Monday, February 15, 2010

Free will...

I have long been a believer in libertarian free will. I think the notion of predestination is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus of the New Testament. I remember being a freshman at WKU and an older student told me she "used to believe in free will. But Dr. _______ told her she'd eventually come around to understand why our salvation is predestined by God. She said that happened over the course of a couple of years, and it would happen to me, too, as I matured."

That never happened. In fact, I'm much more opposed to any theological notions that deny free will now than I was then.

However, Chuck Palahniuk is changing my life. (I've been reading a lot lately. I mean, a lot. I'll probably do another post soon about all the fiction I've read in the past few weeks.) In his book "Lullaby," he does what he does in most his books: criticizes American culture.

Palahniuk is certainly one of my favorite writers. Every sentence moves at 100 miles per hour. They hit you like a sledgehammer. He'll introduce an idea or phrase early in a book or a chapter then bring it back later in a way that slaps you on the forehead. Every book shocks you. Every story line is incredible. The insight into the human brain is always eye-opening.

In "Lullaby," one of the reoccurring themes is how advertising and marketing affects us. We're not happy with what we have and who we are because we're told we're not happy with those things. We can't believe what we want because we're told to believe something else. We can't be who we want to be because we're told that who we are isn't good enough. We need to buy something. We need to change something. We need this. We need that.

And our economy fails.

And CEO's are still getting huge bonuses.

And anti-depressants are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in America.

And marriages fall apart.

And people don't maintain solid relationships.

And we go further into debt.

And still no one is happy.

Perhaps we don't have free will anymore. Perhaps our capitalist society has taken it away. Perhaps we are too willing to believe what we're told. Perhaps advertising companies and marketing gurus have foreordained the life of the typical American. Perhaps we can't choose anything on our own. Perhaps freedom is "just some people talking." (HT: The Eagles) Perhaps freedom doesn't really exist in this society.

Maybe the Amish are the only free people I know.


Anonymous said...

deeeaaa-um (that's supposed to sound like an elongated "damn" when you read it aloud. not sure i was successful)

such a long conversation could be had about this. nothing i write seems to be enough. guess i'll just wait until that all-elusive day when we can all have a beer and chat again.

Mike Cummings said...

Hold on! I didn't endure 4 years of Seminary for you to be converted to the dark side by Chuck. I won't go down without a fight.