hits counter Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture

Availability: Ready to download

Contemporary theology, argues Miller, is silent on what is unquestionably one of the most important cultural issues it faces: consumerism or "consumer culture." While there is no shortage of expressions of concern about the corrosive effects of consumerism from the standpoint of economic justice or environmental ethics, there is a surprising paucity of theoretically sophis Contemporary theology, argues Miller, is silent on what is unquestionably one of the most important cultural issues it faces: consumerism or "consumer culture." While there is no shortage of expressions of concern about the corrosive effects of consumerism from the standpoint of economic justice or environmental ethics, there is a surprising paucity of theoretically sophisticated works on the topic, for consumerism, argues Miller, is not just about behavioral "excesses"; rather, it is a pervasive worldview that affects our construction as persons-what motivates us, how we relate to others, to culture, and to religion. Consuming Religion surveys almost a century of scholarly literature on consumerism and the commodification of culture and charts the ways in which religious belief and practice have been transformed by the dominant consumer culture of the West. It demonstrates the significance of this seismic cultural shift for theological method, doctrine, belief, community, and theological anthropology. Like more popular texts, the book takes a critical stand against the deleterious effects of consumerism. However, its analytical complexity provides the basis for developing more sophisticated tactics for addressing these problems.


Compare

Contemporary theology, argues Miller, is silent on what is unquestionably one of the most important cultural issues it faces: consumerism or "consumer culture." While there is no shortage of expressions of concern about the corrosive effects of consumerism from the standpoint of economic justice or environmental ethics, there is a surprising paucity of theoretically sophis Contemporary theology, argues Miller, is silent on what is unquestionably one of the most important cultural issues it faces: consumerism or "consumer culture." While there is no shortage of expressions of concern about the corrosive effects of consumerism from the standpoint of economic justice or environmental ethics, there is a surprising paucity of theoretically sophisticated works on the topic, for consumerism, argues Miller, is not just about behavioral "excesses"; rather, it is a pervasive worldview that affects our construction as persons-what motivates us, how we relate to others, to culture, and to religion. Consuming Religion surveys almost a century of scholarly literature on consumerism and the commodification of culture and charts the ways in which religious belief and practice have been transformed by the dominant consumer culture of the West. It demonstrates the significance of this seismic cultural shift for theological method, doctrine, belief, community, and theological anthropology. Like more popular texts, the book takes a critical stand against the deleterious effects of consumerism. However, its analytical complexity provides the basis for developing more sophisticated tactics for addressing these problems.

