We began this series yesterday if you need to catch up. Please consider these ideas carefully.
Five: If needed, Christians should throw away credit cards AND Debit Cards
America’s consumerist society creates thousands of dollars in “electronic money” every day of illusory money. Christians who struggle with impulsive buying habits should destroy both their Credit and Debit cards. Thus, we have to plan out how much money we want to spend, go to the bank and get the money during the regular business hours, and we have a limited supply of money to meet our sometimes unlimited demand. Consider that such a move would also help to get rid of the rampant individualism we see behind “our” money. Rather than going to a machine to get money, we have to actually talk to a bank employee, perhaps talk to people as we stand in line, and actually go inside to pay for our gasoline. We will more and more opportunities to come out of our individualistic bubble if we get rid of our cards. Furthermore, if we do not have a debit card we cannot make impulsive late night trips to places we have no money for.
This also deals with the compulsive need for “borrowing” money from credit companies who already know the way the system works. We are projecting that we will have money in the future, but Jesus clearly reminds us to worry about tomorrow when it comes. What about loans? Should Christians then take loans to buy a house? Careful consideration must take place when looking at homes. I am not qualified as an economist to talk on such issues.
Six: Christians should stay AWAY from the iPod
Technology is not the evil being addressed here, but iPods are not a good deal for for a number of reasons. First, iPods are not the best financial choice for music consumers. One will not receive the maximum amount of “musical space” for the amount they are spending. Just look at this site here where a bundle of 500 CD-R (each 700mb) costs only $85. That is total of 350 gb worth of musical space for $85. The more bulk one buys them in, the more bang for the buck. An 80 gb iPod already costs $250. Simple calculations let us see the better deal.
Some might argue that an iPod compact design and convenience of being able to listen to it anywhere at anytime make it a better deal. But iPods are also one of the largest propaganda machines for American empire. The iPod is meant to be an individualistic endeavor where only one person can listen at a time (if you want to spend more money on listening to an iPod communally you must spend at least another $40 to listen in the car, or another $90 on a radio docking station, or at least another $20 on a cable if your stereo has the correct converters). Another downside to iPods is that parents cannot control the volume levels and thus ear problems result. Parents have a harder time controlling what their children listen to. Finally if it breaks, we lose over $200 down the tube right away. If a CD breaks it costs less than $0.50 to replace. Christians need to think seriously about issues like this. Not only are CDs more communal, but they can create a sense of shared identity as we listen to music together. Music was always meant to be a communal experience.
Seven: Christians should “Go Wireless”
See! I told you that I am not anti-technology. Within the context of communal living that we discussed in the last post, going “wireless” is the best option for Christians. What do I mean by this? Christians should trash their TV and invest their money into computer technology. Consider the economic benefits. TV is a passive activity, and whether or not we realize it, time is as valuable (if not more valuable) than money. In economics this idea is called “opportunity cost.” Most people don’t think about the fact that while they are watching TV passively, they could also be cleaning the house, reading a book, talking with one another, serving the church, helping the poor, or a whole host of other activities. In addition to this, the cost of cable and satellite can be avoided (saving you $50 a month or $600 a year). You can still rent movies and watch them on the computer. You can still get the news online and even watch many clips from CNN, Fox News, and other syndicated news sources. The computer is quickly becoming the new mode of development in the world, and Christians should be taking advantage of it.
As I talked about a while ago, the technology of the internet is flattening the world. Christians need to be taking advantage of this new medium by investing into the internet our time and resources in order to create a very particular Christian message. This is already being done to a large extent by bloggers, web-designers, and the like who are attempting to subvert the idea of internet with the very particular message of Jesus Christ. One idea is to create an online community for your church. Encourage members of your church to keep blogs where they are able to share their ideas, talk about theology, ask for prayer, and talk to one another. As a blog community begins, a pastor can send out messages quickly through his own blog, through e-mail, and can use the internet as a sounding board for new ideas and discussion within the church. This also allows those who have to leave the church for business reasons or family reasons to stay connected to the church body after they have left through reading about the lives of the church members, praying for them, and commenting on their blogs.
The next advantage of Christians becoming an “internet community” is to stay connected to the information of the church at large. We can quickly receive updates from missionaries in the field, learn about conferences taking place all over America, be involved in blog conferences like the ones taking place on the catholic theologian Balthasar and become part of the church universal. We can be praying for one another worldwide and whatnot. All of these things require that Christians become competent with the internet and wireless world.
…more coming soon…