I’m studying the book of Nehemiah, and to supplement my education, I am listening to The Village Church podcast sermon series on Nehemiah. I just finished listening to the “Reality of Opposition” taught by Pastor Beau (I recommend listening to it when you get a chance), and he discusses the opposition that we face as God’s people. Not only does Israel face opposition when building the wall in Jerusalem, but people in church history, including Jesus, and the church today. He discusses the varying types of opposition, the obvious one being persecution, but he also discusses the tidal wave of culture:
the tidal wave of narcissism, consumerism, individualism, hypersexuality, and anti-authoritarianism in our culture coming against us every single day.
Pastor Beau references Mark Sayers, and more specifically, his book, The Road Trip that Changed the World, when discussing this phenomenon. Our culture is flat — it does not ponder the deeper things or the meaning of life. It just is. It reacts to what is near, what it feels or sees — simply put, it’s instant gratification.
A quote that I fell for (this is not hyperbolic, I was actually so engrossed in this quote on the train that when the conductor took a hard turn I fell on to the people around me hitting a man with my umbrella – sorry!):
“In a superflat culture where nothing matters, we escape into obsessions and hobbies, interests that bear little ultimate consequence. In a commodified culture, we move and shift around meaning, giving weight to things that do not deserve mountains of time and attention. The twenty-first century will be a century marked by conspicuous consumption but also a flagrant misuse of time. With religion off the agenda, our culture finds new avenues of devotion and distraction.
Instead of moving us toward relationship and people, the immanent, superflat culture pushes us toward things. Millions of hours in the twenty-first century will be spent working through DVD TV series, scanning social network sites, gorging on celebrity gossip, downloading music, flipping through home magazines, and playing computer games. Things will take precedence over people. Meaningless activities will overtake our lives.
There is nothing wrong with interests and hobbies in their right place, but the twenty-first century culture will gorge on such activities. The real issue of human existence that have sat front and center of human consciousness have in the superflat, immanent world [we live in] been shoved aside. They are too heavy to be carried on the road. Instead we buzz across the surface of life, never venturing below the surface.”
It hurts to read this because I am definitely a product of this culture. I yearn for deeper conversations, but then I will binge watch Game of Thrones. I have to fight against the flatness that imposes itself on me constantly. I have a lot more to think about and write about on this, but for now those are my thought.s
How about you? What do you think of Sayer’s definition of a superflat culture?