Land of Desire and Doom

Recently I’ve been working my way through a book called Land of Desire, by William Leach. It chronicles the history of department stores, merchandising and the growth of consumerism in America from 1880-1930. It’s an interesting read.

Something that occurs to me as I read are the parallels to today. Department stores aren’t prevalent any more, but they were once objected to, just as Wal-Mart is in many places now.

The aim of merchants was to create desire. To help that along, installment payments became popular during that period.

Flashy, colorful, glitzy displays were once the rage. Now we do much the same thing on the Internet. What was new is old and is new again, only in different packaging.

Ironically, the man who did most to focus the minds of individuals on the things of this world was a Christian. John Wanamaker was generous to his customers and employees, but it’s sad to think his merchandising led people to focus so much on themselves.

Is that what true prosperity and happiness is all about? I think not.

This may sound unrelated, but having a right view of the kingdom of God is of the utmost importance. It is yet to come. This world and its goods are not the believer’s reward.

Consumer driven societies are doomed to fail sooner or later. For example, take a minute to see what God says about Tyre in Ezekiel 28. Then, of course, there’s Babylon, past and future, as noted in Isaiah 14 and Revelation 18.

Reflect on that as we watch America decline rapidly.

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