The title, which intrigues me greatly is Between Two God's: Christianity and the Challenges of Consumerism. Rodney, like myself and a growing number of individuals, sees Consumerism as a religion, competing with Christianity for the souls of church goers. I have grown to believe that Consumer Capitalism is the greatest threat to historic Christianity in America, followed closely by Nationalism. While the church focuses on the "threat of gay marriage," liberalism and the Emergent boogyman, it ignores Nationalism and consumerism at its own peril.
Heck, even within the Emerging church with its focus on technology, I have seen this insidious cult grow ever more present, with its tentacles wrapping around the very church that preaches against consumption and nationalism. I was going to joke that maybe we can record this event on high def so we can watch it on our iPhones and HDTVs, but I won't do that.
For too long the church has sat idly by and ignored or baptized this extreme consumption (for a number of years I have been obsessed with this, blogging on it periodically). I remember attending a local church in Tampa that justified consumerism and even embraced and blessed it. My wife and I never sat foot in that church again after a pastor talked glowingly about Prada, hoping to reach those cool rich-folk and not offend their delicate sensibilities (small groups conversations revolved around boats, Pottery Barn and getting rich). In the past few years I have been in close proximity to too many pastors and christian leaders blind to the ravages of this disease, completely caught up in the spiral of stuff, justifying their crap with circular logic that would shame a political campaign director or lobbyist.
What I can applaud is the higher profile this is getting with people like Rodney, Shane, the Sines and most of the New Monastics, along with a number of bloggers. However, we must clean our houses and minds holding each other to a higher standard and speaking directly into the lives of one another to make sure we are not falling prey to this same religion we easily name in the established, seeker, modern and contemporary churches.* We must follow the advice of bloggers like Jonathan Brink and the band Toad the Wet Sprocket, which continues to convict me daily in their song Throw it All Away (lyrics here).**
read this blog post entitled Happiness Does Not Come from a Shopping Mall about a new book called Consumed.
*since the credit card companies are about to collapse, according to some economists, this idea of rampant consumerism will not be as prevalent. I just wish the church had been speaking out on this issue in the past, before the issue was upon us. We may have kept it from happening.
** yes, I am a consumer- like all people. However, I try to see myself as a recovering consumer, falling off the wagon occasionally and hoping to continue to get this addiction under control. It is why I listen to that song so often, read the works of Berry, Gandhi, the Monastics, Theresa, Francis, Sine, etc. and talk about it so often. I think it is that insidious and Christian leaders must take on the responsibility of leading in this area (especially those claiming the title Emergent).