A few weeks ago American televangelist Jesse Duplantis claimed that Jesus Christ set up a “gofundme” account in order to buy Duplantis a $54,000,000 private jet airplane. The claim is outrageous enough on its surface, but this would be the preacher’s fourth airplane. Duplantis wants the jet because it can fly non-stop to nearly any destination on Earth. It also has the latest entertainment technology, and an in-flight shower.
Of course, Duplantis is not the only preacher who claims he needs private jet aircraft to fulfill his “mission”. There are plenty of others, too. For some peculiar reason, they believe it is beneath them to buy tickets for conventional airline travel with the common folks.
This holy obsession with private, luxury aircraft just seems peculiar to most “regular” travelers. I know that I feel as if I’m really indulging in the height of luxury if I can get a bargain price for coach fare on a common carrier airline. I’m glad to get a tiny complimentary snack and a soft drink. On the other hand, I almost always use ground transportation to go places.
We are exposed to advertising that celebrates self-indulgence. It’s not only OK to splurge on oneself, it is absolutely, strongly encouraged. We’ve seen the commercials featuring attractive people (usually a pretty young woman) in a luxurious setting eating a costly chocolate bar. The message being that the only way to cope with the daily hassles of life is to consume the product. There is no implication of any sort of restraint.
OK, I understand the need for advertising. I used to work in mass media and depended upon ad revenue for a paycheck. Maybe there is a shred of puritanism in me, but appeals to conspicuous over-indulgence don’t feel right. I guess in a world where preachers “must” own a private jet airplane or four, an expensive chocolate bar is not a big deal.
If one takes the classic carrot and stick approach to life, we perform tasks with the idea we will receive a reward. If we don’t, we will be punished. Following this way of thinking is a productive and satisfying way to live. It certainly beats having to beg for scraps on the streets of Monrovia, Liberia. Yet is it wise to glorify banal narcissism?
There was once a time when gift giving was very special. A person scrimped and saved in order to purchase a luxurious present for a loved one’s birthday or for Christmas. The joy was mainly in the giving without the expectation of a similarly priced gift in return.
Somehow the concept of constantly splurging on niceties became the norm. Birthday presents are not only expected, they better be expensive. Need I even mention the orgy of indulgence of the December holidays? We are also advised that if we did not get what we wanted for Christmas or Valentines Day, or our birthday, that we should just go out and buy it for ourselves.
I still find it difficult to wrap my mind around the idea of kids owning smart phones. It used to be that a family with a “teen phone”, a separate land-line account, was a special luxury that few families believed was justifiable. Sure, these words seem a bit preachy and nostalgic. Yet, these are the thoughts that flooded my mind when the news about the man who needed a fourth jet airplane was announced.
I certainly do not wish to be a killjoy. Luxury goods can be positive things in our lives. A little bit of splurging now and then can add sparkle to the humdrum of everyday existence. Some indulgent spending is especially fun when the fancy item is exclusively chosen for a loved one. We all like nice things. It’s wonderful to pamper oneself. Each of us also knows what moderation is. What do we personally consider to be unrestrained selfishness? The answer on National Splurge Day is something we determine according to our own values.