Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Consumerism & Christians

Mark Chan is kind to bless me with a copy of the latest periodical 'Church and Society in Asia Today'. The theme for this issue is on Consumerism, the devil which lurks under the guise of the 'cool' in the "what's up" culture.

I (punly) 'consumed' the periodical when I reached home yesterday. Every articles tackle the sprouting issues directly in kin with Consumerism.

I didn't really care about Consumerism until lately. And the more I learn about it, the more I loathe over it. And the more I loathe over it, the more I realized how much was I, and still am, being unconsciously entangled by it; being unawaredly manipulated by it, and ultimately being willingly prostituted by it.

Being whored by Consumerism!

For those who are still in the blank about Consumerism, Soo Inn explicated well, "consumerism... is a worldview that sees the consumption of material goods and services as the main purpose of life." (p.12. Emphasis mine)

Let's get this straight. Those, like myself, who have been ravished by this pimping worldview worship not the materials goods nor services. These are means that meant to meet our needs. Hence, once you have a certain thing, say a usable pen, you dont need to get another one that meets the same need. So we are not worshipping these.

Often we overlook this. We thought Consumerism enables individuals the freedom to have their material needs met. If this is the case, then Consumerism is not a devil. And the vocabularists do not need to invent this 'ism' to describe the phenomenon.

The devil has more in his agenda. It sought to instigate a need that lasts longer than those of material-driven. Better if the need cannot be met. And hence such long-lasting need has to be non-material, like love.

And behold, the devil sought it, and humanity brought it. It is none other than the act of consuming itself. This is one need that cannot cease. It cannot be stopped. We can never stop consuming. Once we stop, we die. And the devil knows this. Hence it strikes us hard at this act that is in inextricably from our livinghood.

We have come to worship "consumption"!

When our consumption is not based on need anymore, our discernment is thwarted and blurred. We barely are satisfied with material goods and services. When being plagued by this disease, we became wearisome unless we consume. Hence the nonsensical shopping therapy. We consume as if there is nothing else to life besides the act of buying and possessing.

And in effect,"if we allow uncritically the forces of consumerism to act on us, we will end up with immature Christians, immature chuches, and immature human beings", said Soo Inn (p.16).

There are many other resourceful insights in the periodical. The one especially interest me is on organ trading by Daniel Koh. If you don't know about Consumerism or find yourself OK with this phenomenon, then please do yourself a favor by consuming this book. And bear in mind to consume not for the sake of consuming. A copy is just about the value of a value-meal at McD!

Church and Society in Asia Today,
vol. 11, no. 2, August 2008

Edited by Rev. Dr. Mark Chan

Consumers in a Dog Eat Dog World: Bible Bites and Barks on Ancient Societies
by Rev. Dr. Gordon Wong

Consumerism: A Christian Critique
by Rev. Dr. Tan Soo Inn

Marketing Organ in Singapore?
by Rev. Dr. Daniel K.S. Koh

Global Warming and Inconvenient Truths: The Problem of Evil and Global Warming
by Rev. Dr. Thomas Harvey

I Shop Therefore I Am: Consumerism and Its Impact on Christian Life and Ministry
by Rev. Sivin Kit

Church and Society in Asia Today is published three times a year (April, August and December).

Annual subscription rates are as follows:
Singapore and Malaysia S$15 (postage included);
Others US$15 (postage included);
Individual issues may be obtained at S$7 an issue.
For any queries, please call (65)6767-6677 or email: csca@ttc.edu.sg

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