Read this Blog and You Will Be Skinny

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In one college class on a random tangent that the discussion tended to take, the professor talked about a former student who had worked in advertising. This former student described that every advertisement wanted to convince the viewer of two things: 1) You deserve to be happy. 2) This product will make you happy.

It sounds crazy, but watch a few commercials, and you can see it. Even as a smart, well-adjusted (well-adjusting?) adult, the messages still chisel away at my sense of contentment and feeling blessed.

I once heard someone say from a source they couldn’t cite (so take it for that) that people today age 30 and younger are the first people who have been marketed to for their entire lives. Before we could read, before we lost our baby teeth, before we could color in the lines, we were being told what we wanted. Sadly, I think this is why in my generation, there’s an over-abundance of both cynicism and materialism.

Use this deodorant and you will be more confident. Eat this cereal and you will enjoy more fond moments with your family. Buy this car and you will finally have that sweet road satisfaction that you deserve

These are the crazy messages that I thankfully got relieved from for a year when I lived abroad. I would go whole months where the single form of advertising I saw was the one billboard in town with the same quip about the grocery store. Lacking advertisement, I found myself thinking crazy thoughts like “Any car that works is a good car to have, and even if I don’t have one, walking is fine with me.” and “I don’t really need any new clothes- the 4 sweaters I already have are great.”  and “My home-cooked store-brand lunch is the best thing I’ve ever eaten.”

I dont’ know where I’m going with this soapbox. Marketing is vital to our national economy  but lack of it leads to so much more joy. Maybe there’s a balance somewhere, but we haven’t struck it yet. But I will say that in that same college class with the professor talking about the former student, our professor added that his former student had left advertising after he found himself sitting in a board room thinking of ways to make the Islamic holy month Ramadan all about Coca-Cola. Can you believe the nerve they had to take something so holy and precious and make it about Coke!?!

Tina Fey, my imaginary mentor

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So my copy of http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=thatswha06-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0316056863&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrTina Fey’s Bossypants arrived in the mail yesterday. Let me say that I only have two methods of reading books. One is to steamroll through them, gorging out my intellectual appetite. The other way is to read a chapter, get bored, an let that book with its well-meaning bookmark collect dust until I only remember it later because I’m moving and books are the heaviest part of a move.

There is no middle ground for me.

So I finished the book by 9:30 pm last night. A little jealous that if I ever write a book, I won’t get to crack jokes about my awkward sexuality, but certain I could make it just as funny. Has “Priestypants*” been trademarked yet? So many times I feel like Tina Fey is just me, but in a different life. But then I remember that her book is currently the #2 bestseller on Amazon. Apparently there are a lot of other brainy brunettes who act weird around boys they want to date. But really, someone once told me that I reminded her of Tina Fey, or more accurately, Liz Lemon, and I consider that one of the nicest compliments I’ve received, though I can’t tell you why.     

Being that Tina Fey is a comedian and this is a comedic book, I’m not sure I should glean some great insight from this book. But I did. Because Tina Fey talked about learning to do improv in Chicago at Second City and she talked about how those lessons translated to life lessons. Let me quote:

The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun,” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger. You’re pointing your finger at me,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say, “Freeze, I have a gun!” and you say, “The gun I gave you for Christmas! You bastard!” then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun. 

Now obviously in real life you’re not going to always agree with everything everyone says. But the rule of Agreement reminds you to “respect what your partner has created” and to at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you. 

 As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life who first answer is no. “No, we can’t do that.” “No, that’s not in the budget.” “No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.” What kind of way is that to live? 

What if more people have theological discussions with the Rule of Agreement in mind? What if more churches approached new ideas with the Rule of Agreement in mind? If I were further along in my theological studies, this is where I would bridge this to a ‘theology of abundance’, but I’m not there yet, so bear with me. Because Fey continues that passage with the YES, AND rule, saying that everyone shouldn’t be afraid to contribute, which is probably the same thinking that gave me the audacity to start a blog that had almost 150 page views last month.  

Let me leave you with a new word that Tina Fey coined (like Shakespeare!). Not only does this word describe me now, but I have a feeling it will describe me all my life. Blorft. “Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything was fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.”

*- If you’re a part of my Commission on Ministry, I fully acknowledge that there’s much more to do in my discernment process and ordination is still by all means a ‘maybe’.**

**- If you have no idea what this comment means, consider yourself lucky.