Sunday, September 21, 2008

Do our "scripts" really work? (There's got to be more to life)

Came across this from Kent at Faithfully Dangerous. Kent quotes from theologian Walter Brueggemann, who is a friend of my dad's from college and seminary (50+ years ago) and is also my brother's godfather. I've only met Brueggemann once, and was too young at the time to appreciate any of his wisdom. ;) However, nowadays I've had some neat revelations as I've read bits and pieces of his work.

In the quote from the above linked-to blog post, Brueggemann says:
"Everybody has a script. People live their lives by a script that is sometimes explicit but often implicit. That script may be one of the great meta-narratives created by Karl Marx or Adam Smith or it may be an unrecognized tribal mantra like, 'My dad always said...' The practice of the script evokes a self, yields a sense of purpose and provides security..."

"...The dominant script of both selves and communities in our society, for both liberals and conservatives, is the script of therapeutic, technological, consumerist militarism that permeates every dimension of our common life" (emphasis mine).
(To see what Brueggemann means by "therapeutic," "technological," "consumerist" and "militarism," please see the entire post. It'll be well worth your time).

Isn't it true that we all essentially have a 'script' that we live by? In various ways, in our minds and hearts, we've all "written" the script as to how we live our lives moment by moment. I want to take a look at one of the angles from which many people seem to write their scripts. I think for many of us (human beings in general, unfortunately including Christians), our script generally involves how to make ourselves happy --- doesn't it? We live a certain way, trying to do all we can to make sure that we're always comfortable and happy. We want the "new and improved" version of a product. We want a huge TV screen so we can watch all our fantasies (TV characters, plots, sports teams, etc.) in larger than life high def. (Don't we even live vicariously through all these things?).

We desire to be wealthy, thinking we'll finally find fulfillment and happiness if we just have all the stuff we 'need.' (In fact, aren't most of us in the western world already wealthy, but since we can't have all we want we consider ourselves poor?). We even think perfect health will finally bring about the end of our pursuit of the best life possible. We try to keep up with the Jones'. We're always wanting more; we're always looking for the next temporary high to satisfy us.* We want our church and friends and family members to be all that we want them to be so that we don't have to be too uncomfortable. We even try to make God out to be what we want Him to be, whether that's on the legalistic, controlling end of the spectrum or on the spectrum that makes Him a God who simply wants us to be comfortable and cozy all the time.

Everybody's script is tweaked a little differently, but the point is, don't we all have our own scripts? And the bigger question... do our scripts really work?

What if we were to let go of our scripts - the way we think things should be, and the way we live to make things to be the way we think they should be - and instead follow Jesus' words to "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." What if life weren't about the pursuit of happiness, but rather, through some other means - a Person - we found true Life and Freedom?

Wouldn't we find true freedom? Real, genuine, God-supplied Life and Freedom?

I don't mean to imply that releasing ourselves from our "scripts" is an overnight process - not by any means! We've worked so hard to write them! ;) But slowly and by God's grace, can we get to know this Person and find Life in Him, and in Him alone? In fact, we already do have Life in Him. We are complete in Him. As we go through the process of being released from our scripts can we also at the same time allow Him to release the person who He's truly created us to be, out into the wild, free, dangerous, abundant life that He's created for us to live? (Not always "comfortable," not always "happy," but always fulfilling and free and filled with love).

*I thought this video went along with this post somewhat.
Stacie Orrico - More To Life


  1. Joel--Thanks for pointing this post out. There's a lot of truth in Brueggemann's words. Like I commented over at FD, I'm afraid that the church has too often adopted society's script. We just offer a "Christian" version of what the world offers.

    Sometimes I struggle with what it means to live a life of freedom. The idea of being free and content in Jesus runs completely counter to what the world accepts as normal...

  2. There's so much truth to what you're saying here, Richard. I've thought about this before but haven't been able to put it nearly as well as Brueggemann, or as your words here.

    I sometimes look at the "business models" that some churches have adopted, and I think it's just what you're saying here. Nothing more than what the world offers but with a Christian label. I could write a book on that alone, so I won't get myself started here. :)

  3. 'My dad always said...'

    This put a grin on my face. I know the implications of this. 'My dad was am I', 'My dad was am I', 'My tradition thought me I follow it', ....

    It makes me ask, why do we even need a different "head" on our shoulders; we may use our dad's or our pastor's or our politician's head.

    Talking about wealth, I was reading a biography of Mother Theresa over the week-end. Pretty amazing! Though she was very religious (Catholicism) the work she did in Calcutta, and all over the world was absolutely commendable. She stepped out of her safety zone and literally lived among the poor AS a poor.

    I was inspired by her story but we tend to dismiss it as a 'unique' story as though it doesn't make sense to live such a life based on today's standards (script). The life in America has spoiled me and like you said, 'we're always looking for the next temporary high to satisfy us'!

    Releasing myself from the script have been a tedious thing to do. Sometimes it surprises me how rigid I am in my thinking and living. For example, I can't even think about living in a home where there is no refrigerator, microwave, oven, electricity and water for a long period of time while it's a fact that there are people living in places where there isn't even a roof over their heads.

    All these put a perplexed feeling in my heart. We say we are free, but are we? People cry out for freedom, yet they are afraid of real freedom. It's kind of ironic. And the people who courageously take a step into the unknowns are considered weird and stupid.

  4. Bino,

    I can fully relate to the process of releasing myself from my "script." It's not been an easy thing to do. I guess the cool thing is that at least we know we see things dimly, and we can speak openly about everything with our heavenly Father, who is faithful to lead us and guide us into "His script" for our lives. The pressure is off... because if it's up to us to get into the right frame of mind in which we're always thinking the thoughts of God and living it out, then there will always be a huge struggle. But if we let go and speak our hearts to Him, and rest in Him, I believe He'll gently guide us down the right path.

    I think one thing that's happened to me in my "grace awareness" is that I see a lot more clearly what life is really meant to be... but yet I know I'm not there by any means! (Experientially speaking). And so I can get down on myself for not living as who I really am. But my thought is that the key isn't to struggle to try to rewrite my script, but rather to focus on Jesus as He daily writes my life.