"Humility is not thinking less of myself. It's thinking of myself less."
Thursday, November 17, 2011
I was listening to a Tedtalk recently called the "paradox of choice". The paradox of choice goes like this.....the more options we have, the less content we actually are.
The theory can be tested through the lens of buying a pair of jeans. Back in the day, when there was only one kind of blue jean to buy in the store, I got them wore them and for the most part was content with them, because the only other alternative was, well nothing, or an uncomfortable pair of corduroys. So, compared to not having jeans at all, having a pair was great.
Fast forward 30 years.
Now I can choose literally 100s of different brands, colors, shapes and sizes of jeans all within my reach....and, while the jeans I wear today actually look and fit better than the pair I used to have when back in the day, I'm paradoxically, less content. "Why", you ask? Good question.
I'm less happy because, in a world of choice, I'm perpetually wondering what I missed out on. I'm continually ruminating over whether there might be another pair that might fit a tad bit better. And, the thought of there being something better just out of grasp haunts me, and breeds a spirit of dissatisfaction with that which I do have.
That's the paradox of choice. Logically, we assume, more choice should bring more freedom. But, in reality more options bring more consternation, frustration, dissatisfaction and self-obsession.
I see this as one of the great problems of consumeristic society. Options breed dissatisfaction. And, so it goes within the church. The answer to church dissatisfaction is not creating more options. More options don't make us happier. . .look at our culture for goodness sake!
What is necessary within the Church is that she develop a theology of less. Speaking of paradoxes, one of Jesus' great paradoxes in the gospels is that less is more. And, so we must attempt to think less like our culture and more like Jesus.
I remember those provocative words from Christ as he gently chides Martha. "Martha, Martha, you run after many things, but only one thing is necessary". Maybe, this economic crisis we are in will force us away from our smorgasbord diets, and we'll find that only one thing is necessary.
And, in finding that one necessary thing, we'll find personal contentment in those things that we do have.