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I Went to Cabela’s Last Week and Boy Did I Feel Guilty

Written by: on February 14, 2018

[1]

There I was this week, standing in line at Cabela’s, feeling extremely guilty about my ridiculous American consumerism. Sure, I was participating in Cavanaugh’s “free market” system, “voluntarily” with no “interference” from others, and under no undue “pressure” to make this transaction. [2] I was contemplating my “sacred canopy” and my lack of self control “above my desire” to have just one more sporting goods item in the “wasteland” of my hunting closet. [3]  At this point, I fully understood my “preferences and wants” far exceeded my needs.[4]

My conscience was working overtime. I certainly had the “freedom from” unnecessary guilt, but I am not so sure I had the “freedom for” another frivoulous purchase. [5] This conundrum was fully compounded when I explored the “graceful choice” I was faced with, but when I honestly looked inside myself I realized that there was only an “internally generated” desire that contained no shred of helping someone “outside of myself” and certainly nothing in this purchase that would help draw me towards the “higher good”. [6]

Did I spend the money anyway? Yep! Unfortunately, it gets worse.

I continued reading Cavanaugh’s Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire, where he explained General Motors marketing as being “the organized creation of dissatisfaction.” [7] The consumer must always be made to feel the newest model of car is necessary to one’s self-esteem. I understood what the author was saying when I put it in the context of my Cabela’s shopping trip. I received SEVEN catalogs from Cabela’s this month alone. I also was granted a postcard with a promise of a $25 gift card if I would only purchase $35 of product. But like a “programmed zombie” [8] I succumbed to a certain provocative image, and even worse, a false inner fulfillment. Instead of only spending the $35 necessary, I’m sorry to say I upgraded and spent $45 additional dollars because another special item was going of sale in just two days.  The more I thought about it, the madder I got at myself. I fell trap to one of the oldest tricks in the consumeristic world–my self-created dissatisfaction with not having the newest and shiniest. Then I found out that Cabela’s mis-use of information and power somehow knew that I had done a search for this very item on their web-site just two weeks ago, and they targeted me with a personal Facebook ad that so happened to include the very item I searched for, on sale no less…

Now, let’s connect Cavanaugh closer to faith as well as my dissertation guru, Dave Ramsey. Does Financial Peace University hold undue power over a struggling family by preying (with information) on their massive stress over poor money management? Not to mention, Dave makes BIG money on every family who takes the class, which when multiplied by millions of families, adds up to a massive fortune. Then, add the fact that CHURCHES are financially supplementing the classes (in the name of discipleship) by paying for utilities, food, childcare and the not-so-cheap leaders guide. One could say Dave is making bank on the backs of the local church at the expense of the financially strapped.

Don’t get me wrong, I love FPU. It has helped me and hundreds of people I facilitated a class for. I have personally met and spoke to over 12,000 people about Biblical stewardship. I have attempted to start, and even paid for, up to 43 FPU classes nationwide. I am a Dave Ramsey guy, and so are some of you in our Cohort. However, I can see where some people might question if Dave has plugged into some deep seeded Christian desire, which in the end, benefits himself greatly. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but critical thinking skills challenge me to drill deeper.

Let’s take for instance Dave Ramsey’s final “Baby Step” to financial freedom, BUILD WEALTH and give. [9] 

Should I cringe because I am somehow fostering a capitalist mentality of greed, all the while masquerading the Bible as a Godly tool to push responsible Christian stewardship?  It could give me a head ache critically thinking about what I might be supporting, especially when Cavanaugh goes into his final chapter about scarcity. [10]

Yes, Dave Ramsey encourages generosity, even extravagant generosity! However, Cavanaugh says, “One can always send a check to help feed the hungry, but one’s charitable preferences will always be in competition with one’s own endless desires.” [11] Is it true that generosity is being implied by Cavanaugh to be a cover up for making me feel better about my own selfish care? Ouch!

I can now see why my brother, who has reviewed this book, says Cavanaugh has gone too far.

Therefore, the only true compass to return to is Scripture, and I am reminded of the Parable of Talents in  Matthew 25:14-30. [12] Jesus explains it all belongs to the owner (God), not everyone gets the same amount (sorry Socialists), because it is up to the owner how much each person gets. But, no matter how much you received from the owner, you would have to give an accounting when the owner returns, and answer for how you stewarded the owner’s resources.  Each temporary manager was then either told, “Well done good and faithful steward” or he was kicked out where there would be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” In fact, to those who handled it well, he gave further responsibilities and rewards, and was allowed to share in his Master’s happiness.

