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Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture Hardcover – Oct 1 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (Oct. 1 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826415318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826415318
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 16.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 553 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,657,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Groppe on July 2 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a superb book. Whether you are a person of Christian faith, or faith of another tradition, or simply someone interested in religion, this book will help you to think more deeply about spirituality and the life of the faith community in the throes of our culture of commodification. Miller employs critical theory, cultural analysis, anthropology, and sociology to awaken us to the manner in which consumer culture socializes us into habits of interpretation and use that render religion itself one more consumer object to be desired, acquired, and disposed of. Readers not schooled in thinkers like Foucault, DeBord, and de Certeau may find some of the theoretical sections of the book difficult, but Miller's command of critical theory is matched by his ability to vividly describe existence in consumer society, and this brings the theoretical portions of the book to life. Readers will find themselves standing with Miller in a supermarket aisle contemplating a horizon of glossy packaging, wading through a child's room overpopulated with stuffed animals, watching Pope John Paul II become a media celebrity on television, and wondering what impact Disney is having on our children. Miller identifies dynamics of our culture that are profound and pervasive-but seldom analyzed in the religious and theological communities. He has done a great service by bringing the dynamics of commodification to our attention, and, in the final chapter, he suggests a variety of ways in which faith communities can counter its pervasive influence. His intention is constructive, and his contribution essential to the living of an authentic faith in our times.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Essential Reading July 2 2004
By Elizabeth Groppe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a superb book. Whether you are a person of Christian faith, or faith of another tradition, or simply someone interested in religion, this book will help you to think more deeply about spirituality and the life of the faith community in the throes of our culture of commodification. Miller employs critical theory, cultural analysis, anthropology, and sociology to awaken us to the manner in which consumer culture socializes us into habits of interpretation and use that render religion itself one more consumer object to be desired, acquired, and disposed of. Readers not schooled in thinkers like Foucault, DeBord, and de Certeau may find some of the theoretical sections of the book difficult, but Miller's command of critical theory is matched by his ability to vividly describe existence in consumer society, and this brings the theoretical portions of the book to life. Readers will find themselves standing with Miller in a supermarket aisle contemplating a horizon of glossy packaging, wading through a child's room overpopulated with stuffed animals, watching Pope John Paul II become a media celebrity on television, and wondering what impact Disney is having on our children. Miller identifies dynamics of our culture that are profound and pervasive-but seldom analyzed in the religious and theological communities. He has done a great service by bringing the dynamics of commodification to our attention, and, in the final chapter, he suggests a variety of ways in which faith communities can counter its pervasive influence. His intention is constructive, and his contribution essential to the living of an authentic faith in our times.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Burn through the chaff to find the grain. April 27 2008
By C. Lambeth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Consuming Religion is a difficult read, not because its theses and ideas are too difficult, but because Vincent Miller beleaguers his readers with yawning verbosity. His editors should have forced him to be more concise. Of course, this is not to make an ad hominem critique of his book. His assessment of consumerism is comprehensive and coherent, even if largely critical and unnecessarily wordy. If he had been able to pare down the ramblings and get to the gold quicker I would have given him at least 4 stars.

His main thesis is that the general consumer culture impacts Christian beliefs, narratives, symbols and practices, and that this can be negative, but also that it holds some potential for an authentic representation and communication of Christ. The issue that concerns Miller most is that contemporary spiritual seekers no longer come prepared when they begin building their spiritual values and beliefs. They do not start out with a context of Christendom (pre-established resources, models and traditions connected with past Christian movements), but rather begin to assemble their beliefs and practices with what is on-hand in the cultural marketplace.

Some of this is healthy and positive for the church. Christendom, as it was initiated by Constantine, has certainly been responsible for some reprehensible garbage that people (and the church) have confused with Christ himself over the years. But that's a somewhat different issue. For Miller, he recommends not that Christians necessarily seek to destroy misuse of Christian traditions, symbols and practices (good luck if that's what you're after), but rather that the church needs to teach, model and support the proper use and significance of these entities. In terms of friends outside the church, shallow use of Christian commodities (such as a crucifix around Madonna's neck because "naked men are sexy") are points of contact that provide Christians with the opportunity to engage them in sincere and redemptive conversations.

Additionally, Miller recognizes that Christians who are unaware of consumerism's impact on their own beliefs prefer to think that it cannot influence them in the first place. He wants to raise readers' awareness of the issue and the potential it holds (both good and bad). His bottom line is that Christians need to move beyond mere recognition of the problem, and this book offers a step in that direction. In the meantime, it is up to each of us (as individuals and the church as a whole), to act as responsible and educated agents for the traditions we hold so dear. Most importantly, we must do so IN LOVE. Don't forget that nobody cares what we think until they know that we really care.

Consuming Religion makes a strong case, but Miller struggles to make succinct points and forces readers to wade through gallons of spilled ink to find the pearls.

-CL
Wordy yes, but worth it. Jan. 25 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr. Miller provides a very nice analysis of how our current culture has corrupted Christianity. Yeah, consumerism and Christianity are supposed to be opposite sides of a coin, but just flip through cable tv channels or attend a baptist service that stresses the "virtues" of tithing and you'll see the effect.

This book is worth the effort.

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