Being Consumed (7) consumerist eschatology

A final post on William Cavanaugh’s excellent and thought provoking meditation on Being Consumed: economics and Christian desire.

Here he points to the form of consumerist eschatology. Abundance for all is always just around the corner. Consumerism itself, via the free market, can even deliver justice for the hungry.

But consumerism wishes for everything and hopes for nothing. This life, and things in it, are what provide meaning and purpose.

Scarcity in a rich consumer culture is associated with the pleasurable experience of desiring more, something new. Real scarcity is hunger and deprivation. The ‘genius’ of consumerism is to detach consumers from the reality of such scarcity both literally and emotionally.

In the contemporary consumer-driven economy, consumption is often urged as the solution to the suffering of others. Buy more to get the economy moving, because more consumption means more jobs; via the miracle of hte market, my consumption feeds you. One story the market tells, then, is that of scarcity miraculously turned into abundance by consumption itself, a contemporary loaves-and-fishes saga.

In reality, however, consumerism is the death of Christian eschatology. There can be no rupture with the status quo, no in breaking of the kingdom of God, but only endless superficial novelty.

This all reminds me of the comfortable consumerism that promises an ethical bonus to the consumer. See Transfarmer for more!

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