Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Groping for Truth at the Grocery Store

No Newsweek? That’s exactly what I found while standing in the self-checkout lane with my groceries this evening. Typically, I’m not excited to have to run to the grocery store after a day of work, but I really needed coffee—and the newest issue of Newsweek. Much to my dismay, the grocery store didn’t carry Newsweek, or Time, or U.S. News, or any news magazine for that matter. They did carry plenty of other magazines—US Weekly, People, Vogue, and others that promised to make your life better, make you more beautiful, and tell you all the latest Hollywood gossip. And this is not the first time I have run into this problem.

I don’t track the history, or reasoning, behind grocery store’s stocking decisions, but I think this deserves our attention. Every adult in America must frequent the grocery store, including Christians, and if we can wade through hundreds (literally) of magazines in the aisle without finding a single one of relative significance what does that tell us about our worldview, or our ability to truly comprehend reality?

We live in a society that likes to suppress the truth, and maybe the grocery store doesn’t serve as a spiritual barometer for the Church, but it comes close. Maybe we’re not buying into the celebrity gossip, but we might be enticed by the newest Self magazine that promises to help you shed ten pounds. Is it wrong to try and be healthy? Absolutely not, but unfortunately we very often do not look beyond what is fed to us—and if our only choices in the checkout lane are fluff, then fluff we will get.

As Christians, we must learn to look beyond the false reality that our culture is spoon feeding us. The marketers would love for us to buy their magazines, buy their products, and support their causes—all the while trusting in their promises of a better life. I took a magazine writing class once, and one of the main things that we learned in marketing our articles was people like lists that promise results. They are groping for a better existence, and Newsweek magazine isn’t something they want in their reach.

Paris Hilton’s renditions of the horrors of jail time give you a three second celebrity thrill, but it won’t give you truth. Newsweek won’t either, but at least it will allow you into some semblance of reality, however distorted it may be by the media. Not only should the magazine rack enrage us by its lies about beauty and personhood, but it should also make us cry out for mercy. Yes, these consumers are groping, but they won’t find it in InStyle—they’ll find it at the Cross of Jesus Christ. There is a lot that could be said about the reasoning behind the grocery store magazine choices, like the fact that we don’t really like to read about anything of depth, or that we only like to read things that make us feel good, but it must start deeper. Fundamentally it is a matter of the heart. Our hearts are wicked, yet created by God to worship Him, and because of that we worship everything but Him in our depravity. As Christians, our media spending habits should not reflect the lost world around us—and we shouldn’t be saying “Give me Newsweek”, instead lets say “Give me Christ”.

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