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Consuming Religion: Christian Faith and Practice in a Consumer Culture

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0826415318
ISBN-10: 0826415318
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...one of the best theological books I have read in years." -- Terrence W. Tilley, University of Dayton

About the Author

Vincent J. Miller is Gudorf Chair in Catholic Theology and Culture at the University of Dayton, USA. His work has appeared in Horizons, U.S. Catholic Historian, and Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium. In 1996 he received the Outstanding Graduate Student Essay Award of the College Theology Society. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group (November 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826415318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826415318
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #713,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Vince Miller's Consuming Religion is one of the most interesting and compelling books that I've read in a long time. Miller poses some fundamental challenges to the theology and culture debate as it stands in American (especially Evangelical America). The book is very Catholic, heavily indebted to Marxist, feminist, and French post-modern scholarship. It made me feel both guilty and hopeless at times. It even de-mythologizes the single family home. And yet it is, I think, an invaluable conversation piece for conservative American Christians who want to talk about Worldviews but fail to attend to the way that structural features of modern capitalist societies shape us our culture, our families, and our faith.
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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book
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