Implications of Evangelii Gaudium for the holidays

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Tom Holmes

Contributing Reporter / Religion Blogger

It's interesting, if not divinely inspired, that Pope Francis should publish Evangelii Gaudium—in which he calls unfettered capitalism "a new tyranny"—just before Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

I'm on the board of directors of our local chamber of commerce, the primary objective of which is to promote business in Forest Park.  That is, to encourage shoppers to buy so that merchants can make more money.  They argue that if businesses make a profit, the village receives more income in taxes and the appearance of Madison St. makes our whole village look more attractive and therefore raises the value of our homes.

At the same time I'm a member of a Christian church in which I heard Mary's Magnificat (Luke 1:46ff) in which Mary declares, "My soul magnifies the Lord. . . .He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away."

Clearly, there's a tension here.  The Christmas stories in Luke and Matthew cannot be used to support capitalism, let alone unfettered capitalism.  But at the same time, the Judaeo-Christian tradition clearly declares that the created world is good and that God wants to bless his people with enough material goods to enjoy life.

The extremes—asceticism on the one hand and on the other hand greed and gluttony—are rejected as not being compatible with the shalom God intends for his people.  Moderation, the golden mean, seems to be what God has in mind.

So the question is, "Have we moved from the golden mean toward one extreme or the other?"  Pope Francis declared that we have, and it's toward the idol of materialism that our society has drifted.

We can blame the capitalists and their marketing experts, but if we, your average Joe and Sally, didn't take the bait we'd never get hooked on consumerism.  You are not being in a Scrooge if you put your foot down this month and say we've gone too far.  Your kids might whine and complain if there aren't as many presents under the tree this year, but when they are in your place years from now, they'll thank you.





Love the Journal?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

No Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad