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The Divine Commodity

The divine commodity by skye jethaniThe Divine Commodity by Skye Jethani has been one of the most intriguing books I’ve read this year.  His thoughts on consumer Christianity are well crafted, and I love the way he weaves in van Gogh’s life and artwork (I can’t wait to act like a complete art snob in front friends now with my recent ‘education’).

Jethani hits hard at how consumerism is the dominant worldview in North America and how it’s infiltrated the church.  Religious merchandise is a $7 billion dollar annual industry and he goes as far as saying “shopping occupies a role in society that once belonged only to religion – the power to give meaning and construct identity.”

I was a bit surprised that he named names as he critiqued church growth / branding / marketing, but he also humbly includes his own struggle and journey with a consumer mindset.  The heart of it being the outsourcing of our imagination, “Image saturated culture means that the imagination isn’t required the way it once was… we ingest ready-made images like junk food”.

The most affirming and convicting idea Jethani suggests is the abandoning of bigger-is-better strategies and outcomes.  This is affirming because I know it’s true, I see it in the life of Jesus, and I know that it was “the Lord that added to their numbers” in the early church.  This is convicting because I’m guilty of having a consumer mindset all the time.  Something in me still wants the spectacular and the jaw-dropping turnouts, but maybe when it overshadows the simple seeds of silence, prayer, love, friendship, fasting, and hospitality, we’ve veered off the wrong way.

Where do you see consumerism shaping your life and the church?

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • tony sheng June 3, 2009, 1:09 pm

    when i think of consumerism and the Church, i think of the instance when we have the mindset of “just attending” and our engagement is super low – this idea of consuming versus creating [like in Crouch’s book Culture Making…] Then I also think of our responsibility as leaders, and maybe creating environments where it’s easy to “just attend.”

    cool post – i should pick up that book.

  • Lon June 3, 2009, 3:10 pm

    yeah, I think culturally we’ve been indoctrinated to ‘just attend’ from tv to schools – and that seeps into the church as well. I think a lot of church leaders do want to move beyond that, but just don’t know how…

  • Lonnie September 12, 2009, 5:12 am

    Shouldn't any book titled "The Divine Commodity" at least be available as a free download?

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