North American Christians often challenge churches in Asia, Africa, or the Middle East to reject syncretism, defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as "the combination of different forms of belief or practice." But lest we think we're off the hook, consider a conference this upcoming weekend designed to explore the strange mésalliance of consumerism and Christianity in our own context:
Consumerism shapes the way we relate to each other, to our society, and to our God. Christians need to intentionally and carefully navigate our consumer culture, responding to its dangerous complexities with a deepening awareness of its promises and perils. The Conference on Christianity and the Consumer Culture will be both informative, fostering a deeper understanding of consumerism and its role within our society, as well as formative, providing strategies for faithful living in light of the promises and perils inherent to our consumer culture. Towards this end, we will bring together Christian thinkers and practitioners who will offer analysis of the way our consumer culture shapes Christianity in America as we cultivate practices which will help us faithfully respond to Consumerism as a driving force in our society.Speakers include Rodney Clapp, Vincent Miller, Ron Sider, and Sondra Miller. Other Christians argue that faith in Jesus and consumerism can co-exist without contradiction, but it's worth asking the crucial questions of when, why, and how -- especially if we're striving to pass on a non-syncretistic faith to the next generation.