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The Christian Consumer: Living Faithfully in a Fragile World

Overview

Be it fair trade coffee or foreign oil, our choices as consumers affect the well-being of humans around the globe, not to mention the natural world and of course ourselves. Consumption is a serious ethical issue, and Christian writers throughout history have weighed in, discussing topics such as affluence and poverty, greed and gluttony, and proper stewardship of resources. These voices are often at odds, however. In this book, Laura M. Hartman formulates a coherent Christian ethic of consumption, imposing order ...

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The Christian Consumer: Living Faithfully in a Fragile World

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Overview

Be it fair trade coffee or foreign oil, our choices as consumers affect the well-being of humans around the globe, not to mention the natural world and of course ourselves. Consumption is a serious ethical issue, and Christian writers throughout history have weighed in, discussing topics such as affluence and poverty, greed and gluttony, and proper stewardship of resources. These voices are often at odds, however. In this book, Laura M. Hartman formulates a coherent Christian ethic of consumption, imposing order on the debate by dividing it into four imperatives: Christians are to consume in ways that avoid sin, embrace creation, love one's neighbor, and envision the future. An adequate ethics of consumption, she argues, must include all four considerations as tools for discernment, even when they seem to contradict one another. The book includes discussions of Christian practices such as fasting, gratitude, solidarity, gift-giving, Sabbath-keeping, and the Eucharist. Using exemplars from the Christian tradition and practical examples from everyday life, The Christian Consumer offers a thoughtful guide to ethical consumption.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Seeking insights from Christian ethical traditions to equip contemporary Christians to be faithful consumers, Hartman, assistant professor of religion at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., highlights four key considerations: avoiding sin, embracing creation, loving neighbors, and envisioning the future. Devoting a chapter to each of these “actions that produce virtues,” she explores works from a diverse representation of Christian thinkers, looking for common themes to inspire action: “If a medieval saint, a Quaker abolitionist, and a contemporary evangelical leader agree that avoiding sin is the primary consideration when judging consumption, perhaps Christians should heed what they say.” Other Christians argue that blessing, not sin, serves as primary guide for Christian consumers, with the goal being faithful stewardship. Still others, such as Dorothy Day, highlight love of neighbors near and far as key to changing the world through vulnerability and self-transformation. Finally, Christian eschatological hope, experienced through rituals of Sabbath and Eucharist, inspires a “sacramental use of creation.” Distilling sometimes complex theological arguments, Hartman provides a comprehensive exploration of Christian perspectives on faithful consumerism, offering “visions of virtue” to guide contemporary Christians in their consumption practices. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
"In this book, Hartman formulates a coherent Christian ethic of consumption, imposing order on the debate by dividing it into four imperatives: to consume in ways that avoid sin, to embrace creation, to love one's neighbor, and to envision the future... Using exemplars from the Christian tradition and practical examples from everyday life, this volume offers a thoughtful guide to ethical consumption." —Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology

"Few topics could be of more concern to Christians right now, whether considering the state of our souls or our planet. It's not what you profess that makes you what you are, it's what you do, day in and day out. That's the text for this fine sermon."
—Bill McKibben, author of The Comforting Whirlwind: God, Job, and the Scale of Creation

"By shifting the analysis from consumerism to the act of consumption itself, The Christian Consumer creatively and clearly shows the importance of attention to who Christians become through their experience of consumption. It also suggests strategies for making everyday consumer practices not an abstract problem to be solved, but a matter of an integrated life of faith to be lived."
—Tom Beaudoin, author of Consuming Faith: Integrating Who We Are with What We Buy

"This lovely book brings Christian scholarship into the grocery store aisle, illuminating the moral complexity of everyday choices. Writing in a clear and distinctive voice, Hartman interprets consumption within a variety of Christian perspectives on material life. The result is not a screed against consumerism nor a trivial shopping guide, but rather a very helpful theological conversation that shows how bringing food to the dinner table participates in the drama of Christian life."
—Willis Jenkins, Margaret A. Farley Assistant Professor of Social Ethics, Yale Divinity School

"[The Christian Consumer's] wide range and helpful taxonomy make the book a helpful dialogue partner in our path toward ethical consuming." —TheGospelCoalition.org

"By the end of the book, readers will be challenged in numerous ways to place personal acts of consumption within a reflective, critical, and spiritually informed framework."—CHOICE

"The Christian Consumer will be a welcome addition in this emerging conversation. Further, [Hartman's] writing is consistently accessible, while never shying away from the troubling complications of navigating discipleship in a consumerist context. The Christian Consumer will undoubtedly prove useful both for Christian scholars of consumerism and consumption, as well as for church communities seeking resources for asking the muddy and open-ended questions about the connections between faith and consumption."—Anglican Theological Review

"Being a consumer is no easy task. That Hartman successfully manages to sketch this responsibity without losing sight of a hopeful heHef that consumption can in fact "make the world a better place" is surely one of the prime reasons The Christian Consumer will be a welcome addition in this emerging conversation. Further, her writing is consistently accessible, whfle never shying away from the troubling complications of navigating discipleship in a consumerist context. The Christian Consumer will undoubtedly prove useful both for Christian scholars of consumerism and consumption, as well as for church communities seeking resources for asking the muddy and open-ended questions about the connections between faith and consumption."—Anglican Theological Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199746422
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/29/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura M. Hartman is Assistant Professor of Religion at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois.

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Table of Contents

Chapter One: Consumption: Definitions, Discussions, and Methods
Chapter Two: Theme I: Attitude: Renunciation and censure
Chapter Three: Theme II: Attitude: Acceptance and celebration
Interlude
Chapter Four: Theme III: Value: Relationships: Love, community, and the common good
Chapter Five: Theme IV: Value: Eschatological Visions
Chapter Six: Conclusions
Index

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