Monday, November 12, 2007

Consumer Addiction


This weekend my husband Josh was going through the paper and came across a Walmart Christmas catalog insert. It came with a ready-made wish list for kids and instructions on how to help your kids pick out all the stuff they want for Christmas. Josh had me laughing when he clutched the catalog, closed his eyes tightly and said, “I wish that Walmart would stop purchasing goods made from sweat shops, would provide just and fair treatment for their employees and adopt sustainable environmental practices.”

Last August, while walking around in the heat of the summer in shorts, we were astounded to see our first window display for Christmas. I know it always seems like it starts earlier every year, but August just seems ridiculous.

Josh gave a really poignant devotional in class this morning. While researching the effects of alcoholism on families, he was pondering the addict's experience of building up tolerance. Over time, an addict builds up tolerance to their substance and requires ever increasing amounts in order to experience the same effect. He compared this to the materialism and consumerism of our culture. As a culture we are showing the signs of addictive tolerance to consumption – we need more and more stuff to feel the same effect.

I remember being amazed reading the Little House books, how excited the kids would get at Christmas time over getting a single orange, a penny, or a cookie baked with white flour. This, compared with the Walmart catalog that says, “If you only get me 20 gifts this Christmas make sure this is one of them.” We are taught to be upwardly mobile, to seek after more money, better paying jobs, bigger houses, fancier cars, and more toys. It is completely counter-cultural to drive an old car if you have the money for a new one, or live in a small house if you can afford a bigger one, and so on. It seems that we are diseased with an addiction to consume. I would like to share the scripture Josh shared this morning that speaks volumes to us.

“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded form you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with those who store up things for themselves but are not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21 TNIV

May we learn what it means to become rich toward God!

6 comments:

Rachel said...

Thanks for that excellent post, Karlene! I once heard a Greek Orthodox priest preach on that passage from Luke. He explained that if God had blessed the wealthy man with abundance it was so that he could give to those in need and that if he had shared his grain he would not have died empty handed. Then the priest said something beautiful that I will never forget, "The stomachs of the poor are the blessed storehouse."

Karlene Clark said...

"The stomachs of the poor are the blessed storehouse."

How beautiful!

Brad Shantz said...

Awesome post, Karlene.

BusinessWeek, a couple of weeks ago, had an article about the Christmas push starting before Halloween this year. The gist was that consumers aren't buying. When asked about Christmas shopping, more than 90% said they were waiting until after Thanksgiving, and that they didn't need all the Christmas "hullaballoo" so early in the year.

Karen said...

Karlene,
a couple of blogs on "simple life" de-consummerism:
sfcompact.blogspot.com and
noimpactman.typepad.com/blog/

Tell me what you think...
karen

Karlene Clark said...

Brad, That's interesting. I don't know if it was just me, but the stores didn't seem as busy this year when I was out and about. More than the rest of the year, but not as crazy as I remember Christmases being in the past. Maybe we're buying a little less?

Karlene Clark said...

Karen - thanks for stopping by and thanks for the great links! One of them led me to www.thestoryofstuff.com which was really interesting. I highly recommend it.

I hope you had a great Christmas, and that we will see you around soon!