Now, I'm all in favor of Le Creuset cookware and Wusthof knives and cigars and bison steaks and barbeques and margaritas on the back porch. These are all good things. I don't do margaritas anymore, but I've got some nice things and a decent little house and an investment property and even a little 401(k) and yes a bunch of Le Creusets and Wusthofs and I'll be getting an outdoor grill this summer.
But I feel I can talk about non-bourgeois life because for the first 10 years after graduation from college, I was aggressively non-member of the middle class and lived in various states of marginalization. The idea was the pursuit of excellence (never arrived, alas, but the pursuit was worth it.)
There's a couple of things you should know about boojiness:
1. Bourgeois life drips with vanity and mammon. You cannot serve God and money. Middle class success is Vanity Fair come to life, and yes, I'm referring to Bunyan, not Thackeray here. It is the foul stench of mankind packed together in too close quarters for too long without a shower and then drawing itself up and saying, "Hey, we need to sell more deodorant!"
2. Most middle-class success derives from conformity to its own value set, not excellence. Straight A's can just as easily mask conformity to institutional expectations as mastery of material. Market success can involve excellence, but it's not necessary. And it's not snobbery to point this out. I'm more partial to excellence, obviously.
3. There are alternatives to middle-class life. Vocations to the priesthood, monks and nuns. There are wanderers who are not lost, and there are people writing novels and painting paintings and composing songs, and scientists pursuing pure knowledge, and soldiers in the French foreign legion and people just living out in the margins because for whatever reason their personality and life path doesn't match up with middle class expectations. There are also people smoking a lot of reefer and getting tattooes and making amateur porn, not to mention the entire criminal underclass, but I'm talking about non-criminal valuable non-boojy lifestyles. Granted, it's harder to live life that way. And nothing may come of it. But not everyone wants to live out a by-the-numbers lifestyle.
Those expectations can form a tyranny and a rigidity. That's why most people hate HR people — because HR when done badly is the enforcer of bourgeois expectations. Have gaps in your resume? Don't want to give a sample of your bodily fluids just to sell annuities by phone? Not a self-starter? Need training? Can't get excited about marketing the third-best product in the marketplace? The bourgeois say, Tough. And that just doesn't seem right.
This life is about getting your soul saved before you get into the next world. You don't need a bunch of A's and gold stars to get into heaven. You need to love God with your whole heart, your neighbor as yourself. Nothing about insurance in the Bible as I can recall. First seek the kingdom and His righteousness and this other stuff will be given to you as well. And remember Christianity is more radical than often imagined and cannot be contained in a thoroughly bourgeois culture. Eventually it will start to oppose its complacency, its mediocrity, its platitudes and its comfort.
Middle-class life can be good. But it's not everything. And you'll never get to heaven even if you do everything your mommy tells you.
I quote Ecclesiastes:
This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment.
Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.