Christianity,  Culture

Swagger Wagon

When I was a youth, the station wagon was the quintessential “uncool” car. Somewhere in the transition from ‘tween to teen, everyone my age learned that you didn’t want to be caught dead in a station wagon.

Now that the station wagon has gone the way of the Dodo, it looks like the mini-van has taken its infamous place. Highly utilitarian, but nevertheless uncool. One crucial difference between now and then. Then it was the children who obsessed over the relative coolness of the family vehicle. Today, it appears to be the parents who are obsessing.

Enter the new advertising campaign for the Toyota Sienna. In a kind of ironic twist, Toyota is trying to market the minivan’s coolness by satirizing its uncoolness. Yet the satire is all about the parents’ hipster creds, not the kids’. How’s that for obsessing?

I’m not out to bash the ad. Let’s be honest. It’s really funny. I think it’s also very insightful in its own way. The ad appeals to a generation of young parents who desperately feel the need to be as cool as they were in college. It appeals to fallen 21st century love of youth culture and loathing of the maturity that comes with years. Christians would do well not to ignore these themes because they are a reflection of something that really is a part of the world that we live in.

So just as Solomon exhorts his son to observe the ways of the sluggard to learn wisdom, there’s some wisdom for us to learn here as well (Proverbs 24:32). I would argue that the better part of wisdom says that the last thing that parents need to worry about is being cool. The Proverbs say it this way:

“The glory of young men is their strength, And the honor of old men is their gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29).

“A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31).

In other words, there is something beautiful and glorious about the wisdom that comes with years. To be sure, it’s a different kind of beauty than one has in their youth—a beauty that is typically only skin deep, a beauty that is idolized in 21st century American culture. The beauty that the Proverbs have in view is rooted in the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord produces biblical wisdom that comes with the experience of life through time as the word of God is impressed on the heart through hardships. Hardship doesn’t always wear well, but it does make one beautiful in the biblical sense. It also makes one less likely to obsess about driving a minivan.

(HT: Steve Hayes)


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