Sometimes I doubt if Jesus knew what he was talking about.
The season of Advent is upon us, and as I settle into this season of waiting and pondering, I quickly find myself living in the tension of believing Jesus’ words and walking through the aisles of Target.
I find myself wanting another scarf more than I want to give to someone else. Is it really better to give than to receive?
Every time I push my red cart to my empty trunk, feeling the thrill of new things, I struggle to accept Jesus’ words. Does not our quality of life consist in our abundance of possessions?
Two New Poetry Collections:
The Alphabet Conspiracy
by Rita Mae Reese and
A Measure’s Hush: Poems
by Anne Corray
Review by Joel E. Jacobson
Through The Alphabet Conspiracy, award winning poet Rita Mae Reese uses her extensive knowledge of word etymology to create poems that challenge political, religious and relational control. One will find a sestina, a rondeau, a villanelle, a sonnet, and a variety of free verse poems that move with a provocative intensity. For example, the opening poem, “Intercession”, identifies a patron saint with anything and everything, even the “children with no one to / pray to and nothing to do” (50-51). The poem’s playful opening quickly becomes divisive as almost every line begins with either “For” or “Against.” Reese effectively draws a line in the sand between those who pray and those who don’t, the religious right and the religious wrong, men and women, homosexual and heterosexual, those in control and those being controlled, and spends the rest of the collection justifying her rejection control.
Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.
A Review of Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire. by William Cavanaugh.
By Chris Smith.
Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire. William Cavanaugh.
Paperback. Eerdmans, 2008.
Buy now from: [ ChristianBook.com ]
When William Cavanaugh’s little book Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire was published earlier this year, no one could have guessed how relevant it would become with the recent economic turmoil.This little book of four essays is a tool for helping us reflect in our churches on why we got into this economic mess.The book’s essays are structured around the contrast between pairs of key ideas related to contemporary capitalist economics: “Freedom and Unfreedom,” “Detachment and Attachment,” “The Global and the Local” and “Scarcity and Abundance.”
In the first essay “Freedom and Unfreedom,” Cavanaugh uses Augustine’s concept of freedom as the basis for a Christian critique of the modern capitalist notion of “free markets.”The thrust of his critique lies in the distinction that the capitalist concept of freedom is a “freedom from” that has no clear end, whereas Augustine views freedom as a “freedom for” which has a specific end in mind (i.e., reconciliation with God).Cavanaugh also emphasizes that in contrast to the stark individualistic autonomy of capitalism, the Augustinian view of freedom maintains that others are “crucial to one’s freedom” (9).Our desires, he observes, do not merely bubble up from within us, but rather our desires are formed in a social crucible, being shaped both from within and without (i.e., from our relationships with others).Finally, Cavanaugh highlights Augustine’s notion that everything that exists is good, but only to the extent that they participate in the telos of creation – reconciliation with God.Thus, when we desire things for their own sake, they become nothing to us.Cavanaugh sagely observes that this provides a striking explanation for the addictiveness of consumer behavior:
A person buys something – anything – trying to fill the hole that is the empty shrine. And once the shopper purchases the thing, it turns into a nothing, and she has to head back to the mall to continue the search.With no objective ends to guide the search, her search is literally endless(15).