I published this article last June. However, in light of the fact many new people are now reading this blog and in honor of “Mad Men” beginning this weekend, here it is once more (slightly revised).
The activities of last night have become somewhat of a routine. A new episode of Mad Men hits the internet, I feverishly download it, and then Chris & Ann Marie Musgrove and I watch it. We take it all in and then promptly discuss what we just witnessed. . . what we just experienced.
Mad Men has become one of my favorite tv shows for this simple reason. . . it is a realistic study of the nature of sin. Nothing glamorous about sin. Nothing desirable. Just a weekly glance into the lives of people that live for the single purpose of satisfying their personal desires and gains.
The show does not make sin seem appealing. In fact, the exact opposite is true. The characters are pathetically and tragically enslaved to their own sin. They gain everything the world has to offer. Professional success. Financial wealth. Sexual prowess.
However, while the characters of Mad Men get EVERYTHING they want, they are miserable. Chris, Ann Marie, and I literally cringe
often and yell at the TV at times. We want redemption for them. We want wholeness. We want Don Draper to overcome his complete addiction to self-aggrandizement and his flesh, yet he cannot.
Honestly, I am drawn to all forms of art which demonstrate sin as absolutely futile and destructive. Earnest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” is among my favorite novels for this very reason. Same goes for the music of artists like The National and Ryan Adams.
There are three main reasons why I like shows like Mad Men and authors like Hemingway.
First, Mad Men clearly demonstrates the fact that sin is destructive and will always have tragic ends. Though I don’t think the creators of Mad Men are trying to teach the Bible, they certainly are with this point.
Second, Mad Men, (Hemingway and The National) expertly demonstrates the ambiguity and murkiness of life when it is centered upon yourself. When you are the center of your universe, when your personal gain is your sole ambition, you might achieve accomplishments and goals, but you will fail in life. Contentment will be unattainable. Satisfaction will be temporary, at best, and always left wanting.
Finally, Mad Men and Hemingway ultimately draws me back to Christ. I am often tempted to think that life would be better with more stuff. More money. More notoriety. More accomplishment. However, truth is still anchored in the simple teaching of Christ Jesus in Mark 8:36. . . “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
This article is not an endorsement for Mad Men, Hemingway, or anyone else. Definitely not for everyone. Several of my friends find the content of Mad Men to be depressing, sexist, and excessively inappropriate (though Mad Men has gotten better in recent seasons). All of which can be true.
However, I am grateful that Mad Men, Hemingway, and a few musicians unbeknownst to themselves actually draw me closer to my Savior, Christ Jesus. Life without Christ is futile. We were made to worship God. When we displace worship of Him with ourselves, we painfully discover the carnage and destruction of sin.
Funny thing. . . my daily readings of the Bible this morning just happened to be over Proverbs 7. It is amazing to read this passage of the Bible in light of my thoughts on Mad Men, Hemingway, and the futility of sin.