In their new book, Hidden Worldviews: Eight Cultural Stories That Shape Our Lives
, Steve Wilkens and Mark Sanford examine little cultural scripts that write themselves all over our life — and they want us to see them for what they are. Today we look at Consumerism:
“I am what I own” is the motto.
The authors, both at Azusa Pacific, say God made us to be consumers — and this might need to be emphasized because for some “consumer” and “evil” are synonymous. They point to God’s making the Garden and saying this was for pleasure and consumption.
The issue is the shift from responsible consumption to consumerism, from a good thing becoming a ravishing desire. Consumerism turns relative goods into absolute (or I’d say near-absolute) goods. It turns such things into that which gives us meaning and which brings us fulfillment. Consumerism is a little fox that can spoil the vines of the Church.
So what does consumerism look like? Where do you see that we are crossing the line? What keeps things in proper perspective? Big one: Where do you see consumerism in the Church and how has it impacted our understanding of the gospel?
Here are the marks of consumerism:
Accumulation brings fulfillment.
Money is power and status.
Just a little bit more because the more we have the better off we will be.
People become objects to consume.
Discard what ceases to meet my needs.
But we all have needs and we are all consumers, so we need to learn that we determine how to use our resources and that competition and development emerge from consumerism.
But…. consumerism reduces what we need to less than what we really need — it reduces what we need to things, it turns people into commodities, and turns God into money (idolatry). Further, it reshapes our central values from the personal and spiritual and religious to the material.
God owns all; we are stewards and we consume only as stewards.