Don’t look now but Lent is coming. Traditionally, something is given up during Lent to draw us closer to Jesus. If giving up chocolate brings you closer to Christ, then please give it up for the 40-day season. However, if you are looking for something a little more challenging, you might want join me on my Lenten quest.
I am deeply concerned about our advertising culture. Besides ruining the English language, advertising inundates us with commercials while we are doing something as simple as reading a story on-line or checking up with friends on Facebook. This past week, I read a story on my Google news feed but found myself reading a two-inch tall by five-inch-wide pop-up ad on the top and bottom with scrolling advertisements along the side. For those that receive the newspaper, how much weight, literally, is the news and how much is print advertising? Reading the news is not my Lenten concern. You see, advertising works is by making you feel bad. The worse you feel, the better their product looks. Advertising also puts us in competition with our neighbors. Envy is a highly effective marketing tool. Making you feel bad and envy your neighbor’s things is a sure fire recipe for sales! I find it impossible to love God with my whole heart while coveting what others have. I can’t be envious and in competition with my neighbors and simultaneously love them like myself. I think if I give up advertising for Lent, I’ll be in a closer walk with Jesus by Easter. There is a problem: I can’t entirely give up advertising. It is too prevalent, widespread and rampant in my life. As a follower of Jesus, what am I to do?
During Lent, I am not going to buy anything new. No new clothes, no new gadgets, no new exercise clothes, no new tools, and no new books. Yikes! I can’t believe I just wrote that. But, it gets worse. I am not going to buy any fast food I have seen advertised. No Jack in the Box. No Black Angus. No… Starbucks? Uggh. Worse yet, every Sunday morning for the past ten years (I am not exaggerating), I get a breakfast sandwich and iced coffee from McDonalds. What am I going to do? To be honest, there is something about carrying around a Starbucks drink that makes me feel better than those who are not. There, I said it and that’s a practice I must stop.
Here are some exceptions. I wear a size 15 shoe. If I need a new pair of shoes, I have to buy them new. Buying food at a grocery store that advertises is a necessity. Elijah’s birthday falls in Lent. I am going to buy him a present or two. That’s it. On the flip side, if I absolutely need a new tool, kitchen device, work out shirt, or gadget, there is a new Goodwill store nearby. There is Craigslist.com, which I have used to buy and sell things. Even Amazon.com has a used section. The point is this – advertising is bad for the human soul. It sets us against each other, against what we have already been blessed with, and creates a hole in our hearts that is only temporarily filled with buying more things.
At our Bible study class on Wednesday, I brought up this Lenten idea. One parishioner said she’ll join me and will save the money she’d normally spend on new things and give it as her Easter gift. Now that truly is a new life experience!
The economy is doing just fine. Consumer confidence is quite high. They’re not going to miss us for 40-days. Will you join me this Lent and refrain from being influenced by our advertising culture?