July 25, 2007 Matthew

Bondage to Materialism (Mindlessness)

God wants to bless us and pour out his abundant goodness upon us. He provides for our food and clothing and shelter. He is gracious with these things even. At times, there is wine and tasty bread to be had from his hand.

The problem is not whether one has nice things or not. The problem is their slavery to them. We are enslaved to all the good things, and Christ came to set us free.

I continually hear misled excuses that Christians make for what is really their enslavement. Yes, God is not calling us to be ascetics or like John the Baptist, and yes, God delights to provide everything we need and even more. But to take that truth and use it as an excuse for your love of things, is no better than defending your bondage to them.

Christ encountered the rich young ruler and told him to sell everything he had and then follow him. The point here was not that this rich man was sinning by having riches and prestige, but rather that he needed to be loosed from them. That is why Christ told him to go sell it all. It literally takes just that kind of sacrifice to be free from things that will hold us in bondage. If we are not free from them, we cannot follow Christ, and if we cannot follow Christ, we are none of his disciples. It was the same kind of request that God gave to Abraham when he said to him, go up a hill and kill Isaac. There had to be a real willingness that manifests itself before there is real freedom. The Holy Spirit works mightily in these situations: just read Acts chapter 4:32-37.

The following link is a photo essay entitled “Copia” by Brian Ulrich. It gives a visual entourage of our consumer-dominated culture.

http://www.notifbutwhen.com/NIBW/

COPIA
Plenty, a plentiful supply: now chiefly in L. phrase copia verborum abundance of words, a copious vocabulary. Cf. COPY n. 1c.
I. a. Plenty, abundance, a copious quantity.
b. Fullness, plentitude. Obs.
c. esp. of language: Copiousness, abundance, fullness, richness.

copy of words : = L. copia verborum. Obs.

II. A transcript of reproduction of an original.

In 2001 citizens were encouraged to take to the malls to boost the U.S. economy through shopping, thereby equating consumerism with patriotism. The Copia project, a direct response to that advice, is a long-term photographic examination of the peculiarities and complexities of the consumer-dominated culture in which we live. Through large scale photographs taken within both the big-box retail stores and the thrift shops that house our recycled goods, Copia explores not only the everyday activities of shopping, but the economic, cultural, social, and political implications of commercialism and the roles we play in self-destruction, over-consumption, and as targets of marketing and advertising. By scrutinizing these rituals and their environments, I hope that viewers will evaluate the increasing complexities of the modern world and their own role within it. Copia is composed of several chapters, currently Retail, Thrift, and Backrooms. These further document notions of social class, excess, and corporate ideologies. By combining photographs taken candidly with a medium-format film camera outfitted with a waist-level viewfinder, and studied compositions taken with a large format camera in thrift shops, I can capture lost excitement and overwhelmed, subsumed moments. The large-scale prints allow the viewer to stop and notice with a distanced perspective familiar places and things. Over time these images take on new meaning, ones anthropological and historical of an affluent society at the dawn of the 21st century. What we buy and what we use up becomes the evidence of our experience of this time.