i first read about the church of stop shopping on christianity today's out of ur blog. i love satire, so i couldn't help but love this church. but it's not a church at all. they have a "Reverend" and a "Choir" and they use the format of a "church meeting" to send a message: "Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir believe that Consumerism is overwhelming our lives." their website is complete with a place to confess your consumerists sins and receive "forgiveness." they recently released a film, What Would Jesus Buy?
dave swanson on the out of ur blog poses some serious questions for christians: "How is it that the Reverend Billy, who places himself outside the Christian faith, is one of the most intriguing and possibly prophetic voices regarding the affects of rampant consumerism in our culture today? Shouldn’t the church in America be the one proclaiming this reality?"
but i think it's true. this past christmas season, i had strange images of pulling a "jesus in the temple thing" at target. and i felt like i was committing high treason when i suggested to my wife that we don't buy as many gifts for ourselves and our kids and instead buy some livestock for a family in an underprivileged country. i mean, we need to keep buying things or else our country is going to go into recession! that's message i hear all too often.
our congress is debating an economic stimulus package to put more money in american's wallets. if we put more money into american's wallet's, aren't we just continuing the consumerism that got us into our mess in the first place? i have a feeling that most folks will be more likely to buy that new HD TV that we "need to buy" to keep up with the standards than pay off a month of two of mortage payments.
a recent poll (albeit an unscientific one) found that american evangelical christians put the economy as more important than abortion, immigration, war, poverty, and traditional marriage in the upcoming presidential election. (See poll here). what does that say about our real values as christians in america?
now i'm as confused as anyone about what the alternative would be. i love my tech goodies, and admit i love them too much. and i bet that the people in the church of stop shopping still have cell phones and laptops and cable TV. maybe not.
maybe it's in the small steps. we did end up reducing our gifts and had a blast discussing as a family what animals would best serve people in another country. (we settled on buying a sheep and a flock of ducks in case you were wondering.) my wife and i are discussing what kind of housing would best steward our money and time. i'm beginning to feel that a single family house is fairly wasteful. (are there even other options?) a guy in my grad classes started a very useful website called twoshirts.org where you can list stuff that you want to give away to others and also get free stuff you need. very cool.
may those that call themselves jesus-followers lead the way not only in bringing attention to the things that destroy us, but also in pointing the way to a practical new road to live on.