The High Price of Materialism

A few years ago, I came across the book, The High Price of Materialism. I paged through it & thought it looked interesting and bought it. I came home with it and put it on my shelf. Every time I saw the book, I said, "I really need to read that". About three years later, I finally did. It was well worth the read.
The High Price of Materialism is a book which offers research as to the problem , as well as suggestions to overcome the permeating materialism in our lives. From the thousands of ads, programs we watch, magazines we read, and various other sources, the message reads, "Happiness can be found at the mall, on the Internet, or in the catalog."
In, The High Price of Materialism, Dr. Tim Kasser offers a scientific explanation of how consumerism affects our everyday happiness and psychological health. Dr. Kasser investigates how people's desires relate to their well-being. He shows that people whose values center on the accumulation of wealth or material possessions face a greater risk of unhappiness, including anxiety, depression, and problems with intimacy.
Dr. Kasser explores the mixed messages we receive everyday that certain things and possessions will bring us happiness, when in fact they serve to only make us more greedy and less happy. He begins by looking at what the research shows on how materialism affects our personal well-being, and our psychological needs. Then he spends the bulk of the books showing how it feeds our insecurities, our fragile self-worth, and our poor relationships. Lastly, Dr. Kasser explains how the chains of materialism wrap themselves around us and several ways to make changes away from consumerism as individuals, families and as a society.
One of the helpful suggestions he makes in regards to making changes individually is to ask yourself why you really want something. He states, "The truth is that money is good only for buying food, shelter, safty, and other necessities; it can never really buy self-esteem, love or freedom....ask yourself whether materialistic values have actually worked for you, or whether they continue to perpetuate your problems instead."
You may be thinking to yourself that you are not materialist, that you, as a Christian, do have different sets of values. And you would be right. However, being a Christian myself, as well as knowing many other Christians, I am bound to say that this value set of consumerism is rampant in the church. I would dare say that most Christians sitting in the pew today, would do well to at least think about why they are purchasing something, and about the items we already own, if not pick up this book (at the library!) and understand what materialism does to our values.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

Well written review and interesting points. I will certainly put this on my books to read!

I've found keeping a spending journal tremendously helpful in defining what we want vs. what we need.

I do concur that consumerism can be rampant in churches, but I don't think it's "the church" in general. I think carefully selecting how, when, and with whom you would worship is important in making a healthy decision. We've selected one that is extremenly active in putting both word and deed behind actual helpful missions such as a homeless shelter. Thanks for the post and good karma, Shannon