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Fasting from Consumerism Living in Holy Abundance in a World of Consumption Kelly Bohrer and Mary Niebler.

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Presentation on theme: "Fasting from Consumerism Living in Holy Abundance in a World of Consumption Kelly Bohrer and Mary Niebler."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fasting from Consumerism Living in Holy Abundance in a World of Consumption Kelly Bohrer and Mary Niebler

2 Introduction Reasons for simplifying What role does solidarity play? Consumption quiz Small group discussion Large group discussion Advice for simplifying Best practices Solidarity challenge (questions to reflect upon, approaches to simple living, lists of best practices, resources, etc)

3 Why Simplify our Lives?? 1. We are called to act as good stewards to all of creation 2. Simplicity helps us save money and leave behind worries 3. It can feed us spiritually

4 Who do our choices impact? "In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation... even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine." —Great Law of the Iroquois

5 There’s only so much to go around Live simply so others may simply live… -Mahatma Gandhi. If everyone assumed the lifestyle of a typical American, we would need 5.2 earths. -Washington Post For 2005, humanity's total ecological footprint was estimated at 1.3 planet Earths - in other words, humanity uses ecological services 1.3 times faster than Earths can renew them –"Data Sources". Global Footprint Network. 2008-10-29. Retrieved on 2008-10-31

6 We have a choice of which way to go hp/GFN/page/world_footprint/

7 Care for God’s Creation “Everyone has a right to a healthy environment. Care for land, water, and air is everyone’s responsibility. No one sector of society — individuals, neighborhoods, markets, mediating communities or institutions, or the government -- has the sole responsibility for caring for the environment... From a religious and moral perspective, what seems to be lacking in the current discussion is talk about notions of stewardship which imply not only responsibility for the care of those things in our possession, but even notions of voluntary restraint and sacrifices of our uses of private property for the sake of the common good.” -US Bishops, Statement on Takings 1995.

8 Free yourself from worry and save money And why are you anxious about what to wear? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say to you, that even Solomon in all his glory is not arrayed like one of these. If that is how God dresses the wild grass, won't God dress you even better? After all, the grass is here only today. Tomorrow it is thrown into the fire. Your faith is so small! So don't worry. Don't say, 'What will we eat?' Or, 'What will we drink?' Or, 'What will we wear?' People who are ungodly run after all of those things. Your Father who is in heaven knows that you need them. But put God's kingdom first. Do what God wants you to do. Then all of those things will also be given to you. So don't worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. - Matthew 6:28-34 Be content with what you have, for God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid." - Hebrews 13:5-6

9 You have a CHOICE C ontemplate H aving O nly I f C onsidered E ssential -The Power of Simplicity Patty Kreamer, 2004

10 Simplicity can feed us spiritually When we rid ourselves of material distractions, we can focus more on the importance of the spiritual in our lives: Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” -Mark 10:21

11 Global Solidarity Solidarity is an essential stance of faith and a feature of moral consciousness recognizing that we belong to one human family. One demand of such membership is the responsibility to participate in the building up of community and the fostering of unity. Solidarity invites such participation and awareness at all levels and across all borders. We have mutual obligations to promote the rights and development of all people across communities, nations, and the world, irrespective of national boundaries. Solidarity is a way of “being with” our sisters and our brothers around the globe. -Education for Justice The practice of solidarity needs to respect the initiative, creativity, and sense of responsibility of others without absorbing or depriving them of what they are capable of doing. -Cardinal Rodriguez

12 Consumption Quiz from Education for Justice Education for Justice is an online resource that requires membership to access. Therefore, we are unable to post this quiz for public viewing online. However, feel free to join Education for Justice by visiting

13 Time for Group Discussion Break up into small groups and share/discuss reflections on the quotes provided. –What perspectives do the quotes offer on the issue of consumption and/or lack of simplicity in our lives? –Which quote resonates most with you? Why? –Which “reason” for simplifying your life speaks most to you? Why?

