Free will- not just for breakfast anymore

February 8, 2008 at 5:10 pm 1 comment

So, I watch too much television. I accept that. I caught an ad the other day that started off in a way that really caught my attention. Women (all women, why must it always be all women) going about their day shackled to bathroom scales, while “you are always on my mind” played over the visuals.
“Yeah” I thought. “That’s how it was, when I was dieting”. Every thought came down to the question of whether or not what I was doing right then at that moment would help or hinder the all-important goal of having a good weigh-in next Tuesday. I waited, eagerly, to see what sort of freedom was being offered here.
Gaaah.
It was an ad for weight loss oatmeal. For the love of Pete. Weight loss oatmeal. You know what else is low in fat and added sugar, high in protein and has lots of delicious and filling whole grains?
Oatmeal.

So, the insidious implication that every woman not only is, but should be stressing about weight loss every minute of the day is pretty hideous. And the marketing idea that somehow, to fix this, the solution is to pay lots more for the special weight loss product, when there’s already an almost identical product available is pretty hideous. But I get that the purpose of advertising is to create an urgent sense of need.

What I hate, hate HATE about this ad was the way they sucked me in. They claimed to be offering, not an overpriced breakfast cereal, but freedom. And Free Will isn’t one of those trivial concepts that should just get tossed around- especially tossed around for the purpose of creating a false sense of consumer need.
Here, be free, let us do all the hard thinking for you, for the low low price of…And mixed in with all of this, I hear echoes of 1 Corinthians 6:12: “‘All things are lawful for me’, but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful for me’, but I will not be dominated by anything.” And then, Paul elaborates later on, in 10:23, “‘All things are lawful’, but not all things are beneficial. ‘All things are lawful’, but not all things build up. Do not seek your own advantage, but that of others.” Both of these passages are in the context of questions about what to eat. Is it acceptable to eat meat that has been offered to idols? Is it acceptable to continue in behaviours that might challenge the new and growing faith of others? Paul is struggling with the idea of having tossed out the old rules about food, and how to live in a way that honours God, and honours the community, without depending on old rules that were overcome by the freedom-giving life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. There is a new law, instead, about doing what is of benefit to others.

I’m not done thinking about this, by a long shot. But whatever freedom is, whatever freedom, choice, self-determination we were created for, whatever freedom was offered to God’s people in the sacrificial love of Jesus, it wasn’t about handing over the reigns to anyone else to do the thinking for us.

Especially when the thought they offer is, “why yes, I do need special weight loss oatmeal”

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40 days

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Sandy  |  February 11, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    I haven’t seen the oatmeal….I saw the weight loss cookies. They promote you can eat “as many as you want and not feel guilty”. *eye roll* I think if people would just stop listening to the Machine, then people would be a lot happier.

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