Deconstructing materialism by playing with Legos

By Contributor Daryl Geffken

This is the first in a three-part series

Daryl Geffken

This weekend, our family had a pizza and Lego night.  We made homemade pizza and ate around our coffee table.  And then came that great and glorious plastic-on-plastic sound of tons of Legos being dumped out on the ground.  That sound takes me back to childhood days of Christmas and birthdays, shaking a box to see if it was clothing; or…

My first memories of Legos include building the ultimate vehicles for our neighborhood demolition derby.  Each kid was to piece together a battering ram on wheels that would be hurtled toward others on the smooth concrete of our paved garage. True tournament formatting (take note, NCAA football) would determine the grand champion. Whichever vehicle inflicted the most damage on its competition would move on.  I was the youngest in our rat pack, and as such, had much to learn about constructing a solid vehicle that could weather the pending onslaught of force.

Typically, I would begin my masterpiece by collecting all the cool-looking, one-of-a-kind blocks — the ones that would enhance the intricate and menacing demeanor of victorious vehicles creatively christened such things as “The Basher.”  Rather than focusing on building a solid, foundational mass, I spent time linking these awesome, yet awkward bricks together.  Not surprisingly, with these works of art, I did not advance.  Instead, I spent much more time cleaning up the mess that used to be my creation, and accompanied by much mocking and ridicule, going inside to piece together my broken pride.

Over time I learned a valuable lesson: if you want a Lego ship to last, you’d better make sure it was solidly built.  This took care and occurred well before any accessorizing.

You see where I am going.  So much of how we are valued in our present context is based on our plumage: whether or not we have Legos or bits of plastic.  In an old Saturday Night Live skit, Billy Crystal used to say, “To look good, is to feel good… and darling, I look marvelous!”  I have seen students and adults throughout my career work to accumulate the right things, in hope of fulfilling their desire for significance.  Often this occurs at the detriment of deeper character development.  Crisis in life hits harder than a two-pound Lego truck.  The trappings of our homes, clothes and trinkets do an amazing job isolating us from our fragile reality.

Jesus talked about a person’s ability to survive such moments intact.  In Matthew 7:24 Jesus declared, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

Preceding this statement are small sections highlighting three recurring themes of Jesus’ teaching: communication with God, care for others and a life of integrity.  Develop these values, he said, and they will help you weather the massive blows we all experience in life.  Relying on the material we collect to adorn our lifestyles may help us look great in the eyes of our consumer-driven climate, but if they are the sum total of our substance — crash.

What values form the structure upon which your life is built?  What are you doing to build your core foundation?  What “needs” in your life can you give up?


3 responses to “Deconstructing materialism by playing with Legos

  1. Great post- I’m a big fan of Legos.

  2. Thanks, Bruce. Me too. They’ve got to be one of the greatest imagination-developing toys ever… I was in real trouble when they combined Star Wars with Legos. It amounted to the great convergence of my childhood.

  3. Pingback: The Lego Syndrome | SpokaneFAVS

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