Today I’m thinking out loud about the history of the church especially as it relates to consumerism. I’m fascinated by the difference in perspective between the church of the early 18th century, and their concern over “vanity” which was a sin and church-goers were urged to pay more attention to their soul than their shoes.
Contrast that with the consumerism of the church now – and the “Prosperity Gospel” that God wants to make you wealthy – never mind that my personal wealth may mean poverty and exploitation for other people Jesus loves… not to mention the destruction of the earth. God’s beautiful earth is filling up with trash.
What can we learn from these widely divergent views from the community of faith on consumerism? Where is the truth in the midst of all this? How do we live as a person of faith in light of Biblical text “Thou shalt not covet”, ancient faith concerns over “vanity” and “fripperies”, and modern focus on consumerism as a expression of the blessing of God? I’m certain there is some truth in there, but there’s also a good bit of nonsense.
St Francis of Assisi had a perspective I respect. He was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant, but he renounced his family and inheritance and began a new order of the church. He had experienced wealth, but he chose instead to focus his life on mission and ministry. I suspect he was on to something there.
Here’s a YouTube video I was considering when filming this episode: https://youtu.be/Y-Unq3R–M0