*Posted by Kirk Spencer
“You’re the real deal and so is our stuff. Translation: We use special techniques to apply inks, dyes and details. That means differences aren’t defects. It’s all intentional to make everything we create read as original. Coincidence? Hardly.”
I found this philosophy in my new pants. It was printed on one of those tags you find on brand-new clothing; the ones that compliment you on your wise purchase. The tag itself (and the cargo pants it was attached to) had that well-worn comfortable look. They were “broken-in.” The tag’s thick paper was creased and cracked repeatedly into a pleasing soft texture. Or so I thought—upon closer examination, it was just the cleaver application of “special techniques” to create convincing “differences.” However, the tag’s philosophy assured me that all these differences were “intentional” so they were not “mistakes” or “defects.” As a matter of fact, according to this philosophy, these intentional non-defective “differences” are the very thing that makes them really “original”—really original simulation that is. (I still do not know what the differences are different from.)
I noticed that small portions of the lettering on the tag had been worn away, but this too was just a simulation. The worn areas only appeared worn because of a cleaver application of gold-colored ink. And the scuffed areas and the multitude of wrinkles were only part of the manufactured texture of the paper. It’s all simulation, but because it’s intentional it “reads” as “the real deal.” Both the tag and the pants were “worn-out” without ever being worn. It is a familiar, but peculiar sight. Clothing racks showcasing brand-new clothes adorned with newly manufactured frayed edges, faded pressure-points and threadbare holes. Such deconstructed fashions suits well our PostModern Mood. And, as the “post” part of “PostModern” indicates, we are in a hurry to look “post” something. We even buy brand-new worn-out clothes to prove it. Our holey brand-new clothes appear past their prime before their even worn. So I guess PostPrime is now the new prime—or at least the appearance thereof. Throughout human history we have tried to avoid defects, and our generation is not only accepting them, but paying for them? There is a certain irony in the fact that a skeptical materialist culture would deny any objective-standard by which to define “defects” and then wear their defects proudly—or maybe it’s not that ironic. Our designer defects define us. They give us our “style.” In destructing something, we construct our new look. It is Très Chic to the natural anarchist in us. And wearing our custom-made designer defects is tailor-made for our fashionably selfish and self-destructive age—and it certainly is an “Age of Appearances.”
In the 19th century, the English naturalist Philip Gosse attempted to untie the geological knot that was developing around the question of the Age of the Earth. The name of his book was “Omphalos” which is Greek for that designer defect we call the “belly button” or “navel.” Gosse asked this important theological question: “Did Adam have a belly button?” In Gosse’s mind, Adam did have a belly button, although he did not have a mother, or an umbilical cord. By such reasoning Gosse convinced himself that the universe had been created with the appearance of age. The Earth looks old, but isn’t. It exhibits the Designer’s faux defects. The Maker artificially aged the universe like a pair of holey jeans we might buy at the mall. To me the important thing is not that God could have made things look old, but that God does make things new—really new. In other words, God is not in the artificially aging or antiquing business, but rather the repair business. Many years ago archeologists excavated a 1st Century fishing boat from the Sea of Galilee. This “Jesus Boat,” as it is called, is a literal patchwork of repairs. It exhibits the important fact that the 1st Century (and every other century until ours) was not a throw away culture; it was a “repair” culture. Objects were repaired over and over again. Jesus the carpenter probably spent most of his time repairing things—not making things old, but rather making all things new. He was (and still is) the ultimate Repair Man.
Call me old-fashioned, but it seems weird that we would consider something fake as the “real deal” just because the faking was intentional. Faux defects, by definition, seem unreal and unoriginal. To me, real and original defects are those that occur in time as a result of outrageous fortune, not intentionally mass-produced faux defects produced all at the same time. While this philosophy of originality (and reality) requiring only intentionality seem bazaar when applied to a pair of jeans, it is not so strange if applied to the person in the jeans and especially considering the genes in the person in the jeans—for, contrary to materialist philosophy, we are not an accident. We are not just another coincidence in a world created and decorated by a cascade of happy coincidences. We have a Maker Who intended us. And, as intentional, we are really real and originally original. (There is not another “pair of genes” like you!) And because we are not a coincidence but intentionally made, our differences are not defects. Though our differences from each other may not be defects, we are defective. But our defects come from our differences from our Maker. We are imperfect because of our differences from Perfection. The wear-and-tear of imperfection, living in an imperfect world, can leave us holey and not holy. And we would be a hopelessly worn-out “pair of genes” lost in our imperfection, if the Perfect had not come. Perfection wore our imperfections. The only Holy One became holey for us to make us wholly brand-new. He still bears the scars. They are the Designer’s “defects.” But we must always remember that the defects He wears are really ours.