Quote of the month

From the article “Flea market capitalists: disaffected and disenchanted,” by Arthur E. Farnsely II:

Disaffection is not going to be repaired by politicians, business leaders, or pastors trying harder. Over the decades the modern West has built a consumer society in which people get more personal choices and lifestyle freedom in exchange for a loss of community, tradition, and stability. We are still interdependent, of course, but the connections are complex, malleable, idiosyncratic.

Some people still live in tight-kint communities; others are lucky enough to have the education and money needed to pursue their “lifestyles choices.” But the people at the bottom have limited choices, and some choose to be left alone. Flea market dealers are an extreme example of this segment, but poor and lower working class people all across America have tenuous relationships to the institutions of family, school, business, and government.

A recent Pew study confirms the rising number of people who claim “no religious affiliation.” People are also increasingly choosing “no political affiliation.” (Many people who say they are politically independent reliably vote conservative or liberal, but this only proves the point — they have opinions but resist membership commitments.)

— in Christian Century, 23 January 2013, p. 25.

If you want to adequately explain why people are choosing to have no religious affiliation, you have to take into account the effects of consumer capitalism on the way we perceive and live in the world. We expect to have choices these days, and institutions of any kind limit the kinds of choices we have come to expect as consumers.