Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly
by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is
good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.
--Romans 12:3 GNT
We should learn a lesson from President Selina Meyer. Who is President Meyer, you ask? No, you didn’t miss a presidential election, and no, this isn’t the latest QAnon conspiracy about who the “deep state.” President Selina Meyer is a fictional US President played by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss on the HBO TV show Veep. This cynical and hapless politician reveals a lot about what an unexamined life looks like.
Louis-Dreyfuss won six Emmys and numerous other awards for her portrayal of Selina Meyer, a politician hell-bent on becoming President. Her incompetence and lack of substance only allowed her rise to the level of Vice President. After serving almost two terms as VP, the President resigns resulting in her holding history’s shortest term as US President (only 8 months!). Fair warning--every episode is filled with vulgarity, but if you can stomach its lewdness, the series offers comedy gold. The humor always centers on the utter selfishness of Meyer and her aides.
Veep has become my latest TV show binge to help me through the pandemic. As it goes along, sometimes the cynicism gets pretty deep, but by the later seasons I felt sympathy for these lost and empty characters, especially President Selina Meyer. Over time, viewers learn how Meyer and her aides each were set on their pursuits of fame and power by demanding and demented parents. Like pinballs launched into a pinball machine they bounce from one event to another without ever asking why or altering their own trajectories.
A poignant moment occurs in the final season when Meyer attempts to run again for President. A new speechwriter pesters her to put into her own words why she wants to be President. After searching in vain for a noble reason, Meyer finally sputters, “Because it’s my turn!” She has no greater purpose or desire to improve the world, only an unattainable idea of success she is compelled to pursue.
In less absurdist terms, the plight of President Selina Meyer resembles a lot of people I know. If I’m being honest, I resemble it too. I identify with this fictional politician’s pursuit of an ambiguous success that lacks self-reflection. We humans are often driven by expectations placed upon us by parents and other family members, unfair comparisons with acquaintances and the validation of others. No wonder our lives end up feeling empty and our accomplishments fail to fill the holes inside of us. When asked why we spend our lives in pursuit of a particular goal, our answers ring hollow, because we lack self-understanding. Our strivings to be most popular, perfect parents, business experts and financial whizzes do not feed our souls even if we reach “success.”
The Apostle Paul wrote on numerous occasions about how Christians must allow their minds to be transformed and continually renewed by Christ. For someone to be “in Christ,” they must set aside the priorities, actions and thoughts which do not lead to life. This happens not by our effort but by our willingness to let Christ change who we are. When we are asked why we are pursuing a particular life course, our answer becomes”Because Christ leads me this way.” Our lives move from being a mindless pursuit of a selfish goal to a thoughtful following of Christ so we can serve others in love.
Deep down we know our lives desire purpose and meaning provided only by union with our Creator. This deep knowledge is why we laugh at a hapless character like President Selina Meyer. We know her path is often our own.
Grace and Peace,
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We're Park Hill Christian Church in KC MO. We seek to follow Jesus by praising God, loving those we meet and serving the vulnerable.