Guinness and God: Part 2

As I began to say in my last post, our consumeristic hungers are related to the draw of God.

It's easy to think my endless shopping and borrowing and self-centeredness is because I'm somehow oriented toward evil. But I'm not. (At least I don't believe I am.) I commit evil, certainly. I am greedy, true. I affiliate with harmful practices every day which have significant repercussions on my neighbors, no doubt. But I'm not oriented toward evil.

Toward evil assumes evil is an end, as though evil has something I want. It assumes evil has desirable characteristics worth my time and energy and misbehavior. Yet, when we boil down our behaviors to find the motivations for doing them in the first place, we find good ends.

G.K. Chesterton wrote, "A man knocking on the door of a brothel is looking for God." It's easy to see what he means. The man wants intimacy, physical touch, affirmation, relief from other troubles, etc., and these are good things only God can provide. He doesn't want to run with the devil. He wants to be loved. This reveals evil as a means, not evil as an end.

As consumers and as advertisers, we don't act stupidly and harmfully and selfishly and monetarily because we want to harm each other. Instead, we do these things because God promises to fulfill our deepest human needs and these promises have not yet been realized. What we want - what all of us want - is affirmation, security, justice, peace, intimacy, rewarding work, health, and so on. And we're desperate enough for them that we're willing to harm ourselves and others to get them.

This is why I think the Guinness ad fits here. We don't simply want to want God more. We want God already in the same way the refrigerator wants the Guinness! Our worship is rarely appropriate or honoring or selfless, but our evil acts reveal that we desperately want what God has, which is the good.

Try something this week. If you're a consumer, ask why you succumb to a certain unhealthy spending habit (I'm assuming you have at least one.) If you're an advertiser, ask why you agree to work on campaigns that don't further the good in this world. For each of you, is it because you're bent toward evil, or because doing evil helps you experience at least a fragment of something good?


Every Square Inch November 12, 2008 at 7:04 PM  

Sam - I agree with you and Chesterton.

As fallen men and women, we have a God-vacuum in our lives that we try to fill with things other than living God. It takes a lot of consumerism to try to do just that

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