"How (Not) To Speak of Consumerism"


Borrowing from my good friend, Peter Rollins', new book, "How (Not) To Speak of God", I want to engage the concept of consumerism in a postmodern, emerging context and how it relates to Christian praxis. I come from a fundamentalist Christian background that swung on the pendulum to one extreme and I am striving to not swing the other way and fall somewhere in the middle. I see often in emerging church circles how people view consumerism as BAD and destructive. Yet, I want to offer some thoughts that have been swimming around in the murky fish bowl of my mind. I liken it to a dirty martini! ;) So, please read with an open mind, chew on my words, and give your feedback. I will try my best to answer any questions. I am constantly on a learning curve and open-minded. Not to say I will change my mind, but often the words of others get me thinking and chewing more. So, come dive in with me and let's see how deep we can go!

We Christians tend to be some of the worse at the old adage of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and going to extremes, one way or the other. I include myself in this camp, as I am guilty of this at times. I am learning as I continue to travel on my journey to find nuggets of truth and light to take with me and leave heavy chains behind. All I hear most days from many emergent types is how consumerism is so bad and we need to stop consuming. I agree it is out of control for a global world, but not everyone has an extreme problem with it and I feel others who feel convicted should not be putting their pharisaical fences upon those who do not.

Bono is one who sees a problem with the wide gap between the poverty stricken and the wealthy west. He recognizes that consumption problems will not be solved over night. Thus, he considers offering people a way to 'responsibly consume' through the (Red) campaign to raise awareness and tap into where people are already consuming and will continue to consume. He has been criticized for not doing more to stop mass consumption. He is but one man, and I think he is doing much to empower the poor. He is not our Savior but a messenger and activist doing much more than many Christians sitting on the sidelines complaining and/or consuming at alarmingly high rates.

Fair trade is often encouraged as a way of making educated and concerned choices when shopping. We are encouraged by films like Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" to start and make better choices in how we consume and care for our planet. It comes down to a matter of priorities. Thus, an area where we can be more responsible is making the effort to be more informed and educated on how we can contribute to solving the problem.

Consumption has always been a part of our humanity and it is how we have capitalism and live and trade and survive. Yes, globalization can get way out of control. Yet, not all is bad and to poo poo it is an extreme in itself.

So, let us be aware of selfish and potent consumption in our global society, but recognize that there needs to be a balance and own up that not all consumption is bad. Also, people do not and will not change over night so we must work with what we have and make the best decisions possible from this vantage point. If it were not for consumption, then those who benefit from Fair Trade would really be hurting. It is all in our perspective. Is the glass half empty or half full?

It was nice to learn about my fellow peeps! Thanks for posting this and inviting me to be a guest blogger. I hope I can challenge, stretch, and open people up to good conversation through my post. Pax, Adele aka Existential Punk