Thursday, August 07, 2008

John Chrysostom On Ancient Capitalistic Consumerism

"The gold bit on your horse, the gold circlet on the wrist of your slave, the gilding on your shoes, mean that you are robbing the orphan and starving the widow. When you have passed away, each passer-by who looks upon your great mansion will say, 'How many tears did it take to build that mansion; how many orphans were stripped; how many widows wronged; how many laborers deprived of their honest wages?' Even death itself will not deliver you from your accusers."

~John Chrysostom (as quoted by Sivin Kit in his 'I Shop Therefore I am: Consumerism and Its Impact on Christian Life and Ministry', in 'Church & Society in Asia Today', ed. Mark Chan, vol.11, No.2, Aug 2008)

How would you contextualize Chrysostom's aphorism to today's language? I find it diffcult... Probably due to my unwillingness to see how I have been plundering myself of Christ-like humanity through many unnecessary spendings.

Feel the same? If yes, we are fucked-up. If yes, it's time to kill ourselves,

Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact, it needs a good man to repent.

And here comes the catch. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The worse you are the more you need it and the less you can do it. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person—and he would not need it… But the same badness which makes us need it, makes us unable to do it.
Can we do it if God helps us? Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us? We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak….Now if we had not fallen, that would be all plain sailing. But unfortunately we now need God’s help in order to do something which God, in His own nature, never does at all—to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die….You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us.
~ C.S. Lewis (emphasis and edition mine)

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