(This article first appeared in the September issue of the Anglican Journal.)
Although there are many other factors involved, it is clear that the Western lifestyle of consumption is contributing to both the growth of worldwide poverty and the acceleration of climate injustice. As Pope Francis observed in his encyclical, Laudato Si’, there is a clear connection between the culture of consumption and these two most compelling issues facing our world community. How we face these issues of poverty and climate injustice will determine, to a great degree, the quality of our human and ecological future.
For Christians, it is also true that the quality of our witness, the quality of our faith, is dependent on our response to the moral crisis of out-of-control consumption. The teaching of Jesus was absolute on this matter: the uncontrolled quest for material comfort is the enemy of our spiritual peace and welfare.
Yet the search for peace and well-being through what is owned has become a frenzy in our time. Many of us can’t even remember everything that we have, yet we seek for more. As more and more fills our households, it barely hides the spiritual emptiness that is the direct result.
Our consumption not only damages the poor and the environment, it damages our souls. It is past time that Christians lead a spiritual revolution against rampaging consumption. This revolution is crucial to so many facets of our modern life and would have so many practical benefits. Coupled with a restructure of economic life focused on poverty reduction and a renewed environment, a spiritual revolution could lead to a real flourishing of human life and ecological well-being. It is time to make this a central element of our faith—again.