“Hillary” by The Normals – The problem of consumer Christianity

consumerism---confessions-of-shopaholic-1

A simple little song of only 51 seconds long. Is it possible that this song of 9 lines reveals “the new religion of America”?

Hillary says she found Jesus in her closet
Hillary said he didn’t fit..

Hillary is scared of nothing
At least nothing she’ll admit..

Hillary has a lovely smile
Through the haze of Hillary’s cigarette

Jesus says all I want is to love her
But she won’t believe me yet..

She won’t believe me yet…

A simple song that contains some seemingly simple imagery. But what is the song saying?

  • First, it is saying that “Consumer Christianity” is not Christianity. Jesus is not “found in our closets” along with all the other “choices” that we have lined up for our self satisfaction. Those of us that attempt to “add Jesus” to our lives as “consumers” fail to find him, because to find Jesus requires faith toward the real Jesus, and repentance toward our own self-idolatry that mainly seeks to make Jesus subservient to ourself. (All this implies in practice, is that the true seeker after Jesus/God needs to be willing to receive God as he is, and try to not conform him to our image and desires of what we want him to be.)
  • Second, the practitioners of “Christian Consumerism” are also largely in self-denial regarding the reality of their own selves. They deny they are “scared of anything,” or at least they try hard to. Even though their “existential angst” haunts them, they do not realize the real depth of their need and are contented with a superficial Jesus to heal their surface problems.
  • Third, “Christian Consumers” ironically have poor self-images. They don’t really realize they have “a lovely smile.” The reason for their poor self-image is because it is manufactured by their self, rather than derived from God and the worth that he provides. It is the simple failure of the logic that says “I have value because I say I have value.”
  • Fourth, “Christian Consumerism” does not understand the person of Jesus, and the reality of his love. All Jesus wants “is to love her” but “Hillary” suspects Jesus because the consumer approach makes us critics of every “salesperson” and “product.” We see Jesus as seeking to sell us something that we don’t think we need or want, rather than believing the sincerity of his loving intentions toward us and that sees our desperate need for redemption from idolatry to a relationship with the real Jesus.
  • Fifth, “Christian Consumerism” does not work. “Hillary said he didn’t fit.” Invariably there will come a parting of the ways between “Hillary” as a “consumer” and Jesus as a “product,” unless a deepening of the relationship occurs, established on a foundation based on the reality of Jesus as he really is, and the true needs of “Hillary.”
  • Sixth, Jesus does not give up, because of his love for “Hillary.” She may yet “believe” him. Note the subtle meaning here: it is the difference between a superficial intellectual faith of believing “about Jesus” versus truly “believing him” with our entire being.

I have added the following excerpt that describes “consumerism” in general, and how it has seemingly become the “new religion of America.”

“This book is a collection of essays exploring a, if not the, spirit of our age, namely consumerism. Susan White describes this spirit as follows:

Sociologists tell us that people interpret their lives through basic narratives, that provide a framework within which to understand the world and to establish goals and values. If there is any overarching metanarrative that purports to explain reality in the late 20th century, it is surely the narrative of the free-market economy. In the beginning of this narrative is the self-made, self-sufficient human being. At the end of this narrative is the big house, the big car, and the expensive clothes. In the middle is the struggle for success, the greed, the getting-and-spending in a world in which there is no such thing as a free lunch. Most of us have made this so thoroughly ‘our story’ that we are hardly aware of its influence.

Steven Miles says of consumerism that a ‘parallel with religion is not an accidental one. Consumerism is ubiquitous and phemeral. It is arguably the religion of the late twentieth century.’  Miles notes how pervasive consumerism is, affecting our cities, our homes, our lives.” (Christ and Consumerism, Critical reflections on the spirit of our age; Edited by Craig Bartholomew and Thorsten Moritz)

Thanks to the Normals for a 51 second song that reveals the prevailing spirit of our time. Hopefully we will stop trying to find Jesus in our closets, to find him in reality and as he is in the gospels. I came to realize some time ago, that even for the believers in Christ in America, we are often much better Americans than  faithful Christians. May Jesus have mercy, in his love, on us all.

To the reader:

I try to keep these posts as short as possible, while knowing that their content has probably provoked some thoughts, questions, implications, or critiques. Therefore, any of these from the reader are greatly appreciated in order to “fill out” these posts. Many thanks in advance!

“Likes” are also much appreciated because it helps me know if I’m posting things of interest.

So, what say ye…? 

Original Content © Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity, 2013. Excerpts, links, and reblogging may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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