Tag Archives: consumerism

King of the Road, Baby

So, I’m still not feeling any particularly burning theological discussions that I need to share right now…

I’m still trying to get my mind back into novel-writing mode…

So how about I yammer about general life again?

OK, I’ve got a new vehicle.

It’s an SUV.

I swore I’d never own an SUV.

Thing is that I like modest-sized, gas-efficient vehicles. My pride has never, ever been tied to my car or truck. I just don’t get caught up in that. If I have a reliable automobile that is ugly, I don’t give a damn what you think of me or what assumptions you want to make about my personality, lifestyle or social worth.

But Son of Blue is 6 feet, 3 inches tall. I have a little girl. I have a wife. I live in a state where people are constantly leaving great pieces of furniture and other household essentials on their curb with signs that say “free.” And we do our shopping in stock-up spurts.

As a result, I needed a bigger vehicle, for comfort and utility. For it truly sucks to buy a nice item at an electronics store or a used/consignment store, and then have to pay for delivery because my side doors and back seat won’t accommodate the item(s).

Since my grubby, fuel-efficient car was in its death throes, Mrs. Blue and I went car shopping. We were strongly leaning toward minvans for their utility, since neither of us wanted to make the leap to SUV ownership, since we see too many SUVs used like weapons on the road around here.

We were down to an 2003 SUV and a 2004 minivan, and while they both had nice features, the minivan had too much rust for my taste underneath.

So I own an SUV. I have resolved not to turn into an asshole and thus make it an “FUV” instead. But still, it’s odd having a vehicle that allows me to either look down on or look in the eye three-quarters of the other SUVs on the road.

I’m not liking the upcoming expense of keeping the tank filled, nor the guilt over petroleum consumption, but there are some nice things:

  • Being able to see where I’m going when I leave a parking spot, after an F-350 has parked on one side of me and a Navigator on the other.
  • Not having my scarf or the bottom of my coat getting caught in the bottom of the driver’s side door.
  • Being able to scoff at snow banks at the end of my driveway.

So, anyone else have to wrestle with the concept of buying a big gas-guzzling whale?

Zombie Nation by Miz Pink

So I was visiting my sister and noticed her stack of zombie novels on the desk. I guess zombies have been popular for  a while since there in plenty of horror flicks now and going back to what, the 70s? But I hadn’t realized it was such a fertile genre for printed fiction as well lately. My sister even says there was a short lived comic series that turned Spiderman and Wolverine and most of the other superheroes in those comics into zombies.

As we talked and as I thought about it later it wasn’t hard to see why zombies are popular. Sure we get excited about vampires too because there’s that taboo sexiness goth mind control thing going on. Probably some oral sex connotations too really. But zombies are popular for a whole other reason I think. They are mindless creatures that typically shamble around and overwhelm society and consume out of some imperative that has nothing to do with staying alive since…well, they’re dead right?

Isn’t that what we’ve been for too long in this country? Mindlessly following everyone else around us and consuming for the sake of consumption. We’ve been rotting like corpses (or at least our lives have been rotting from the inside out) and yet we motor on with our endless hunger.

Zombies are what we fear I guess. But I don’t think too many people realized they have been a mirror for our own selves. We fear having our brains eaten by zombies but many of us joined their ranks long ago and just never noticed.

I hope hope hope that the events that started with us elected a new leadership with functioning brain cells signals and end to our brain-eating zombie days. I like to think this is our moment where we take back the world from the zombies and when we give up our own zombieness to become fully realized humans again.

In short I hope that zombies can just go back to being another monster like the wolfman or the mummy. Something that doesn’t mean anything except some thrills and chills on screen instead of being something that bears metaphorical witness to our own hellish shortcomings as a society and as humans.

Misplaced Priorities

buying-onlineSo, Mrs. Blue tells me today about some woman she sees on a discussion thread today who’s commenting about how times are so tough she doesn’t mind standing in a long line to get some fancy, high-tech, 30-something-inch television for $400.

Look, I understand the desire to have things, and even the “need” to some electronic entertainment options. But if we are honest with ourselves, how many of us really do truly need a TV bigger than a 24-inch screen and do we really need some bells-and-whistles, thin as hell, plasma HD flat screen or whatever the hell is out these days?


