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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Do-It-Yourself, part 1

Image from Carpe Factum.
As I was perusing Barnes & Noble yesterday, something interesting came to my attention: the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) section is vastly larger and more popular than the religion section, especially that of the Judeo-Christian literature. This got me thinking, and so I want to share my thoughts on the matter.

We are a DIY culture. If you can avoid asking for help, you're better off. There are books on how to teach yourself origami, knitting, cooking, HTML, video production, child-rearing, ways to get your kids to stop playing with their belly buttons in public... the list is endless. But most of these books (perhaps all of them, though there are bound to be exceptions) have one thing in common: you can do it all by your lonesome. You don't need anyone else for the Complete Idiot's Guide to whatever you want to learn.

Why is the DIY section so much larger than religion? Why is it so much more popular? American culture has dictated that the best way to get anywhere is to do it yourself. Want to achieve the American dream? Work hard, step on others if you must, but only get help if it is absolutely necessary. DIY is great because that book can't tell you you're messing something up, and therefore you get to sleep on the couch tonight.  That book won't let you know there is some really messed-up garbage in your life.

If there is one thing I've gleaned from self-help books, it's that they are essentially un-Christian. It is a lot easier to think I can help myself than to believe that this particular model of human doesn't come with a self-repair feature. We're screwed up.

Here's the good news: we don't have to stay that way. The difficult (but not necessarily bad) news is that, though we cannot fix ourselves, it is up to us to allow the greatest Fixer to do his job. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give rest to you!" (Matt 11.28) We are not told we are unfixable; we are not told we are beyond repair. Likewise, we are not told we can fix ourselves, but that there is one who can.

Next time we'll focus on what the Church has to do with this, which is a heavily neglected part of Christian living.

Grace and peace,
-Reed Hamil

P.S.: If you actually bother reading all this, do us a favor and hit the Facebook "Like" button there at the top. We could use some self-esteem boosters. Peace!

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