Friday, September 12, 2008

redeeming consumer culture

Can consumerism be redeemed by Incarnation?

I hear lots of Christains railing against consumer culture, about how bad it is, about how the megachurch is a sellout to it.

I listen from a gospel/culture perspective. No culture is solely good. Nor is culture solely bad. All cultures are both and all cultures are open for redemption.

A quote from Eugene Rogers: “Culture” introduces multiple ambiguities … [it] …. can be unfallen, fallen, redeemed; essential or constructed; individual or corporate. …. Mobile as water, [culture] is not static, but dynamic. A creature of the Spirit, it is to grow … Christian culture-narratives require a dynamic and differentiated account. (After the body, page 149)

The question is how? How did Jesus redeem? Well in the Incarnation, he entered the world. Some things he embraced. Other things he shook the dust of his feet. But his starting point was entering. Doesn’t this give a missional impluse to how we approach consumerism? Rather than finger pointing, we affirm that it can only be redeemed as we Incarnate ourselves within it.

I’m off to shop. Incarnationally.

Posted by steve at 07:49 PM


  1. Our church just held our second Global Market: 25+ stall holders all selling fair trade items AND donating fees/percentages to a an indigenous leadership project. We brought Christian and community groups together; charities and businesses. Local media came, so did politicians who offered us grants. It doesn’t change much, but it’s a start.

    Comment by Cam — September 13, 2008 @ 1:04 am

  2. I don’t think that we have to incarnate ourselves into consumer culture, instead in the US anyways, we are born consumers. This is the problem usually, and why I think consumerism gets railed against. We are insiders and we don’t know how to not be consumers to the detriment of ourselves, our relationship to God, and the environment.

    Comment by Joe Bumbulis — September 13, 2008 @ 5:18 pm

  3. Well in that case I’m being a good disciple today. I just incarnationally bought myself a macbook 😉

    But to take your point seriously for a moment, I do think that there are ‘missional’ uses in which I can put my consumerist gadgets to use. Reaching and interacting with people through technology (like a blog, case in point) is, in my humble opinion, just as valid a sphere of social existence as, say, talking to an old lady in the foyer after church on sunday.
    I realise when I say that I’m speaking through my well cultivated lens of nerdishness, but that’s the reality of my world.

    Comment by Iain — September 14, 2008 @ 1:00 am

  4. This is the same question that Pete Ward plays with in Liquid Church if you wanted to read someone else’s imaginative reflection.

    Comment by Andrew — September 15, 2008 @ 11:48 am

  5. thanks andrew. have appreciated ward’s book over the years. i think his trinitarian thinking is a bit clumsy. but the parts linking desire to spirituality are very helpful.


    Comment by steve — September 15, 2008 @ 1:14 pm

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