March 17, 15
Starting off with Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture, I want to talk about two areas the stood out to me. One was how culture has a way of transforming religious beliefs and two the media and religion. It is a shame that some of the bad elements of culture have a way of creeping into some churches and change they way things go. Even now the gay rights movement has already changed some churches beliefs and traditions. Changing the beliefs and traditions is one thing but changing what the Bible teaches is a whole different thing. Its terrible to read that some Christians are not leading in Christians practices, they are actually practicing what others are doing in the world, “Christian practices are always the practices of others made odd.” Now that is an eye opener to me. Our culture in some places, are dictating what churches do but they just put a different spin on it so it won’t look like it. I think we should be more careful about what we adopt from our culture because we might be getting away from our tradition and roots that are biblically based. “We must explore how consumer culture transforms religious belief and practice by transforming the way that people avow, interpret, and employ the beliefs, symbols, values, and practices of their religious traditions.” This is seen clearly in gay marriages. I don’t even think a pastor should think twice whether its right or wrong, but you have many leaders opting out of biblical standards and traditions to do what everybody else in society is doing. To be opened minded never means to discard biblical truth. Culture has affected the way people even do church. Whatever is popular to people, that’s what people do whether it is good for spiritual growth or not. I think people have gotten away from faith and are just doing church as culture dictates. They are consumed un-assumed. They don’t realize that culture is gobbling up their spirituality.
Then there is the media circus centered around Christianity. The media loves you and hates you. My wife and me have been discussing trying to do a small T.V spot in our neighboring city because it is not expensive. But I am not naïve to the fact that the media can dictate a lot about what you do once you are on the air. “The price of access is playing by the rules of media, not one’s tradition.” The media has just went crazy on televangelist Creflo Dollar for wanting to buy a G630 jet for 65’000’000.00. So it’s important to know that the media can build you up and tear you down just the way it built you up. And we have seen all these big named preaches fall and the media ate them alive. Yet we live in a media driven age. I just hope that our culture does not mitigate what we do and what we become. I hope the media does not make new televangelist become circus puppets just to amuse them.
Now on one more note that I found informative in Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire. I have been dealing with leaders who have this power concept and who don’t want to use their positions to empower others but they just want people to uphold their interest. I like some of the concepts on what “free market” is. Here is one definition by Friedman, “ if individuals are voluntarily entering into exchange from which both parties expect to benefit, then the market is free.” I am so fed up with leaders who only see things as a fair when they are the only ones benefiting from it. I would not do business if I am not going to benefit and the other person is. “As Friedman says, a free-market economy gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they want.” Too many leaders in Christianity have the wrong idea. They believe what they want to give you is what you need and that is crazy. Lastly Augustine put a twist to this, “Augustine’s view of freedom is not simply a negative freedom from, but a freedom for, a capacity to achieve worthwhile goals.” I can accept that too. We need freedom from people who are unwilling to share power or spread power so that we can be free to achieve goals that are worthwhile to us.
 Vincent Miller, Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture [New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., 2005], 25.
 Ibid., 31.
 Ibid., 96.
 William T. Cavanaugh, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire [Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2008], 3.
 Ibid., 4.
 Ibid., 8.