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Consumerism

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 7 months ago

Consumerism is the "worship" of material goods, the idea that we are consumers and can take (or buy) anything we want, without entering into moral considerations. 

 

This attitude is considered abhorrent by most religions (including the vast majority of Pagans).  However, there is a small minority who regard paganism as the rejection of all mainstream values and a licence to do whatever they want - whether it be chipping bits off standing stones to take home with them, or lighting candles in burial mounds, claiming that their opinion is representative of all other Pagans, or drumming and playing the didgeridoo until the small hours regardless of others' rights to a good night's sleep.

 

Paganism is, or should be, about "tread gently on the earth" but human communities are part of the ecosystem, so we shouldn't take our rejection of some of the values of mainstream society as a licence to act as if we were the only ones who mattered.  One person's rights end where someone else's begin.  We live in a community and it behooves us to act with care and consideration of that community.  This involves unfashionable values like compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, empathy, and humility (a word derived from humus, earth).  It even involves admitting that people are not perfect, though they may be striving for perfection.

 

Many Pagans get hung up on Pagan "tat" - buying the next crystal, statue, book, or whatever (I am certainly guilty of this).  But we need to stop and think, was this item produced in a sustainable way?  Is my fixation on getting the next item of ritual paraphernalia actually gtting in the way of my spiritual development?

 

It is even possible to have a consumerist approach to spirituality - also known as the "pick'n'mix" approach to religion.  Sociologists of religion have identified a "subjective turn" in current spirituality - the idea that validation of a spiritual path comes from within, not from any external spiritual authority.  This internal connection with the Divine can lead to rejection of all organised religion and external authority.  Clearly the patriarchal and oppressive elements of some religious traditions can be used to justify this turning inwards - but we must be careful that we don't use it to avoid aspects of the spiritual journey that we don't like the look of.  In order to become a balanced person, it is necessary to overcome one's aversion to particular things or ideas - it is this that will bring the repressed elements of our psyche into full consciousness and "redeem" them.

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