Being Consumed?

As consumers are we addicts to spending instead of saving?

In William T. Cavanaugh’s book, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Eerdmans, 2008), explores our free market economy. He critically examines world hunger, globalization, economic abundance, and consumerism as being flawed. Cavanaugh’s suggests that our “free-market” results in just the opposite; it imprisons us. He believes the concept of the “autonomous individual” as being controlled by a dominant few lacking in any good purposeful end. He sees our “free-market” economy creating endless wants and desires. 

Consumerism creates a never ending downward cycle, lacking any good social ends, short changing our very humanity. Cavanaugh contends that the so-called “free-market” fosters economic enslavement by corporations and Madison Avenue. This powerful and select group stimulates consumer addiction in many ways. Also he argues that companies supply very limited information to consumers that further limits people's ability to adequately decide. Cavanaugh questions whether the public is truly able to make good decisions since they lack enough information.

Writing as a Christian, Cavanaugh questions whether they can exercise true economic freedom. Being Consumed is about a larger story about how money affects all facets of our lives and the larger moral questions. Cavanaugh writes how  people are never satisfied because it is based on enslaving consumption fueled by endless desire.  Cavanaugh wishes that Christians live more economically responsible. He provides inspiring examples of how various people and communities successfully demonstrating alternative free production and consumption. Cavanaugh’s book raises many interesting ethical questions how Christians and others may wish to reexamine their consumption and conservation. Changing our buying habits with greater sustainable decisions is a win/win situation.  Awakening in our culture of consumption provides us a saving grace.

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