Toyota has a new television commercial in which the line, "saved by zero," is sung over and over. Since I have no idea what the kids listen to anymore, except my own - and yes, what they listen to scares me, just like my punk albums scared my parents - I was not certain if Toyota was digging into some cultural Zeitgeist, or creating one of their own. A quick search of YouTube directed me to the song and video by The Fixx. Nevertheless, the idea of "saved by zero" scares me more than any Heavy Metal album. I know that this car company is not making some sort of nihilistic statement - "nothing can save you" - but the idea that 0% interest will save you is...wait, I think it is a nihilistic statement! Even granting the catchy and tuneful hook, and the hyperbole of advertising, the whole idea that our goods, and more of them, at cheaper and cheaper rates, will save us, or grant us happiness, or make us better than the next guy, is at the heart of this scandalous economic scenario we are now facing. A pox on Greedy Business and a pox on both Democrats and Republicans and a pox on all of us who desire more and more stuff to make us secure and happy. I do not want to see anyone suffer financial hardship or the loss of a job, but at times like these, it is so nice to have the Apostle Paul to draw on, to put our minds at ease, as he does in the second reading for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in ordinary time: Brothers and sisters: I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress. My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen (Phil. 4:12-14, 19-20). Let Pope Benedict XVI exegete this passage, even though he was speaking to the economic turmoil in the world: "money vanishes, it is nothing;" "the only solid reality is the word of God;" and "he who builds only on visible and tangible things like success, career and money, builds the house of his life on sand." Whatever our economic situation at this time, let us make certain we reach out and share with those in need, those who have less, and most profoundly share with Paul "the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need" (Phil. 4:12). No matter what our place in the world - whether incarcerated as Paul was when writing this letter, or a supposed financial Master of the Universe - what we truly need can only be found in Christ, for "my God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19). You can put all of your stock in that. John W. Martens

Comments

Anonymous | 11/7/2008 - 3:12pm
Are you out of your mind?
Anonymous | 11/5/2008 - 3:10pm
You've been drinking from the chalice again haven't you!
Anonymous | 10/29/2008 - 2:27pm
I hadn't heard of the group or song either, in fact I thought it was a School House rock thing referring to base 10 math. Still, my take is that Toyota sales is the subject of what is saved by zero (percent financing). You made a pretty good segue from the commercial to the gospel, kudos. It has the makings of a good sermon. Still... Perhaps I'm taking it out of context, because I'm new to the blog, but it comes off a little over the top. If we take your perspective to the max, then we shouldn't use "save" with anything lest it pertain to the message of the gospel. Savings accounts - not the treasure we should be saving up. Life guards don't save ---our souls. All true, but I'm not advocating we stop using the term "save" in these instances. I suppose we could capitalize Save appropriately, then we wouldn't have to call down curses of disease on advertising entities --oops now I'm over the top.
Anonymous | 10/11/2008 - 6:30pm
"The doctrine of original sin is a highly sophisticated qualification of human desire. Far from being an abstract denigration of what it is that humans are, it is the claim that we are all created good, and that there is no such thing as an intrinsically evil desire. All desire is severely distorted, and yet all is capable of being undistorted over time, of being brought to share, starting from where it is, in the life of God. Furthermore, it is also the case that none of us can be the judges in any definitive sense of anyone else, since none of us, not even the holiest of saints, is outside the social construction of meaning produced by distorted desire, and so none of us is able to look at anyone else in a way that does not partake of the imagination which dominates us, an imagination run by rivalry, resistance to change, the longing for security, and by the need to protect ourselves against death by seeking our survival at the expense of others." ~ Fr. James Alison http://www.jamesalison.co.uk/texts/eng04.html
Anonymous | 10/27/2008 - 2:16am
Holding onto words that teach me, I will conquer space around me. So, maybe I'll win, saved by zero.... Saved by-- Saved by-- S-saved. Saved by zero.
Anonymous | 10/19/2008 - 10:06pm
Thanks, John. I too found this song disturbing and I think you have greatly helped in articulating why.