Tesco Ergo Sum - I shop therefore I am...

In response to my little rant about the Guide promise last week, one friend, and former Guide leader suggested that the quote at the top of my blog sums it up... I was just about to change that quote, and now have, so for those who (like me) had forgotten it was there, is was
"You become like what you worship."
Tom Wright: "Simply Christian"

It chimes well with something else I read today by Kate Muir, in the late Dennis Lennon's book "Fuelling the Fire" (which was also the source of the new quote at the head of the blog - good book, worth reading). I don't often reproduce huge chunks of text on this blog, but this struck a chord with me... It describes her experience in an Argos store... They have changed a bit since this was written, but I am sure anyone who has experienced the joys of shopping in such a store will know what she is saying:

"I was there again last week, on another errand in the hellish glare of the store, its Soviet-shortage emptiness belied by the fullness of its catalogue. It contains 13,000 articles... As I watched the concentration on the faces of those contemplating the laminated catalogue before annotating their purchase slips,, I had a fresh inspiration. The shoppers reminded me of monks standing at lecterns in a mediaeval library, reading an illuminated Bible, glossing in the margins."
Lennon himself continues:
"Argos isn't the danger; things of themselves are not a threat; but faith in the phantom ability of possessions to satisfy, and the almost religious power and function of consumerism feeds into the atmosphere in which we live and move and have our being."
Today, a mere 8 years after this book was written we might substitute Amazon for Argos... And indeed the title of this post is out of date... Tesco is not the peerless temple to the consumerist Gods that it once was, although I see that the larger stores have their own TescoDirect catalogue shopping section. But the principle remains the same no matter which conglomerate is the commercial flavour of the month... A consumerist, capitalist, materialist, mentality is corrosive to healthy Christian spirituality.
It is interesting what registers with people in the course of a period of ministry... in the past weeks some have noted my emphasis on "community" (some would say less generously "hobby-horse"), but others remember me going off on a rant about "Nike..." and ethical consumerism...
I still argue for ethical consumerism... But even more for less consumption full stop... 
Our governments may want us to shop ourselves out of recession, but the conscious decision of government to slow down the recirculation of debt through cutbacks in the public sector will mean, particularly in Northern Ireland, that there will be less disposable income out there for a while... But that may not be a bad thing. It may nudge us in the direction of long forgotten virtues of thrift, mutual-support and (dare I say it) community. 
And in spiritual terms, perhaps we will look beyond the material to the maker...



Andrew Kenny said…
Your post has several quotes. Forgive me if I add another from Augustine, which touches on desire as well consumerism: 'Love God and do what you want'.
Pertinent, but a much misinterpreted, abused and maligned quote

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