Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Jim Gaffigan and the "McDonalization" of Beauty

When I go to the gym to “get swoll”, more often than not I am listening to a Jim Gaffigan station on Pandora Radio. First, I wouldn’t entirely recommend this to someone who has trouble maintaining physical composure while laughing…especially when you’ve got a 200lb barbell over your head, but I digress...
Recently, I was listening to a bit Jim was doing about McDonald's. I transcribed a section of the sketch below for you to read. Note: the italicized portions refer to that unusual “2nd person” voice that Jim regularly uses in his bits.

          “I’m tired of people acting like they’re better than McDonald's. You may have never set foot inside a McDonald's, but you have your own McDonald's. You know, maybe instead of buying a Big Mac, you read US Weekly. Hey, that’s still McDonald's, it’s just served up a little different. Maybe your McDonald's is you telling yourself that your Starbucks Frappacino is not a milkshake, or maybe you watch Glee…. it’s all McDonald's, McDonald's of the soul: momentary pleasure, followed by incredible guilt eventually leading to cancer. I’m lovin’ it! We all have our own McDonald's. It may take me a while to digest my quarter-pounder with cheese, but that tramp stamp is forever. Really, it’s all McDonald's out there, right? I mean, how can we all name three people that have dated Jennifer Anniston? It’s McDonald's, and we gobble it up just like those McDonald's fries. Who’s she dating now?? (nom nom nom) I know I shouldn’t, but it’s so salty…is she pregnant yet?? That’s not even my business. Scarlet Johansen got a hair cut, why do I give a s#$t...CAUSE IT’S MCDONALD'S, AND IT FEELS GOOD GOING DOWN. By the way, if you care who Prince William married, that’s Burger King….that’s not even our gossip!”

Now before I dive in, here are two more quotes:       

           “The senses are not to be discarded, but they should be expanded to their widest capacity” – Pope Benedict XVl Spirit of the Liturgy

           “Artists who are conscious of all this know too that they must labor without allowing themselves to be driven by the search for empty glory or the craving for cheap popularity, and still less by the calculation of some possible profit for themselves. There is therefore an ethic, even a “spirituality” of artistic service, which contributes in its way to the life and renewal of a people.” – JPll Letter to Artist

Folks, we were intended for Eden. Our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls were not intended for the world we made for ourselves since the fall. Tolkien said it best, I think…

          ”But certainly there was an Eden on this very unhappy earth. We all long for it, and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of exile.”

What is it, then, to say about a people meant for something more, but reside, instead, in an imperfect world filled with self-made, often shallow, imitations of the Eden? At the least, I think it can be said that we are hungry. We have a deep insatiable hunger for the fullness intended for us in Eden. That hunger can be filled with many good things that reflect the original beauty of Eden, but because it can also be filled with cheap imitations of that original beauty, it can also be our great weakness, depending on what you consume. Here's another quote from Pope Benedict XVl…

          “A man who does not love art, poetry, music, and nature can be dangerous. Blindness and deafness are not incidental; they are necessarily reflected in his words.”

There are invitations to receive beauty everywhere, and we still posses the infinite capacity to receive it. Our lack of resolve in receiving that beauty IS NOT INCIDENTAL. There are detrimental, lasting, effects of not living a beauty-centric lifestyle. Many of you eat good food to nourish your bodies, you run and hike to stay in great physical shape, you attend school to fill your mind…what do you do for your soul? When every part of you fails from aging and you are left with your soul alone to express yourself, what condition will it be in?

Mr. Gaffigan says that it’s all “McDonald's”…US Weekly, Fast Food, the shows we watch, the gossip…”Momentary pleasure, followed by incredible guilt and eventually leading to cancer.” Will it give you cancer? Probably not, but can you become addicted and complacent? Yes. Take, for example, the culture of pornography and its devastating effects on the male psyche and the family, or even the effects of fast food on an increasingly obese nation. There’s no denying it.

How do we heal what has been broken? Gifts of self. Give the gift of your self to your work, your family, your friends, total strangers, and the many things you love. What else heals? RECEIVE the gifts of self from others. One of our great imperfections is the notion that we must be independent in all things, and self-reliant in all of our needs. Instead, be dependent on the gifts that artists, composers, writers, actors, and dancers give you everyday. No sacrifice of time in the name of receiving beauty has ever gone unrewarded. Be vigilant, then, in all of your actions and words, that you may no longer perpetuate the McDonald's culture, but instead reclaim the original beauty intended for you by giving and receiving.