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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We are the consumers


It struck me again today (not sure why) that when we're subject to consumerism we are literally that - consumed. We think we are the consumers, we buy our products, we eat them, use them, discard them and move on to the next one. We consume. It is how we are defined as a society. We are not a service society, a creative society, a compassionate society but a consumer society.

Ironic then that consumerism as an action also consumes us - it eats away at our contentment because we are only ever satisfied by the latest, shiniest, greatest, fastest, coolest. It erodes our generosity because we live self-gratifying lives not self-sacrificing lives. It steals our ability to live in the moment and be present to the ones we love the most as we work longer but less productive lives continually distracted by the amount of information we consume. It tricks us of depth by promising connection without commitment through the joys of MySpace and Facebook and Twitter. I end up distracted, selfish, unsatisfied and discontent with life and in slavery to a god that no matter how many times you sacrifice the credit rating, how many times you prostrate yourself at Visa's temple is never satisfied. In the process of consuming we are consumed.

The picture that strikes me in contrast is that of Moses and the burning bush. Aflame, alive, dancing, sparking but not consumed. The Spirit's fire hits us tangibly, discernibly, with power and real force but somehow we are enhanced not destroyed. We are built up not torn down, we are strengthened and not weakened. This fire makes us more fully alive but also utterly dead. Dead to the whims and passions of the world, dead to its temptations, tricks and lures. Or at least that is supposed to be the idea.

Daily, I find myself in need of surrendering and become alive to God and dead to the world - dead to its selfish ways so I can be generous with all that God has given me. That, I guess, is no bad thing.

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