In my previous blog I discussed how I believe society is in a selfish, self-indulging state because of our stuff. Well in this blog, we are going to address why/how we have gotten to that point. And that my friends, is where we address idolatry. We are an obsessive culture. We are also a culture based on fads. We feel the need to idolize one thing for two weeks, then something brand new and more hip comes along, and we turn to idolizing that instead. It is a never ending cycle that is causing our consumers to buy more and more products and cause more damage on people and the environment than we care to acknowledge.
First, I will address how we, as a society, are idolizing. One major contributor to why we buy and go through so many clothes (the problem Timmerman addresses in the book), is who we are idolizing. In an article I recently reviewed from The Odyssey, they discuss how we as a nation idolize celebrities. One way we idolize these celebrities is by emulating what they wear. What I think is the biggest factor in this ethical discussion of consumerism and idolatry, is that society sees celebrities wearing these fancy, new clothes all the time, and for whatever reason, people feel the need to go buy these clothes or brands! Yet, some people 1) can not afford these clothes, and 2) they do not need more clothes! Most celebrities wear these gaudy outfits once and then they’re done with them. But, we still idolize this. This idolization of clothing is such a problem because we under-use the products we do have, and instead where these fancy clothes once and then they sit in our closets for months! To further comment on the article, the author states one of the biggest reasons for this increase in idolization is social media. The article reads, “In today’s modern era, social media is relevant to every facet of culture, and it provides a bridge between these idolized figures and the everyday person. Which means that we subconsciously observe and absorb all of the content provided by these figures.” I think this article does a good job of calling out the cause for this idolization. I think acknowledging social media as a medium for this idolization is critical for addressing this ethical issue and how we will address it moving forward. Similarly to my last blog, this is a societal issue at a larger scale then just one group of people. This is going to need to be a movement started by many people and I believe Kelsey Timmerman opens that door through his book.
Below I have attached the article I connected to Kelsey Timmerman’s “Where am I Wearing?”
To tie this conversation to class, I want to talk about when we watched the Lorax video on April 15th. Granted I know it was a playful and fun clip, but I think it provided a real example of idolatry in numerous ways. For one, we see how the maker of the sneads idolizes wealth. He became so obsessed with making money, that he completely disregarded all the trees and environment he was destroying. The movie does a very good job of also portraying the affect this idolization had on the animals as a result of the snead makers decisions. I think this correlates well to my ethical issue of consumerism because we make our decisions to purchase goods without thinking about those we are affecting and how our decisions can hurt so many people. The second idolization I want to comment on from this movie was the consumers idolizing the snead as a fad. As I previously mentioned, we are very fad driven society who moves from one fad to the next. In this clip, we see a society that is obsessed with these sneads, but once everyone has one, they no longer care for the product and move on to the newest fad. The problem depicted in this film, and what happens in the real world, is just because we move on from a fad, that does not mean we do not face the affects of that fad. The environment was still destroyed as a result of this snead fad and it was an irreversible affect. Overall, I really enjoyed this example of idolatry and I think it simplified a very complex issue our society is facing.
To bring this conversation full circle, we review the Bible and its commentary on idolatry. Deuteronomy comments on idolatry in numerous parts, but I will reference verse 30: 17-18 which reads, ”
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. ” Now I understand that this portion of scripture is referencing the idolization of other gods, but I think the principle of idolatry is clearly expressed in this reading. When we make the decision to idolize beings, or in this case material objects, we are turning our back to God and not appreciating His creation. We need to remember that everything we are idolizing and placing so much value on are all things that God himself created. Thus, we need to be giving credit where credit is due. By this, I am now connecting this ideology with giving credit the garment workers who make all of our clothes, and God for blessing those people the ability to make clothes. In addition, we must appreciate God’s blessing us with the financial ability to purchase these clothes. I think one of the most critical aspects of this ethical issue is we are not appreciating what we are so blessed with from God. Instead, we are too caught up in the moment of buying stuff that we do not stop to appreciate what God has created, and the people God created to manufacture our goods. One last piece of scripture I would like to include is from 1 John 5:21 and it simply reads, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” I wanted to close with this scripture because it is so straight-forward in addressing this ethical issue. Let us refrain from idolizing our stuff, and worship the one who created it.