(The first of a couple of posts about materialism…)
Jesus told his disciples to travel light. In an age before antiperspirant deodorant he even told them that they only needed one shirt. I am sure a think tank commissioned to give the gospel market penetration would have a quiet word with Jesus about this.
How much stuff do we really need though?
I heard a bloke interviewed on the radio the other day about this film;
This is the blurb (from here.)
Petri Luukkainen is a product of the marketing industry, an ideal consumer whose Helsinki flat is filled with all kinds of stuff. One day his girlfriend dumps him. Petri realizes he is burdened by a huge mortgage, scarred by a maxed out credit card, and haunted by the stuff that failed to bring him happiness. He is in the middle of an existential crisis. He starts rebuilding his everyday existence by asking himself: What do I really need? Encouraged by his grandmother, he decides to conduct a bold experiment. The rule is simple: Put all of your stuff (including your clothes) into storage, and bring back only one item per day. The director documents his experiment in a fascinating way. He examines modern culture and the incessant need of people to fill their lives with consumables.
Interestingly enough, even this did not seem to break the addiction to product- in the interview I heard, he claimed that if anything the experience had made him MORE materialistic – he was now even more attached to some of his things.
When he was asked how many things he thought a person needed, rather than wanted, he came up with a figure of 200. I thought this seemed too large a number at first, as surely most of the things we have are not owned out of need, but out of lust for product. But as I thought about it, and looked around my house, I realised that 200 was not a large number at all.
- Clothing- coats, trousers, shoes and (of course) shirts.
- Pots and pans
- Precious books
- Lobsided things made by my kids
200 came and went quickly.
I have this theory about all of this; we imbue product with meaning, in the absence of greater meaning.
Kicking this habit takes more than a short visit to the rehab clinic.