A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Materialism Is Expressed in Many Ways

They call it the Jesus Phone, and the scene outside Apple's New York City flagship store did have something of the air of a religious event on Thursday.

So begins the article from CNN Money last week on the unveiling of the new iPhone. People lined the streets last week all over the country to get the latest version of Apple's newest form of application telecommunication. Only the day after Thanksgiving is worse when it comes to the cult of having more and the latest stuff.

I do not want to be misunderstood in this post. Most of us are technologically wired in many different ways, much it by necessity. We now live in a society were we depend upon computers, cell phones, iPods, and other technological gadgets for our livelihood and daily routine. I would not be able to do my job apart from my laptop, my cell phone, my email, and yes, my text messaging. But I am having great difficulty justifying the craze over having the latest iPhone or the latest computer application or the latest iPod in a way that brings people out to stand in line for hours or to incur penalties for breaking a contract or simply to spend more money when what they currently own is perfectly fine and functional.

I think Christians should find their participation in this kind of "religious event" troubling. I remember having a conversation with a young early twenty-something Christian a couple of years ago the day before, at that time, the latest iPhone was due to be sold. In the midst of our conversation he spoke of how the younger generation of evangelicals are more socially conscious than their evangelical parents and they are not as consumed with having more stuff. He said to me, "We are just not as materially minded as your generation." It was just a few minutes later as he was leaving, that he mentioned to me that he was going to be driving that evening to the nearest iPhone outlet and stand in line all night to get the newest version, and how it was going to cost him a couple of hundred dollars to break his contract. The irony was lost on him.

Materialism is expressed in many ways in our culture. It can be all too easy for Christians to point out the materialism of their brothers and sisters who are emotionally attached to their stuff, while they go along certain that their desire for their particular stuff is quite justified. It's a kind of philosophy that says, "I would only be materialistic if I owned your stuff. If you only owned my stuff, however, you would be reflecting my social concern."

So, before we point the finger of materialism at other believers, perhaps we need to look first at our own stuff that we have come to deem so important. Materialism is expressed in many ways.

It's that log/splinter thing Jesus mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount.


Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, Allan.

Yes. I'm sure we're blinded to just how materialistic we are. We just take certain things for granted as entitlements, when rather they are gracious gifts and privileges to us which carry along with them opportunity and responsibility.

Country Parson said...

OK, so my iPhone has the Book of Common Prayer, Lectionary and Bible in a dozen or so versions. Does that let me off the hook? If I admit that I also have an iPad can I still be a Christian? Worse yet, I drive a Prius. I'm doomed.

On a more serious response to Ted, it saddens me to enter into the lives of many who have gone far into debt for cars, boats, RVs, furniture and electronics seduced by provocative advertising and easy payments (or the evil rent to buy schemes). I'm not sure how materialistic all that is. I'm more inclined to believe it's a question of "What were they thinking?" The answer to which is Not Much.