Monthly Archives: September 2015

The ism of Consumer

Hi Friends,

I was just reading an interview with Skye Jethani, entitled, When Christianity Becomes a Brand from Regent College.

He was asked if there were any particular biblical texts or stories that had shaped his thinking on consumerism?

He quoted Psalm 27 and the Prodigal Son story from the Gospel of Luke.  He went on to say, “what often happens [is that] we come out of a consumer posture, and believe that we’re supposed to just use God to achieve our desires. But then, often what the church communicates is all God really cares about is using you to accomplish his mission or accomplish his desires. And both of those really stem from a consumeristic idea that God exists to be used and we exist to be used. But what you get in Scripture is a far deeper calling of intimacy in God, of the inherent value of God. And then discovering that he believes we have inherent value as well, and he’s not really interested in using us but he desires us, wants to be in unity with us, and reconciled to us.”

The thing that made me get emotional over this little tid-bit was that, 1. I am guilty as charged for using God, and 2.  Since coming back to church, I have felt like God just wants to use me too.  The church makes God seem like he is just like the world – a consumer.

I have heard in church and from pastors that God loves me, completely and entirely, but I feel like God just wants things from me, that God has expectations of me, and I had better deliver!

This Christianity is not very freeing  when you come at from a consumer-mindset.

I studied consumerism in an 18th Century English course.  From my perspective, Consumerism started in England.  People left the countryside to make their fortune in London. (I am not arguing that a class system is better, but it seemed to have more of a community-minded feel to it, as opposed to the developing ‘every man for himself’ mentality.)

Individualism began to take hold and capture the imagination of man.  The decline of civilization?

The writers of this generation fought the change with everything they could.  Alexander Pope is probably the most infamous of writers of the 18th Century in England.  He wrote:

Behold the child, by nature’s kindly law,
Pleas’d with a rattle, tickl’d with a straw:
Some livelier plaything gives his youth delight,
A little louder, but as empty quite:
Scarfs, garters, gold, amuse his riper stage,
And beads and pray’r books are the toys of age:
Pleas’d with this bauble still, as that before;
‘Till tir’d he sleeps, and life’s poor play is o’er!

Meanwhile opinion gilds with varying rays
Those painted clouds that beautify our days;
Each want of happiness by hope supplied,
And each vacuity of sense by Pride:
These build as fast as knowledge can destroy;
In folly’s cup still laughs the bubble, joy;
One prospect lost, another still we gain;
And not a vanity is giv’n in vain;
Ev’n mean self-love becomes, by force divine,
The scale to measure others’ wants by thine.
See! and confess, one comfort still must rise,
‘Tis this: Though man’s a fool, yet God is wise.
(Excerpt from Pope’s, An Essay on Man)

Just say no to consumerism…


Note:  To read the rest of the article, go to:

Hope is not a strategy…

Hi there,

I was recently speaking with someone, who said, “Hope is not a strategy.” It is in reference to Barack Obama’s campaign of “Hope”.

Not to worry. I stood my ground. I live on hope. When I was told I needed something to go along with my hope, I thought of faith. I sat quietly wondering if this person I was conversing with could handle faith.  As he seemed to have enough difficulty with hope, I decided to hold my peace.

He wasn’t quite there…yet.

I wondered why he would have such an intolerance to hope?  Is it not real enough? Not rational enough?  I have no statistics, pie charts, graphs or flow charts to substantiate my claim to hope.

It just is.

Of course, I have to work for it.  I have to choose to hope even when everything, including all the odds are against me.   Hope is a choice.  Just like forgiveness is a choice.  Loving others is a choice.

They are hard choices, but necessary for a life well lived.

It reminded me of the Gospel of John, where Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).  The word that jumped out at me was “only”.  That is and was his only reason for coming to the earth, stealing the Garden from Adam and Eve and for stealing what is rightfully ours!

(I think we tend to make his job pretty easy for him though, I have to say.  I play right along, becoming easily angered, holding onto bitterness and resentment.   An unforgiving heart.)

“Hope is not a strategy” sounds like a strategy of the devil, sowing seeds of hopelessness and despair.

Personally, I think hope, faith and love are strategies.  Darn good strategies for resisting the devil (James 4:7).   Jesus asks, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”  (Luke 18:8)  When I think of that question, I always want to be someone who has faith.  It keeps me in check, reminding me that God is bigger than my circumstances and even bigger than the world’s circumstances.

