Today is Black Friday, a day when people get up at ungodly hours to buy the things that they think they need. I have quoted Eleazar Fernandez before, and I believe there is another nugget from him that is worth a read on this Black Friday.
“The solution to beoredom in a consumeristic society, especially when the communal bond is weak, is to consume. This statement sounds simplistic, but it says a lot, and it is true to the experience of common people. If one is bored, one may engage in the act sonsumption by watching (consuming) a movie and munching (consuming) something while watching. Or, one of the majoy ways in which people address boredom is to “shop around” (consume).”
“The more one buys and consumes, the deeper one falls into bondage to the job in order to pay the bills, Eventually, a second job is needed. But the second job leaves less time for the family, with whom to enjoy life. Just as one has something to pay for the monthly mortgage for the cabin by the lake and a boat to enjoy on weekends, one has to work during weekends to pay for the bills. It is an irony that mnay people live everyday.”
“John B. Cobb, Jr., offers a critique of the religious metaphysics of this global market. Economism is the name of this religion and its god is endless economic growth. The priests are the economists; evangelists are the advertisers; and the laity are the consumers. The shopping mall is the cathedral; virtue is competitive spirit; and sin is inefficiency. “Shop ’til you drop” is the only way to salvation.”
-Eleazar S. Fernandez, Reimagining The Human: Theological Anthropology in Response to Sytemic Evil, pgs. 86-87
In thinking about this small section from Fernandez’s book, I was talking with someone in our community who was telling me about a large boat that they had purchased to take out on excusions on the ocean with. This person was all excited about the boat and told me all the amenities that the boat had, how fast it could go, and how many people it could hold. Then the truth came.
This person hadn’t had a day of in weeks because they needed all the money possible to afford this luxary. The very thing that was to bring their family together through rest and relaxation was pushing them further apart as he had to work more and more hours to afford this lifestyle.
Are we not missing something here? The Beatles sang that “You Can’t Buy Me Love,” and that is true, but you also cannot buy happiness. Material possessions do not make us happy. Material possessions really do not make our life better if we sacrifice our family and relationships in order to have them.
As we head into Advent and the Christmas Season, check out the website for Advent Conspiracy for ways to combat consumerism/materialism this holiday season.