Is there a Christian ethic of consumption?

Black Friday is now a bigger holiday than Thanksgiving Day.  The Friday After Thanksgiving has become a “National Shopping Holiday.” And now it starts even earlier, with many major chain stores like Wal-Mart and Target, and major malls opening the evening of Thanksgiving and remaining open through Friday night. And how many shoppers will be trampled in this year’s frenzy to be the first to grab this year’s must-have discounted junk? And how many employees will be forced to leave their family Thanksgiving to serve the consumption demands of today’s impatient consumer?

What have we become? What does our insatiable appetite for consumption say about us as human beings, but more importantly, as Chistians?

Dr. Laura Hartman helps us formulate a coherent Christian ethic of consumption, imposing order on the debate by dividing it into four imperatives: Christians are to consume in ways that avoid sin, embrace creation, love one’s neighbor, and envision the future. An adequate ethics of consumption, she argues, must include all four considerations as tools for discernment, even when they seem to contradict one another. Her book, The Christian Consumer: Living Faithfully in a Fragile World, includes discussions of Christian practices such as fasting, gratitude, solidarity, gift-giving, Sabbath-keeping, and the Eucharist. Using exemplars from the Christian tradition and practical examples from everyday life, The Christian Consumer offers a thoughtful guide to ethical consumption.

Paul speaks with Dr. Laura Hartman on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 4:40 pm ET.


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