Friday, November 28, 2008

a call to repentance: consumerism

in what is typically known as "black friday," we show our true colors: that in the middle of an economic recession, with a short-term credit market that is threatening to collapse- we are still a nation of rabid consumers. npr reported people lining up at best buy at 10am yesterday- waiting through thanksgiving day and all night long for the 5am opening of the temple. ny times reports a walmart employee getting trampled to death (along with four shoppers injured and a pregnant woman taken in for observation) this morning as shoppers tore down the temple doors for early access to worship.
today i invite you to buy nothing. it's a small step towards repentance. if you want to go further, celebrate a buy-nothing-christmas.
it is increasingly important that we be thoughtful with our spending and understand the impact of our consumption. if you want to give, may your giving not stop with the person recieving the gift. get creative. how about giving some beans from coffee ambassadors? or a micro-loan from kiva? even a donkey or a well from oxfam? or create something- because when you are engaged with your own creativity, your health and the health of your community is vitalized.
and if you need something, i recommend a few questions to work through. Ask yourself: 1) if you really need it. 2) if you can borrow it from someone you know. 3) if you can make it yourself. 4) if you can purchase it used. 5) if you can get it discounted.
introduce new products into your cycle of consumption only as a last resort.
do not participate in 500% mark-ups.
consume less.
ok, my rant is over. merry chri$tma$.

5 comments:

Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron said...

thanks, phil, for your prophetic voice in this much needed area. i feel angry about this disease that plagues our society and hate that i also perpetuate a culture of consumerism through my own 'wants' and 'needs'. what would happen if we put people before objects; if we thought more of the person for whom we buy than of the gift itself; or, if we considered the mistreated(by both consumer and corporation!) Walmart employee as a person, created in the imago dei rather than an object that exists to aid in my consumptive binging? we are an obese, unhealthy, society consuming anything in sight: food, junk, technology, and--sadly--people.

God help us.

pedro said...

I was very pleasantly surprised when my mother-in-law proposed the idea that from now on everyone gets one simple gift, and the rest of the money that would have been spent on "stuff" will be donated to a charity that has a connection with their church.

Ginny and I had decided early on in our marriage to make holidays about relationships and service, so this is a step that aligns with our values.

Holly G said...

thanks for the call and all the practical ideas, the kind that would help me "get a grip" a little and change eroding habits.

at the same time, yours and kindred challenges i've seen on blogs and facebook statuses, particularly about black friday, have got me itching for someone to speak more to WHY i/we have lame consumeristic habits, you know? i can abstain from buying stuff on black friday, but that does nothing for curing my acedia and dread. i see that your next post (dec. 2) speaks more to that. great piece.

thanks again.

Swift said...

It's been a (not entirely intentional) but ver positive side effect of observing the Advent fast that puts me in a much more sober mind leading up to Christmas. While it was initially very disapointing not to "get into the Christmas spirit" and go out partying and shopping, this year I'm finding it particularly refreshing. We wont be fighting the masses to buy our gifts, but just before Christmas we'll each get eachother a simple gift or two.
Of course, come Christmas and the 12 days after we'll be feasting and celebrating, but leading up to this Great Day we'll (try to) keep a sober mind.