Wineskins Archive

February 11, 2014

Resources on Consumerism (Jul-Aug 2002)

Filed under: — @ 5:49 pm and

by Greg Taylor
July – August, 2002

Resources on consumerism, simple living, and sustainability

“Caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender…where the ads take aim and lay their claim to the heart and the soul of the spender.” – Singer songwriter Jackson Browne, The Pretender

Mennonites (Anabaptists) have several legacies, including adult baptism, pacifism, and simple living. Consider the following books, which can be found at More-With-Less Cookbook, Living More With Less, Extending the Table, A Simple Christmas, Christmas Ideas for Families, Parent Trek, 303 Great Ideas for Families, Ideas for Grandparents, A Guide to Happy Family Camping, A Guide to Happy Family Gardening

Eric Schlosser has written a fascinating expose of the fast food industry, showing its impact on labor, meatpacking, the way we eat, and the impact on our health. See Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Houghton Mifflin, 2001.Read an excerpt.

Schlosser asks with irony, “Can we afford to eat so cheaply?” In one of the many both humorous yet sobering passages in this book, Schlosser quotes a marketer of children’s products who says their job as marketers to children is to teach them to nag and to nag well.

If you are considering a career shift, look at New Wineskins contributor Dan Miller’s web site:

Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or Life in the Woods, originally published in 1854.

Wesley Willmer, God and Your Stuff: The Vital Link Between Your Possessions and Your Soul is New Wineskins contributor’s new book published by NavPress, 2002.

Don’t limit yourself to American thought on consumption, everday life, and sustainability. Consider this web site:

Available in Fall 2002 from HillCrest Publishing is New Wineskins contributors Bruce & Ruthie Ammons’s new book, Conquering Debt God’s Way.

Barnabas, Parents, kids, and garage sales

Project Barnabas: Acts 4:36-37 describes how a Levite from Cyprus named Joseph, who the apostles nicknamed “Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement,” sold a field and deposited the money in the Bank of the Apostles Feet. Do you have a field?

Maybe you don’t have a field to sell as Barnabas did, but most of us could stand to lighten the load by giving possessions to the poor, our church, or sell extra goods in a garage sale. Do you have children between ages five and seventeen-years-old?

Here’s an idea: have a garage sale and tell the children that your family will dump the proceeds on the table and talk about plans to both use it for helping others and also for taking a family outing. Have the children (and you, too) collect items that are too plentiful or unnecessary in your home while discussing how more and more possessions don’t make us more and more content—they only increase our stress as we collect more. Promote the garage sale in your own family as a way to simplify, not to simply get money to buy more stuff!

When the last garage saler has driven away, dump the money on the kitchen table and get out paper and pencil. First, ask the family for ideas of how a portion of the money (ranging from every penny on the table down to ten percent—the important thing is to decide and do it). Put the portion in an envelope and label it “for the poor” or for a specific charity or church.

Second, proceed by writing down things you “need” to buy but have postponed because money was tight. One family that recently did a garage sale listed shoes and an ironing board and stuffed the amount of money needed in another envelope.

Third, choose a family fun outing and put the amount in a labeled envelope for that planned event. You’ll be amazed at how rewarding and encouraging the mundane or tedious task of a garage sale can be when practiced as a way to help the needy and simplify your family’s life.

For more ways to teach your children, teens about consumerism, media, and advertising see resources on

For more on the environment, recycling, and consumption, the Environmental Protection Agency has a helpful site, which includes resources for teaching children about self-control in consumption of our natural resources.


Monastic orders practiced disciplines of poverty, charity, obedience, and chastity, to name a few. Three classic orders include those of St. Augustine, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Benedict, and each of these men wrote the guidelines or “rules” for them. See St. Augustine’s Rule, Letter 211, St. Francis Rule of 1221, and Life and Rule of St. Benedict.

James R. Mulholland and Jim Mulholland, Praying like Jesus: The Lord’s Prayer in a Culture of Prosperity, Harper San Francisco, 2001.

Ronald J. Sider, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, W Publishing, 1997.

Write Greg Taylor to ask questions about this issue.
New Wineskins

Greg Taylor

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