Mass Consumerism is the Problem

Tremendous piece from Geoff Mulgan in Prospect Magazine detailing a possible future for capitalism as a tool, rather than a master, in the US and around the world:

Cover story: ‘After capitalism’ by Geoff Mulgan | Prospect Magazine April 2009 issue 157: “It’s an irony that so many of the measures taken to deal with the immediate impact of the recession, like VAT cuts and fiscal stimulus packages, point in the opposite direction to what’s needed long term. But there are already strong movements to restrain the excesses of mass consumerism: slow food, the voluntary simplicity movement and the many measures to arrest rising obesity, are all symptoms of a swing towards seeing consumerism less as a harmless boon and more as a villain. “

Technology (Twitter, blogging, Facebook, etc) are the tracks (pun intended) for the delivery of a growing social conscience that mass consumerism is to blame for our current economic and societal ills.

The incessant marketing to children, the dumbing down of education into a mush of preparation for a consumer-future and the focus on bigger/stronger/better/faster are finally meeting their match with the growing realization that this is not the best way for humans to live.

At least I hope so.

And I hope the church stands at the center of this growing conscience and points to a better future that is not reliant on the wheels of marketing or the engines of corporate shackles.

Cosmos Now on Hulu

, my favorite TV series and book of all time, is now on Hulu.

Hulu – Cosmos: “In 1980, the landmark series Cosmos premiered on public television. Since then, it is estimated that more than a billion people around the planet have seen it. Cosmos chronicles the evolution of the planet and efforts to find our place in the universe. Each of the 13 episodes focuses on a specific aspect of the nature of life, consciousness, the universe and time. Topics include the origin of life on Earth (and perhaps elsewhere), the nature of consciousness, and the birth and death of stars. When it first aired, the series catapulted creator and host Carl Sagan to the status of pop culture icon and opened countless minds to the power of science and the possibility of life on other worlds.”

Part of my ritual of closing ceremonies during my time as an 8th grade science teacher was reading a passage out of my dog-eared and well-worn copy of Cosmos.

“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest conemplations of the Cosmos stir us – there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet ourspecies is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millenia we hav emad the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends on how well we know this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.

Those explorations required skepticism and imagination both. Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never where. But without it, we go nowhere. Skepticism enables us to distinguish fancy from fact, to test our speculations. The Cosmos is rich beyond measure – in elegant facts, in exquisite interrelationships, in the subtle machinery of awe.

The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. From it we have learned most of what we know. Recently, we have waded a little out to sea, enough to dampen our toes or, at most, wet our ankles. The water seems inviting. The ocean calls. Some part of our being knows this is from where we came. We long to return. These aspirations are not, I think, irreverent, although they may trouble whatever gods may be.”

I cried every time I read that out loud to my students, and still do.

Thank you, Hulu.

Baptists and Muslims Meet in Jordan

Good to read…

Baptists and Muslim Scholars Meet in Jordan on “(BWA) A number of Christian and religious groups were convened by the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) at the Kempinski Hotel in Amman, Jordan, on the morning of Thursday, March 19, to discuss common interests and to review plans surrounding the official opening and dedication of the Baptism Center in Bethany beyond Jordan.”

Hopefully this will lead to a fruitful dialogue between (moderate to progressive) Baptists and members of the Muslim faith.

Rock Salt Crystal Deodorant Really Works

This is a post a little out of the ordinary, but I really have been infatuated with how well this product works…

A few weeks ago, I was running low on deodorant and decided to look around for a less-commercial option that would deliver the same results.

I came across Rock Salt Thai Crystal Deodorant Stone
and was immediately skeptical.

However, after a month of using the rock salt deodorant only (instead of the commercial stuff I had been using since a teen), I can only say it really really works.

I’m not a huge guy and I’m not a constant “sweater” but I do have a pretty active lifestyle with school, preaching, speaking, etc… after a Sunday morning, my shirts and undershirts were normally pretty drenched (more from nerves than heat) in the past. However, I’m dead serious when I say that this stuff really keeps things dry.

So, if you’re thinking about making a switch to something more natural and something more effective than the pricey deodorants, I couldn’t recommend the crystal stone more.

And for only $2.26 (my stone has lasted me a month and it looks barely used so far) in this economy??? Forget about it.

Jessica Lea Mayfield and Bible Days

During the holidays, before the Avett Brothers show here in Asheville, I got to catch a set by Jessica Lea Mayfield as she opened for the Avetts.

If you haven’t heard of her, you will. Her music is tremendous.

Jessica Lea Mayfield on MySpace Music

I can’t recommend “We’ve Never Lied” enough (you can listen on the link to her MySpace page above). “Bible Days” is a close second, and all of her songs (especially live) are powerful and moving.

Here’s a link to her album With Blasphemy So Heartfelt
on Amazon.

Great music.

CBF of NC General Assembly and Twitter

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina is having its General Assembly this weekend in scenic (?) Fayetteville, NC.

My pal Thomas Whitley and I are planning to attend and, of course, we’ll be sending out Twitter updates.

Interestingly enough, the CBFNC has caught wind of the Twitter phenomenon and its power for bringing groups together both on location and remotely (as evidenced by every tech conference now relying heavily on Twitter for backroom chatter).

So, there are a few additional folks you can follow for CBFNC Gen Assembly news (besides Thomas and myself who both tweet way too much anyways):

Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina Twitter-ers

Amazing times we live in, folks.

But seriously, if you’re not on Twitter, you’re missing out (whatever your vocation, occupation or addiction).