Monday, February 15, 2010

Consumerism is Thoroughly Pagan

This paragraph from Alan Hirsch's The Forgotten Ways encapsulates much of where my thinking is at recently:
Speaking to the insecurity of the human situation, it was Jesus who said "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matt. 6:31-33, emphasis mine). Consumerism is thoroughly pagan. Pagans run after these things (Gk. epizēteō "seek, desire, want; search for, look for"). Seen in this light, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Extreme Makeover, Big Brother, and other lifestyle shows are of the most pagan, and paganizing, shows on TV. Even the perennial favorites about renovating the house paganize us, because they focus us on that which so easily enslaves us. In these the banality of consumerism reaches a climax as we are sold the lie that the thing that will complete us is a new kitchen or a house extension, whereas in fact these only ad more stress to our mortgages and our families. These shows are far more successful promoters of unbelief than even outright intellectual atheism, because they hit us at that place where we must render our trust and loyalty. Most people are profoundly susceptible to the idolatrous allure of money and things. We do well to remember what our Lord said about serving two masters and about running after things (Matt. 6:24-33).
One of my greatest concerns right now is that the church world, at least in the US, far from being a prophetic voice against this paganism in our culture, is enthusiastically in bed with it. To take a stand against the consumerism of our culture is to be labeled a communist.