren’t perfect, just forgiven”

Just recently went to a seminar for a professional organization of which I’m a member and heard a wonderful speaker who addressed issues and problems of freelance work. I appreciated his realistic approach to the struggles we face, not pretending to be some motivational speaker/life coach Tony Robbins/Joel Osteen-esque type of guru who communicates idealistic and impractical messages like “Unlimited power”, “Your Best Life Now” and “Every Day a Friday”. Makes me nauseous.

Prosperity Gospel messages of wealth, power and success being the rewards for good Christians or for just being hard-working Americans with frontier work ethic pervade our society it seems. The PG is not just a Christian thing either. There’s a certain entitlement attitude that pervades our culture – certainly is rife with the motivational speakers – and celebrity speakers and preachers love to capitalize on this concept to their very vulnerable, personally needy audiences. But Christians, of all people, owe it to the world to be authentic, at least try to be Biblical, and extend love and grace (wouldn’t Jesus want us to do that?) vs. judgment. In the end, God will be our judge.

What about those who work hard and try to be faithful but don’t end up with worry-free, victorious-living, wealthy lives? There are amazing parallels between secular culture and charismatic Christians in some life concepts.

Some times life is just plain tough. Much of our tasks are tedious toil or just mundane and not stimulating.  

Is that a reason to be perpetually dissatisfied and ceaseless seeking that elusive thrill or intrinsic happiness we think we deserve?

·         Follow your passion”?? – What if you like many things and aren’t passionate about anything? What if what you’re passionate about you can’t make a living at?
·         “Everything happens for a reason” – maybe, but are we going to know what that reason is? We’re not God. Do we want to know that reason? Hhhmm, not sure we’d be able to handle it if we did.
·         “Your grandmother was right” – about which thing? Her generation said A LOT of things, some were spot on and some were dead-freakin’ wrong with science to prove it
·         “Soulmate” – I think this is concept created by creative screenwriters and novelists. Therapists have a very different story. Just ask.
·         “I can’t see the forest for the trees” – story of my life when I’m too busy.
·         “If it works for you” – relativism, relativism.
·         “Make the rich pay their fair share” – they ARE
·         “It’s a free country” – to do anything we want?
·         (Any insult followed by:) “…bless her heart” – with a smile of course. Classic Southern passive-aggressive way to not deal directly with conflict.

Now the Christian ones:

  • “Isn’t it good to be a Christian today?" - translation: I’m in a good mood and feeling like God is smiling on me (but I probably won’t say this when hard times hit).

  • “The Lord is in control” - what is "control"? Easy to say to others until life impodes for us and suddenly all concepts of control go out the window and life feels unfair

  • (When approached on the street):“If you died tonight, do you know where you’d go tomorrow?" -- overused, not effective.

  • “Christian aren’t perfect, just forgiven” -- a popular bumper sticker in the 1980's. Christians may understand it but nonbelievers/seekers often find it judgmental and superior sounding.
Anyhow, I’m working on a platitude-free, cliché-free vocabulary. Looking for words to live by. Looking for grace and beauty in the mundane and even the painful as Ann Voskamp talks about in One Thousand Gifts.

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