The High Price of Materialism

This short video was posted by a friend on Facebook – have a look and see what you think….

It is also posted on the website for ‘The Centre for a New American Dream‘ who introduced it as follows:

In this short animation, psychologist Tim Kasser discusses how America’s culture of consumerism undermines our well-being. When people buy into the ever-present marketing messages that “the good life” is “the goods life,” they not only use up Earth’s limited resources, but they are less happy and less inclined toward helping others.

The animation both lays out the problems of excess materialism and points toward solutions that promise a healthier, more just, and more sustainable life.

What do you think?

Personally, I think it would be hard to develop ‘intrinsic values’ within a secular culture that encourages an unhealthy obsession with the ‘self’….but when you consider it from a Gospel and Kingdom of God perspective then it all sort of makes more sense…creativity and generosity rather than consumption and greed….sounds like heaven to me 🙂

HT: Darius Namdaran

Occupy Wall St – The Revolution Is Love

How about this as an expression of the Kingdom of God….

This is the biblical vision of the Kingdom of God…the guy just doesn’t realise it. This is what Jesus came and died to achieve.  This is what the world is like with Jesus as King…he just doesn’t articulate it in that way.

It’s bigger than the church…because the church is just part of the Kingdom of God – admitedly it’s God’s chosen vehicle to express His Kingdom mission (which it doesn’t do very well), but the Kingdom is still much bigger – God is doing so much more through restitution, reconciliation, recreation and resurrection….and Jesus is the singularity at the centre of it all – whether people realise it or not…..

The ironic thing is that this is what the church is (or should be) preaching…but no-one will recognise it as the gospel because the way that the church has historically expressed it is just NOT perceived as good news by so many people in our contemporary culture….

Scot McKnight: Christianity as Country Club

An interesting article has been published on the Huffington Post written by Scott McKnight considering the difference between a ‘salvation’ and ‘gospel’ culture:

Christianity sometimes presents itself as a country club. It presents itself this way even when it doesn’t want to, and sometimes it doesn’t even know it. I grew up loving to play golf but I played on the public course. I had friends who played at the local country club. When I visited the country club I felt like a visitor even though the members were wonderfully hospitable. Members felt like members and visitors felt like visitors, and knowing that you could “visit” only by invitation made the difference clear.

Many experience the church this way. Members know they belong, and visitors know they don’t. Well, after all, we might reason, the Christian faith is a religion of salvation, and Stephen Prothero’s recent book, “God is Not One,” depicted Christianity as a faith concerned with the “way of salvation.” And if you are saved, you are a member; if you are not saved, you are not. You might visit, but until you get saved you will know you are not in the club.

Christianity has been powerfully effective at creating what might be called a “salvation culture.” Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, Protestant mainliners, Protestant evangelicals and other families in the church like Pentecostals only offer slight variations on this salvation culture. This message of salvation is that God loves us but God is holy so sin must be dealt with; Jesus Christ died for us and through his death salvation can be found, but to find that salvation one must trust in Jesus Christ and his death. Those who do are both “in the club” and will spend eternity with the club members with God in heaven. In essence, this is Christianity’s salvation culture. It is a good message, but it is not the whole message.

I want to suggest that the country club image for the Christian faith, its salvation culture, no matter how historic and vital to the Christian church’s identity, inadequately frames what might be called its true “gospel culture.” If a salvation culture builds a country club, a gospel culture creates a story — one with a beginning in God’s shalom and one that aims at God’s shalom. And a gospel culture is not identical to a salvation culture…..

…….A gospel culture focuses on the Jesus Story, the Story that God is at work among us — the incarnation. In other words, the essence of a gospel culture is a Jesus-shaped and Jesus-centered Story of God at work among us. It is not just a country club, but the Story of life-giving, self-sacrifice and hope that God can take ruins and create monuments of love, peace, justice and joy — and Jesus told us that Story is now taking place among us.

Brilliant stuff.

Any comments?

Read the full article here

Know God rather than just feel His presence

Uncomfortable but true and accurate thoughts posted by Chris Elrod earlier today:

This past weekend I was going through some old magazines and came across an interview with author Calvin Miller.  In the interview he alluded to the idea that most Christians were more interested in feeling God than really knowing God.  What floored me is that the interview was from the early 1980′s…yet his train of thought is even more relevant today than back then.  In 2011 the Church seems more fixated on “feeling the presence of God” than truly knowing God.  Church leaders seem more concerned with the worship experience on Sunday than the discipling and outreach Monday through Saturday.  Pastors seem to be spending more time worrying about creativity and relevance…than substance and depth.  In an of itself wanting to feel the the presence of God, being relevant, embracing creativity and striving for excellence are not bad things.  However, when they become the primary goal and constant priority…the Church is in danger.

I fear that we are getting people in the front door, baptized and plugged into “community”…yet never see them grow beyond spiritual infant status.  They forever suck on milk as stunted babies and never long for the solid spiritual food that the Father wants His children to desire.  They know the latest worship “hit” word-for-word…but never know the Word itself.  They can quote lines from the latest emergent guru’s book…but not a single line of Scripture from memory.  They know how to go through the motions of worship on Sunday…with hands raised upwards…but never discover that it is our eyes that should be focused to the Heavens.  They learn how to embrace the cultural relevance of this world…but the not the ability to flee from the things of this world in their own hearts.

True church is not solely about reaching people far from God or discipling those that have already come to Him.  True church is both…with equal importance.  It doesn’t mean that every church leader is called to reaching and discipling…but it does mean a healthy church has leaders that can guide people through both aspects.  It is great that people can feel God in churches throughout America each weekend…but if we as church leaders don’t teach them how to truly know God…the Church as we know it…is doomed.

This is just as relevant for the church here in the UK as it is for the church in the USA.

The wedding feast from a different perspective

Richard Passmore recently posted an interesting interpretation of the Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matthew 22) on his Sunday Papers blog:

Just looked at this parable with a group and started with the question where is God in the parable?

If see God as with the poor and marginalised he is in the highways and byways. Using this as the startpoint you don’t have the option of seeing the king as god or the son as Jesus and could see the parable as a critique of organized religion or power.

The king is keen to make alliances with the rich farmers and businessmen so invites them to the party to impress them, they are obviously powerful as they have the opportunity and means to kill the servants the king first sent, and the king needs to subdue these people after they killed the servants by the use of force with armies not just a couple of people.

Then in order to not be seen as a loser the king needs to have some people come to the party so invites (coerces?) poorer people to attend. Tradition at the time suggests the grooms father provides the right clothes for the party guests but one person refuses to wear the clothes from the manipulative, politically savvy, violent and coercive monarch. One person refuses to play the game by the rules of the powerful and is cast out into the darkness with the outcasts.

Here we see Jesus as someone not willing to go along with the power plays of the day, someone who stands up for justice, who reads the motives of the powerful and stands outside of those systems. The kingdom is heaven is about putting other people first, standing up for righteousness, speaking out for the voiceless and living in a way that is radically different to (the) established ways of the world.

Interesting stuff.

Passmore sees Jesus as the one cast out of the party rather than the one in whose honour the party is being given!

If you think about it, this interpretation does sort of fit in with the Parable of the Tenants recorded the passage before it in Matthew 22…..

Any thoughts?

Read Richard Passmore’s article here – and don’t forget to read the comments 🙂

HT: Jonny Baker

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