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Consumerism

“…it is in our nature to aim toward what is good, true, and beautiful. But the impulse toward the good often misfires as we follow after merely transitory and temporal goods rather than the Eternal Good, or as we pursue the fleeting ephemeral beauty of this world, which cannot satisfy the soul…The power that transitory goods have to entice us away from the Ultimate Good lies precisely in the fact that they are genuine goods. Because of our fallen state, we do not approach God directly, but through the good things of creation. For example, loving and being loved by another person prepares our hearts for unity with God. The sense of wonder we feel when contemplating objects of beauty prepares our hearts for the beauty of Christ.” (Robin Phillips)


“Others love material goods. They enjoy spending, lavishing themselves with all the goods of the world. They wear the title of consumer with pride. They never have enough of anything, and as soon as they make a purchase they question whether their acquisition is worthy of them, or might they have done better? St. Maximus explains that it’s their nature. They love matter, which is basically clay or mud. And it has its effect on their hearts. Just as the softhearted develop souls that are like wax, ever softening as they age, so the ones who by nature worship the earth and material things, their minds set far from God, their hearts are hardened like mud. They use every opportunity to advance their own cause, just like Pharaoh. It’s not possible to impress on such hearts the likeness of the Lord. Yet every soul that loves God opens itself to the way of the Lord. God the Creator can continue the process of creating His likeness, molding and shaping the soul that responds to light and warmth with a welcoming pliability.” (Fr. Vladimir Berzonsky)


“In that we live in a culture whose primary principle is that of maximizing pleasure (it’s what consumerism is all about), we are quite vulnerable to the false pleasure of a silenced, or muted “natural will.” We drown it out with the noise of the consumption that surrounds us. Often, we are simply left with an emptiness, marked by a “false fullness” of those things that can never satisfy us. All utopian schemes have an immediate goal of silencing the natural will, for it will not allow us to be blithely happy with anything less than the truth.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“It strikes me that we live in a country where we are increasingly being treated like nothing more than consumers, and that we literally buy into this mode of being. The irony is that the more unconsciously we live as consumers and fall into excessive consumerism, we are consuming ourselves spiritually. Material things are good. It is our use and orientation toward them that makes them bad. We need to constantly guard our hearts and souls and make sure we are not being consumed by what we consume and that we give, balance want and need, see ourselves and others as persons, nor resources or consumers, or we will run the great risk of hearing one day, “I never knew you; depart from me” (Sacramental Living Ministries)


“There is a profound paradox at the heart of secularism. In the name of promoting individual freedom and worth, and a liberation from religion, secularism tends to obscure individuality. In the name of reversing religious pressures toward conformity— moral, intellectual and aesthetic conformity—secularism imposes an economic conformity that reduces the person to a mere consumer or a unit of labor. Why is this so? Because when all transcendent religious values and metaphysical ideals are excluded from the national conversation, the single remaining common denominator is money. And thus money becomes the measure of all things, including the human person himself.” (Archbishop Demetrios)


“If there were anything that a Christian could practice that would help nurture this aspect of their life, it would be refraining as much as possible from the consumerism of our culture. It teaches us habits that are very destructive to our souls. Instead, we should practice generosity and kindness, and give ourselves over to the care of God rather than the spirit of shopping. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“What draws people away from traditional, institutional religion is largely the success of consumer culture — the “stronger form of magic” found in the ever-new glow of consumer products.” (Charles Taylor, James K.A. Smith)


“Our secularized age aims at involving us in the pleasures of consumerism. It has even turned religion into a consumer item. This is why the latter has been restricted in its functions to customs, symbols and metaphysics. Society doesn’t understand, and doesn’t want to understand, that faith in God provides meaning for the hearts of those who are struggling to live it. These days our participation in the life of the Church is limited, since that requires time. This limitation is achieved by offering temptations that recall the trials of Christ after His baptism in the River Jordan. The society in which we live shows us that it’s indifferent to darkness within the soul.” (Protopresbyter Themistoklis Mourtzanos)


“We are largely unaware of the impact that marketing and advertising techniques have on our consumer behavior: labels, graphics, colors, product placement, commercial tunes, product sponsorships, and other factors influence us. We easily recall songs, commercial jingles, and slogans from decades ago, as well as catch phrases from old television programs and favorite lines from movies. Constant exposure to the general culture shapes us. There is no doubt: we have acquired the world’s phronema [mindset]…Music, movies, television, social media, education, workplace, friends, activities, and a thousand other influences are continually at work on us. Today many people cannot allow a half hour to elapse without checking their cell phones for messages, news, and social media postings. Is this not affecting our minds and our values? How different would our phronema be if we said a prayer every few minutes rather than checking emails or our phones?” (Dr. Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou)


“Consumerism in an ancient temptation…The first-created man, by severing the tie of this world from God (when he began to use the world apart from God for its own sake), became the first official “consumer.” …A large segment of our culture is literally hell-bent on turning us into consumers. This is dark and deadly for so many reasons. Perhaps the most pernicious reason is that it attacks personhood, the essence of who and what we are as human beings that God created in His image and likeness. We are view by the institutions looking to sell us something as individuals, something less than persons, who are valued based only on what they will buy. This is causing spiritual disease… Individualism and consumerism have disconnected people from loving God and their neighbor.” (Sacramental Living Ministries, Archimandrite Sergius, Fr. Emmanuel Clapsis)