14 In order to seek one’s own direction, one must simplify the mechanics of ordinary, everyday life. ---Plato It is not so much that we have come to worship material things at the expense of spiritual things, because worship would imply respect and, in our disposable society we seem to have little respect for what we consume. Our detachment from the goods we buy means we are also detached from the companies and people who make them. Global economics means companies can move production to countries where it is easy to keep wages down to a level that would be unacceptable elsewhere. Cavanaugh points out that, in spite of the prevalence of these practices, we can and should make informed and better choices to buy products from companies that emphasize just and fair treatment of their employees over low-cost production. If the consumerist emphasis is on individuality, the Christian emphasis is on community. The Eucharist is the key, and it should affect how we consume things in our daily lives. By consuming the Eucharist we become part of the greater community that is the body of Christ. We are no longer the individual at the centre. If we truly understand this, we can adjust our patterns of consumption so that we maintain right relationships not only with what we buy but also with everyone involved in the production of those goods — in other words, with all of God’s creation. --- Maria Di Paulo, Catholic Register Special What is in question is the advancement of persons, not just the multiplying of things that people can use. It is a matter – as a contemporary philosopher has said and as the Council has state – not so much of “having more” as of “being more.” --Pope John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, #16

15 All of this can be summed up by repeating once more that economic freedom is only one element of human freedom. When it becomes autonomous, when humans are seen more as producers or consumers of goods than as subjects who produce and consume in order to live, then economic freedom loses its necessary relationship to human persons and ends up by alienating and oppressing them. ---Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, #39 Indeed everyone is familiar with the picture of the consumer civilization, which consists in a certain surplus of goods necessary for people and for entire societies— and we are dealing precisely with the rich highly developed societies—while the remaining societies— at least broad sectors of them—are suffering from hunger, with many people dying each day of starvation and malnutrition. Hand in hand go a certain abuse of freedom by one group—an abuse linked precisely with a consumer attitude uncontrolled by ethics—and a limitation by it of the freedom of the others, that is to say those suffering marked shortages and being driven to conditions of even worse misery and destitution. --- Pope John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, #16 But do our things really belong to us? One of the most tragic aspects of consumerism is that it is built upon the lie of possession. The fact is: you do not really own anything. Your things are only temporarily in your possession. That possession will end when your power to own things ends (be it through bankruptcy or illness), or when you yourself come to an end. Your ownership is as fleeting as the morning dew. The shirt on your back at this very moment will be worn by someone else one day. The charity shops offer more than cheap clothes; their real charity is to reflect the temporary nature of ownership, and indeed, of all material things. If your power to own things is temporary, are you not more accurately described by the word “steward”, than by the word “consumer”? If you possess something for even a moment in this life, has it not simply been entrusted to you by those who follow? And if you understood this and lived it throughout your days, would not every one of your actions be gestures of love and respect for the bright and shining children who even now are being born? How could war occur in a world trembling with such gestures? Even if consumerism was not built upon a lie, it still could never make us truly happy. It is designed to disappoint: this is how it perpetuates itself. The economy of a truly satisfied nation would be a disaster by contemporary standards. But it would actually only be a smaller affair, operating on the modest terms expressed by essential needs: food, shelter, health enhancement, and the education of the higher self. Its citizens would no longer cower in houses made of credit cards. ---Renaissance yoga and Ayurveda

16 It is manifestly unjust that a privileged few should continue to accumulate excess goods, squandering available resources, whiles masses of people are living in conditions of misery at the very lowest level of subsistence. Today the dramatic threat of ecological breakdown is teaching us the extent to which greed and selfishness—both individual and collective—are contrary to the order of creation, an order that is characterized by mutual interdependence. Pope John Paul II, 1990 World Day of Peace Message, #8 A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can let alone.... Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand, instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail. -- from Walden, by Henry David Thoreau Every new cellphone number that’s conjured from the bowels of the computerverse proves our longing for, and our failure in learning how to communicate truly. -- Charles Anderson The consumer is the consumed. To be a consumer is to be involved in a process of destruction. Consumption occurs as the inertia of matter feeding on itself. Eventually we ourselves are thrown away like yesterday’s newspaper. In the process of consuming things, our life and creativity are eaten up by commercial forces and worldly interests. We take in temporary sensations or ideas that keep us distracted, removed from our true Self and its nobler aspirations. To discover the truth of who we are, we must discard the consumer mentality and reclaim our spiritual dignity as detached observers. Our true being is in consciousness. It is immaterial, empty of things, devoid of all that is outer. -- from Vedantic Meditation: Lighting the Flame of Awareness, by Dr. David Fr

