I am doing a study on the effects of consumerism in our society. Do you have any reading ideas?
Indeed I do! I would like to suggest four works in particular. They are good for the soul, and I highly recommend them. May your study bear fruit.
(1) Ronald J. Sider, Rich Christians Living in an Age of Hunger: A Biblical Study (IVP, 1977). This is a classic! In fact, when I met my wife-to-be some 25 years ago, she too had her own copy. I think that this little volume, along with the Bible, deeply influenced us as a couple. It affected our spending habits and patterns, and is a big reason we have been able to avoid debt. I credited Rich Christians in the book I wrote with Douglas Arthur, I Was Hungry! (Boston Church of Christ, 1987). 20,000 of these little volumes were given away to many disciples in 1987, urging organized outreach to the poor and needy. Sider has also written Living Like Jesus: Eleven Essentials for Growing a Genuine Faith (Baker, 1996). Once again, his original Rich Christians will make you think. It was written "to disturb the comfortable."
(2) Charles Sheldon, In His Steps: "What Would Jesus Do?" (Smithmark,1992). This stirring story will move your heart. These days the WWJD acronym has become very popular. Read In His Steps to understand the background to a popular religious current. Easy reading, yet definitely worth reading!
(3) Craig L. Blomberg, Neither Poverty Nor Riches: A Biblical Theology of Material Possessions (Eerdmans, 1999). This is a scholarly work. The theology is solid and I would highly recommend it to the serious student. We must be careful not to swing to ultraradical (erroneous) conclusions, despite how well they might preach, or how comforting they might be in light of our lifestyles.
(4) Robert Wuthnow, Poor Richard's Principle: Recovering the American Dream through the Moral Dimension of Work, Business & Money (Princeton University Press, 1996). One of the most helpful sociological works I have ever read, this is a penetrating analysis of the true values of American culture, which is rife with consumerism. This book informed and influenced my The Spirit (IPI, 2005); see especially chapter 14, "The Spirit of the West: The Curse of Consumerism." In my opinion, consumerism is a real threat to the momentum and unity of the movement of disciples worldwide. Jesus too was concerned with the threat of materialism. This is especially clear in the Gospel of Luke (the Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Rich Fool, the Rich Man and Lazarus, and many other passages). I believe Wuthnow's Poor Richard's Principle should be required reading for any business executive, and for all evangelists and preachers.
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