Are we too Materialistic?


it doesn’t seem to make sense to suggest
that there might be such a thing as good materialism. After all isn’t materialism
just plain bad always? It can seem as if we’re faced with a stark choice. Either
you can be materialistic and that means obsessed with money and possessions
shallow and selfish, or you can reject materialism be good and focus on more
important matters of the Spirit. But in truth most of us are in our hearts stuck
somewhere between these two choices, which is pretty uncomfortable. We’re
still in meshed in the desire to possess but we’re encouraged to feel rather bad
about it. Yet crucially it’s not actually materialism the pure fact of buying
things and getting excited by possessions that ever really the problem.
With failing to make a clear distinction between good and bad versions of
materialism. Let’s try to understand good materialism through a slightly
unusual route, religion. Because we see them as focused
exclusively on spiritual things it can be surprising to note how much use
religions have made of material things. They’ve spent a lot of time making and
thinking about Scrolls to hang in your house – shrines, temples, monasteries,
artworks, clothes, ceremonies; however, they’ve cared about these things for one
reason only, because they’ve wanted material things to serve the highest and
noblest purpose, the development of our souls. It’s just that they’ve recognized
that we are incarnate sensory bodily beings and that the way to get through
to our souls has to be at least in part through our bodies rather than merely
through the intellect. The importance of material things was for centuries at the
core of Christianity, which proposed that Jesus was both the highest spiritual
being and a flashing blood person. He was the spirit incarnate, holiness embodied
in the Catholic Mass great significance is accorded to the bread and wine which
are believed to be transubstantiation of Christ. That is material objects which
simultaneously have a spiritual identity just as Jesus himself combined the
spiritual and the bodily while on Earth. This can all sound
like a very weird and arcane point entirely removed from the local shopping
mall. But exactly the same concept actually applies outside of religions
many good material possessions can be said to involve a kind of
transubstantiation whereby they are both practical and physical and also embody
or allude to a positive personality or spirit. Take this watch by the designer
dieter Rams to the outer I it’s an ordinary timepiece. But at a
psychological level it’s also a kind of transubstantiation. It tells the
time but it also hints at a more psychological even spiritual side with
ideals of purity simplicity and harmony floating around it. It tells us how long
there is to lunch but it’s also trying to nudge us towards being a certain sort
of person. Or take this chair it too transubstantiate a set of important values
straightforwardness, strength, honesty and elegance by getting closer to the
chair we stand to become a little more like it which is an important piece of
inner evolution. Material objects can therefore be said to play a positive
psychological or spiritual role in our lives when higher more positive ideals
are materialized in them and so when buying and using them daily gives us a
chance to get closer to our better selves. When they’re contained in
physical things valuable psychological qualities that are otherwise often
intermittent in our thoughts and conduct can become more stable and resilient.
This isn’t to say that all consumerism just conveniently turns out to be great
it depends on what a given material object stands for. An object can
transubstantiated sides of human nature greed callousness the desire to triumph
as much as it can the best sides. So we must be careful not to decry or
celebrate all material consumption just like that. We have to ensure that the
objects we invest in and tire ourselves and the planet by making are those that
lend most encouragement to our higher better natures.

Author: Kennedi Daugherty

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