THE AMERICAN SCRIPT AND THE GOOD NEWS
When one is finding it hard to cope, when he/she is going crazy, one might find one’s way to therapy. Often, with the help of the therapist, one discovers that he/she has been trying to live up to an insane family script (a message carried in the head). For instance, a woman finds that she is controlled by the message, “In order for you to have worth and value, you MUST keep a spotless home.” But, this woman has three small children and a husband who are not at all concerned about keeping order. So, she is going crazy. It becomes her job in therapy to replace that insane script with something more reasonable.
Some years ago, I read a little article by Dr. Walter Brueggemann where he claimed that we Americans have an insane four-point script that needs to be replaced. It is the job of guides such as religious leaders to help our culture replace the crazy script with something more reasonable.
The American script goes something like this:
There is no problem so deep or so wide that it cannot be solved. (So, when we have problems, “Who is to blame?”) (Technology-ism)
There is no pain, no inconvenience, no delay, and no discomfort that cannot be relieved. (Pharmaceutical-ism)
If it is there, we have the right to use it. (Consumerism)
If anyone threatens this way of life, we have the right and the duty to kill them. (Militarism)
Americans most certainly have the highest standards of any group of people who have ever lived on the earth. But, it is insane to expect the highest results without paying a high price. Imagine a football coach telling the players, “We are going to win the Super Bowl! But, there will be no broken bones! There will be no sprains! There will be no concussions!” That is crazy, isn’t it? That is delusional.
I have found Brueggemann’s insight to be most helpful. I apply it all the time to many different phenomena in our American experience. In his documentary, “Bowling for Columbine,” Michael Moore asked the question, “Why do Americans kill each other at a higher rate?” I don’t think it is because we have more guns (although that doesn’t help), it is because we demand insane standards that leave us feeling betrayed—“It’s just not fair!”
Look how easy it is to sell us the politicians or products that promise easy, quick and flawless results. We spend billions and billions of dollars on pain killers—the alcohol and drugs, the sexual fantasies, the sports, the hobbies and the entertainments. Lots of folks are sold on politicians because they really believe that the economy can be booming, streets and airports can be completely safe and the weather can be controlled.
Of course, the root problem is not just that people have unreasonably high expectations. The more radical problem for that woman who MUST keep a clean house is the fact that she allows her worth and value and belonging to be determined at all by her own accomplishments—reasonable or unreasonable. To get over fear and anger and loneliness and control, we are going to have to buy into the Good News, that worth and value and belonging is a gift (grace) from God. It comes with the territory. We are ALL precious, dear, darling children of God and we ALL belong.
© 2016 Rev. John Vogler