Sunday, March 22, 2009

Commercialism... it's not just a secular issue!

I have written before about my fight against consumerism in our home, mostly in reference to commercialism my son's life. Specifically, "I think children are exposed too young and too often to commercialization. It is everywhere."
I openly admit that while guarding my son, I was falling prey to many of the same messages I was protecting him from. While I was not lured in by the latest Diego this or Dora that, I was not being careful in what I was reading, purchasing or in some cases lusting after. Some were things while others were attributes, but in either case, I was engaged on some level in "keeping up with the Jones's" in my personal and spiritual life. I was not just comparing myself to others, but looking at others Christians and thinking, "Hey, I need to read this book and that," "I need to have this version of the Bible," "I need this Bible cover and that bookmark," "If I don't follow this way of interpretations, I am less of a Christian than him/her," "S/he knows Job better than I," and in all cases I needed to step back and realize that I do not need any book but the Bible and do not need to compare myself to any of these people.

The other writings, readings, and "stuff" are all optional. The only "Jones'" I need to keep up to is presented to me in one book-- The Book. The rest is supplemental, and I should be guarding my mind and heart as I carefully read and explore these other materials. I need to carefully evaluate where I spend our hard earned money. I don't NEED to own or read a bunch of supplemental texts. I don't need the cover or bookmark. These items are marketed towards me (and others), but like I am on guard when it comes to marketing to The Boy, I need to be equally aware of marketing directed towards me, and that includes marketing of Christian materials!

Commercialism is everywhere-- including in Christianity. What? You didn't believe me?


Rebecca said...

You know, I had never thought of it that way, but you are right.

Natasha said...

Great post!

I don't think many Christians realize what you just said, but what do we think is happening when we walk into a Christian bookstore? The covers of the books are enticing, the gifts are arranged and lighted, and signs direct us to new products or sales. That's marketing, friends, and just because it's marketing of Christian products doesn't mean we should succumb to the messages.

I started writing a column in Urban Tulsa Weekly last week about penny pinching. If you have any ideas for topics, you have my e-mail address! I'd really love to hear about ways in which you and your family have been cutting back/blocking the marketing messages.

Thanks again for this, Maria!

Ash Greyson said...

There is probably nothing MORE commercialized than Christianity right now.

Anonymous said...

Good grief......look at the doors you walk through.....some of the churches scream commercialism.....

Lee Miller said...

good thoughts keep them coming

Ty said...

Nice post. I just came across it from a link from a know how it is.

To play devil's advocate, not necessarily to you, but to some of the comments, what would we expect Christian's to do to sell their products? I agree that we need to be mindful of our own desires and "needs" to make sure we are not being persuaded by jealousy or a desire to keep up with everyone, but Christian's have products to sell, too.

I guess it goes back to the age-old question: Does marketing help you to fill a need or does it create one?

At the same time, I have peeked behind the curtain of the business side of American Christianity in a former job, and it can be pretty disgusting.

Great post! We should all guard our hearts more carefully.

Maria said...

Ty-- first off-- welcome!

I've actually been thinking about this topic even more and will probably have to do a follow on post. I believe most Christian authors do have a legitimate quality product to sell, but the problem is how we approach them. When they start replacing the Bible, I think we have a problem, and while certainly they should market their products on some level, when they speak/write with authority, they tempt people to idolize them instead of using them to supplement the teachings of the Bible.

I seem to remember when Ash was working (is working) on a project behind the scenes of Christian Rock he also found some rather despicable practices.

Perhaps what it comes down to is those who are producing to serve-- ambition in His name rather than selfish personal ambition-- as Jesus described when James and John asked to sit at his right and left (or their mama...depending on which version/gospel you look at).

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