“Extravagant Expectations”

In 1962, American historian, Daniel Boorstin published what would become an enduring cultural analysis. His book, The Image, now over 50 years old, examined American culture in the beginnings of a technological revolution.  In his introduction Boorstin wrote:

…we suffer from extravagant expectations. We expect too much of the world. Our expectations are extravagant in the precise dictionary sense of the word—“going beyond the limits of reason or moderation.” They are excessive.

When we pick up our newspaper at breakfast, we expect—we even demand—that it bring us momentous events since the night before. We turn on the car radio as we drive to work and expect “news” to have occurred since the morning newspaper went to press. Returning in the evening, we expect our house not only to shelter us, to keep us warm in winter and cool in summer, but to relax us, to dignify us, to encompass us with soft music and interesting hobbies, to be a playground, a theater, and a bar. We expect our two-week vacation to be romantic, exotic, cheap, and effortless. We expect a faraway atmosphere if we go to a nearby place; and we expect everything to be relaxing, sanitary, and Americanized if we go to a faraway place. We expect new heroes every season, a literary masterpiece every month, a dramatic spectacular every week, a rare sensation every night.

He continued:

We expect anything and everything. We expect the contradictory and impossible. We expect compact cars which are spacious; luxurious cars which are economical. We expect to be rich and charitable, powerful and merciful, active and reflective, kind and competitive. We expect to be inspired by mediocre appeals to “excellence,’ to be made literate by illiterate appeals for literacy. We expect to eat and stay thin, to be constantly on the move and ever more neighborly, to go to a “church of our choice” and yet feel its guiding power over us, to revere God and to be God.

Never have people been more the masters of their environment. Yet never has a people felt more deceived and disappointed. For never has a people expected so much more than the world could offer. (pgs. 3-4)

Nearly 55 years later, we still “expect too much of the world.” The Preacher addressed this expectation in the book of Ecclesiastes. Searching for ultimate significance in this world is vanity! Ultimate significance can only be found in God and His good gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. The message of Ecclesiastes speaks powerfully to us today.

About Pastor Matt

Matt Baker is the Pastor of Redeemer Fellowship Church.
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