Culture vs Content: The Battle for Contentment

Because there is not much to see in Texas, now as far as fall color, I am enjoying this season through memory. Wayne took Julia and me on a tour through New England during peak season of autumn color one year. I recollect it as one of our most memorable vacations.We brought along Peter Marshall’s book, “The Light and the Glory,” and read parts of it aloud as we traveled by car to important historical points along the way. The book, the sites, and the journey deepened our American patriotism. In some cases, it righted our wrong thinking about American history. I highly recommend the book if you haven’t read it.

This fall morning as I write I am thinking about this beautiful time of year, and I am also remembering the premise of my blog: Culture vs Content: The Battle for Contentment. Although not everything I write everyday relates to that suject, it remains the overriding theme of ths blog. 

Almost daily I feel the American culture pulling against my lifestyle as a Christian. It is everywhere. I see it in the glaring lights of Hollywood and the people around me who worship actors with their money, time, and interest.

Many American actors don’t care a wit about the covenant of marriage. Some never make promises to each other to stay together for life. Also interesting to note, that most of them are very liberal in their politics, very bent on saving earth and animals, and very devoted to the “rights” of women to have abortions. Actors are so powerful that it seems they set the standard for what is right and acceptable in our culture. Their voices are so loud, and at times, it may seem that they drowned out foundational truths in our society.

The media is another cultural pull that wars against who I am as a believer. Many journalists and writers today are liberal as well. Some are nominal in their church affliation, and some are agnostic or aetheistic. I agree that these are private choices in life, but they influence what the media writes about and allows to be published or filmed. Television and movies elevate the triumph of the human spirit, free from the provision of God, free from responsibility to each other or God. There is a strong pull away from God and the purity of marriage and the rightness of family through the media.

Although the movie, “Love Story” is practically ancient now, it introduced a mindset that continues to be repeated through the media: “Love is never having to say you are sorry.” That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. But Hollywood keeps the theme going with many sister spin-offs. To the believer, love is not the helpless pawn of feeling;and for love to live, in beauty and truth, it means saying, “I am sorry,” over and over and over. It is the most loving attitude to take toward a loved one.

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” also releases society from the act of taking responsibility when a mistake is made. Everyone makes mistakes, but Hollywood continues to perpetuate the idea that it is okay to let love blot out mistakes without words of repentance. If you hurt someone you love, it is right to admit the mistake and say you are sorry. I even like to take it step beyond by adding, “Will you please forgive me?” I have never seen a line like this woven into any screenplay, ever. Words are powerful tools to bring healing.

I really feel this same war in our educational system that teaches against God and the Bible. It is wonderful to know we still have private educational systems available, and we still have choices. But the pull against what I believe is evident and strong. In fact, I could fill pages and pages with the contridictions in American culture today from what it was designed to be originally.

Some people say the biggest culprit is Americans’ craving for materialism. Some say this is our God. But with the limited travel I have done and the cross-cultural experience, I would say that materialism is not America’s number one enemy that keeps her from God and reaching out to others in love.

I believe it is isolationism. The root of isolationism is apathy–caring only about that which pertains to me and/or my family. “To hell with the rest of it,” seems to be the mantra of American life. “I am going to take care of me and mine.”

It is so rare to find people who are not holed-up in their private, beautiful kingdoms (homes), who are not hell-bent on fulfilling their personal dreams to acquire better houses and cars and including more time for leisure and pleasure, and who are instead genuinely concerned and compassionate about pleasing God and reaching a hurting world.

The American culture is worshipping money and fame too much, but it is contentment for which we yearn. We have grown apathetic to our God and our neighbors, yet we long for deep satisfaction. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow won’t buy contentment. 

The kind of contentment that American culture provides is illusive and temporary. Our culture is abstract, although it feels concrete surging against us in mighty waves of influence. Our choices are concrete, although they feel abstract against the tide of humanism that engulfs us.

There are absolutes, and those aboslutes anchor us against the battering waves of a tumultuous society. From the anchor of biblical truth we are invited to make our choices. We create the contentment of our lives by those choices.

How do we find and keep contentment? How does our culture and all that entails: fables, forms, folklore, family, and faith influence contentment?

The secrets of contentment are locked within our choices which transcend the content of our culture. But we must make sure there is eternal content in our choices. There is a plumbline from which we measure all things in life, and it is rooted in eternity.

Christians are becoming despised in our culture. And sometimes I wonder if we could ever became hated to the point of a Holocaust like the Jews endured in Europe, or if we would suffer slavery like the Africans?

It only takes a few flaming sparks to ignite an inferno of hatred.

On the same trip to New England, I wrote the poem below about how I feel making choices hopefully and prayerfully with eternal content in mind–content that is contrary to my culture–yet that leads to my contentment. In fact, it leads to much more contentment, but eternal life itself.

 Pilgrim

Stark against society’s

post-modern moving,

I pass as an ancient Bedouin,

nomad upon the desert.

Archaic curiosity

laughingstock,

a pilgrim wanderer

in search of higher ground,

not more.

Impassioned with a flaming heart

and light feet, I am

a pioneer who will not gather.

Shunned by the bleeding elite,

the tolerant intolerant,

the jealous,

the almost persuaded.

I count the spurn

privilege for joy’s hope

before me

to travel unhindered

unencumbered

upward

homeward bound.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Carrie says:

    Bonnie- what a pleasure to step into your writings and find myself so much at home! The tension between culture and content are felt daily and to use that tension as a propelling force has ironically become my contentment.
    Thank you for your pursuit of the eternal.

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