Six Ways to Challenge Our Materialism

Sainte-Chapelle_upper_chapel copyMaterialism holds that the only reality is that which we can physically perceive. All other considerations are subjective and unimportant. Such a perspective is a distortion of reality.

The spiritual realities also have a major and even greater role in the lives of men. Witness how the beautiful churches and cathedrals that were the centerpieces of almost every town throughout Europe attest to how the people placed spiritual values foremost in their lives and at the center of their communities. Merchants and businesses provided quality goods and kept prices reasonable because of their desire to please God, and in so doing sidestepping the need for massive government regulations or codes.

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We became materialist because the Industrial Revolution introduced a new paradigm that embraced and reinforced concepts such as:

1.To have and to satisfy material desires are the principle concerns of our lives.

2. Self denial and temperance are not virtues. Instead, consumerism and spending are necessary and righteous means to keep a healthy and prosperous economy.

3. Beautification and customization to suit personal tastes are wasteful and to be avoided, while utility and standardization are now virtuous attributes.

4. Rarity, elegance, and beauty as measures of value are to be replaced by notions that true value is found in what is common, mundane and utilitarian.

5. Virtues are more attune to physical well being not related to the spiritual or metaphysical.

6. Good and evil are not absolutes, but defined by men. That which feels good, is good, and should not be constrained by outdated religious dogma or tradition. We are to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.

7. Reliance on God, and fear of God, are indicators of immaturity and ignorance.

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Six Ways to Challenge Our Materialism
“this new paradigm would lead to… the people feeling frustrated, brutalized, disappointed and empty.”

Interestingly, many prominent eighteenth century philosophers warned that this new paradigm would lead to a decadence of society, and ultimately herd the masses into servitude. They warned that replacing clearly defined, unchanging biblical standards of morality and civility with a code based on consumption and self-centeredness would leave the people feeling frustrated, brutalized, disappointed and empty.

Another consequence of materialism is a consuming desire to establish a material and earthly paradise. Big business used mass advertising to capitalize on this artificial desire by proposing a mythical reality that could rival Eden. Suffering, which is a tool God uses to bring His people closer to Him, was to be avoided as all cost. Advertisers promised a virtual paradise on Earth and an end to all suffering. Feeling pain? Take a pill. Feeling unhappy? Buy a toy.

Eventually, the masses began to rely on the media to tell them what their desires should be. People were trained to feel guilt if they weren’t buying the latest and greatest gizmos, or if they allowed their neighbors and friends to have something “better” than they themselves had. They also came to rely upon government and entitlements to supply them with these new needs.

As a result, people today generally desire to remain infantile, in a child-like state, where everything is taken care of. They want to be told what to do instead of learning to be responsible for themselves or stewards of what God has placed on this Earth. We have come to embrace what is fake – whether it be virtual game worlds, Hollywood models, or the accumulation of toys and material distractions. The reality of suffering is ignored, avoided, denied and distained. We have come to believe in a false reality that paradise on Earth can be achieved.

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Action Steps:

1. Be cognizant of how advertising is deceiving our perception of reality, and point it out to others.

2. Do not embrace this new materialistic morality, but remain stalwart and convinced of the importance of those things that are spiritual.

3. Stand apart from those that have bought into materialism by living up to the higher standards that acknowledge the spiritual need for all that is good, true and beautiful.

4. Do more than just take personal responsibility for our actions, expect it from others.

5. Promote the concepts of reward and punishment as something normal and desirable.

6. Embrace suffering, instead of fleeing from it or denying it. Use it to learn patience and allow it to draw you closer to God.

7. Encourage the people who suffer around us. Be a listening and sympathetic ear to their problems. Explain and endorse the redemptive effects of suffering.

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