If I hadn’t read it in Time Magazine’s April 9, 2012 issue (appropriately located in their Briefing section), I wouldn’t have believed it. There really is something called the Men’s Underwear Index (MUI). History shows that underwear purchases are so consistent that a downturn or uptick in sales is considered an economic indicator. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan even follows it! Time reports that in 2011, yearly sales increased by 6.6%. For some reason, one of the first things to go when confidence in the economy falters is underwear without superfluous holes.
The article wasn’t clear on how far into the future we should expect a major turn around, but they note trends in a few other indicators that are consistent at well: a rise in pay tv, the number of golf rounds played, mobile home purchases, how often people eat out, and sales at beauty salons. The only dependable number to have dropped was the per-tooth payouts by the tooth fairy – down 17%. But even that is expected to increase.
I’m not really sure if there are indicators in the Bible with regard to a spiritual forecast, personal or otherwise. Paul says that there are things about the Christian life that are situation-proof. He calls them the fruit of the Spirit:
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23)
These things are given to us by God and can be our despite our circumstances. Since they are the fruit of the Spirit, they are indicators that our spirits are right with God. But, what about a forecast – something that lets us know we’re coming out of a spiritual funk?
Apparently, I have a cookie indicator. There have been times over the span of our marriage that my wife could tell when things would be turning better or worse based on how quickly the cookies disappeared from our cupboards. During spiritual dry times I’ve tended to go back to my old ways. Since she filled me in on that, I’ve been aware of my cookie eating habits. It’s the canary that lets me know when things aren’t going well in the mine.
This is more book research for me. I have a hunch that our uncontrolled desires can be used to help us navigate our spiritual journeys. Do you have a men’s underwear index in your spiritual life? Or, do you know of someone else’s that you’re able to share? It would be helpful to know how you’ve learned to use it to your advantage.