I thought I was done with this series, but then the looming High Holy Days of Consumerism made me realize that this is the time of year that people wrestle the most with the conflict between the faith of consumerism and their faith as Christians. So, I want to try and write something helpful rather than just something to make you feel bad. I tried to paint a brief picture of the alternative economy of God in which all members of the household have their needs met, there is meaningful work for all and creation is sustainably cared for. It’s a nice picture, but far from the reality we live in.
There are lots of things we could do, but I’d like to focus on some ideas that pertain in particular to the Christmas season. I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas. There’s a part of me that loves the cultural Christmas. I have a ridiculously large Christmas music collection. I love winter and snuggling up with some eggnog and a fire. I love Christmas movies. I love the magical feeling that our cultural Christmas myths stir. I love that there’s a general feeling of trying to get along and be nice to each other, to overcome our differences.
BUT with all of that also comes the guilt about what presents to buy. The list of people to buy something for. The sense of obligation rather than joy in giving. The mad rush to get more stuff and the feeling that having more will make you happy. The expectation of receiving presents and the disappointment of not getting what you wanted. These are also the values that the season brings with its cultural myths not in spite of them. So, what do we do with this time? How do we embody God’s economy in the midst of these powerful myths surrounding the High Holy Days of Consumerism? Here are some of my ideas. Continue reading →
I’ve done a lot of writing here on my thoughts about property in the Bible. This and the following posts might be a good place to start. I’ve also written a lot about economics and Sabbath and how they are related. While I don’t want to cover all of that territory again, I also don’t want you to have to read all that first. So, let me try to summarize what the economy of God looks like in the biblical narrative. Much of this also comes from God the Economist by M. Douglas Meeks which I hope to dive into here soon and which my friend Justin Tapp first recommended to me. His posts on the book are worth reading from a conservative Christian economist perspective. Continue reading →
How do we move away from allowing our identity as consumers to define us? It isn’t enough to simply reject one identity. We must have another identity that gives us meaning and purpose. As followers of Jesus, I would argue, the consumer identity is the primary idolatry of our time. The first step is to recognize it as idolatry. Continue reading →
In the first post I tried to explore what role purchases have in the consumer religion. They both create meaning and identity for us as consumers and also absolve us from the sins of the market and convey righteousness for us compared to other, less holy shoppers. The problem with our purchases serving these purposes (creating meaning and identity or absolving and conveying righteousness) is that none of that is really true, or at the very least not the whole story. Continue reading →