This year during Lent, the mission house team have decided to begin an initiative called “Just Consuming?” They are trying to challenge themselves and the wider congregation to help explore, reflect upon and respond to the consumer culture that we live in.
How will the “Just Consuming?” challenge work?
As part of the initiative, each Sunday the mission house team will set different challenge or project to help us address the disconnect between our cultural conditioning and our Christian identity. These will include ideas of things you could be trying through out that week. The mission house team will writing about how the challenges here on the website and if you do decide to join in, we would love to hear about how you got on too.
These can be anything from simply buying fair-trade and eco- friendly products, or supporting a different internet browser, to only eating food from England or perhaps going a week without our phones. The goal is to explore and respond to the areas of our lives we see as unjust to both other people and to the environment, and hopefully make lasting change to how we live.
This idea is borne out of a genuine conviction that the way we live in the West is often not as Jesus would have us live as Christians, but also wildly unsustainable. The rhetoric we are repeatedly sold by the media perpetuates the concept of retail therapy, in essence;
“If you’re sad, buy stuff! Had a tough day at work? You’ll feel better after a bucket of chicken. Feeling insecure? Buy a new outfit online, you’ll look great! Feeling lonely? This new phone responds to your voice!”
That last one may not be entirely true, but the picture is clear. We live in a society that consistently affirms our purchasing of goods as remedies for the problems we face,without even beginning to address those problems or think about the wider reaching consequences.
This ultimately leads to a society rich in possessions but poor in spirit. People regularly choose social media over genuine conversation, or shopping trips over time spent with friends and family. We may not have to be concerned about our next meal but poverty can extend far beyond what is material.
The first week is our introductory week and as such, the challenge will be slightly easier, to allow us to get warmed up.
Week 1 challenge – Fair-trade, Eco and Veggie?
We begin by looking at simply what goes in our shopping baskets. Is what we purchase on a week to week basis fair-trade or do we simply buy what’s cheapest? Do we use products for our dishwashers and washing machines that damage the environment? Just how much meat do you eat in a week?
As you shop this week, think about these things and the effects what you purchase can have on people all over the world.
If this sounds too hard, maybe pick just one of those three things and try to incorporate that into your week. However if you want to try something a little harder, perhaps expand these criteria to fit more than just your shopping basket and investigate all the things you buy and use during a week.
Thank you so much for joining with us on this journey. If you already have Lent plans and feel that this might be too much, perhaps you could simply join us in prayer as we explore and respond to these issues in our society.
Why Fair-trade, Eco and Veggie this week?
During our weekly mission house sessions with Nicky, we have been exploring issues surrounding, such as consumerism, materialism, sustainability and globalisation. We have been asking questions of ourselves and the way we live and have begun to respond by making small changes to how we as a house operate.
One of the main reasons we have decided to do this is not because we think that its cool, or easy, or a bit of fun, but because we firmly believe that our Christian mission is more than simply winning converts. To help articulate this we have been looking at the Anglican Five Marks of Mission, particularly focusing on marks 4 and 5; to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation; and to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
As we reflected upon these mission statements and compared them to the way we lived, we quickly began to see a disconnect. For instance, one area we have been challenged in is our consumption of meat. Meat production is one of, if not the leading cause of global warming.
From the deforestation required to create pastureland, to the methane emitted by cows and other animals, to transport costs, we began to see that the amount of meat we consume is not only unsustainable for the environment, but also has a major human impact as well. One consequence of global warming was the recent drought experienced in Uganda. The lack of rain has meant that food production was not high enough and people began to starve.
Hence we saw that if our meat consumption didn’t change we would be failing to meet both marks four and five of the Anglican Marks of Mission. People starving in a world where there is more than enough food is the definition of unjust. Especially since it’s our desire for a meat rich diet that directly contributes to the cause of their hardship.
And so, we realised that if we are to take our discipleship seriously, we needed to address areas of our lives where we see these disconnects. This has led Bex to becoming a vegetarian and personally, I (Mac) have committed to reduce the amount of meat I consume.
However, meat consumption of only one thing and there are plenty of others that cause wide reaching problems in the world, like the fashion industry, technology, cars and transport and our energy usage, just to name a few. We hope to explore some of these other issues as Lent progresses.