CONNECT: How do you feel?
1. Remember a recent shopping trip, and describe the stores you shopped in (what the store looked like, what you selected, where you paid, etc.). Wherever you shop, are you aware of the shopping environment?
2. Think of a person you know well and love. If that person is viewed primarily as a consumer, what important qualities are ignored?
3. Do persons without money to buy things show up on the radar of this market view of humanity?
4. Sallie McFague writes, “We have allowed economic theory to tell us who we are; we have let it become our ideology, even our religion. We have allowed the economy not just to produce things but people….” Do you agree with McFague when she says,
“We have become consumers — not citizens, or children of God, or lovers of the world, but consumers.” (p. 96).
CONTENT: What do you think?
1. Part Two of Life Abundant, ‘The Context of Planetary Theology,’ explores two powerful worldviews, mental pictures that tell us what the world is like. The neo-classical economic worldview is dominant in our own time. In this worldview, what is the role of human beings? What is the role of the natural world?
2. McFague suggests that the neo-classical economic worldview might be seen as the new religion of our time. How do ‘the faithful’ express their devotion in this ‘religion?’ (see p. 84)
3. McFague argues that the neo-classical economic worldview developed in a time when most individuals still experienced themselves as living within binding communities, and this sense of the individual-in-community mitigated the strong individualism of original market capitalism; but today many people experience themselves as living outside binding communities, and their lack of community awareness has led to rampant individualism and unregulated growth. Do you agree with McFague’s analysis?
4. McFague says that the primary goal of our current economic system is to satisfy the desires of individuals. She suggests this economic worldview (satisfying endless desire through unlimited growth) could be modified by adopting two new goals: sustainability (facing the limits of the planet’s resources) and distributive justice (ensuring a more equitable distribution of resources). In our nation’s current political-economic arguments, do you hear echoes of McFague’s suggestions? Do you have hope that our culture can move towards McFague’s goals?
5. McFague writes, “Economics is a discipline, a field of study to help people attain their goals; it is not, or should not be, the ideology that sets those goals.” (see p. 95) To pressure our culture to adopt the goals of sustainability and distributive justice, what should be the role of economists? politicians? theologians? individual Christians? Christian communities?
COMMITMENT: What can you do?
1. What would an “enough” style of consuming look like in your personal life?
2. Review McFague’s discussion of climate change and global warming. (p. 90 How would North Americans (and others) have to change their life-styles to deal with these issues?