30 review for Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Through a balanced analysis of commodification and consumer culture, Vincent J. Miller constructs a coherent argument about American Christian culture. In chapters 2 and 5 he offers an indictment of the historical development of commodification and a defense of consumer culture. Just to give some highlights, I will analyze and compare chapters 2 and 5. These chapters are key; Miller names Chapter 2 the “core” of his argument and foreshadows his positive argument in Chapter 5 a number of times (3 Through a balanced analysis of commodification and consumer culture, Vincent J. Miller constructs a coherent argument about American Christian culture. In chapters 2 and 5 he offers an indictment of the historical development of commodification and a defense of consumer culture. Just to give some highlights, I will analyze and compare chapters 2 and 5. These chapters are key; Miller names Chapter 2 the “core” of his argument and foreshadows his positive argument in Chapter 5 a number of times (3; e.g. 50). [return]In “The Commodification of Culture,” Miller takes a narrative approach to explain the process by which capitalism in the twentieth century moved from the marketplace into the way Americans relate to culture. In a “productivist” vein, he tracks the ways commodification is a product of the economic systems of production in which it grows (33). By scrutinizing the structures of household life, he hopes to unmask the places where formation takes place against its object’s will. Here commodification is seen as a pernicious agent of alienation. Marx is a conventional place to start when exploring alienation as a productivist. Marx’s analysis explains how creative workers become passive consumers under a wage system and engage the world in terms of commodities. All relationships become subject to the terms of exchange. When rituals and religions become commodities they are shorn of their meanings and connections as effectively as the products of labor. In his stinging appraisal of the rise of Fordism and the tyranny of Taylor’s workplace efficiency plans, Miller traces the single-family home as an indicator and agent of the increase in alienation and commodified relationships. I will use this track in an analysis below. Miller uses Lefebvre, Debord, Baudrillard, and Jameson to demonstrate the way media culture drives the commodity to the forefront of desire. Miller’s chatty narrative makes a host of complex social theory seem logically accountable, and the reader watches the steady decline and colonization of culture from commodity to free-floating postmodern signifier. Next in the story, as the insatiable demands of Fordism guaranteed its end, analysts struggled to claim the character of “post-Fordism” (67). The behemoth of consumer culture becomes more nimble and scrambles to appropriate cultural content to display. More content and more dexterity means smaller niche markets, where consumers find fewer relationships with people but ever more objects to desire. At the end of this chapter, the consumer is largely a passive dupe who hopelessly plays right into her zip code predictions of buying and chooses disembodied artifacts to decorate her anchorless life. [return]“The Politics of Consumption” takes the opposite tact and redeems consumers as agents. Miller highlights the complexity of the oft-oversimplified relationship of corporate and popular cultural production. Miller claims “distinction” or cultural capital (both Bourdieu’s terms) are gained in the interplay between groups, but once corporations appropriate an artifact, it no longer has political power. No matter how on the edge a trend was, once I can buy it at Target, it no longer contains its original subversive power. The consumer agency comes in the form of “bricolage,” in this sense, the creative use of commodified objects. Miller highlights de Certeau’s optimistic belief in consumer creativity with whatever materials they are given (156). Miller would like to sober de Certeau’s analysis with a solid look at the realities of production and its control. Consumer culture in the West consistently destroys other cultures, and acts of subversion need solid critical grounding to be effective. Miller illustrates the sly use of narrative to take control of spaces even in the midst of commodified culture. It is not the object of production that consumers control but the space around the object. Recreated and retold space gives people political and religious agency. At the end of this chapter, the consumer is living on the edges of her commodified world, still economizing relationships, but actively seeking to reclaim her agency and the space of her culture.[return]By portraying both pessimism and a tempered optimism, Miller gives an apparently balanced look at consumption. He spends the latter part of the book exploring strategic ways Christians, especially Western/American Catholics, can honestly encounter consumption and consumer culture. I found the analysis in the earlier part of the book more generally useful in guiding my understanding of religion’s encounter with this culture. To show the usefulness of his analysis before his tactical material, I can use Miller in my own biblical studies work. Here I can briefly turn his lens on the main material of my study, i.e. the Bible. Where once Bibles existed only on ornate altars and in only the most elite homes, they made the move to the average Protestant Christian family at about the time Miller’s analysis of America begins. The family Bible held the recorded history of family— births, deaths, marriages—and was an object of some reverence. Readings from the Bible guided everyday life in many families as intergenerational groups. Moving into the single-family home meant moving away from the family Bible, then into individual rooms where each family member decides which or whether to own a Bible or other sacred text. The dizzying array of Bibles available at any bookstore (to say nothing of a specialty shop) gives some measure of the extent to which the Bible is a personal item, available in isolation from a community to offer therapeutic self-help. The Bible is a commodity that is in danger of losing its political friction, status, community, and context. Christians are continually misdirected and seduced by the allure of texts as naked artifacts rather than meaningful and whole pieces of faith. The hope that I hold for the redemption of the text is in the creative use of the spaces around it and in the active engagement of people with their text (201).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ted Morgan

    Reviews posted here accurately describe and evaluate this work. Commodification dominates our lives including religious lives. Once you get this notion, you can grasp how we become consumers of religious traditions (modified by money), rituals, institutions, and really entirely all aspect of religious experience. Miller outlines the history of this development and illuminates what we might not have properly noticed. This is a terrific study. Culturally we now "consume" religions as if they were Reviews posted here accurately describe and evaluate this work. Commodification dominates our lives including religious lives. Once you get this notion, you can grasp how we become consumers of religious traditions (modified by money), rituals, institutions, and really entirely all aspect of religious experience. Miller outlines the history of this development and illuminates what we might not have properly noticed. This is a terrific study. Culturally we now "consume" religions as if they were merely other "things" be buy, sell, and use. I am struggling to say this in a clear way. This indeed is a terrific study, not esoteric, not limited to continental philosophies, and a vital tool for looking at our apprehension of religion. Other reviews here say this better than I do.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Cody Case

