Check out this manger scene / art installation (click for larger image):
What are your thoughts?
Field notes on life and mission with God after Christendom
This is a semi-review of a book I got in the mail recently.
The book is Enough: Contentment in an Age of Excess, and in it, Will Samson adds his voice to an ever-growing number of books addressing the issue of consumerism in Western society. It seems to be the topic du jour, and probably for good reason. It is a good thing when Christians begin to think theologically and critically about the cultural milieu they find themselves in, and more and more people are realizing that consumerism is the predominant cultural force in the Western world today. Samson's topic is also of personal interest to me, in that I recently wrote an essay on consumerism for the Master's degree I'm working on.
The following quote is an answer Skye Jethani gave to a question Dave Fitch asked about Skye's new book (which I'd like to read) called The Divine Commodity. It revolves around how the current economic recession can be a catalyst for church leaders to begin to steer their congregations toward missional engagement, because of the disruption it is causing in people's attachment to their consumer identities (and the amount of cash available to build a consumer church).
I quote Skye's comments at length because they are so closely aligned with my own convictions. Read on for the quote.
"When we consume the Eucharist, we become one with others and share their fate."
– William Cavanaugh, Being Consumed, 95.
It is tempting in our culture to see most of what happens in churches as "spiritual commodities" that are served to individuals seeking some kind of spiritual need met. They need to be a better parent, so they go to a church that's doing a series on parenting. They need some spice in their love life, so they go to one of the churches that's doing a series on sex for married couples. Even the Eucharist can be thought of as a kind of spiritual resource we offer for the benefit of individuals.
But the truth is actually much more liberating and disturbing, in that what seems to be happening is the the line between what's mine and what's yours is blurred, and possibly even destroyed, when I consume the Eucharist with you. As we eat the bread and drink the wine we are not only fed, but "taken up into Christ," and we become food for others. We are the body of Christ at the table, different parts, but one body.
When you eat lunch, the food you consume benefits your whole body. You do not take individual bites for different body parts ("Half a sandwich for the right leg, bite of tuna salad for the brain…"), but the whole meal benefits the whole body – there are no lines between what belongs to the eye and what belongs to the ear.
Likewise when we worship together and consume the Eucharist together, there are no lines between what belongs to me and what belongs to you. This seems to me to have radical implications for how we think about and use our money and possessions, don't you think?
– William Cavanaugh, Being Consumed, 56.