The Christian Consumer: Living Faithfully in a Fragile World

Laura M. Hartman. Oxford Univ., $29.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-19-974642-2
Seeking insights from Christian ethical traditions to equip contemporary Christians to be faithful consumers, Hartman, assistant professor of religion at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., highlights four key considerations: avoiding sin, embracing creation, loving neighbors, and envisioning the future. Devoting a chapter to each of these “actions that produce virtues,” she explores works from a diverse representation of Christian thinkers, looking for common themes to inspire action: “If a medieval saint, a Quaker abolitionist, and a contemporary evangelical leader agree that avoiding sin is the primary consideration when judging consumption, perhaps Christians should heed what they say.” Other Christians argue that blessing, not sin, serves as primary guide for Christian consumers, with the goal being faithful stewardship. Still others, such as Dorothy Day, highlight love of neighbors near and far as key to changing the world through vulnerability and self-transformation. Finally, Christian eschatological hope, experienced through rituals of Sabbath and Eucharist, inspires a “sacramental use of creation.” Distilling sometimes complex theological arguments, Hartman provides a comprehensive exploration of Christian perspectives on faithful consumerism, offering “visions of virtue” to guide contemporary Christians in their consumption practices. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/14/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
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