    This is one of the damn finest cultural treatises I've ever read. Damn, it's good! As a whole, it can be divided into 2 parts. The first part is all inclusive, in that it vigorously analyzes the world (as it is informed by economics and the commodification of culture) that we all inhabit. Miller traces the history of consumerism from Adam Smith's capitalism, through the industrial revolution and the rise of the single family home, through Fordism, up to present day commodification fetishization. This is one of the damn finest cultural treatises I've ever read. Damn, it's good! As a whole, it can be divided into 2 parts. The first part is all inclusive, in that it vigorously analyzes the world (as it is informed by economics and the commodification of culture) that we all inhabit. Miller traces the history of consumerism from Adam Smith's capitalism, through the industrial revolution and the rise of the single family home, through Fordism, up to present day commodification fetishization. He details the shifts from a commodity's "use value" to its "exchange value" to its "appearance value," then drops the economic A-bomb by declaring that all of existence has been commodified. This is only a portion of part one, hopefully enough to wet your appetite, but there's much more: The nature of desire, anticipation, and lack; seduction and misdirection; the construction and transiency of identity in a consumerist culture; social atomism... Ah, dear god (!), can it get any better. Part 2 is reserved for those who would like to curb the flow of consumerism. Outright, he argues that consumerism is not (primarily) a problem with values or morals. While it is true that buying Nike's latest shoe supports exploitation, if given the clear choice between a shoe and cheap labor most people would choose to eradicate cheap labor. The values are intact. The problem is on the level of social structure, practice, and habituation. No amount of values-preaching can counter this because (A) the problems on the level of practice, not idea, and (B) anything you may say against consumerism can be used for next year's marketing strategies. This is a must read for Anyone who wants to "help."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mac

    One of the most interesting and compelling books that I've read in a long time. Miller poses some fundamental challenges to the theology and culture debate as it stands in American (especially Evangelical America). The book is very Catholic, heavily indebted to Marxist, feminist, and French post-modern scholarship. It made me feel both guilty and hopeless at times. It even de-mythologizes the single family home. And yet it is, I think, an invaluable conversation piece for conservative American C One of the most interesting and compelling books that I've read in a long time. Miller poses some fundamental challenges to the theology and culture debate as it stands in American (especially Evangelical America). The book is very Catholic, heavily indebted to Marxist, feminist, and French post-modern scholarship. It made me feel both guilty and hopeless at times. It even de-mythologizes the single family home. And yet it is, I think, an invaluable conversation piece for conservative American Christians who want to talk about Worldviews but fail to attend to the way that structural features of modern capitalist societies shape us our culture, our families, and our faith.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Highly recommended for anyone interested in the intersection of faith and money. Miller examines in depth the impact of consumerism on contemporary religion. But he also suggests viable responses to the comodification of religion.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    This book was key for me in understanding just how the culture of consumption affects religion. Consumer habits train us to see religious practises and beliefs as commodities among which we can choose to decorate our identities. We thus take bits and pieces of the faith culture of others and tack them onto our lives--out of the context of history, community, and even practise. People will fly Buddhist prayer flags on the porch, make passing reference to their "karma", and then take up Tai Chi on This book was key for me in understanding just how the culture of consumption affects religion. Consumer habits train us to see religious practises and beliefs as commodities among which we can choose to decorate our identities. We thus take bits and pieces of the faith culture of others and tack them onto our lives--out of the context of history, community, and even practise. People will fly Buddhist prayer flags on the porch, make passing reference to their "karma", and then take up Tai Chi on Tuesday nights. This happens in a similar way within Christian contexts--a good example of which is Brian McLaren's book _Generous Orthodoxy_, in which he pulls from about 10 different Christian traditions. This book is not a plug for purist religion. He admits that religious choice offers deliverance for those caught in oppressive traditions. But he insists we should practise and believe our faith in communities of memory that give our lives coherence, and not make our random tastes and preferences the measure of our religious lives. Its a deep book with lots of theory. But the effort is worth it. In the end he says its not likely that consumer culture can be overwhelmed. But we can find tactics of resistance and coherence underneath its monolithic shadow.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Bjorlin

    4.5 stars. The last chapter on practices that can help us resist commodifying our religious practices is worth the price of admission.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brian McGovern

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gavin Stephenson Spell

  11. 4 out of 5

    Julie Austin

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bill

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

  14. 4 out of 5

    Emily St. Amant

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rika

  16. 4 out of 5

    Wesley

  17. 4 out of 5

    Len Astrowski

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Culver

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jake

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andy Upah

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  22. 5 out of 5

    Len MacRae

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael Miller

  24. 4 out of 5

    Milo Reid

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jason Kennedy

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shaun Brown

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alana

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chris Liu-Beers

  30. 4 out of 5

    Paul Sparks

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.