A World Available For Peace

A growing, widening breach exists between the dominant values of American society and the claim of the gospel. It has been held for a long time - and with some truth - that there was a congruity between America and the gospel. It did seem that in important ways American values had been shaped and informed by Christian faith. But no more.

There is now a sickness (or madness, depending on how deep you cut it) in American society that receives no sanction or legitimacy from biblical faith. That madness may go by many names, but I shall call it consumerism - the notion that life consists in having and getting and spending and controlling and using and eating. This value system places stress on accumulation and believes that meaning and security come by "more."

Such consumerism in which we are enmeshed requires militarism to sustain it. Our consumerism, our excessive standard of living, depends on our having a disproportionate amount of goods, of access to markets, on our having while others do not have. Indeed, it is not a great over-simplification to suggest that our militarism exists to support our consumerism, so that we may identify the disease of our society as consumer militarism, which means an endless effort to gather more of the world around us for our benefit.

These dominant values have received much support from religion, but in fact the values of consumerism and militarism cannot, in any way I know, square with Jesus' embrace of death and Jesus' Resurrection into new power for life. I believe that this growing tension, this collision course between the two sets of values - consumer militarism and Christian faith - is the central religious fact of our contemporary situation. Our dominant cultural values are in deep conflict with Christian faith and will lead us to death.

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