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A Fashion Revolution

July 10th, 2008

Focus Text: Psalm 91: 7-8 (NLT)

 7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
      though ten thousand are dying around you,
      these evils will not touch you.
 8 Just open your eyes,
      and see how the wicked are punished.


Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

We live in a world of fashion . . . well, some of us do.  Some of you may be familiar with the medical condition that I suffer from: Mallshopariacis.  It’s tragic really, and its symptoms only manifest themselves in certain environments.  When I feel the beginning of an outbreak of Mallshopariacis, my hands begin to sweat, my head begins to ache, and there’s a shaky weakness that permeates my whole body.  It’s not pretty.

For a man living in this world of fashion, Mallshopariacis is doubly tragic.  You see, I only have outbreaks when I’m involved in shopping trips that last for more than two hours.  Now for some reason, I can spend three or four hours at a music store and feel fine.  Put me in Lowe’s or Home Depot, I can wander around aimlessly salivating over the various tools and I never miss a beat.  For that matter, for some reason I thrive in the shopping environment of a store like Sam’s or Costco.  I suppose the bulk mentality is comforting to me because I subconsciously realize that by purchasing in large quantities, I am extending the time I’ll have before I have to return.

No, malls are the key.  High fashion is the trigger to my disorder.  I begin to feel an uneasiness when I drive into the huge parking lot and I begin making the laps over and over again searching for a spot. Then, we usually enter the mall through one of the huge department stores like Dillard’s or Macy’s and I am “greeted” at the door by the waft of perfume and organic make-up from the cosmetics section.  Then, we actually walk through the cosmetics section– the gauntlet one must pass through before making an entrance into the actual mall itself.  Dozens of make-up and perfume “specialists” wearing all black and constantly talking to each other about millions of topics that have no value in the real world begin eye-balling you as you make your passage.  I find that one should just not look them in the eyes and reply constantly, “no thank you, I don’t need new eye-liner.”

If one can successfully navigate the “fire-swamp” of the department store cosmetics, they will gain access to the vast expanse of the inner-sanctum of the mall subculture.  With the first step across the freshly polished tile floor, the eyes behold a virtual sea of people each chained to their own paper or plastic bag with some store’s logo on the side– this personal “brand” is one of the consequences of the mall experience.  Next, one must be almost rude to the poor, underpaid teenagers at the various kiosks who aggressively try to get you to buy their completely worthless product.  “No, I don’t want to cut my hair at home with my vacuum cleaner.  Please stop following me.”

Then, if you’re still alive at this point, you and your guide (in this case, my wife) actually reach you final destination– the specialty clothing store.  The unchanging constant of these types of stores (ie, GAP, Structure, etc.) is the music.  A constant pulsating synthetic bass line blares from the speakers built into the ceiling tiles overhead.  “Shopping music” I call it.  As my guide joyfully glides in and out of the round hanger-thingies, I usually find myself searching for respite– for some place to sit down and ice down my knees from the inflammation.  Only the most merciful of stores will place a solitary chair at the entrance to the dressing rooms.  If some other poor victim isn’t already occupying it, I quickly light there and offer to hold my guide’s purse for her while she shops.  Humiliating?  Sure it is.  But this is the life of one who suffers from Mallshopariasis.

At the heart of my frustration is the expectation of the world of fashion.  I’ll see some girl walking down the hallway of the mall wearing something that I consider to be absolutely and almost comically ridiculous.  So, I ask my guide and she informs me that what the girl is wearing is actually “in” right now. In?  Who decides this stuff?  Some skinny punk prancing down a runway somewhere in Paris with more rings in his nose than the logo for the Olympics?  Why does it matter what he thinks?

Apparently, as I’ve been told by my guide, it does matter and we’re going to do what Le Punk says.

Psalm 91: 7-8 also alludes to the tyranny of preconceived expectations.  It says that thousands may fall all around us- even right beside us, but that doesn’t mean that it has to touch us.  You see, fashion is just a microcosm of how our culture lives their lives.  We live up to the expectations of what we’re told.  “You can’t stay pure until you’re married, that’s crazy!”  “You’re not disciplined enough to have a daily devotion, just quit trying!”  “Here, try on this rebellious attitude– it’s what’s ‘in’ right now!”

No!  I don’t want to wear that and I’m not ashamed to say so!  Just like the Psalmist says, “open your eyes” and see how dumb everybody in the mall looks!  Okay, so that’s a little harsh, but we seriously must realize that just because we’re expected as a culture to do the things that are wrong, or to be lazy, or to wear lust like a new Versacci bag, doesn’t mean that we have to march along to the pulsating beat and hand over the “credit card” of our spiritual well-being.  Thousands may fall, but you don’t have to.

Be a trend-setter and stand firm in your own relationship with God.  Let your walk with Him set the pace for your decisions.  Join me in defying the unjust rule of a over-conscious fashion culture by proudly putting on your socks and then putting on your sandals at the same time . . . spiritually, of course.  

NOTE: If you’ve read this far and you’re confused about why John hates the mall and it’s employees, you may have missed the point.  Try googling the term “satire.”  I love all of you, even those of you who serve faithfully behind the cosmetics counter.

NOTE #2: It should be plainly stated that I do, in fact, believe that the combination of socks and sandals, though socially unacceptable, is the pinnacle of personal foot comfort.  Consequently, if I could get that skinny French punk on the phone, I would offer him a hefty bribe to introduce this combination into the world of fashion.  He hasn’t returned any of my calls yet.  Au revoir!


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