See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Status and class... kinda.

Oprah.
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I watched Oprah yesterday when I got home - I know! I'm low-class. Although I tell people I'm a pop-cultural anthropologist some days, and I must monitor television shows for my research - fact checking purposes and all of that you know. Mizz Oprah's show was on class, upper-class, middle-class, lower-class, and places in-between. (Such topics were the subject of many an acid trip when I was a very young man.)
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Oprah's discussion centered around the recession and the impact it is making upon the classes; lower-upper-class dropping to upper-middle-class, middle-class dropping to lower-class and so on.
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Two things apparently agreed upon which determine class are money and education, to be upper class one needs both, although one could make it with just education, or a profession, and not have to rely on money alone. That is why people like initials after their name. Money alone doesn't usually make someone upper-class however. Case in point, Rodney Dangerfield's character in Caddy Shack, although he did go back to school in another film I think.
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The recession and the subsequent unemployment of many, really is a wake up call for the pretentious. And who in the United States isn't pretentious? Probably a Carmelite nun, but very few others.
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Similar to a guest on Oprah, I have an acquaintance who owned a successful hair salon in an upscale part of town. (Not in Minnesota.) He is married with two children, living in an affluent suburb, in an over-sized house, 3 cars, well designed interiors, and so on. The family recently celebrated a wedding for one of the daughters, the price tag was in the 6 figure range. The family dressed in designer clothes, dined at the most fashionable restaurants, and entertained lavishly. Mr. X had arrived, all because he cut and styled the hair of the local elite. Indeed, the family considered themselves to be part of the upper class, until the business went bust due to the credit crunch and those wicked Wall Street losses. They had been living beyond maxed-out on credit cards, and they lost the house because they defaulted on their mortgage and home equity loans - the same story with the business.
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The hairdresser had imagined himself on the same level as his truly upper class clients who suddenly disappeared from his social calendar. Similar stories are coming out from many of the professions and classes.
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On the other hand, some people seem to be moving up. One of Oprah's guests was a Deli worker, who moved out of the ghetto into a middle class suburban apartment. Oprah really came off putting down the woman's under-class former neighborhood, and congratulating the woman for movin' on up. The woman's apartment was nicely furnished, but I had to wonder if she did it on credit, seeing that she was only able to get the apartment through Government subsidy. If she loses her deli job, I have to imagine she will lose the apartment as well.
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So what is my point? Very simple. Oprah likes that class differential. She contributed to the illusion by congratulating the deli employee for moving on up. She is perpetuating the myth.
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What we own, how much money we have, where we live, or how many degrees we posses mean nothing in the end. True riches are within, it is not what we have, but what we are that matters.
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Hopefully, the recession will help more people come to their senses. But do pray for those who are suffering the effects.

7 comments:

  1. Any riches come from Christ. Period.

    At what point did Oprah decide she wanted to look like Rick James?

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  2. I know. Donna Summer had that do as well - somehow I think she was sexier.

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  3. That's exactly what I was thinking: Oprah stole Rick James' hair!

    I think she's the devil, anyway.

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  4. You stole my line!

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  5. Thanks for the songplant.

    The problem that most of us have is that once we have that dee-luxe apartment in the ski-hi, we want the dee-luxe furnishings and lifestyle to go with it.

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  6. Lets see now - I have no money, live in North Idaho, no letters (to speak of) after my name. Damn - I must be really low class....

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  7. Christianity teaches us to live under our means and any extras we can do without should be given to the poor. Infact Christianity teaches us that we need to deny ourselves and give till it hurts.
    The reason for this recession is we have thrown God given economic principles to the wind. I myself have been guilty of this thank God this recession came as a wake up call before I was too lost into capitalism and its principles of borrowing and credit

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