As I mentioned in my earlier post, we watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation a couple weeks ago. The whole Vacation series with Chevy Chase are rapidly becoming favorites with the LightFamily.
I was struck by a number of things in this movie. As must be obvious because I can’t stop talking about it. The thing I want to write about here is both the differences between Clark and Eddie.
Clark is Mr. Suburban Everyman. He has dreams and visions life that seem to come from a combination of Norman Rockwell, Currier & Ives and advertising aimed at suburban bliss. So he plans, he works, he cuts the grass once a week. He lives the right kind of life. It’s not too competitive; that is reserved for the next door neighbors (and you’ll barely recognize Julia Louis Dreyfuss in this role). He saves for a rainy day. His wife and children know how to dress and behave. In fact, their family looks very much like many of the families populating many churches across white America. What Clark wants most for Christmas is to have his extended family around him … and his Christmas bonus to purchase an inground swimming pool for the backyard. The swimming pool will be a good investment, good stewardship as it were.
Then cousin Eddie with his wife and children show up to join the holidays. It’s a surprise.
“Surprised?” Clark says, “Why if I woke up tomorrow morning with my head sewn to the carpet I couldn’t be more surprised.”
His face and body language are all too clear … this is an unwelcome surprise. From his perspective, Eddie is a fool. And … Eddie is. Eddie hasn’t worked in ten years “… waiting on a management position.” His oldest son is not with them this Christmas. He is out in the world, starting his career … with the carnival. Next year he hopes to be a barker for the Yak Woman. Everything Eddie touches seems to get dirty or fall apart and his fashion sense made even my 10 year old boy cringe in embarrassment. As the movie progresses we discover that the family has fallen on hard times and Eddie has lost his house. They are now living in the rustbucket RV out of necessity, Santa will likely only visit Clark’s children unless Clark and his wife provide for Eddie’s children, etc.
I can’t stop thinking about Eddie. Everything about him was repulsive to me. He was stupid, illiterate, foolish, unplanned and unlearned. He slurped his eggnog. Wiped his mouth on sleeve during a more formal event when napkins were present … and was uncaring. But most of all he was a grasshopper. Think about that for a moment.
If there were a fable to describe the North American church it would be the ant and the grasshopper.
The Ant and the Grasshopper
An Aesop Fable retold by Rose Owens
One summer day a grasshopper was singing and chirping and hopping about. He was having a wonderful time. He saw an ant who was busy gathering and storing grain for the winter.
“Stop and talk to me,” said the grasshopper. “We can sing some songs and dance a while.”
“Oh no,” said the ant. “Winter is coming. I am storing up food for the winter. I think you should do the same.”
“Oh, I can’t be bothered,” said the grasshopper. “Winter is a long time off. There is plenty of food.” So the grasshopper continued to dance and sing and chip and the ant continued to work.
When winter came the grasshopper had no food and was starving. He went to the ant’s house and asked, “Can I have some wheat or maybe a few kernels of corn. Without it I will starve,” whined the grasshopper.
“You danced last summer,” said the ants in disgust. “You can continue to dance.” And they gave him no food.
Fools, or those we perceive as fools, are not suffered lightly. The Eddies of the world are given a “kick in the pants if you don’t,” as my mother used to say. But … being an ant requires that we become very, very busy. Ants are planners, builders, kingdom (with a little k) creators. North Americans, westerners, and especially western Christians aspire to be ants. We’ve made it into an art form and given it much thought. Indeed, there is an entire book of the Bible (Proverbs) devoted to admonishing us to follow the way of wisdom rather than suffer the folly of foolishness.
Have we interpreted God correctly on this? Or are we re-interpreting something which cannot be found anywhere in Scripture? God helps those who help themselves. Grasshoppers live for the moment, they fly where the wind (Spirit) takes them. They do not spend every waking, living moment planning and investing for the future when they will die. They live. Think about that … they live.
How will you live for God? As an ant or a grasshopper?
This is part of a synchroblog on fools and calling … please read what the other grasshoppers had to say this month.