'A Maximum of Choice and a Minimum of Meaning."
David Brooks quotes Rabbi Johnathan Sachs' observation that over the last century faith and meaning have fallen, while owning and getting more stuff has grown, and we are in danger because of it.
Walmart symbolizes 'Maximum of Choice' while the decline of faith in Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions has fallen; the Minimum of Meaning.
We buy way too many things but it gives us no satisfaction -- no meaning.
Then comes the dangerous part: with the Minimum of Meaning, searching for it turns us to other things. (All humans are on a search for meaning -- it's just who we are.) Faith in a Higher Power has gone south, while unlimited choices of potato chips or cars, houses, recreation, etc. has gone north.
Since we crave meaning, we look for it elsewhere. Nationalism is one substitute -- faith in our country or the Democrats or Republicans, for example. Nationalism may become a substitute for the sacred; the locus of our faith. There are many other examples of these 'secular political' religions. The calling of the Christian Church is to study, think, talk and pray for understanding what Joshua writes: "...choose this day whom you will serve...".
Studying the Bible and being informed about substitutes for faith is more important then ever. Radical Islamic fundamentalism is one example. Another is seen within our own country when the nation takes on sacred meaning.
We are, in other words, very important in this high-stakes contest between Stuff and Meaning, between faith in God and faith in a politician. We have a job to do. That's one of the reasons we gather as a congregation every week -- to be reminded of our sacred calling to know the difference.
Bless you all,