Join me. Give up drinking soda at the movies.

I drank a Diet Coke yesterday for the first time in a couple of years.

I immediately regretted it. Why?

I gave up soda years ago as I read more and more about its unhealthy effects on the body, and its addictive influence. Tasting some again after a long “dry” spell, I realized that it tastes like battery acid with corn syrup flavoring, and I didn’t like the short-lived adrenalin rush.

Why did I give it up? Here’s a concise summary of the reasons.

Some of my friends drink gallons of this stuff, just as I used to do, and don’t seem concerned about its effects. Sometimes, they’ll go through a liter bottle in a day. They’ll rarely sit through a movie without the largest size soda they can buy. But these same folks will shake their heads over the plight of people who are addicted to drugs or hurting themselves in other ways.

This worries me. But at the same time, there’s another lesson here, for me specifically: What else am I doing on a daily basis that has similarly destructive effects? What is breaking me down, little by little, almost imperceptibly? What are other people hoping I’ll wake up and realize?

I want to know.

Because it would be foolish of me to get all high and mighty about soda, or drugs, or pornography, or sexual misbehavior, or shoplifting, or any destructive behavior, when I know that I’m probably telling myself little lies about something in my life in order to justify similar folly.

And now… a scene from a film I’ve never seen. Can you name that movie?

Michael: I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They’re more important than sex.
Sam: Ah, come on. Nothing’s more important than sex.
Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.