I am re-reading an out of print book from 1998 called, "The Consuming Passion." It is a reflection on the Christian faith and consumer culture, with multiple contributors. It is one of the few books I'm aware of that tackles directly the issues of consumption and the Christian faith. The book title was my first choice for the title of our blog, but Nancy thought is sounded too much like a dime store romance novel.
I like what Rodney Clapp the editor of the book, has to say in the introduction about a thoughtful approach to responding to our consumer culture:
All its elements are not simply good or bad. It is pervasive in both grossly obvious and infinitely subtle ways. It is profoundly rooted in faith, culture and society as we now know them. To the degree it is toxic, it is an ivy in the garden with its tendrils wrapped around and through our most beautiful flowers and our most essential vegetables. It could not be violently or wholly extirpated without destroying much that we rightly prize and protect. But just like such a vining plant it has grown too abundant and thick, so that it is now choking the life out of precious flowers and indispensable vegetables. Christians and other people of faith are among those who must gird themselves for a long, intricate and difficult pruning.
My only addition to that description is that the faith community has too often been behind the curve on these issues. Instead of being pioneers, too often we have been about accommodating the rhythms of our consuming culture. Instead of innovating tenable alternatives, we have tried hard to find ways of making faith fit into the prevailing practices of consumption. As many of us in the faith community are just beginning the journey of awareness around these issues, other communities among us are well along in the journey of disentangling and pruning. I am learning that for me, this requires a posture of listening as well as speaking. I remember many classes in seminary on learning how to speak, but very few on learning to listen. This year is a good lesson for me in listening.