Commodifying the Child: a historical look at the idolatry of the market and the Truth we have to tell

[1] This edition of JLE is devoted to an ethical consideration of the relationship between consumerism, advertising and young people in the first third of life. Consumer advertising can be viewed from many different ethical angles. Perhaps the most obvious ethical questions relate to areas such as the social, political and environmental limits of consumerism, […]

Contesting the Formative Power of Consumer Culture: Problems, Resources, Possibilities

[1] One of the most insidious aspects of the omnipresent advertising and branding that rule the lives of children and youth is the way it perpetuates a vastly diminished understanding of life in human society. Advertising portrays a world in which there is no poverty, there are no workers (and if there are workers, they […]

Consumerism on Campus: A Lutheran Response

[1] At the University where I serve as campus pastor, an undergraduate named James1 has found himself a lucrative job. He works as a Red Bull Student Brand Manager, which means he gets paid to attend campus events and hand out free cans of Red Bull energy beverage, take photos at parties and write blog […]

Shop the Fear Away, Girls! Man Up, Boys!

[1] Their sheer pervasiveness makes it hard to believe that Disney Princesses, reality television, toy commercials demanding that boys are “just different,” and the pinking of all things “girly” only took a commanding hold of our consumer culture after those jets brought down the World Trade Center towers live on morning television ten years ago. […]

Adolescent Identity in the midst of Malls and — living in an alternative economy

Today’s young people are being socialized in a culture that projects a distorted sense of identity and agency. [1] Let me explain. Joyce Mercer, a practical theologian and professor of Christian education, makes the bold and startling assertion that American capitalism has remade and restructured childhood.1 Branded at an early age, young people are socialized […]

Young Adults in Global Mission: Life without Consumerism

[1] “Is that really what it’s like in the United States, Heidi?” asked an elderly friend as we sat around the kitchen table one afternoon. “Isn’t it true that everybody has their own bedroom and their own house? That everybody has cars and big televisions and internet in their houses? I’d never go myself; I’m […]

Swords, Plowshares and Guns in Church

[1] The oracle in Isaiah 2:1–5 presents a vision of what life will be like when Zion is established as a worship place, and all the nations of the world follow God’s teaching.1 It is a picture of the world as it should be, as opposed to the world as it is. For Isaiah’s original […]

Thieves in the Temple: Intellectual Property, Use of Media, and the Law (Not Yet) Written on Our Hearts

[1] Today’s reading from Jeremiah casts a lovely and hopeful vision for a future when God’s law is “written on the hearts” of the people, and when friendship with God is so obvious that no one needs any convincing. Imagine the profound reformation required for us humans to reach that point! Although we trust that […]

The Return of Eschatological Economics [1]

The Parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1–13) [1] Easy parables are all alike; every difficult parable is difficult in its own way. In the case of the unjust steward, much of the difficulty lies in trying to distinguish what precisely is praiseworthy in the unjust steward’s actions. The traditional interpretation has been that the […]

Prolific Consumption of Tech Goods Harms People and the Environment

Abstract In this article I examine the harmful conditions present in the production and disposal of consumer tech goods destined for, and used by, United States citizens (who are predominately Christians). The analysis relies on Delores Williams’ womanist theology, as Williams requires that theology take seriously the oppression of others and calls theologians, and the […]