Tuesday, July 24, 2012

'Consuming Religion' A Taste

I've remarked to numerous people about my reading of a book called Consuming Religion by a Catholic Scholar Vincent J. Miller. I've tweeted several times some of the arresting one-liners that regularly raise their heads within this extremely insightful read. I thought it may be helpful to give a brief 'taste' of the book with a quote here within the blog.
The context of the quote is Miller's discussion of the fundamental importance of 'desire' to the Christian faith but how the very form of that desire is reshaped negatively by the commodification of culture which is the process undergirding the flourishing of our consumer society. Miller here is stating how the commitment to life-long discipleship within "location and the lived structure of temporality" (two things vital for discipleship in Miller's thought) are undermined in contemporary consumer society.
He writes:

"Because of the misdirection by advertising of needs and desires towards consumption, our more profound desires [For God/Spiritual Growth] are focused on the moment of decision. We are looking to choose the ideal vision, synthesis, or vocation that will bring everything together for us. Commitment becomes a momentary action of self-disposition, not a long-term process of self-transformation. The practice we are engaging is consumption. Thus, it is hard for us to move on to the transformative practices of the tradition we choose. When we do manage to commit ourselves to the rigours of long-term disciplines, we do so increasingly as isolated individuals who encounter traditions in the abstract, not as part of a particular community. We live our spiritualities dispersed in the micro-monasteries of single-family homes."

Note the sections in bold as they cut to the heart of issues radically affecting the life of the local church, and exacerbating the eternal-immaturity of contemporary Christians like a surgeon's scalpel.