Friday, July 27, 2007

Flattering Imitation

It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. As humans we have always looked to the strongest, the most powerful, or the smartest for direction and guidance. We naturally tend to examine the behaviors of those around us to guide what we think and how we act. Our parents, our coaches, our priests, and our warriors all take their place as role models. These days even our athletes, actors, and artists are considered role models.
Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.
-- Philippians 3:17
The greatest imitators are children and the immature. Growing up we try to walk like our fathers and mothers, we dress like our siblings or friends, and we take on the mannerisms and speech of those we admire. In the past, it was felt that most imitation begins at home. These days, a case could be made that most imitation is for things outside the home, on tv, or on film.

This attempt to establish public figures as role models isn't new. In the early 19th century, a man named Parson Weems wrote the now famous "Life of Washington". This book provided young Americans with someone to emulate. Specifically in this book was the cherry tree myth which was designed to praise Washington's honesty and inspire others to tell the truth regardless of personal cost.

Today books are considered less pervasive then film. Even today though, if Oprah Winfrey endorses a book, it is nearly guaranteed to sell millions of copies. Advertisers and manufacturers take advantage of the cult following around celebrities and agree to pay huge sums to athletes and performers to represent their brands. When famous person X is shown to eat a particular food or wear particular fashions then others will imitate these behaviors.

This same effect follows religions as well. In your walk, who are you imitating? How have your beliefs been impacted by the celebrities around you? Is your faith the result of books or The Book?

In my own daily life, I struggle somewhat with who I am following, but even more with a bigger question. Is my walk something I would encourage others imitate? Am I even someone worth following?

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