Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Consumerism and Economics: Witherington, Luke Timothy Johnson and Esther

Shouldn't Christians dress for success, strive for excellence, show the world how God has blessed them with bling??? In a word--- no, when it comes to the first and third of these things. Christians should have a conscience about how their choices affect other people in this world, particularly those who live in poverty. They need to de-enculturate themselves from the lifestyles of conspicuous consumption that are so prevalent in American culture.

I ran across this Ben Witherington quote this morning, as I meandered about the web unable to sleep at about 4 am. I don't usually follow bogs on beliefnet.com so I missed this. Witherington posts a series of blogs based on a new book entitle 'Jesus and Money:A Guide for Times of Financial Crisis'
I haven't read it, but I will say I like the post based on the quote alone.

Witherington's post reminds me of book I'm already reading 'Sharing Possessions: Mandate and Symbol of Faith,' by Luke Timothy Johnson. In it he says; ' The way we use, own, acquire and disperse material things symbolizes and expresses our attitudes and responses to ourselves, the world around us, other people, and, most of all, God. And since there is reciprocity here, as we.., the disposition of material possessions not only expresses but effects our response to the world,other people, and God... The real mystery concerning possessions is how they relate to our sense of identity and worth as human beings. the real sin related to possessions has to do with the willful confusion of being and having. (pg. 40)

I am doing a study on the book of Esther. The opening chapter of this gem of a book narrates what both Witherington and Johnson describe. King Xerxes (or Ahasueras)sponsors an extravagant party for his political and military supporters and puts his wealth on display. When he attempts to put his wife the queen on display, and she refuses, Xerxes begins the search for a new queen. A system that gathers women from all throughout the kingdom, and filters them through the kings chambers for one night begins to grind people into objects. I wish I'd thought of this story months ago.

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