Easter and Chocolate

This year celebrate Jesus’ resurrection with only the best chocolate made by child slave labor?  Disturbing…




or settle for slave free chocolate if you have to.




Till a tempting new partner do us part…

Interesting article from CNN on whether or not monogamy is realistic in our day and age.

As Western society moves farther from its Judeo-Christian roots it will only become more confused about foundations for meaning, value, morals, ethics, and a vision for the good/virtuous life.  Christianity roots monogamous marriage relationships in a transcendent God who embodies love and who himself enters into covenant with humankind.  The character of our relationships are meant to be rooted in the character of his relationships.

Without the transcendent, how does one develop a guiding vision for human relationships?  Personal preference?  Psychological studies?  Ultimately no foundation is found and the best one can do is to construct meaning for oneself and the best a culture can do is to disapprove of only the most horrendous violations of others while providing no normative guide for the next generation.

Augustine, Original Sin, and Capitalism

Augustine argued that for one to be virtuous, his/her loves must be rightly ordered.  That is, one must not only love the right things, but in the correct order.  One may love (desire) good food, but if one loves it more than one’s children it becomes a vice.  One may love one’s children, but to love one’s children more than God it becomes a vice.

Christians affirm a doctrine of Original Sin.  Humans are born into a condition of sin, including wrongly ordered loves, and only a life united to God can begin to heal this situation.

It appears to me that our economic system currently seeks both to efficiently meet our loves (desires) regardless of their right ordering. And it marketing arm of our economy seeks to increase our desires in ways that consistently lead to their wrong ordering.  Companies are happy to have you be obsessive about their products.

This leads me to several conclusions:

First, we must not place our hope in Capitalism to solve the deep social and spiritual problems of our nation.  It promises no such thing.  In fact, we ought not be surprised if it actually is an efficient means of bringing greater fragmentation and brokenness to fruition.  It efficiently meets our desires, even if those desires ultimately lead to shattered lives.

Second, we ought to be very suspicious of groups which seek to re-order our desires based on their financial profit.  If a virtuous life is a life of rightly ordered loves, we ought to be thoughtful and protective of who influences the order of our loves.  Marketing is concerned to increase our desires so that they may find profit, not so we may live a moral life.

consumerism pt. 3

This morning I jumped on YouTube and typed in “commercial.”  The video below popped up first.

It seems to me that this commercial serves as an example of a pattern I’ve noticed throughout advertising today.  Advertisers often no long sell products and services, they now sell religion.

What does this commercial sell?  It sells a goal, a telos, a purpose for the boy’s life.  It sells an identity, a meaningful identity as a Porsche lover and owner.  It does not simply sell an object, a car, but rather traffics in the categories of meaning, value, purpose, and identity.  These values have traditionally been reserved for religion.

When I observe advertisers in North America it appears to me that the vast majority of them have given up on trying to simply sell goods and services.  You rarely see commercials plainly enumerating the characteristics of a product.  Rather they focus on selling meaning, value, purpose, and identity and attempt to attach their products to these values.  In short, they traffic in religion.

These messages are in direct competition with the message of the Gospel that Jesus is Lord.  We need to address these messages not merely as temptations to unwisely spend money or care more strongly for material things than we ought, but also and more importantly, as competing ideologies to the message of Gospel.  The story of Jesus Christ makes absolute claims on where meaning, value, purpose, and identity come from in this world.  We ought to be very wary of those who not only make claims to the contrary, but do so insidiously, “we’re not selling meaning, we’re just selling products,” and with near complete penetration into our everyday lives.

consumerism pt. 2

How many advertising messages are we exposed to on a daily basis?  500?  1000?

Think about it, radio ads, TV ads, internet ads, t-shirts, bumper stickers, billboards…

On the surface they all sell different products and services, but in reality they are ALL selling the ideology of Consumerism.  They sell us the idea that we ought to approach life as consumers, our responsibility is to ourselves to seek our own happiness in every facet of life above all else.

No group in the history of the world has been allowed such complete penetration into the daily lives of the general population.

Doesn’t it affect us?


Is there any bigger threat to the Church today than consumerism?  Is there any bigger threat to communities attempting to follow Jesus than consumerism?  I am beginning to believe no.

I don’t mean small “c” consumerism, “I like to buy new shoes more often than I need to” consumerism.

I mean big “C” Consumerism, consumerism as an approach to every aspect of life.  This approach tells us that we are disconnected individuals, we owe nothing to family or community or church, but rather we owe it to ourselves to make ourselves as happy as possible, and the way we do that is to pursue whatever desires we currently feel as far as possible.  Insofar as they are legal and don’t hurt anyone they are good.

This big “C” Consumerism shapes our decisions about what church to attend (whatever we like the best, until something better comes along), where we are to live (often where we can make the most money, sometimes where we can have the most fun), and how we spend our time (what profits us, even appeals to serve others come under the guise of how they will make us feel good about ourselves).  The Gospel is presented not as a story of forgiveness leading to a call to mission but a story of forgiveness leading to a more fulfilling life (in the past the emphasis was heaven, but in our comfortable, long living society we tend to put the emphasis on present, not future, benefits).

more tomorrow…

reverse mortgages

I had an interesting conversation with a friend about reverse mortgages this past weekend. It seems to me that the idea of spending every possible dime one has access to before dying reeks of hopelessness and despair (I’m not addressing every instance of employing a reverse mortgage but rather its embrace at a popular level within a culture). A community with a vision for the future will be a community that saves and invests in the future. Only a community with no vision for the future or a hopeless vision will insist on spending everything you can.