While not condemning commercialism I warned against allowing the grow of your discontentment. Christmas may be the season where we manifest generosity but the other side of that coin is flagrant consumerism. Advertising is not to blame for human greed. Advertisements do not fan the flames of avarice. Commercials do not stoke the coals of desire.

For his message of the first Mass of the liturgical year, that being Advent Sunday, Pope Francis I condemned consumerism.

“Resist the dazzling lights of consumption, which will shine everywhere this month, and believe that prayer and charity are not lost time, but the greatest treasures… This is the drama of today: houses full of things, but empty of children… Consumerism is a virus that affects the faith at its root because it makes you believe that life depends only on what you have, and so you forget about God. The meaning of life is not to accumulate.”
When you live for things, things are never enough, greed grows and others become obstacles in the race and so you end up feeling threatened and, always dissatisfied and angry …  ‘I want more, I want more, I want more. One has many goods, but no good is done.”

Pope Francis I
December 1, 2019

Normally I tend to dismiss Pope Francis, albeit not out of hand, as now and again he exhibits the tendencies of a dirty Commie but he’s still entirely not bereft of the words of God. Nobody’s perfect. The Lord doesn’t use the perfect and even the clergy whom I fear are too in tune with Worldly ideology are still among those the Lord uses. Relevantly human beings suffer the tendency of the flesh, to seek happiness in things. Now there is nothing wrong with having things or seeking things of this world. No one condemns toys or fun. When your quest for a mere item or your commitment to stuff supplants a higher answer is when we’re led astray.

Stuff has value because its of use. I could write pages of apologia in defense of stuff and I will. Minimalism promotes an obsession with things almost as much as consumerism albeit with a different twist.

Consumerism is the idea that increasing consumption of goods and services purchased in the market is always a desirable goal and that a person’s wellbeing and happiness depends fundamentally on obtaining consumer goods and material possessions. In an economic sense, it is related to the predominantly Keynesian idea that consumer spending is the key driver of the economy and that encouraging consumers to spend is a major policy goal. From this point of view, consumerism is a positive phenomenon that fuels economic growth.

In common use, consumerism refers to a tendency of people living in a capitalist economy to engage in a lifestyle of excessive materialism that revolves around reflexive, wasteful, or conspicuous overconsumption. In this sense, consumerism is widely understood to contribute to the destruction of traditional values and ways of life, exploitation of consumers by big business, environmental degradation, and negative psychological effects. Early uses of the term in the mid-20th century were intended to have a positive connotation, which would emphasize the benefits that capitalism had to offer consumers in improving standards of living and an economic policy that would prioritize the interests of consumers, but these meanings have fallen out of general use.


Interesting that the Keynesian intention is meant to be the positive vision. That’s not unexpected. The result is predictable in hindsight, especially when one actually understands humans and their nature.

I will beat the horse unto a state of redundancy and gristle but consumer goods themselves are not the evil and the Pope agrees with me that it’s how we use and view these artifacts that causes the problem. Totemic fools blame the items but I tell you that people themselves bear all the responsibility. If we didn’t have commercials we’d still feel temporarily comforted by stuff; that comfort is temporary and the security is ephemeral.

None of which is to say that the benefits of a market economy and the accumulation of practical tools isn’t real. My Apologia for Stuff isn’t a message for Advent.

Tomorrow we consider a Jesuit’s words on the constant hustle and bustle which comes with Advent.

For a weblog that’s supposed to speak to an ecumenical audience I’m taking a rather theological bent right now. It’s not as if people really care what Advent is if they’re determined to live a secular life. As I get my Advent and Christmas preparations more in hand I’ll expand the topics.