Consumerism is, first and foremost, a culture of expectations that draws us into unhealthy ways of relating to our material possessions and tempts us to be consumers of one another.
Our contributors remind us that our excessive love of stuff is not merely a modern affliction, but an enduring addiction. Jesus declared, "You cannot faithfully serve both God and Money" and "the meek will inherit the earth." We affluent Christians consider so little the suffering of others, but "What would happen if we really became meek?" Arthur Simon wonders. "How much more empowered our lives and the mission of the church would be. And how much less suffering the world would have."*
The church is tempted to adopt marketing strategies that transform the body of Christ into one more vendor of products and services. Yet in true worship through the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper, we can be shaped in fidelity, other-centeredness, and proper joy, which are counter-cultural to the ethos of consumerism. As often as we eat the bread and drink from the cup, as Augustine reminds us, we receive the mystery of ourselves.
The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to help us examine our habits of excessive consumption. The guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.
- "Stuff-Love," by Laura Singleton
- "Mastering Mammon," by Craig L. Blomberg
- "Relationships in the Age of Consumerism," by Barry J. Bryan
- "Discovering Our True Identity," by Mark S. Medley
- "Beyond Candy Cane Lane," by F. Matthew Schobert, Jr.
- "Subtle Qualms," by Heidi J. Hornik, on van Reymerswaele, Money-Changer and His Wife
- "Horror and Invitation," by Heidi J. Hornik, on Guercino, The Betrayal of Christ
- "Past the Blockade," by Heidi J. Hornik, on Turner, Christ Driving the Traders from the Temple
Hymn and Worship Service
- "O God, You Own A Thousand Hills," by Terry W. York and C. David Bolin
- Worship Service by E. Ann Bell
- "Talking Back to the Tube," by Brett R. Dewey
- "The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth," by Arthur Simon
- "From Francis to Fezziwig," by Katie Cook
- "More Like Mephibosheth," by Laura Singleton
* Arthur Simon's article "The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth" appears in this issue of Christian Reflection with the permission of Baker Book House, online at www.bakerbooks.com.
- "Which Kingdom?," by Barry Harvey
- Philip D. Kenneson, Life on the Vine: Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit in Christian Community
- Michael Budde, The (Magic) Kingdom of God: Christianity and Global Culture Industries
- Michael Budde and Robert Brimlow, Christianity Incorporated: How Big Business is Buying the Church
- "Curing Our Affluenza," by Norman Wirzba
- Gary Cross, An All-Consuming Century: Why Commercialism Won in Modern America
- Arthur Simon, How Much is Enough? Hungering for God in an Affluent Culture
- Michael Schut (ed.), Simpler Living Compassionate Life: A Christian Perspective
Study Guides and Lesson Plans (Download the set of six Study Guides)
- "Mastering Mammon"
- "Who Are the Meek?"
- "Discovering Our True Identity"
- "More Like Mephibosheth"
- "Beyond Candy Cane Lane"
- "Hazmats or Good Gifts?" by Dorothy Jean Weaver (Parables)