Item description for Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity by Skye Jethani...
Overview The human imagination is the key battleground in the conflict between the kingdom of God and the consumer culture. Drawing from the vivid imaginations of Impressionist painters, particularly Vincent van Gogh, each chapter of The Divine Commodity uses personal narrative, biblical exposition, and cultural observation to show how consumerism has shaped our faith, and then challenges the reader to use their sanctified imagination to envision an alternative way of expressing the Christian life in our culture.
Publishers Description The challenge facing Christianity today is not a lack of motivation or resources, but a failure of imagination.A growing number of people are disturbed by the values exhibited by the contemporary church. Worship has become entertainment, the church has become a shopping mall, and God has become a consumable product. Many sense that something is wrong, but they cannot imagine an alternative way. The Divine Commodity finally articulates what so many have been feeling and offers hope for the future of a post-consumer Christianity.Through Scripture, history, engaging narrative, and the inspiring art of Vincent van Gogh, The Divine Commodity explores spiritual practices that liberate our imaginations to live as Christ's people in a consumer culture opposed to the values of his kingdom. Each chapter shows how our formation as consumers has distorted an element of our faith. For example, the way churches have become corporations and how branding makes us more focused on image than reality. It then energizes an alternative vision for those seeking a more meaningful faith. Before we can hope to live differently, we must have our minds released from consumerism's grip and captivated once again by Christ.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75" Weight: 0.74 lbs.
Release Date Mar 1, 2009
Publisher Zondervan Publishing
ISBN 0310283752 ISBN13 9780310283751 UPC 025986283759
Availability 0 units.
More About Skye Jethani
Skye Jethani (www.skyejethani.com) is the managing editor of Leadership journal, a magazine and online resource published by Christianity Today International. He also serves as a teaching pastor at Blanchard Alliance Church in Wheaton, Illinois.
Reviews - What do customers think about Divine Commodity-Hardcover?
A Vital Read for Our Time May 21, 2010
As the pastor of a growing church in Seattle, I'm inundated with products, newsletters, and articles, inviting me to 'brand', and 'market', the church. I'm increasingly convinced, along with Skye, that our attempts along these lines might be providing answers to the wrong question. In other words, though we might gain the ABC's of success (Attendance, Buildings, Cash), we might fall terribly short of our true calling, which is to make God's good reign visible by being disciples of Jesus and helping other people be disciples too.
There's a great deal of sitting in American Christianity, and Skye points to our culture's addiction to vicarious experiences as one of the reasons. Using Van Gogh's journey from ministry to art as a backdrop, he invites us to seek the authentic over the institutional, the relational over the programatic. This is both a refreshing, and challenging perspective.
Finally, I'm grateful that we're not left in either the posture of either the pride filled outsider's judgement (as if Skye and we, his readers, have it all together), nor the despairing condemnation of the hopeless. Recognizing that consumerism is the thick air of our daily cultural breathing, he offers a way out by calling us to the traditional disciplines of prayer, solitude, hospitality, and more.
My own book O2: Breathing New Life into Faith ([...] offers help in developing these disciplines, much needed in our time.
Good critiques, poor prescriptions May 5, 2010
This book brings up great points, and I certainly feel like Jethani has opened my eyes to the perils of a church culture that attempts to reach the world simply by mimicking its trends. It is very inspiring in parts.
However, the presentation can be downright grating at times. Just keep a tally of how many times Jethani uses the words "imagination" and "conventionality" in the first chapter and you'll see what I mean. It appears in virtually every paragraph. He uses many of the same words and phrases over and over, often in a vague and generic sense, which sometimes made me wonder whether they represent genuine, thoughtful ideas, or whether they are used because they sound fresh and alternative. For example, Stephen was martyred because he was "imaginative" and the his killers were "conventional". When Jesus says we must have child-like faith, he means that we must use "imagination" and abandon "conventionality". For our imaginations to be "set free", Jethani explains, we need to be "illuminated by the ray from on high" so that we can that we can see the "real" world - "saturated with the presence and love of God."
This books strengths are in its warnings against a Christianity that compromises with its surrounding culture. But its weaknesses are that its summaries of Christianity and the state of the world were maddeningly superficial, and that its prescriptions are often so flimsy that I don't know what to do with them. When the advocacy of "imagination" is so vague, and the dismissal of "conventionality" so broad, i find myself wondering if this is anything that, say, Deepak Chopra would disagree with. Are these just flowery thoughts?
In the end, I think that the best way for Christians to transcend consumerism is to strive towards deep obedience to God. In doing so, we must open ourselves up to the creative and unpredictable ways that God works, being careful not to over-emphasize the "conventional" ways the church has worked in the past. We must be constantly strengthening our knowledge of scripture, so that our imaginations can be guided and focused by pure truth. And we must boldly accept our calling as culture-makers, not culture-mimickers.
As for the book, there have been many points where I was ready to call it quits, but I've always found it compelling enough to keep going.
Masterful May 2, 2010
Unexpected beauty in nonfiction. More than a call to change. A call to think about motives and how we live life.
Profoundly obvious, yet always unseen Dec 30, 2009
Have you ever found yourself incredibly detached from what is going on around you on Sunday mornings, wondering why you can't seem to relate to the hype of the "worship service?" If so, this book will help you put a finger on your disconnectedness. This book is not about bashing the church, it is about realizing how we as Christians have adopted the numbing effects of consumerism, and how the American church keeps the anesthesia flowing through its consumer driven programs. Pastor, you may think your church is unique and is different from the mega-churches who push polished programs and worship services. Think again. Ask yourself how your services and the culture of your church is any different from the mega-church catering to the "seeker." The bottom line, if we are honest, is the mega-church has more money and talent to lavish on its programs. Read this book and free your mind from the anesthesia of programmatic consumption of the Gospel.
Jesus the Commodity Nov 12, 2009
I read a lot. Some Christian books are simple. Too simple.
However, I thought this book was well-written and used Van Gogh's Starry Night (and his life) as a backdrop of this book.
If you want to be challenged, read this book. If you feel that the church looks just a little too much like the world, read this book. If you feel uncomfortable everytime God is sold, packaged, and presented with instructions, this book is for you.
What I love is that Skye challenges the current and past state of the Church, yet does so in a voice of love and as a voice considering himself part of the problem.
As Western Christians, we have attempted to commodify and package God into such a way that we have attempted to control and demystify God. Instead of believing in the power of prayer, we instead showcase 3 prayers God always answers and tell people to pray those.
This has created Consumer Christians - people who go from church to church simply looking for the best package for THEM. Problem number one? Worship is NEVER ABOUT YOU! It is about bringing GLORY TO GOD, not about what we can get from worship.
Chew on these from Skye:
* Surrendering control and embracing self-denial ensured that believers received what they needed to mature in Christ, not simply what they wanted. * Maybe God is waiting for us to be silent long enough so he may begin painting a new picture in our imaginations. * Our words about God are too often definitive, absolute, and proclaimed with an authority greater than their source. Such absolute pronouncements should rarely be spoken by fallible humans and then only with much trepidation. * The contemporary church is losing its ability to inspire. The church is a corporation, its outreach is marketing, its worship is entertainment, and its god is a commodity.
We must be willing to return to the basics and release our imaginations once again.