July 31, 2016
Luke 12:13-21
Colossians 3:1-11
Hosea 11:1-11
Psalm 107:1-9, 43

Living in a Selfie Culture
Proper 13 | OT 18 | Pentecost 11

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Dean Feldmeyer
This week’s lectionary texts have a great deal to say about the misplaced priorities of contemporary culture. The writer of Ecclesiastes takes on the foolishness of human vanity; Jesus tells a parable addressing the short-sightedness of those who place too much importance on the hoarding of wealth and the acquisition of possessions; and Paul implores the Colossians to turn away from destructive earthly passions like fornication, greed, idolatry, and anger, and to embrace instead a new life in Christ. In the next installment of The Immediate Word, team member Dean Feldmeyer suggests that our modern, self-absorbed society has exalted vanity as a virtue -- especially for celebrities who compete to see who can amass the greatest number of followers on social media. But in our fascination with these celebrities, we all are helping to reinforce vanity as something to be aspired to... not to mention exemplifying vanity in our own lives as we give outsized attention to physical beauty and other selfish conceits. Dean examines scripture for guidance on how we can follow Paul’s advice on turning away from the earthly siren call of vanity. Here’s a preview:

Living in a Selfie Culture
by Dean Feldmeyer
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23

Back in 1968, when Andy Warhol said that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” we thought he was just another wacky celebrity spouting nonsense and trying to make it seem profound. Now we know that his was a prophetic voice.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, cellphone cameras, selfies, “reality” TV, and a host of other post-modern phenomena and thingamajigs have made 15 minutes of fame common, and have turned vanity from a vice to a virtue.

With 77.9 million Instagram followers and 46.9 million Twitter followers, Kim Kardashian -- who claims to have started the “selfie” trend -- is certainly the poster child for our current vanity culture. Last May she released a book containing 352 pages of pictures that she has taken of herself. The title is Selfish.

Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.

How do we, as people of faith, relate to and live in such a culture? Do we throw up our hands in despair as the Teacher seems to do in Ecclesiastes, or are there other, more constructive alternatives?

Click here for the full installment.

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