“As Christians, then, we find ourselves in the awkward position, indicative of a genuine tension, of accepting our Lord’s teaching about the dangers of accumulating possessions as true, and yet unable to arrest the desire and endeavor of adding to this abundance. The “consumer within” is a driving force indeed!” (Father Steven Kostoff)


“The primary definition of service, from the Latin servitium, means the occupation or condition of a servant. And “servant,” from the Latin servus, means “slave.”  What a blow this is to our proud modern American ego that normally understands service in terms of what people, business, technology and things can do for us. In a society whose economy is largely driven by consumerism, it’s no wonder the “service industry” is prominent. It’s how a majority of Americans earn their living these days, “slaving” for others. Somehow this idea of service doesn’t seem to translate well into our spiritual lives. Our life “in the world” has so accustomed us to seek, expect and demand service from others that when it comes to our relationship to God and His Church, we often do the same thing. Contrary to the teaching and example of Christ [Matthew 20:28], we frequently find ourselves coming to church to BE served, rather than TO serve.” (Archpriest Daniel)


“But I’m in a hurry, and I don’t know why. I’m driven by some odd compulsion that makes me feel I’ve always got to DO something: to perform, accomplish, create, whatever. I’ve bought in to the competitor-consumer mentality of the world I live in, and I can’t ever do enough to buy my way out. If I make more money, achieve some goal (usually suggested by somebody else), work hard enough to merit a few strokes from those above me, or simply keep busy enough so I don’t feel guilty at knocking off for a few hours, then my life is worthwhile, then I’ve succeeded. But of course I can’t ever win that frantic race. It’s not just because there are too many others ahead of me. It’s because I’m in the wrong race to begin with. “Take time to smell the roses,” they tell us. No, take time to plant, cultivate and cherish those roses. Take time to make warfare against frenetic activity and compulsive over-achievement, time to take stock of values and virtues long lost in the dust of “doing things.” (Very Rev. John Breck)


“…some people feel a terrible flatness in the everyday, and this experience has been identified particularly with commercial, industrial, or consumer society. They feel emptiness of the repeated, accelerating cycle of desire and fulfillment, in consumer culture; the cardboard quality of bright supermarkets, or neat row housing in a clean suburb”…Material abundance can engender this existential sense of lack precisely because the swelling of immanence seems unable to make up for a pressure we still feel — from transcendence, from enchantment.” (Charles Taylor, James K.A. Smith)


“Christ directs all of us to seek the highest good. If life is not a matter of abundant possessions, as the consumer mentality would have us believe, then what is our true goal? What is worth having? What endures eternally? Without denying that we have needs in this world, the Lord Jesus sets before us the single, primary goal that gives life genuine meaning vitality: the kingdom of God (Luke 12:31).” (Dynamis 11/9/2020)


"The first-created man, by severing the tie of this world from God (when he began to use the world apart from God for its own sake), became the first official “consumer.” We on the other hand must reverse the Fall in our own lives by re-connecting this world and our lives back to the source of all: Christ, the Life-giver and Creator." (Archimandrite Sergius)

"The folly of modern economies is that they require constant growth. Consumer goods are named this for a reason. An enormous system of advertising and media manipulation seeks to turn us into true consumers. And for us to want things we must be convinced of our need for them. Someone who is satisfied with life and them self has no need for the products that promise to bring fulfilment. So advertisers set out to make us feel dissatisfied with who and what we are and with as many aspects of our lives as they can achieve. It starts with our children and continues throughout our lives." (Father Spyridon Baily)

“Living in this consumer-centered, commercial-filled world, we are constantly being told that we have a right for more and better. Such a message may make for effective advertisement, but it spells poor theology.” (Dave Earley)

"In a world where consumerism is the new golden calf, we think that having things will make us happy. Actually, it is often the reverse, as we are held hostage by the many things in our lives. But happiness doesn't come from having thing. Rather, having things can actually cause a fear. The poor person who wants nothing does not fear his/her things being stolen, because there's nothing to steal. The anxiety that comes from wanting to protect property is nonexistent for the person who doesn't own the property." (Marianne C. Sailus)

“The economic and monetary crisis that leads to an increased disparity between rich and poor is understood … to be primarily a ‘spiritual’ and/or cultural crisis. It is attributed to unrestrained individualism that leads to an excessive desire for wealth and to consumerism. Individualism and consumerism have disconnected people from loving God and their neighbor.” (Fr. Emmanuel Clapsis)


#ArchimandriteSergius #FatherSpyridonBaily #DaveEarley #MarianneCSailus #FrEmmanuelClapsis #FatherStevenKostoff #ArchpriestDaniel #VeryRevJohnBreck #CharlesTaylor #JamesKASmith #Dynamis #FatherStephenFreeman #ProtopresbyterThemistoklisMourtzanos #DrEugeniaScarvelisConstantinou #SacramentalLivingMinistries #RobinPhillips #FrVladimirBerzonsky #ArchbishopDemetrios

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