A Progress Junkie Speaks

I don’t have time to write of this properly; bed is calling. But some ideas won’t wait around. I’ll do my best to ensure a return to this topic. (I know I have several posts in this category.)

Reading a few-days-old post at Rick Saenz’s Dry Creek Chronicles blog, I realized with no small amount of grief my slavery to (post)modern culture. While some small part of me longs for a simpler life, I can’t break my chains. Rick speaks of those enthralled by modern culture and consumerism, and the word arrested me immediately. Enthralled, in thrall–in slavery. That’s what that word means. And yes, I am too often a slave to consumerism.

I am a slave to consumerism…

  • When I heed the siren song of the Golden Arches, knowing that a) the food’s not good for me and b) that’s money that could help free my family from debt;
  • When my love of music becomes an obsession to have the cool stuff first;
  • When I use a credit card to satisfy a whim;
  • When I medicate my spiritual loneliness with some product that Madison Avenue assured me would assuage it;
  • When I pick up the Scriptures to check “Bible reading” off my to-do list;
  • When I think that doing enough of the right things will transform me into someone God can love.

I read through that list and think of half a dozen more things. Sadly, I’m too often a willing prisoner. It’s a well-known phenomenon (thanks to The Shawshank Redemption that prisoners become institutionalized the longer they’re imprisoned. The world outside, though certainly better in a thousand ways, is undesirable because of its inherent uncertainty.

The more devout worshipers of progress see a mansion around them, and everything available for those who really want it. I immediately think of the Soundgarden song “Rusty Cage,” the version covered by Johnny Cash. “I wanna break, I wanna break my, I wanna break my rusty cage and run.” We reluctant worshipers of constant progress see the reality beyond the cage, an existence infinitely more lovely, joyful, and fulfilling. That world is where we want to live. The challenge, though, is finding both the courage and the energy to ignore the tangible and completely realized world of the cage in favor of the more real world beyond.

I like Rick Saenz. His writing strengthens my heart and my hands.


2 thoughts on “A Progress Junkie Speaks”

  1. I hear you, my friend. It’s tough to shake the culture of consumption.
    If you’re interested in what an understatement looks like, take a second look at the previous sentence.

    It’s funny that you referenced Soundgarden here as I was actually considering blogging some things Soundgarden-related (I haven’t), by the way, I do love that Cash version of “Rusty Cage”. Anyhow, I think that a large portion of Chris Cornell’s lyrics deal with trying to overcome materialism and greed and the attempt to see life for something more tangible than goods. As evidence I cite Superunknown’s track “Limo Wreck”, an excerpt:

    “Tears of the feeble, hands of the slaves
    Skin of the mothers, mouths of the babes
    Building the towers, belongs to the sky
    When the whole thing comes crashing down
    Don’t ask me why…
    …And the wreck of you
    Is the death of you all”

    I could also cite “My Wave” which I think voices the same type of frustrations, but I won’t. Suffice it to say- good post. Now I’m going to go listen to Soundgarden some more.

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