What Slogans Tell Us, (About Ourselves)
I love a good phrase. A well-constructed thought, carefully but succinctly stated, is a beautiful thing. I try to do it a lot, but seldom ever come up with one of those pithy statements myself, …the kind others quote. Yet my predisposition to find them causes me to notice them.
Traveling in Europe, moving in and out of 10 countries on my spring ministry trip, I found quite a few fascinating and intriguing phrases. Advertising phrases are to be found on bill- boards, signs, posters, even t-shirts. On a t-shirt in the airport last night I saw this slogan, “In the darkness I find myself.” That caused me to ponder. A poster said, “You have no past, only a future.” Wow. Think about those statements. I only know who I am in secret, in the dark? I have no past thus am not responsible for anything I have done? I don’t think so!
Poignancy is one thing, but humanistic philosophies are another. Pondering why someone would wear such items on their clothing I assume they either don’t know what they are wearing, (never giving it any thought), or they are truly espousing that philosophy. Either way I’m troubled as I contemplate this person and why they are wearing such things.
I remember when I lived in Europe, an auto company marketed their cars in Germany with this slogan, “Der Weg ist Das Ziel.” Translated, that means “the way is the destination.” In other words, where you are going is of little interest as long as you are going in our auto, because our auto is so much fun, gives you so much pleasure, it doesn’t really matter where you’re going. Just do it and you’ll be glad you did. This hedonistic perspective highlights much of our western way of thinking, Americans and Europeans alike. It’s an emphasis on the temporary, self- rewarding, be good to yourself attitude we espouse.
Hard for me to imagine Jesus having the disciples pass out t-shirts after he taught them in the Sermon on the Mount. Can you see this, Jesus, the disciples and the crowd sitting on the hillside in Galilee, when the disciples pass through the crowd dispensing free t-shirts saying things like, “Come to Jesus and be filled.” Or, “Come to Jesus and get fed, new life and great bread.” And many such sayings.
It seems to me Jesus cut to the quick of this attitude as he taught us in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matt 6:33. “ But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
The difference between the idea of temporary satisfaction and eternal values is significant. What we pursue in life should be commensurate with what we say we believe.
With tongue in cheek I say, if you have to wear a t-shirt, wear it inside out. 🙂