While I was browsing the religion shelves in our local library, the “Shopping for God” title caught my eye. But I was even more intrigued when I noticed the book’s subtitle, “How Christianity Went from in Your Heart to In Your Face.” So of course I checked it out and brought it home to read.
It turned out that the real theme of the book has to do with marketing, and how commerce has come to dominate almost everything in our country — even our religious lives. The spiritual lessons here are secondary. Nevertheless, there is much food for thought as the author skillfully analyzes how religion is marketed and advertised much like any other product or service.
I will leave you with one quote from the book. Richard Halverson, former Chaplain of the US Senate, said: “In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centered on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.”
If we take an open-minded look around us, we must agree that much of “churchianity” today is market driven. We can buy almost any consumer product that is branded and advertised as Christian in some way. Our churches compete for our attendance as well as our tithes and offerings. I have said many times in the past that Christianity today would be vastly different if there weren’t so many people and businesses that derive their entire livelihoods from it.
“Shopping for God” served as a good reminder to me to remain focused on my relationship with God and with others, and to be ever vigilant regarding the intrusion of religious enterprise into my spiritual life.