Sunday, February 17, 2008

Overconsumption and Doomsday

There's an interesting article by Ronald Bailey over at reasononline magazine on whether or not we -- as in the materialistic modern world -- are over-consuming our way to Doomsday. The article critiques an article from the New York Times called "The Pursuit of Unnecessary Things" about Malthusian themes of overconsumption and overpopulation.

Reason is hardly friendly to Judeo-Christian world view, but Bailey's article decries the NYT article as overhyped.

What he misses, of course, is the eternal question. Are we overconsuming and walking down the road to Hell? I was teaching my Con Law class this week and we were talking about John Locke and his view of "property" based in part on I Timothy 6:17. Basically -- "property" is anything taken from a "state of nature" by man and made his own -- temporally.

I Timothy 6:17 says, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy." NAS

Obviously Paul warns Timothy and the Church against focusing too much on earthly riches, etc. Locke takes the last part "...all things to enjoy" in his Second Treatise on Government and expounds that hoarding more than one can "enjoy" is too much. Adam Smith cautions that pursuing too much wealth can lead to the pursuit of "unnecessary things" (hence the title of the NYT piece).

How all that relates to the regulation or non-regulation of private property is not what gets me to write this post. I've been struck the last few years by the radical individualism and rampant -- and crass -- materialism and commercialism -- in the church (and at times in my life truth be told). Robert Bork called it Slouching Toward Gomorrah. We -- I -- have way too much -- more than I could ever hope to enjoy. I believe it's called "waste". Time, money, effort, gas, things.... Repentance starts at home and in the Church.

Politically and, more importantly, morally and spiritually -- we are numb -- overconsuming while we are on the wide road that leads to perdition.

No comments: