Flash Mobs, Faith and Materialism

The flash mob phenom of recent years has so permeated our collective consciousness that a cell phone company used the premise for one of its commercials. I find it fascinating that modern technology plays a pivotal role in this activity, organizing mobbers via text message & web-accessible phones, when really flash mobs are an attempt to restore that human connection we have lost due to this very technology. While often flash mobs are motivated by superficial attention-seeking, the underlying desire is to reach people in person, in the flesh (or maybe in the flash?), to break free from the virtual world and to become a part of--however briefly--that which is the tangible world. We are so detached from others, and more and more people are starting to feel the soul sting of such a lack.

Perhaps that is why I find the following video so fascinating & so moving:

The comments on YouTube about this vid are rife with conflict: the Christian message angers many, who see it as forcing religion down one's throat. I can see why some people would react this way. I myself feel slightly uneasy when the man on the balcony breaks into "Go Tell it On the Mountain," though I think that has more to do with the WASP-ish fellow lacking the requisite gospel soul to really bring this number on home. I am not posting this as an endorsement of Christianity or this particular group, indeed I think it irrelevant to discuss my personal religious beliefs on this blog, but rather I share this video with you today as commentary on an issue that plays an important role here at Shoestring News: our materialism-saturated society.

I think it is significant that the flash mobbers staged this at a shopping mall. I ruminate on all the oblivious shoppers, going through the motions of frenzied acquisition, thoughts of "I want" and "Gotta get" dancing in their heads, sugar plums abandoned long ago. And so today I pick up the mantle (or perhaps more accurately the blanket) of that wise sage Linus van Pelt and say, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Almost every religious faith I can think of has a holiday wherein some form of gift-giving plays a part, and thus, there are a lot of people in the world caught in the tug of the spiritual and the material. Too often the material wins out.

(And btw, I LOVE that the nativity scene at the end features people who look like they actually could be from the Middle East! I also extend a special thanks to Brandi B. from Butler, PA for bringing this video to my attention.)


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