Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Greed and Christian Marketing

This post is basically an invitation for all of my readers in 33 countries to respond to my thoughts / question . . .

I've been thinking about greed, materialism, and Christian marketing lately. I attend a school with a bookstore on the campus - a bookstore that beckons us (me) every single day that we walk by it. I find it to be both unbelievably great and a source of fierce inner turmoil (well . . . not so much). The bookstore at Southern Seminary provides a great service with some great deals as well. Book-lovers beware.

I've also been thinking about the new ESV Study Bible, which I do not presently own. This thing has been pitched as indispensable to godliness and as the cure for cancer in evangelical circles. Of course my favorite blogger, Justin Taylor, is the main guy pushing this Bible, as he is Crossway's go-to guy with this stuff.

My question comes down to this . . . Great books at great deals at Christian retail stores and amazing study aids like the ESV Bible are just that - great. I love it. Yet, I find my own heart prone to greed and materialism; the former (greed), the Bible equates with idolatry. Where is the balance between my individual fight against greed and the responsibility of Christian retailers and publishers to reign-in the type of marketing that tells us, "You are not complete unless you have this"???


Craig Sowder said...

I don't know, man. That's tough. I've been struggling with how to think about my material possessions lately, since I suffered the misfortune of having my Xbox 360 die on me this week, and I am just amazed at how much something so frivilous can cause me to be so angry and discontent. It's a freakin video game console. I'll live just fine without one.

And then I ask myself, when is the last time I was so upset at my spiritual laziness? If only I invested the money in the work of the kingdom that I invest in my "stuff".

As pertains to books, I think it is great that booksellers can sell books as great prices and create such a demand. We can blame the bookstores all we want for being so enticing, but we still have to be disciplined enough to resist the temptation to be irresponsible with our money (i.e., be greedy), even when it is so easy to justify in our minds because, hey, books are great investments. So is a house or a car, but not if you're only making $20K a year.

Perhaps a good control would be to create a "book fund" for yourself, where you can set aside a certain amount of money each month into that fund, and you can only buy books as long as you have money in that fund. That way you can still buy books while also exercising self-discipline. Of course, as a financial conservative, that is the way I think we should approach everything when it comes to money.

Anonymous said...

That's one of the reasons I find Christmas so depressing: greed, materialism, etc.

Even our charity fosters greed and materialism. We have massive toy drives for children. I have no objection to children getting toys, and I love to bless kids, but are we sending a strange message? That somehow Christmas is not any good without presents?

I know that sounds very Scrooge-y, but I hope you see my point.

Adam Winters said...

I am a notoriously proud hold out on evangelical "must haves." I neither own the ESV Study Bible nor the Apologetics Study Bible. Also, I did not purchase David Wells' newest book. I like to dig through old stuff at bargain basement prices, rendering me with more $$$ in my wallet and a sense of independence from hype. That and being out of the loop when it comes to contemporary relevance.

Be patient, John, I'm about to re-release my classic "What if Lifeway Sold..." for this Christmas season!