Force Fed Consumerism

Several times recently I have been on planes with video screens embedded in the seatback in front of me. It was quite a novelty at first; however, as of late, it has been quite an irritation. Every time Delta asks me in a survey how my flight was I now complain about how they use these screens; thus far they have ignored me. Perhaps if you lend your voice to mine they might pay attention … but I doubt it.

My complaint is that you are strapped into a tiny seat, which your neighbor seems to be trying to occupy with you, and then you are forced to watch, or at least listen to, a series of commercials about everything from Lincoln automobiles to American Express credit cards.

I suppose I might be more tolerant if the airline was trying to sell us on their products, but I find it incredibly offensive that they strap us in and force us to listen to sales pitches from other companies. You can look away from the screen, but you cannot shut off the voice of the person making the pitch. This forced fed consumerism is just one egregious example of how our minds are being programmed almost every waking moment.

Fox News has tried to stir people up about the so-called “War on Christmas.” This is a largely fabricated furor over things like saying “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” and the government’s tepid attempt to acknowledge that not all Americans are followers of Jesus so perhaps they should be sensitive to other taxpayers.

It seems to me that, if we are going to be concerned about the war on Christmas, it would be from the perspective of how consumerism has kidnapped the baby born of a peasant mother, laid in a feeding trough, and wrapped in bands of simple cloth. The contrast between the historic story of the birth of Jesus and the orgy of consumption is the real war on who Jesus was and what Jesus taught.

What could be more sacrilegious than kidnapping a poor baby and using him to sell more and more things that fewer and fewer people actually need? Using the birth of Jesus to “baptize” consumerism and consumption is a terrible spiritual abuse. We who wish to be true to the values of Jesus NEED to be offended when our culture tries to strap us in and force us to buy their values. And we need to speak up. Our silence never serves the cause of Christ well.

by Michael Piazza
Co-Executive Director
Center for Progressive Renewal

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