This interview with Giles Slade, author of the soon to be released Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescene in America, is a worthwhile read. Slade criticizes a consumer culture that values disposability rather than durability. His arguments are that disposable Ipods are bad for everyone except Apple, and that the disposability of technology is doing damage to the environment. There are only so many people to sell Ipods to, and when they run out, Apple’s only choice is to sell them another.

I’m more curious, though, how this consumer approach to economics will fare in the long run, and how it has affected other areas, such as romance and education. My favorite quote:

Then I ran across a French theorist [Gilles Lipovetsky] who said that in the early 20th century we made a transition from a very traditional culture to a fashion culture, where everything durable and traditional is discarded and where we become used to quick changes, quick interactions, and superficial relationships between people.

Yup, sounds right.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.


  1. Broken links, spelling errors… is this a transcription of a podcast or something?


  2. Egads! Fixed, I think!


  3. […] I blogged last night about disposable Ipods. I fail to see how subordinating Christianity to a culture of consumption can be good or produce long lasting, deep relationships with God. Unfortunately and perhaps for lack of a better strategy, Teen Mania has adopted this consumerist, entertainment oriented mindset to reach youth. Not surprisingly, the results have been less than they desired. What the article doesn’t address, of course, is the solution to this problem. Ben Witherington, the New Testament and a smarter man than I, appeals for substance and better education. I quote at length: My word today to Youth Ministers is this— one key to retaining the youth is this— have they been captivated, caught up in love, wonder and praise of the Lord, or have they merely been entertained? There is a difference. Does the event not merely make them dance but make them kneel and confess their sins and pray? Does the event not merely move their emotions but challenge their thinking? Does it bring them to repentance, or are you offering some kind of forgiveness without repentance, crown without a cross, encounter without commitment? And are you integrating them into a caring Christian community where they will be planted deeply, richly in God’s Word? The key to retention is surrounding a new Christian with a caring, supportive and yes challenging Christian environment that involves more than just worship. It also needs to involve some profound Christian education, as our youth will never get that from our culture these days. Youth ministry is often failing because in general the Church’s Christian education is failing. Less than a third, on average, of people who go to worship stay for Sunday school or Bible study or its equivalent. We should have noticed this warning sign a long time ago. […]


  4. The concept of consumer culture reminds me of Walker Percy’s hilarious book, “Lost in the Cosmos.” A tongue-in-cheek rather than apocolyptic take on the futility of man’s search for meaning.


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