At Highland Church of Christ we are talking right now about how the dominant stories that we hear day in and day out are so greedy. And these are our love stories!
For more information about this series, or to get a free E-book you can go to www.thesequels.org
So this past Sunday we talked about the way we are taught to consume everything including each other. We are taught to ask the most insidious question, “Are you really satisfied?” But that’s not a question that we are taught to ask to lead us to happiness, it’s much darker than that.
Always A Bridesmaid
There’s a lot more backstory to this, and if you are interested you can hear the whole sermon here. But the gist of it is that in the early 40’s and 50’s a guy named Edward Bernays changed the world. Bernays was the inventor of what we call Propaganda, he was the most effective weapons that America had in World War II. He learned (from his uncle Freud) that we have a few base desires, like fear, or to have sex.
And if you could just tap into those desires you could make people think a certain way.
And he did…and he still does.
After the war was over, Bernays learned that he discovered this new power but no longer had a purpose for it.
So he went into marketing. And now most of the way we have grown up thinking about the world has been shaped by Edward Bernays.
But we are largely unaware how much.
Have you ever heard that saying “Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride”? Do you know where that saying comes from?
This 1950’s Listerine Ad.
It’s an ad that taps into our deepest fears of being alone and not being connected. Not so that we can connect, but so that we will buy mouthwash. Thank you Edward Bernays.
And that’s why at Highland this week, we ended the sermon by asking people to engage in the ancient Christian discipline of fasting.
Not just married people, but for people who were wanting to get married, and for people who wanted to learn how to live better in community.
Because for the past few decades we have been taught to consume. We have somewhere around 5,000 advertisements a day that raise and increase our desire.
We’ve been taught to think that the world revolves around us, and that we should get what we want. And then we approach our relationships this way.
But this ancient practice of fasting teaches us that we don’t live by bread alone. We don’t live just to consume.
And that if we really want to be happy, occasionally we need to step back and stop looking for things to consume, and start looking for things that we are grateful for.
C.S. Lewis once wrote an essay about love and Christian Marriage and he said:
People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on “being in love” for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change—not realizing that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one.
This is at the heart of why our marriages disappoint us. Edward Bernaise taught us to ask the question, “What does my spouse or future spouse owe me?”
But fasting helps us ask another and better question, “Why have I been given so much? Why has God been so good to me?”
I like the way Marcel Proust says this:
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
This is why one of the main commands in the Bible is for us to remember, because if we don’t keep remembering how much we already have, we might just forget.
So try it out. If you want better relationships. Fast.