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Following Christ in a Consumer Society: The Spirituality of Cultural Resistance Paperback – Deluxe Edition, November 30, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Orbis Books; 25 Aniversary edition (November 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157075666X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570756665
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #448,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The more we try to ground our identities in external possessions or triumphs, the more we plaster our names on everything we can accumulate, the more we cling to surface and style, the less we find underneath. --John F. Kavanaugh

The Kingdom is coming in this book. --Richard Rohr

The Kingdom is coming in this book. --Richard Rohr

About the Author

John F. Kavanaugh, a Jesuit priest, teaches at St. Louis University. He is a frequent contributor to Commonweal magazine. His many books include Who Counts as Persons? Human Identity and the Ethics of Killing.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Carol Blank on January 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
This 25th anniversary edition of Kavanaugh's work paints a strong picture of today's consumer culture marked by the "empty interior, broken relationship, craving for things, injustice of depersonalization, and flight from the wounded." The author employs examples from current events, cultural phenomena, and research studies to describe the earmarks and effects of the "Commodity Form."

He describes the commodity form as a filter for all our experience, attitudes, emotions, drives, perceptions, and behavior that reduces us to replaceable "things" valuable only in terms of how much we market, produce, and consume. In direct opposition, Kavanaugh holds up the "Personal Form," in which humans are valued as irreplaceable, capable of self-conscious reflection, and fulfilled in relationships based on mutual commitment. The personal form relies on Christian discipleship marked by such practices as self-critique, moral consistency, and prayer and supported by participation in community and the sacraments, all topics that Kavanaugh addresses in detail.

This work can be seen as user`s manual for groups and individuals serious about understanding, resisting, and challenging the rampant consumerism of twenty-first century America.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Bornus on April 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a book that will challenge modern Christians as they contemplate their daily lifestyle in today's society. Kavanaugh posits that the prevailing milieu of capitalist culture is that of the "commodity form," a worldview whereby all things (including people) are objectified and ennumerated as "economic units" and focus and decisions are based on economic imperatives to which all must submit. The first half of the book examines the phenomenon of this commodity form, and how it is so pervasively expressed in modern culture that it shapes the very language and structure of our perspective, even among Christians. The commodity form drives society through the venue of our media-saturated entertainment and information mediums, as all is directed toward evoking a sense of deep-felt dissatisfaction that must be temporarily sated through immediate consumption, seeking the next thing whether it be products, experiences, or ideas. Its fruit is seen in the self-focused nature of relationships and evaporating morality and ethics, love, and care for others, especially the socially marginalized in our culture and in other lands.

The second half of the book discusses the "personal form" as expressed by the teachings of Jesus, whereby one finds meaning by loving and blessing others, and not in personal consumption. This half of the book is a little harder to grasp, the truths more ephemeral and intangible, and must be reflected upon (the antithesis of immediate gratification which is characteristic of the commodity form).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By rfurman74 on October 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hard book to read - at least the first half.
He hammers home the instances of inequality, "thingism", and the self-centered orientation of our culture.
The second half reminds us of our humanity and its importance.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on March 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
Following Christ in a Consumer Society is a classic study written by a Jesuit priest and which appeared nearly two decades ago: its 25th anniversary edition will help spiritual collections replace aging, worn editions with a bright new paperback even more relevant today than when it was originally published. Chapters consider the relationship between Christianity and consumerism, and have been updated to reflect the latest scholarship in the area. The dynamics of commodity and consumerism are revealed in chapters which lend particularly well to study group discussion.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Father John Kavanaugh SJ, the late Jesuit philosopher at Saint Louis University, was one of the most accessible philosophical ethicists of modern times. Author of the "ethics notebook" in America magazine, Kavanaugh is still best known for this little paperback on the ethics of being a Christian in today's materialistic consumer society. This book is definitely on the side of applied rather than theoretical ethics, but it will really make you think in the way it applies humanistic ethical principles to contemporary life. It's a book that deserves to be re-read in the era of Pope Francis, one of its spiritual bedfellows. I highly recommend it.
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I would recommend this book for its masterful summary of the moral issues in society today, but also for its treatment of such various issues in ethics today.
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