Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Consumption of Things

This is an excerpt from a sermon I'm writing on Consumerism. I've decided to cut it out of the sermon, but I didn't want to just erase it forever, so here it is on the blog.


Consumerism isn’t altogether evil. We are consumers by nature. We have to consume food and water in order to survive. We have to have clothes and shelter. And I think that having the freedom to make economic choices has spurred innovation, which has led to safer transportation, improved medical treatment, and the longer lasting light bulb. And without consumer choice we’d all be stuck with MySpace accounts. Gross!

But as with most things, there is a shadow side of consumerism—a side with which we are all too familiar. Greed. Debt. Theft. Oppression. Waste. Pollution. Reality Television. The list could go on and on.

We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have, and for what? To have an iPad that will be out of date in less than a year? To drive a car that you’ll still be paying for long after it dies? Why? To impress your friends? Or your enemies? Or your frenemies?

We buy stuff. We use it up. And then we throw it away when it’s no longer useful to us. I have 3 iPods! I have one of the original white ones, then I got a black video iPod, and now I have an iPod touch. All three work just fine. The music sounds the same coming out of each one. But I just had to have that iPod Touch because it has…Apps! That I spend money on and stop using in less than a week.

I am a consumer. I buy. I use up. I throw away. Why? Because I need. I need. I need to know that I’m not white trash. I need to know that, despite working in fulltime ministry, I’m still a success. And I think my iPod or my new computer will tell the world I’m a success, or more importantly, they will tell me that I’m a success.

I need, therefore I consume. Why do you consume? What is your need? I used to buy DVDs until I had, quite possibly, the best collection of films on the face of the earth. But buying the DVDs was nothing more than an attempt to medicate myself in the darkest time of my life. And watching those movies, incredible though they were, was just a way to escape the pain of my circumstances.

What about you? What is your need? Do you over eat or starve yourself because eating is the only thing in your life you can control? Do you disappear into video games because you’re afraid of growing up? Do you spend money you don’t have because you’re trying to be someone you’re not? Behind our consumerism lie two simple words: I need. But consuming things is no way to address those needs.

Food should be about nourishment, not about control. Video games should be enjoyed with friends, not used as a way to stave off adulthood. iPods are meant as a way to enjoy music anywhere, not as symbols of success.

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