This totally helps me understand the talk about the Eucharist by both Miller and Cavanaugh, when explaining eating the flesh and drinking the blood points us to Jesus return, and reminds us of eternal life in heaven with our Lord and Savior! Amen, come Lord Jesus!

 

[1]Slayer, Cone. Cabala’s Screenshots, Images and Pictures. Giantbomb.com. July 22, 2008. Assessed February 14, 2018. https://giantbomb.com/cabelas/.

[2] Cavanaugh, William T. Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2009. Kindle. Loc. 111.

[3] Ibid., Loc. 119.

[4] Ibid., Loc. 124.

[5] Ibid., Loc. 138.

[6] Ibid., Loc. 205.

[7] Ibid., Loc. 237.

[8] Ibid., Loc. 243.

[9] Ramsey, Dave. Financial Peace University Logo. daveramsey.com. July 2, 2011. Assessed February 14, 2018. https://daveramsey.fpucentral.com/

[10] Cavanaugh, William T. Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2009. Kindle. Loc. 927.

[11] Ibid., Loc. 956.

[12] Barker, Kenneth L. Zondervan NIV Study Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008. p. 1510.

About the Author

mm

Jay Forseth

Superintendent of the Western Conference of the Evangelical Church. Blessed with 28 years as the husband of my amazing wife who I can't make it without. Now three of four in our family are attending University, but both my children are way smarter than me.

6 responses to “I Went to Cabela’s Last Week and Boy Did I Feel Guilty”

  1. mm M Webb says:

    Jay,
    Cabela’s is every hunter’s heaven on earth, why else would God have created it? Ps. 37:5 paraphrased of course says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the hunting desires of your heart.”
    I read your social media style excerpts of your Wally-World Adventure at Cabela’s. Jay, really? Can you spell gullible?
    Finally, I am hearing your feelings, emotions, and case against Ramsey! It took a Cabela’s casino guilting-fest for you to call out Ramsey for fleecing people just like you. Wow.
    While I can connect the Eucharist to the Armor of God, I am having to work to connect consuming Christ with the Cabela’s sale rack. Nevertheless, in God’s economy, and in respect to Augustine, when you went to Cabela’s you were embracing the “positive end of life in God.”1
    Great Post Jay!
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb
    1 Cavanaugh, Being Consumed, Location 49.

  2. Shawn Hart says:

    I believe there is a passage that says, “before you take the paddle out of your brother’s eye, remove the pontoon boat from your own eye first (Shawn Hart Paraphrased version). Okay, so I may have corrupted it a little, but the point is, I’m in no position to criticize being that I too enjoy a good discount from Cabelas. I think we should understand that there is nothing wrong with having possessions, nor is there anything wrong with us enjoying a good sale, it is only when those things interfere with our relationship with God, each other, and our role as Christians. Again that reminder that it is not money that is evil, but rather, the love of money. I believe the same is true of possessions and the amount of things that we waste our time, energy and money on in a search for fulfillment. Our problem is that we are laying up our treasures on earth instead of, as you put it perfectly, reminding us that Jesus is returning to take His faithful home to heaven…and that is where the real treasure lies.

    Great post.

  3. Jay,

    This was a great post. Thank you! It describes how I grapple with the tension of living within this system as well. I really appreciated your struggling with Dave Ramsey’s program in light of the reading. I have a similar struggle with one of my favourite charities, Opportunity International, which is microfinance for the working poor, but really just encourages free flowing capitalism.

    I don’t think capitalism is the answer. I think there’s flaws. But it is the system we have, and we bring God’s light into it as people of faith.

  4. Greg says:

    I have a feeling with me at the breakfast buffet and you at the fishing caballa’s buffet 🙂 we were in similar boats. Feeling guilty but wondering if we really wanted to. Like Mark says, we need to work with the system we have making it radiate the light of Christ. Thanks for bringing us on this journey with you.

  5. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Jay,

    Brother, I understand your connection to Cabela’s, we just got one in our area and it is awesome. I have to avoid it to prevent myself from making frivolous purchases. I was also impressed at your connection between Cavanaugh and Dave Ramsey, particularly in regard to extravagant giving. I know your research is focused on measuring whether or not Dave Ramsey courses have contributed to greater stewardship and giving in the local church. How has reading this most recent text altered your perspective if at all? Does the greater ability to send a check to support someone in need mean that the heart is also changed or simply that greater resources are freed up to use that way? If our giving is always in competition with our selfishness how does Dave Ramsey’s course either promote or discourage selfishness? Is this something that needs to be addressed within his courses or in your own research? BTW – we need to get to a river together sometime – no shopping just enjoying God’s creation!

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