Posts tagged with: consumerism

arion_press_printing_san_franciscoThroughout its history, the American economy has transitioned from agrarian to industrial to information-driven.

Given our newfound status, manual labor is increasingly cast down in the popular imagination, replaced by white-collar jobs, bachelor’s degrees, and ladder-climbing. Whether due to new avenues and opportunities or a more general distaste for the slow and mundane, work with the hands is either ignored or discouraged, both as vocational prospect and consumeristic priority.

Amid this sea of new efficiencies, the art of craftsmanship is at a particular disadvantage. Whereas things used to be made with a certain individual artistry (out of necessity, no doubt), so much has become industrialized and systematized. That shift has led to unprecedented blessings, to be sure, whether in time, money, energy, and convenience, and for those fruits we should be grateful and rejoice.

But even in an economy such as this, there remains a need, a market, a knack for the slow and steady. There remains room not just for the magnificence of a well engineered microchip, but for a masterfully carved table and an artfully tailored suit. Creative service comes in all kinds, and God has a plan to both meet our immediate needs and fill our bodies, souls, and spirits with beauty and wonder. (more…)

Cash RegistersThere’s an intriguing piece in the NYT from last month by Hiroko Tabuchi that explores some of the challenges facing traditional retailers (HT: Sarah Pulliam Bailey), “Stores Suffer From a Shift of Behavior in Buyers.”

Department stores like Macy’s and Kohl’s seem to be losing out on the rebound in consumer spending. “Department stores made up one of just two categories tracked by the Commerce Department where spending declined, the latest in a choppy performance from them this year. Spending at electronics and appliance stores also fell 1.2 percent in July,” writes Tabuchi.

One major explanation offered by Tabuchi’s sources is that this part of a larger paradigm shift in American consumer attitude. “The religion of consumption has proven to be unfulfilling,” says Richard E. Jaffe, a retailing analyst, “The ‘pile it high and watch it fly’ mentality at department stores no longer works.”

Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ewart: Unholy alliances bolster the Pope’s climate change campaign
Stephen Ewart, Calgary Herald

You could, cynically, call it a marriage of convenience, but given the schism in their views of same-sex marriage — or issues such as birth control — it would add an awkwardness to the Pope’s two-day conference at the Vatican City with the select group of municipal politicians that concludes Wednesday. Cities including San Francisco and Vancouver — Mayor Gregor Robertson is the lone Canadian attending — have joined Francis even though they’re renowned for tolerance of lifestyle choices opposed by the Vatican.

Vatican Conference of Worldwide Mayors Overwhelmingly Backs Climate Change Science
Diane Montagna, Aleteia: Seekers of Truth

Equally troubling to some is the firm line the common declaration takes on climate change. It emphatically states: “Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality.” This appears to contradict statements in Laudato si’ , that the Church is not fully backing the science. The encyclical, which has a chapter dedicated to the “human roots of the ecological crisis,” clearly accepts the science of anthropogenic climate change — the first such papal document to so overtly endorse the science. But at the same time, it says the Church has “no reason to offer a definitive opinion,” knowing that “honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views” (n. 61).

Filipino Bishops Back Laudato Si’ With Statement
Zenit News Agency

The bishops of the Philippines on Monday released a statement on climate change, called “Stewards, Not Owners.” In the statement, the bishops commit to educating the faithful on the issues of climate change, and recall that “Laudato Si teaches us that the core of the matter of climate change is justice.” Here is the full text of their statement:

Pope: Encyclical Is More Than ‘Green’
Zenit News Agency

The culture of care of the environment is not only a “green” attitude, it’s “much more,” said the Pope. Therefore, he specified that to look after the environment is to have an attitude of human ecology. Ecology “is total, it is human,” he said. The Holy Father went on to explain that in the encyclical Laudato Si’, he pointed out “that man cannot be separated from the rest.”


pope plant“Laudato si, mi’ Signore!” Both the title and first line of the most recent papal encyclical come from St. Francis’ canticle which looks at nature as a great gift, but you all know that. Every news source worth its salt made that clear before the encyclical was released (either time); yet, we as Christians are called to be salt of the Earth. This entails more than a brief glance at the word on the street about the ecological pronouncement. What is at stake here is the central call of humanity: to till and keep the gifted garden (Genesis 2:15). The first human was placed in this role of cultivation of the earth even before being told to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There was a promise to act and a law to keep. The Bible is divided into two halves: law in the Old Testament and promise in the New Testament. The call to be salt of the earth is about the Christian life fulfilling that promise. Note that the law followed the promise in the order of our creation. Core to human being was first the love of the life of the world–the greatest commandment as Christ said. So, then why is the reactionary focus of the encyclical even before it was released surrounded upon the policy, the law, that it would inspire and not the call to promise?

Surely within the encyclical there is language that leads to law being created. What Pope Francis has seen in the world directly articulates the life he leads–one unaccepting of a “globalization of indifference” for any child of God’s in need. (more…)

Kishore Jayabalan, director of the Acton Insitute’s Rome office – Istituto Acton –  has issued the following statement today regarding Pope Francis’s much-awaited enviromental encyclical Laudato Si’. Among other things, Jayabalan notes: “[Francis] seems to blame markets, over-consumption and especially finance, rather than human sin, for all our environmental problems.”

slackerWhat does it meant to be happy, and is our culture getting that all wrong? Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ, thinks that may be the case.

A prolific author and speaker, Spitzer explores what happiness means in his latest book, Finding True Happiness: Satisfying Our Restless Hearts. First, we seek happiness in external material possessions. This can range from acquiring that sought-after gadget or enjoying a fabulous meal. There’s nothing wrong with this type of happiness, but it’s fleeting.

The second level of happiness relies on self-awareness.

We can actually be aware of being aware of our awareness, because of that we create our own inner world, inner universe. You juxtapose it to the outer universe,” he said. “You want the locus of control to be in you, not outside, so you want to be better … we’d like to be smarter or we’d like to be more athletic.”

It’s at this phase — one that involves the ego — that people begin to compare themselves to others, competing and finding worth in trumping their peers. It’s something that Spitzer said can “become an end of itself” — and he believes that it’s rampant in the current culture.


cure_for_consumerismThe latest monograph from Acton, The Cure for Consumerism by Rev. Gregory Jensen,will be available for free starting this Wednesday, June 10, and ending Friday, the 12th, at midnight. This is the second monograph in the Orthodox Christian Social Thought Series.

Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, there has been a rapid growth of human flourishing, but critics of the market economy have argued that these improvements have led to consumerism and rampant materialism. This monograph will explore the possible cures for consumerism. Can society actively choose to consume less? Does our economic system need a complete overhaul? Rev. Jensen will explore these possibilities, synthesizing insights from the spiritual tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church with modern social science. This monograph will offer practical solutions to consumerism, putting both faith and economic freedom to work for the common good. (more…)