Sunday, April 7, 2013

State Farm and the Book of Genesis

In the book of Genesis, God says "Let there be Light..." and there is light. The remarkable thing about this is not just that God can demand that light should appear and it does, but the fact that God actually invented light itself. I may be able to bake a mean batch of cookies from scratch, but God invented the very idea of cookies... from scratch. As for myself, I can only utilize the materials that God has already placed before me, but God actually invents the materials as well as what those materials can ultimately become. Most recently I was thinking about this, strangely enough, when I was watching the latest State Farm advertisement. As I was watching the commercial (seen above), I began to consider how far we've come in terms of technology. Certainly God didn't use the "Clapper" when he called up out of nothing that glorious reality known as "light," but it is not all that different of a concept when you think about it. In fact, just as everything has quickly gone from push-button to touch screens, soon enough light switches and other appliances will cease to have on-off buttons and instead become completely voice-activated. When seen in this light, one comes to realize that the book of Genesis is not merely a "silly mythical fantasy", but rather a practical reality happening right in front of our face (though the act of creating "ex nihilo" will forever remain a mystery).

On the positive side of things, man's technological insight has offered further evidence that the words of  Genesis are true; "Let us make man in our image and likeness..." Indeed, man has the capacity to mirror God in the most remarkable of ways. As evidenced by modern innovation, he is more than capable of manifesting his thoughts and dreams in a tangible and concrete way. On the darker side of things however (as exhibited by this State Farm commercial), seeking to make manifest everything in one's thoughts and dreams is only good if one's thoughts and dreams are not like those of the serpent in the garden; "You will become like gods, knowing what is good and evil..." Thus, the real question here is: is the God of State Farm more like the God of Genesis, or is he a little bit too much like the Deceiver? At any rate, it is perhaps one of the biggest paradoxes that in order for man to be godly, he cannot regard himself as God at all.

The primary difference between the God of Genesis and the God of State Farm is that the latter exists (at least in the commercial) so that whatever man demands he gets; whether it be a jacuzzi, a girl, or a sandwich. It is all about obtaining whatever I want until I want something else. The former does not demand immediate results, but rather lays the foundation and provides the ingredients for the world to develop into all that He envisions it to be, and perhaps even more. For there are two things in particular in Genesis' creation account that aren't in the State Farm story. Firstly, the creation in Genesis takes place over an extended period of time. Indeed, most good things in life require a little patience (with a garden being no exception). The other important difference between the two accounts is the fact that God's creation is a cooperative effort. God says to the sea; "bring forth life..." Notice he doesn't demand a particular sea creature, he leaves it "up to the sea" to do so. Though it is important to mention that he does "intend" everything, creating "each one according to its kind". This is in stark contrast to the Genie-like (interesting similarity in the word) mentality in the State Farm commercial. For this very reason, I  would like to contrast the former advertisement with the one that I have placed at the bottom. In the one above the guy in the commercial gets everything he demands. However, the one at the bottom is far more amusing, not because both girls get everything they want, but because one of the girls doesn't. Apparently you must not only call out to the agent but you must use the proper words/form of address, and because she doesn't know it, she gets a second rate agent (to put it mildly). Yet how boring this commercial would be without her and her awkward attempt to get an agent? A world filled with naught but a host of Veruca Salts would be down right depressing. Moreover, it should be noted that Ms. Salt did not become happier and happier the more she received, but instead became all the more disdainful because of it. On the other hand, the humor and unpredictability of a world that has everything we need, yet doesn't necessarily deliver in the way that would predict, is far more suspenseful. And despite what AT&T would have us believe "faster is not always better", there are some things (I would argue the best things) which require real time and patience. Yes, what makes this world both beautiful and exciting is not that we get everything the moment we ask for it, but that there are surprises and wonders out there far greater than ones we could have envisioned, and few of those, if any, happen on cue.       


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