If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away---Henry David Thoreau

Monday, February 9, 2009

Isaiah 55:1 and the Corona commercial

A couple in bathing suits lie in mesh hammocks under a palm trees. The clear tropical waters gently splash on the sandy shore. The endless sky is without a single cloud. The horizon stretches out for miles. On a crate between the relaxing couple sit two yellow Coronas with lemon slices dripping with cool moisture. Don’t you just want to be there on that island heaven sipping on a cool one?

Television commercials seek to create desire and need. Clever marketing agencies use words and images to fashion an invitation that cannot be resisted. How many times after watching a commercial have you felt an urge to go out and buy a shrimp meal, a toilet bowl cleaner, a new gadget, or even a car? Commercials work. Otherwise companies wouldn’t spend millions of dollars on them. They can create desire, even when there is none there. I don’t drink Coronas, but when I see that commercial I feel a desire to be on the beach with a cool bottle in my hand.

Someone observed that average American is exposed to sixteen thousand commercial messages, symbols, and reminders every single day. Commercials and marketing are the lifeblood of our consumer Capitalist culture. Our culture thrives on the insatiable desires of the American people to buy and consume. Remember the advice the president of the United States’ offered after the devastation of September 11 in order for Americans to return to normalcy? Go out and shop! Desire for more and more things is the normal state of affairs in our culture.

The words of the prophet Isaiah boom above the clamor of our culture of desire like a policeman stopping traffic. Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! (55:1). The prophet offers a drink from eternal springs that quench the emptiness of the soul. There is spiritual food for those who have not been satisfied with a glut of possessions. Even the poor can sit at this banquet table. It is the feast of God’s reign, here and now and in the age to come. Can’t you just see it? Justice drips like sweet honey. Peace gently laps on the shore. The smell of the bread of compassion wafts through the air. Mmmmmm. Don’t you just want to taste it?

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