17 Large group discussion Any thoughts, ideas or questions you would like to share with the large group?

18 Where to Begin? Less is more Start slowly Change one thing at a time Start with a friend, a group, or as a family Find local experts on certain topics Read articles, books, websites Every little bit helps Don’t overschedule Use this Lenten Season to motivate you…

19 Some Lenten “Fast” Ideas -Spiritual Fast- pray, meditate, take time to be with God -Fiscal Fast- have a day, a week, or a month when you don’t purchase anything. Buy only used products. -Green Fast- make a commitment to making environmental choices- have a “No Electricity” night at home or go without using disposables.

20 Tips to go Simple: Best Practices Around the house Transportation Entertainment Shopping for Food Shopping for Other Goods At the workplace

21 Solidarity Challenge taken from “What are some acts of solidarity that you can do to better understand the lives of those in our global community? What are some barriers, or stereotypes, that you may have with others? How can you grow to overcome those barriers? How might this particular act of solidarity help with that?”

22 Approaches to and Expressions of Simplicity Adapted from Choiceful simplicity – consciously organizing our lives so that we give our “true gifts” to the world. Compassionate simplicity – such a sense of kinship that we “choose to live simply so that others may simply live.” Ecological simplicity – choose ways of living that touch the Earth more lightly and that reduce our ecological footprint. Elegant simplicity – celebrates natural materials and clean, functional expressions. “My life is my message.” (Ghandi) Frugral simplicity – cutting back on spending that is not truly serving our lives to achieve greater financial independences. Natural simplicity – remember our deep roots in the natural world. Feels a deep reverence for the community of life on Earth – not just humans Political simplicity – organizing our lives to live more sustainably in ways including transportation, education, design of our homes and cities. Soulful simplicity – approach life as a meditation and to cultivate our experience of a spiritual presence which infuses all that exists. Uncluttered simplicity – taking charge of a life that is too busy and too stressed. Cut back on distractions (material and non) and focus on essentials

23 Other Questions to Ponder How can we cultivate a healthy gratitude for all that we have, while weeding out attachment to material goods, activities, efficiency/comfort, etc. What are alternative habits, rituals, behaviors, to give us more time to live a life of faithfulness to our Faith’s call to peace and justice? How can you challenge the all-pervasive consumer society in terms of your individual life and in terms of bringing about a more just world? Do I consider the impact of my consumption patterns on other people and on the earth? What outside influences don’t feed your soul or life purpose? Are you filling your day with only positive people, things, and information?

24 Do you ever wonder what it might be like to… Have some time to do what you want to do and not what you have to do? Sit down and relax for an hour without feeling guilty because you should be doing something else? Welcome unexpected company any time of the day without being embarrassed? Enjoy the activities you have planned because they stand out rather than blend in with the fast pace of the day? --- taken from “The Power of Simplicity” by Patty Kreamer, 2004

25 Kelly and Mary’s Best Practices Around the house/Yard Replace all lightbulbs with cfl’s Keep lights/TV/radio off when not using Use power strips and/or unplug Conserve water – use a shower timer Use a programmable thermostat Energy efficient windows and appliances Insulate walls, pipes, ducts (also, seal ductwork) Weatherstrip Use curtains and/or insulative blinds (honeycombs) Take advantage of trees in your yard Use composite decking material (made of sawdust and plastic grocery bags) have solar hot water heating have geothermal heating and cooling use an electric, rechargeable lawnmower wear a self-winding watch buy energy through DPL using green pricing ( install recycled carpet - the fibers are made from 100% recycled plastic pop bottles Wind turbines Compost/worm bins Recylce plastics, paper, aluminum, glass, boxes, batteries, old electronics, etc Use green cleaning products (vinegar works great for floors) Reduce use of bleach and anti-bacterials Use cloth napkins. Use washcloths instead of paper towels Always use reusable dishware Close off vents in winter time Insulate ductworks Remember, it is natural for grass to go brown in summer – reduce watering! Buy a front loader washer Use a sud saver for washer Low flush toilets (or put brick in toilet tank) Low flow showerheads Keep water off when shaving Do all laundry at one time Use a clothes line in the summer Plant ohio native plants to reduce watering needs Re-use ziploc bags Take lunch to work in washable containers Downsize Cut off rooms from being heated/cooled Don’t run ice machine all of the time Take advantage of sun/shade in your home Use rain barrels Leave oven open after turning off Use ceiling fans Make your own cards and send e-cards Use recycled paper Give donations for presents Give homemade (including baked goods) for presents Share big items with neighbors Use leaves for mulch and compost Don’t bag yard waste! Clean fridge coils

