Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cavanaugh and Consumerism

Word of the Day - Deracinate; 1. to pull up by the roots; uproot; extirpate; eradicate. 2. to isolate or alienate (a person) from a native or customary culture or environment.

I'm reading 'Being Consumed; Economics and Christian Desire' by William T. Cavanaugh.
Here is a quote that explains his work in the first chapter entitle 'Freedom and Unfreedom'

'In the ideology of the free market, freedom is conceived as the absence of interference from others. There are no common ends to which our desires are directed. In the absence of such ends, all that remains is the sheer arbitrary power of one will against another. Freedom thus gives way to the aggrandizement of power and the manipulation of will and desire by the greater power. The liberation of desire from ends, on the one hand, and the domination of impersonal power on the other, are two sides of the same coin.
If this is the case, then true freedom requires an account of the end (telos) of human life and the destination of creation.'

I am planning a two up-coming sermon series, one that will focus on Christian Practices, such as forgiveness, generosity, peacemaking connected to acts such as communion, baptism and other traditional Christian practices. The second series will focus on a Baptist response to Consumerism, and so I am reading the book quoted above (among others) to prepare for these sermons.

Recently I have begun to think about tithing not as fund-raising, duty, or even a spiritual matter, but as a practice of the church intended to teach the world how to think about and use money. We do not tithe then simply for the institutional church or for our own spiritual well being, but as a practice which is meant to be a witness to the world of what it is meant to do and be in regards to both wealth and property.

Most churches avoid the topic of money. When they do most sound dogmatic about obeying God's command or propose that tithing is good for the soul. I am interested in the ethical implications of tithing. How does the practice of tithing protect me from being influenced by consumerism and what is it meant to teach a consumer culture about the purpose of wealth as God intended.

Anyone have other reading suggestions?

1 comment:

VanceH- said...

Hi Darin,
It is only peripherially related, but Caputo's discussion on "the gift" in "What would Jesus deconstruct" has certainly changed the way I think about gifts...

-- Vance