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News Roundup.

by csmith - September 18, 2007 - 8:40 am

Here are three brief articles of note that have crossed my virtual desktop in the last couple of days:

 1) On Sunday the NY Times ran an op-ed piece that, in light of the recent episodes of toxic toys imported from China, questions why we even need 56 varieties of Polly Pocket toys?  This piece concludes:

Is it any surprise that children are running through their childhoods so quickly? Not only do many of these licensed toys introduce young people to fashion and consumerism before they have developed critical judgment, but we as parents give them the stuff too early. And so much of it is junk.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink the decision to allow the unrestricted advertising and cartoon promotion of toy lines that has produced year-round marketing and piles of plastic toys, bought and soon discarded. After all, we ought to be just as concerned about the impact of character licensing and toy advertising on our children’s psyche as we are on protecting them from ingesting leaded paint and magnets.

2) The current issue of Christianity Today features a brief article on the firing of a popular Colorado Christian University professor for … [dramatic pause] … daring to challenge free market economics.  Having graduated from a certain Christian College here in Indiana, I’m not terribly surprised by this news.  Really, it seems to me simply an act of self-preservation for the university; the school exists as a result of the philanthropy of wealthy businesspeople who have a great stake in the propagation of free-market economics.   This story only confirms my longtime hunch that many “Christian” colleges are anything but Christian.

3) In light of our retreat conversation on Sabbath, I offer this recent article by Rebecca Solnit on slowing down our lives.  A snippet: 
The language of commerce has been engineered to describe the overt purpose of a thing, but cannot encompass fringe benefits or peripheral pleasures. It weighs the obvious against what in its terms are incomprehensible. When I drive from here to there, speed, privacy, control, and safety are easy to claim. When I walk, what happens is more vague, more ambiguous—and in many circumstances much richer. I am out in the world. It’s exercise, though not so quantifiably as on a treadmill in a gym with a digital readout. It’s myriad little epiphanies and encounters that knit me more tightly into my place and maybe enhance the place overall. The carbon emissions are essentially nil. Many more benefits are more subjective, more ethereal—and more wordy. You can’t describe them in a few familiar phrases; and if you’re not practiced at describing them, you may not be able to articulate them at all. It is difficult to value what cannot be named. Since someone makes money every time you buy a car or fill it up, there’s a whole commercial language built around getting us to drive; there’s little or no language promoting the free act of walking. Have you not driven a Ford lately? 



3 Responses to “News Roundup.”

  1. I think this statement by Panquin nicely summarizes:

    “I think capitalism is an efficient and effective economic system,” Paquin said, “but I won’t deify it as an essential part of Christianity.”

    Capitalism is one of the only economic systems that assumes people are selfish and then works out from there. Consequently it’s a great system for a secular, fallen world, but not particularly Christ-like.

  2. Well said!

    Sometimes we act in accord with the capitalism of the world around us, but it is open to critiques and as has been emphasized it is not the economics of the Kingdom of God, just as democracy is also not the politics of God’s kingdom (even the language alludes to the contradiction there…)

  3. Here is what our friend Thomas Merton had to say about consumerism:
    ” If we are fools enough to remain at the mercy of the people who want to sell us happiness, it will be impossible for us to ever be content with anything. How would they profit if we became content? We would no longer need their new product. The last thing the salesman wants is for the buyer to become content. You are no use to our affluent society unless you are always just about to grasp what you never have.” From Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander