Mark Sayer’s book The Trouble with Paris examines the way Modern Consumerism has been exalted to the “New Religion”. Sayers shows that corporate America has erected plastic Idols that manipulate consumers to always want more, and more, and even more of that plastic stuff. But just like that song by the Rolling Stones, "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" the believer is left empty. “Human beings are used and discarded like Styrofoam boxes that held junk food.”1
When we worship made things instead of our LORD we are left with a hyper-reality. This hyper-reality is a vacuum that leaves worshipers empty. “Reality is not considered an impediment to desire.”2 Corporate America has a vested interest in keeping us unhappy so they can cure this pain by supplying us with endless happy meals with a toy included inside.
Sayer also states that our kill joys happen when we compare ourselves with the Joneses. When Mr. Jones buys a new Corvette, or moves to the better part of town; he leaves us with our broken down car, and our adequate house we feel a sense of shame that we are not making enough.
The American Debt traders say, “Don’t worry be happy, and buy this new Chevrolet; if you don’t you’ll regret your life forever!” The market also attempts to terrorize us with too many choices, just look down the aisle for Spaghetti sauce. What is the best one? There are way too many to compare, how do we make a decision without that feeling of guilt? We could stand there for thirty minutes, in order to make a good decision.
Death is the spotlight that the creed of hyper-reality is fraudulent and a heretical religion. More money cannot conquer the effects of gravity and the ultimate end from this world. But we can control our expectations.
The goodMark Sayers brings an important thesis to the Mass Market Christian.
The badThe book stumbles in some of its Theological Presuppositions. I am not sure that Sayers has a firm grasp on the triune god; it seemed that he made Jesus a separate entity from God. This is a classical heretical misstep.
The Conclusion“Christian Lite” book that will sharpen our focus on our relationship to and in Consumer America.
1Hedges, Chris. "American Psychosis." Adbusters (2010). Print.