26 Kelly and Mary’s Best Practices Travel and Transportation Buy a hybrid/ electric vehicle Make sure your tires are inflated properly Carpool Bike Walk Keep car well-maintained- oil change, tire rotation Combine errands Use public transportation Dispose of oil properly when changing Use green products when washing your car/ go to a green carwash Cut down on flying if possible/ purchase carbon offset credits Limit take-out in disposable containers Avoid sitting in drive-thrus Use a travel mug Use a reusable water bottle Use reusable shopping bags Carry Tupperware with you when you eat out Have your kids take the bus to school if possible When driving, accelerate slowly, stick to the speed limit Pack your own lunch Make your own cards/ use e-cards Give donations as presents Give homemade presents/ baked goods

27 Kelly and Mary’s Best Practices Entertainment Bring Tupperware Look for reusable dishware restaurants and patronize them Don’t make a habit of seeing first-run movies Seek out independent forms of entertainment Patronized local restaurants Use coupons/ entertainment booklets Set up a babysitter swap When out to eat, stick to drinking just water Share meals when out NPR Card AAA discounts Stick to nature for entertainment- utilize your park system Use your local library for books and movies (cheaper and environmentally conscious) Turn off the TV

28 Kelly and Mary’s Best Practices Shopping for Food Reusable shopping bags Buy local Join a CSA Choose organic foods Avoid processed foods Stock your kitchen with staples Buy in bulk/ or least amount of packaging Limit meat consumption Follow a seafood fish-guide Visit your local farmer’s market Freeze or can food when in season Buy in season Compost Fair trade (chocolate, coffee, sugar, nuts, tea…) Get your meat, dairy and eggs raised humanely, hormone and antibiotic free Cage free eggs are better than free range Pay attention to sales- freeze things Bake your own bread Teach your kids where the food comes from (and remind yourself)

29 Kelly and Mary’s Best Practices Buying Goods Buy used Donate extra stuff Pay attention to packaging Fair trade/ fair labor practices Check out online resources- green pages, ie. Check from where things are shipped- eBay- choose the closest location Reuse paper Collect scrap paper Recycle Recycle scrap metal Do your research- think long term when making purchases, not instant gratification Don’t buy dry clean only clothes!

30 Kelly and Mary’s Best Practices Workplace or Parish Use power strip with computer and turn it off when not in use Turn off lights Encourage recycling paper and other products Use recycled office products Use re-usables instead of disposables Pack your own lunch Carpool Clean fridge coils Use stairs Use scrap paper for notes, reminders, etc. Limit copying Double-sided copies Use natural light Have a meeting outside Have a morale committee Have a “green” committee Buy in bulk Recycle printer cartridges, batteries, electronics, etc Use CFL lightbulbs Use travel mugs for coffee Use fair trade coffee Use vegetable or soy based candles as opposed to petroleum based wax Others???

31 Urban myths Leaving the computer on “power save” or sleep mode uses less energy than shutting down and restarting later. Turning down heat/AC at night uses more energy then to just leave temperature constant. Compost bins require frequent stirring Turning off electronics is good enough – no need to unplug or put on a powerstrip Mercury in fluorescent light bulbs is reason to NOT buy cfl’s Anti-bacterial soaps and cleaning products should be used in your home

32 Best place to get more information… Visit Green (co-op) America’s website and become a member! How much “Earth” does your lifestyle require? Take the ecological footprint quiz at Visit simple living at

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