Summary: Our culture would have us to believe there is a sea of ’truths’ to choose from in determining our beliefs and ethics. The 10 Commandments hold for us ultimate truth & meaning from an ancient past towards an eternal future.
Bibliography: Culture Shifts, Lesson 4
Over the last several weeks we have been exploring the changes that have taken place in our culture over the last forty years. Many have begun this new year with commitments (New Year Resolutions, if you will) to strive towards being more perfect followers of Christ in the midst of these cultural shifts we have experienced. With this in mind, our Bible lesson this evening is a part of an ancient code dictating Christian behavior. Hear these words:
You’ve seen the commercial. The guy is standing in the middle of the desert. The hood is up on his car and steam is coming out of the engine. While he’s bending over the car, a tow truck pulls up behind him. Inside are two “bubbas” who may have a whole brain between them.
We know who they are. Their the best mechanics you’re going to get when the nearest garage is a hundred or more miles away.
But the guy with the broken down car doesn’t get it. He ask for quotes from their three top competitors.
Its a commercial for an insurance company called Progressive which suggests, not only is a selection to choose from of any commodity the way we want it, but it is our right.
Car insurance, home loans, religion, ethics.
Whatever it is, there are choices - options - available to us, and the one we choose is the one that will have meaning for us.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that the truth we seek holds meaning for us, therefore we chose it. I am suggesting we will make our choice of a sea of ‘truths’, and the truth we select, we will adopt its meaning for our lives.
It sounds confusing, I know, but lets see if we can’t get a handle on the mind set we live within and this way of determining meaning and truth.
There are three ideas or principals that guide and shape our choosing in the 21st century, when determining between right and wrong, truth and untruth.
The first is that we have no values. Now I don’t mean that we have thrown all morality to the wind. I don’t mean to suggest that we live in a time when their is wide spread belief that all behaviors, attitudes and beliefs -good or bad, productive or destructive, are acceptable, although sometimes it might seem that way.
In history, particularly over the last several decades in our culture, there have been certain characteristics that define each era. With each era there has been a code, an ethical code that was understood and followed by that era. But down through the decades, failure of those codes or rules to organize society and make it better, has led to repeated rejection of those universal rules and values.
We are a culture today with no universal value system. In fact the only value we have is that we have no widely accepted values. In this “Progressive” generation (if I can borrow the name of the insurance company), each individual determines his/her own code of ethical, moral behavior, determining which values to accept and which ones to reject.
The second principal we follow, however, is that our personal happiness is the number one determining factor in choosing the values we accept and reject. My generation is a generation that grew up watching television. For years advertisers have been telling us what will make our lives easier, what will give us pleasure is what we need.
By the time we are sixteen, by conservative estimates we have watched 245, 280 commercials. From our impressionable years on, these commercials have been convincing us that our personal happiness is what is most important, the goal of our life.
This second principal is heightened to the extreme by the third guiding principal, which is that the here an now is all that we can rely on. I would think one of the effects of 9-11 was to reinforce the uncertainty the future holds.
In the 1960’s the traditions or past of parents was rejected by their children. Traditional ideals and values held by the WWII generation conflicted with the social and political events surrounding the Vietnam War. Reason, logic, and education had not made our world a better place. The past has no viable truths for us.
Neither can we count on the future. Before we reach retirement age, those of my generation will have 2 to 3 careers. Those of my children’s generation will have 6 to 7. Gone is the idea that one will stay in a job for 30 years and retire on a company pension. The world of rapid change we live in technologically and the rapid turnover rate in the job market creates a culture that is fluid and in a constant state of flux.