The American Mind: Dale Meyer, Will Ferrell, and Baby Jesus
In his opening essay, “Living in the Land of Milk and Honey,” for The American Mind Meets the Mind of Christ, Dale Meyer invokes the dinner scene from the Will Ferrell movie Talladega Nights, in which Will Ferrell’s character, NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby, says grace by praying to “Dear Lord Baby Jesus.” The scene is absolutely hilarious. And since the Web allows us to do some things we can’t do in print, here it is along with some insights from Dr. Meyer.
Regarding the scene and its relation to American culture, Dr. Meyer writes:
…The Ricky Bobby scene is effective satire because it still reflects the searching of so many people today. Both members and non-members of churches are demonstrating the first part of Augustine’s famous line, “Our hearts are restless…” I do not think it would be too bold to say that this restless consumerism motivated in large part the behaviors that made the downturn in the world’s economies in late 2008 and 2009 inevitable. Moreover, I suspect that neither this consumptive consumerism nor the restlessness it inevitably fosters has been altered much by the current “great recession.” It may even be that the restlessness has spread and been intensified by the loss of investment income, homes, and jobs. But most citizens of the United States betray and underlying optimism. Like Ricky Bobby, we are down but never out. Most hope, even if against hope, that their lifestyles and levels of material prosperity will not be modified much over the long haul. Few have publicly declared any fundamental change in their belief that a large measure of contentment and security, even if not necessarily happiness, can be found in a checkbook or an investment account. In this sense, the fact that people are currently buying less and saving more is merely (and literally!) the flip side of the same consumerist coin.
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