Swimme's "How Do Our Kids Get So Caught Up in Consumerism?"


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1.  Who was Rachel Carson?  What does she have in common with Jesus, Socrates, Martin Luther King, and Confucius?

2.  What does environmentalism have to do with consumerism?

3.  Jesus is to Christianity as ______________is to consumerism?  If Jesus conveys religious/spiritual truth, who in the realm of material consumption conveys the message that we cannot be happy with what we have?

4.  Consider these two statements:  "We learned to accept it [consumerism] so long ago we hardly ever think about it anymore" (111, right top); and "The fact that consumerism has become the dominant world faith is largely invisible to us..." (113, right, full par. 1).  My former students thought that blacks are not disadvantaged, that women are pretty much equal to men, and that their own relationships were not dysfunctional.  In other words, they saw themselves as exceptions to the situations described by DuBois, Gilligan, Belenky, and Hemingway.  They also thought that ads had not affected them Do you believe that ads affect you?  If not, are you like the white people whom McIntosh talks about (affected but unaware of the effect)?  Are you an illustration of or an exception to the things that we have been reading? 

5.  Do you agree that there is no authentic spiritual development today?  Many of you consider yourselves to be Christians, but does consumerism becloud your commitment to Christ?  Consider Jesus's statement to the guy who asks what he has to do to be saved: 

Mark 10:21 GWT: Jesus looked at him and loved him. He told him, "You're still missing one thing. Sell everything you have. Give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then follow me!"

6.  Are you really not alienated, or are you just passive and not self-aware?  Or are you self-aware without having experienced alienation?

7.  Bringing in an ad for the class to discuss is a great idea.  A video clip that we could watch two or three times would be even better.  A Superbowl ad would be a great example.  Is anyone WEARING an ad?

8.  Is consumerism really a religion or cult?  What are the implications of claiming that it is?  Do you agree with Swimme's definition of faith?  "Faith is that which a person holds to be the hard-boiled truth about reality" (112, right bottom).

9.  What is the "ideal human" (113,  left middle)?

10.  Are you here at Winthrop University to enable yourself to get more stuff?

11.  Do you agree that consumerism distracts us from goodness, love, wisdom, and justice?

12.  What does it mean to say "that we live within a sacred universe"?  In other words, what is "the new cosmology" that Swimme advocates in his final paragraph?

13.  What does Swimme say about the psyche on page 112?  In particular, does his text suggest something about the role of the unconscious mind in our response to advertisements?