Issue: January 2012: Wise as Serpents, Innocent as Doves: Forming Counter-Cultural Christians in an Age of Consumer Media / Advertising

Volume 12 Number 1

Editor’s Introduction – Wise as Serpents, Innocent as Doves: Forming Counter-Cultural Christians in an Age of Consumer Media / Advertising

[1] Viral marketing, product placement, and extensive consumer data gathering enable consumer advertising to reach its tentacles of influence deep into our lives. Disposable income and malleable social identity make youth a desirable demographic for commercial advertising. Unless they have the power to question and resist, youth can be formed into ultimate consumers. [2] Aware […]

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 […]

Identity in Youth — Answers from a Therapist

What goes into a young person’s sense of identity? [1] Far and away the most pivotal influence on a young person’s identity is their family. As kids mature they are influenced by how their parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, cousins define them. Kids are like sponges. They soak up how we describe them and live in […]

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, […]

Consumer Families, Virtue and the Common Good

[1]The debate over what constitutes and how to live “family values” continues and revolves primarily around the meanings and practices of marriage. Receiving less attention is how Christian families, in whatever form, strive to live with justice and compassion in a culture that is increasingly characterized by individualism, unsustainable patterns of consumption, and competition.1 Rather […]

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 […]

Behind the Online Curtain: Online Advertising, Teens and the Christian Form

[1] The advertising world has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I understand the concept of telling others about your product or service so that they might buy it. But the industry has exploded over the last several decades as I’ve crossed from my young adulthood of the 80’s and 90’s and […]

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 […]

Dr. Caryn Riswold

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 […]

Reality Bites Back: We Can Fight Back

[1] If, as I did, you used to have a subscription to People magazine (before I had children and lost all access to leisure time), and watched Real Housewives of Orange County before it became a franchise, this is the book for you. If, on the other hand, you’ve been living under a rock, don’t […]

Getting Your Meta On

[1] It seems as though many systematic treatments of ethics take great pains to disabuse readers of their assumptions as to what constitutes ethics in the first place. Then they can move on to doing ethics “proper” in the mode set forth by their systematic meta-approach. One of the more remarkable examples of this is […]