Consumerism is, first and foremost, a culture of expectations that draws us into unhealthy ways of relating to our material possessions and tempts us to be consumers of one another.
Our contributors remind us that our excessive love of stuff is not merely a modern affliction, but an enduring addiction. Jesus declared, "You cannot faithfully serve both God and Money" and "the meek will inherit the earth." We affluent Christians consider so little the suffering of others, but "What would happen if we really became meek?" Arthur Simon wonders. "How much more empowered our lives and the mission of the church would be. And how much less suffering the world would have."*
The church is tempted to adopt marketing strategies that transform the body of Christ into one more vendor of products and services. Yet in true worship through the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper, we can be shaped in fidelity, other-centeredness, and proper joy, which are counter-cultural to the ethos of consumerism. As often as we eat the bread and drink from the cup, as Augustine reminds us, we receive the mystery of ourselves.
The study guides and lesson plans integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to help us examine our habits of excessive consumption. The guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use.
* Arthur Simon's article "The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth" appears in this issue of Christian Reflection with the permission of Baker Book House, online at www.bakerbooks.com.