The Value of Distinction
One of the pains of not having cable is that anytime you want to watch a sporting event, you’re stuck streaming from a providers app and casting it onto your tv. And, the reason this is a pain, is that a streaming of cable tv includes only three commercials - the same ones Every. Single. Time.
And even in the lack of variety, they are filed by the same thing: this rather than that. Whether beer, cars, banks, state tourism, or any other advertisement, the notion of pick us rather than the other option remains the same. Economically, this only makes sense in our capitalist context. I’m not some super-alt-anti-establishment head (although there’s a bit of that here...) , but it is rather comical to see the popularity contest of elementary school continue to NHL intermissions. But instead of which lunch table is cooler, now it’s which beer will make you look swaggier.
But what I’m really curious about is which came first - the evangelical or the ad campaign? Because if you look at what Christianity in America became throughout the 20th century, it follows the same model. Pick our religion, it will give you x, y and z. Some do this explicitly through promoting a prosperity gospel. And others do this by promising intangibles like eternal life. But regardless, religion within the evangelical context is less about encountering and more about selling a way of perception. Where as Jesus says, “look at the flowers of the field and the birds of the air” Evangelism sells itself by looking at these flowers and those trees. It, like it’s capitalistic father, sells itself on distinction. And, takes like a reckless son, takes it a step further by even occasionally going so far as to say, don’t pick our product and you could spend eternity in punishment. Although Verizon can play a pretty aggressive game with at&t, at least it doesn’t tell you that if you don’t pick them, your phone will burn forever in eternity.
Christianity, I believe, is reframing itself. How can you accept and appreciative distinction, without seeing difference as a negative? Just as I may like Coors more than Bud Light, I can have a preference and knowledge of one more than the other. That doesn’t mean that the reality of Bud Light is wrong. It’s just not familiar or preferred. But familiarity and preference shouldn’t be justification for negation of the other. That’s ridiculous.
I can prefer white pines over ponderosa pines, but that doesn’t mean I should go around telling ponderosas to become whites and if they don’t then a forest fire will eventually wipe them all out.
I think with the rise of a globalized context, humanity’s big challenge will be to learn how to appreciate distinction, rather than trying to force ones preference onto another’s.