Friday, November 30, 2012

Consumer Christianity


The habits we learn as consumers in the market economy tend to carry over to other dimensions of life. Thus we are conditioned to approach religion as a commodity, as just another consumer good alongside toothpaste and vacation homes. Think, for instance, of the commonplace practice of "church shopping." This is to say, capitalism encourages a shallow, decontextualized engagement with religious beliefs. Like the vast array of exotic cultural products from around the world that appear side by side on the shelves of the import franchise at the mall, in a consumer culture, beliefs tend to become free-floating cultural objects. These objects do not require anything of me; they entail no particular commitment or engagement. They do not bind me to any particular people or community.... Reduced to a religious commodity, Christian beliefs can be held in the midst of a political economy that runs counter to those beliefs without any tension at all.

Daniel Bell, Jr.The Economy of Desire
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