And making like it’s some big sacrifice to stand in line for a “deal” like this on Black Friday (the big post-Thanksgiving Day shopping blitz that traditionally occurs, for those who don’t know) is insulting to people who can’t even afford a new no-name bulky TV. You tell me you’re standing in line for a decent DVD player that is being sold for $30, and you’ll get more respect from me.

Our priorities are skewed, and even with the economy tanking, we’re still trying to figure out how to buy stuff we don’t really need. It’s just that now, because the economy has been tanking, those things cost less. But most of us don’t have as much money, so the fact the unnecessary shit costs less just means that you’re spending what little you have—something you should probably be keeping around for an emergency—just to have something that, in the current economy, you need even less than you did before.

Drive-by Scripture, Luke 12:15

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Gospel of Luke, chapter 12, verse 15

Remember the old saying (and maybe it came from the Bible too, I forget): Naked you came and naked you go?

Sure, they don’t actually bury you naked, but that other lovely phrase also tells us: You can’t take it with you.

So, as our economy continues to tank, with Lehman Brothers latest on the list of failing financial institutions and unemployment much higher than it should be, I ask you this:

When we get out of our current economic pickle, God willing, and we are back on track, what is it that we will shoot for? Will it be back to buy, buy, buy? Run up the credit cards and buy bigger (and more) vehicles than we need? Will we go back to purchasing and hoarding stuff, or will we have learned anything?

Yes, a certain amount of consumerism is neceassary to keep businesses thriving, but we need to know when we have enough and when we’re starting to stockpile more than we really need.

When we do that, we’ll not only be more in line with biblical values but we’ll have a hardier and stronger economy, too, I think.

Too Much Stuff by Miz Pink

One of my standard tactics for some time now with child #2 is that when she gets out of pocket I tell her that I will take away her favorite snack from the freezer or give one of her toys to the first child I see. There are plenty of parents out there in the land of attachment parenting that would probly stone me for that. They’d say I’m being mean, abusive or negative.

Me? I mainly like the fact that it prevents any temptation to spank her.

Fact is that Mini Pink Model 2 loves her stuff. Nothing gets her attention faster than the threat that something that is hers will be taken away. Doesn’t matter that she has a ton of stuff already. Doesn’t even matter if it’s something she’s forgotten she ever owned and hasn’t played with in months. it’s hers, and she doesn’t want it taken away.

This is a very common attitude among humans. I know it’s a particularly problem her in the U.S. of A. where we have to spend, spend spend and own, own, own. Not so much now with gas prices having whipped our behinds and the economy goin in the direction of recession, but still, we are a shallow and petty people. But still, other developed nations also like their stuff…and developing nations are developing a growing taste for their own stuff. Everyone wants to be overflowing with things.

And preferably shiny and/or expensive things. Doesn’t matter if we need them or use them. We just want them.

I’m guilty as anyone else on this one. I’ve wanted an emerald ring (a real emerald none of this manufactured crapola) from Sir Pink for a long time. I may never seen it. And if I do, I may be afraid to wear it. But I want it. And I give him crap every anniversary, asking him if I’ll finally get it by the 50th anniversary when my joints are all swollen from arthritis or something.

Fact is, I won’t shed many tears if I never get it. Because I know its absurdly pricey and I know I don’t need it. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting it. And I realize how messed up this is. It’s messed up that I want to keep filling up my home with stuff when there are plenty of people in this country (a lot of them from New Orlean for example thjanks to Katrina and FEMA) who don’t have homes.

The early Christian church called upon its member to sell a lot of the stuff they didn’t really need so that the money could go to the widows, the orphans, the crippled. I know we built this American economy on greed, credit and buying lots of stuff but what has it gotten us? Are we better for it? Maybe if we bought less for ourselves and more for others…maybe if our governments at city, state and fed level invested in our roads and helping the sick and homeless instead of in lining their pockets and those of a lot of CEOs…well, maybe we’d be better. Maybe we wouldn’t be such a bigshot country but do we need to be? Wouldn’t it be better to be able to say we have a better quality of life here?

Instead of just being able to say we have bigger crap that a lot of the rest of you?