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Any Suggestions?

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : December 18, 2004

Do any of you, my readers, know of churches which are intentionally taking a thought-out stand against consumerism or globalism?

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9 Responses to “Any Suggestions?”

  1. jeremy on December 18th, 2004 11:31 am

    No. I don’t. But I’d join it if I did.

    I know of a band, that by your ecclesiology is probably a church (seriously). They live together on a bus and live completely off of donations and hospitality. The are called the psalters. http://www.psalters.org. Their music is excellent also.

    I’m hoping to be a part of a church plant that will have as one of its values embodying the gospel in political ways.

  2. Brett on December 18th, 2004 1:39 pm

    I can understand an argument agains excessive consumerism, but what is the argument against globalism? And what would you do to change it?

  3. Van S on December 18th, 2004 2:06 pm

    I guess the arguments against consumerism work against globalism, if one understands globalism as the global spread of consumerism and the consumerist machine.

    I don’t only against excessive consumerism but all consumerism…since consumerism isn’t just buying and selling stuff…it is a full-blown ism: that increased consumption is a societal good.

  4. jeremy on December 19th, 2004 12:55 pm

    The argument against globalism (from an ethical standpoint) is that means an increased maldistribution of the world’s resources. Wealthier economies will continue to suck up the resources of poorer ones, making the poor even poorer. This is why you and I can get a DVD player at Sam’s club for about two hours labor, but the Chinese kids who built it can’t buy a chicken breast with a days’ wages.

  5. Chris B. on December 19th, 2004 5:13 pm

    I’d just like to point out that the Amish have been taking a “thought-out stand on consumerism and globalism” for a couple of centuries now. Though they don’t engage society too well, shouldn’t we admit that they’ve successfully done what we are all trying desperately to do?

  6. Brett on December 19th, 2004 10:38 pm

    I have always thought that globalism helped spread resources more evenly. I would be interested in seeing evidence to the contrary. I don’t see how being a consumer is necessarily a bad thing.

  7. Van S on December 20th, 2004 4:22 am

    There is a difference between being a consumer and someone who is a “consumerist.” Globalism can be somewhat beneficial, but it always favors those with greater resources…for example gas costs less in America than it does elsewhere. This sort of reality helps the “haves” to have more, and the “have nots” to have less. Capitalism has a dark side. The global economy keeps the third world in debt and the first world in dominance. There simple isn’t a level playing field. Here are a couple articles to check out for evidence that globalism has a dark side:

    What is globalisation and who benefits?

    The World Trade Organization: A Theological Critique

    We Are Not the World

  8. Brett on December 29th, 2004 12:58 pm

    I meant to come back and comment on this much sooner than this. Sorry if it seems like a delayed reaction.

    The Paul Krugman article you point to in your third link actually does a better job of making my argument than I have so far. Krugman basically says that the effects of globalization are far overblown by both the left and the right for political purposes. He calls the globalization rhetoric “globaloney”. Here’s a passage from the article:

    But even if the global economy matters less than the sweeping assertions
    would have us believe, does this “globaloney,” as the cognoscenti call it,
    do any real harm? Yes, in part because the public, misguided into
    believing that international trade is the source of all our problems, might
    turn protectionist — undermining the real good that globalization has done
    for most people here and abroad.

    So then, my question to you is this: why would you, or anyone for that matter, want to find a church that focuses on an over politicized hot button issue with no real significance instead of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

  9. Van S on December 30th, 2004 2:59 am

    It is foolish to say that consumerism and globalism have no real significance. In no way do I think the church should get involved with trying to combat these sorts of things by political means. But the way in which the free market works is that it encourages those in developing nations with means to exploit the lower classes in order to turn a profit. Globalism isn’t all bad. But it has a dark side. Buying and selling things isn’t inherently bad, but consumerism is. Here’s a description of consumerism that comes from a book called “Christ and Consumerism” edited by Craig Bartholomew and Thorsten Moritz:

    1) Consumerism points to a culture in which the core values of the culture derive from consumption rather than the other way around.

    2) In consumerism, freedom is equated with individual choice and private life.

    3) A consumer culture is one in which ironically needs are unlimited and insatiable.

    In other words, our desire to pick and choose whatever we want drives us…causing us and our sacred choice to be at the center of our universe. We consume more and more and it is never enough. This desire for more junk causes the developing world to be somewhat exploited for the sake of luxury. Anyone who has visited working conditions in the developing world has seen this. The American thirst for stuff has made it difficult for us American Christians to slow down and seek God in a right way. We treat him as another item to be consumed. We treat people as commodities. We shop for theologies. We shop for churches. And our desire to have whatever we individually want causes people in another part of the world to be exploited so that someone can make a profit off of our desire.

    While I am not advocating some sort of marxism or something ridiculous like that, doesn’t it seem fair to ask the church to curb its spending habits and start trying to share Jesus with the world instead of sharing our greed with the world?

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