the noise of consumerism

August 4, 2005 | 3 Comments

Apologies to those of you who might read both, but this is a crosspost from the Pathways Blog.

Last night, at our home gathering, we watched Nooma#5: Noise. This led us to a pretty extensive discussion about the unhealthy pace of our culture. There is no way I can share all of the insights that were raised, but I thought I’d share a few of the thoughts that I have reflected on as a result of the discussion.

It seems that much, if not all, of our nonstop pace is driven by our consumer culture. We are always wanting more, so we need to keep going in order to get it. The thought of slowing down to just reflect or rest is often troubling to us. When we do rest our bodies, we seldom rest our minds. Instead we just occupy them with elsewhere, whisking them away into another world through music or TV. There is nothing inherently wrong with either of these things, but there is something wrong when we do whatever we can to keep our minds occupied all the time. I think this speaks to a much deeper issue of consumerism. It is more than what we see on the surface. It is more than just an ongoing desire to get more.

I think we run from silence, and our thoughts, because often we don’t want to deal with them. Perhaps the reason we most fear silence is that our disatisfaction with our life will scream to us from the silence. We are forced to hear the things we don’t want to hear. When we buy into the lie of consumerism, we buy into a system that, by design, never satisfies us. Pepsi convinces us not to buy one Pepsi that will be the ultimate and final refreshing beverage. They market it to us, instead, so that we will be perpetual Pepsi drinkers — always needing more. That’s the simple version of it. The very nature of a consumer culture is that it is not meant to satisfy.

The challenge of following Jesus is one of pursing a full life. We explore his teachings to see if what he says is really true. Is there really more satisfaction in giving than in getting? I propose that none of us will know for sure until we experience that way of living for ourselves. And you can start, and I can start, by sitting in stillness and hearing his gentle whisper speak the truth to us.

  • John, exactly what Heather and I talked about on the way home last night. I don’t think it is that we are afraid of silence necessarily, rather we are afraid of what we might hear, or have to deal with in that silence. Why do we believe if we ignore that junk it will all go away, or why do we think that we can “outrun” it. It always reminds me of the line in the movie Mrs. Doubtfire. It is at the beginning of themovie when they have the final pre-divroce blowout. Robin Williams suggests that they take a vacation, and Sallie Fields just says “Our problems will still be here when we get back”. To which he replies, “then we will move!”. Although a witty remark, I think that it speaks volumes about how our society faces problems. To wrap up my rambling, I will go back to…..I think we all need, ESPECIALLY ME, to sit, relax, and as you said listen. Listen to what God is trying to tell us, and allow ourselves to have the type of relationship that He wants with us.

  • For about a week now, David and I have been discussing unplugging the tv.

  • Gerilyn (TM)

    I was reading James Dobson’s “Bringing up Boys” and he referred to the same phenomenon. Only he called in “chasing the catepillar” after an experiment where a species of catepillar known for following one another were placed end to end around the circumference of a flower-pot with food in the middle. The catepillars were so set in not “breaking rank” that they all died of starvation. Funny how we think we are so evolved as a society yet we are most easily described by a species of catepillar.