God is in control.  When I remember that, it is easy to stand firm in my hope and faith.  I also remember Jesus saying he came, “that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

My hope is that I planted a seed in this man’s thinking.  Maybe the fact that I was not so easily steered away from my hope will give him pause to consider it more closely.   Given the CRAZY political scene in the U.S. these days, I would argue that Obama’s hope campaign is looking pretty darn good to both Democrats and Republicans alike…

God bless America!



Stupidity; Naivety; Wisdom

Hi there,

According to Thomas Szasz, “The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.”  So, who was Thomas Szasz you ask?  Me too.  He was a “psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and academic.”   He also founded the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights.

I wonder what the wisest man who ever lived thought of Stupidity, Naivety and Wisdom. So, I turn to King Solomon’s Proverbs!

  • Proverbs 12:1 says, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.” 
  • Proverbs 1:32 says, “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them” (New American Standard Bible).

And, finally wisdom…

  • Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (KJV).

And, what does Ellie think about Stupidity, Naivety and Wisdom?

  • Stupidity, according to my on-line buddy, is “behavior that shows a lack of good sense or judgment.” To me stupidity involves being small-minded.  Most of us probably believe that what we think is right.  Take  an issue like global warming.  Some believe it is a farce. Others believe we human beings are destroying the planet.  I believe global warming could very well be the earth going through a heat-spell (the opposite of the ice age), along with us humans destroying the planet.   I think we might all be a bit stupid for believing in our own limited belief system.  Is this a circular argument???
  • Naivety is a “lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment” or “innocence or unsophistication”.  It is up to us to gain experience, wisdom and sound judgment, to use our own brains and not base our opinion on what somebody else says or believes.
  • Wisdom is “the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.”  Yet, I find myself making the same mistakes over and over and over and you get the idea…

Basically, these three things have to do with our own lack of experience and knowledge, which naturally leads to bad judgment calls.

We’re all guilty of it. Stupidity and naivety are a part of being human. We have the experience, fail and then learn and grow from it.  I just realized for instance, that the quote had to do with forgiveness, but I got myself off topic by reverting to the wisest man who ever lived – King Solomon!

So, on this day I am going to embrace my own stupidity, knowing that tomorrow I will be less stupid than I am today.





The Power to Love

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”


I have been working on a story called, Forgiveness is a Four-Letter Word.  Boy, did Martin Luther King Jr. sum up my story in a paragraph.

While watching the CBC’s “The Greatest Canadian” pitches, I heard a story about Tommy Douglas about traveling to Germany to see not only Hitler but also what was happening with his own eyes.

In case you don’t know who Tommy Douglas is, here’s a quick recap:  “Thomas Clement (“Tommy”) Douglas, premier of Saskatchewan, first leader of the New Democratic Party, Baptist minister, politician (born 20 October 1904 in Falkirk, Scotland; died 24 February 1986 in Ottawa, ON). Douglas led the first socialist government elected in Canada and is recognized as the father of socialized medicine. He also helped establish democratic socialism in the mainstream of Canadian politics” (

That said, he went over to Germany and came back and told the Prime Minister, then William Lyon Mackenzie King I believe, that Hitler was a problem.  The PM said something like, ‘No, Hitler’s a good guy.’   Words that could not be more wrong have never been spoken!

I told this story to someone, who said that Tommy Douglas recognized the evil inside of himself, this is why he could see it in Hitler.  Apparently, Prime Minister King could not recognize evil in himself.

It makes me think that the sign of any good leader is a recognition of this very fact.  It keeps us on the straight and narrow.  When we find ourselves emphatically saying, “I would never do that,” it should serve as a sure warning sign to us.

On the flip-side, we can have a hard time admitting that someone who commits evil actions could have any good inside of them at all.  I have no one to offer up as an example. Sorry…

I find it interesting that Martin Luther King Jr. said that, “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”  Forgiveness and love are inextricably linked.  You cannot have one without the other.

1 Corinthians 13:4-6, Paul writes,  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (NIV).

When I preached a sermon on loving others, I used 1 Corinthians. I know it is the overly-used wedding scripture, but I liked that it was very practical and straightforward. Here is what love is/does:  patient, kind, goodwill, humble, other-centered, slow to anger and wipes the slate clean.

I pray that each of us would have the courage to forgive and to love boldly, without fear.