consumerism (1)

I haven’t blogged in a long time. A really long time. It seems that since this quarter got started I’ve always been two steps behind, and whatever time I have had, I decided to spend with my husband, neighbors, and community. So the blog got put on the back-burner. Plus, when you find yourself writing papers all day, writing a blog in your down time isn’t as appealing. For something I wrote recently, you can check out a post I wrote yesterday on the “good news” over at JR Woodwards blog (that’s my pastor).

But for now I’m working on a paper and presentation for a class on Christianity and consumerism. And I thought I’d share a few odds and ends with you as I come across them the next few days. I haven’t written my paper yet, so these are just things I’m exploring, and maybe worth your consideration.

For some reason we have a hard time as Christians in America coming up with an ethic of consuming. It shouldn’t be a surprise, though. We aren’t very good about talking about money. The money sermons scare people off (some of them rightfully so), we don’t like talking about how much we make, how much we have, and most of all we probably don’t like talking about how much we spend. I’m guessing the reason we don’t talk about money at church is because (1) we all have our own ethic for how we make, spend, and save our money, and we are afraid of saying something about money that may offend our neighbor, and (2) we all feel a little guilty about money and don’t want to bring it up because we know we might be convicted to do something about it.

Because we don’t discuss consumerism, we fail to come up with a communal ethic of how to live as Christ followers in our overly consumeristic world. We are all left to figure things out on our own, leading many of us to simply adopt the consumeristic practices of our culture. There is no voice telling us another way is possible. There is no discussion of how Jesus may show a new way to live in our world. There is no community working together to actually live in a countercultural way.

Now, this is a sweeping negative judgment on the church. I know for a fact that there are pockets throughout the American church that are discussing money and consumerism and seeking radical new ways of living. There are churches and small groups and networks and blogs and communities of friends all wrestling with this stuff. I’ve been blessed enough to be part of some of them. But I feel like for all the time Jesus spent talking about money in the gospels, and all the advertisements we are bombarded with every day, this topic just doesn’t get talked about enough.

The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependent upon what is wrong. But that is the addict’s excuse, and we know that it will not do. -Wendell Berry

I love this Wendell Berry quote. We cannot avoid talking about money and consumerism because we are dependent upon consuming in America. Some in the church need to be a prophetic voice on this topic, so that the church can be a prophetic witness within our culture that another way is possible.


2 thoughts on “consumerism (1)

  1. Another reason I think an ethic of consumerism is absent from many Christian conversations is because we focus so much on the “tithe” we all should be giving to the church. We teach people, by word or deed, that God only cares about our money to the extent that we give our 10% to the church. The rest is “ours,” and thus we can do with it as we wish–or so the logic goes.

  2. It will be interesting to read where your thoughts eventually lead you.

    God bless.

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