Culture At Large

A New Spin on Consumerism

Chris Salzman

"We could have less debt and more fun. And this material world could get a whole lot brighter."

There's a lot of twisted truth in this commercial, but the two things that jumped out at me were the assumption that this world is only material and that our primary goal in life should be maximum fun with minimum stress.

It's a brazenly truthful assessment of American culture. And the narrator takes pride in the fact of uncontrolled consumerism.

But is the answer really switching to a different credit card? Obviously, I think not, and maybe even more obviously, I have a few problems with this commercial.

So does Blake, here's part of Mr. Huggins' assessment:

"We’re a nation of Consumers,” the voice matter-of-factly announces, “and there’s nothing wrong with that.” “After all, there’s a lot of cool stuff out there.” The commercial then goes on to assert that the “material world can be made brighter” if you would only use Discover, which will somehow keep you from spending too much — never mind the fact you’re still spending money you don’t have — while still allowing you to accumulate more things and thereby, according to the announcer, improving your “quality of life.”

I'd be remiss not to mention a recent post by Scotteriology on spending. He calls for a recession in the United States, primarily because of how a few individuals are handling gas prices, but I'd imagine this video would jive with his sentiment as well:

American Christians NEED a recession.

The worst part about the greed, relative poverty, and materialism that can characterize the American way of life that some have syncrestically melded into their cultural Christianity is that it leaves absolutely no room for real gratefulness. Life is a blessing. Health is a blessing. Being able to put food on your table–in any form–and not have to watch your children starve to death in front of your eyes is a blessing. If, however, you are worried about keeping up with the Joneses, some form of ‘economic normality’ by a grossly opulent American scale, and being able to afford to put fuel in a gas guzzling over-sized SUV that never has been, and never will be off-road it will be very difficult to be grateful for the wonderful blessings you have been given by merely being born in the Northern part of the world.

I'm torn between the wisdom and perspective we could glean from a financial collapse and really really really not wanting to go through one. It'd be much easier if we could just 'learn from the past', right?

The important questions that arise from that video and Scott's response to those that pray at the pump are primarily spiritual in my mind. It makes me wonder how our reliance on material things (one might say, our addiction to material things) affects our relationships with Christ.

But maybe more importantly, I wonder what this is all doing to the American church.

Right now giving is down across the board, yet building mortgages still need to be paid, missionaries still need support, ministries still need donations. So, if you'll allow me to play a little 'what if' game this friday afternoon I'd like to ask you a question:

What do you think would change in the American Church if we were to go into a recession?

Other thoughts?

Topics: Culture At Large, Business & Economics, Money, Economics, Theology & The Church