The Fickleness of Our Consuming Hearts

17mastiff_watching-videoSixteenByNine540-v3 In 2013, one of these Tibetan mastiffs was one of the most prized dogs you could buy for yourself in China. The New York Times explains:

“There once was a time, during the frenzied heights of China’s Tibetan mastiff craze, when a droopy-eyed slobbering giant like Nibble [pictured above] might have fetched $200,000 and ended up roaming the landscaped grounds of some coal tycoon’s suburban villa… At the peak of the mastiff mania, some breeders pumped their studs with silicone to make them look more powerful; in early 2013, the owner of one promising moneymaker sued a Beijing animal clinic for $140,000 after his dog died on the operating table during face-lift surgery. But Tibetan mastiffs are so 2013.”

Today in 2015, just two years later, the lucky ones would be sold for less than $2,000 while the unlucky ones would be packed away in small crates and delivered to a slaughterhouse, “where, at roughly $5 a head, they would have been rendered into hot pot ingredients, imitation leather and the lining for winter gloves.” The article goes on:

“China’s boom-to-bust luxury landscape is strewn with devalued commodities like black Audis, Omega watches, top-shelf sorghum liquor and high-rise apartments in third-tier cities… Then there is the Tibetan mastiff, a lumbering shepherding dog native to the Himalayan highlands that was once the must-have accouterment for status-conscious Chinese. …In some ways, the cooling passion for Tibetan mastiffs reflects the fickleness of a consuming class that adopts and discards new products with abandon.”

Does that sound familiar? As I read this article this past week, that last line stopped me. I’m miles away from China, yet this “fickleness” describes my own heart all too often. This mass discarding of Tibetan mastiffs gives us a great example of the inconsistencies found inside each one of us. We’ve been promised the “good life” that comes from rampant consumerism, and we believe that we can have it. We become preoccupied with owning whatever is next or new. In the midst of a culture that defines our actions and relationships predominantly through a grid of consumption, we define our individual distinctiveness based on what we own. And our identity becomes built upon the music that’s playing on our Spotify, the designer jeans we wear, the SUV we drive, and the skinny hazelnut latte we drink on Fridays from Starbucks. The siren song of consumerism calls us to fill our houses with stuff, to pile our closets and attics (and maybe our bedrooms, too) with things that we use once or twice or for a year, only to be discarded when the new fad comes along. My heart is so easily pleased by the next and the new, but I am deceived, because that gratification only lasts until my iPhone screen shatters or until my new (pricey) leather boots are stained. Often I find that I am living to consume, rather than consuming to live. The things I once prized, the things I had to have, the things I spent time and money and energy on – many of those things I have already discarded because I have no need of them now. Those things have failed me; they didn’t live up to the promise that my life would be made better by obtaining them. Maybe Jesus’ teachings on money and possessions and treasures here on earth are meant to offer us a better blueprint for how to live our lives. Maybe it would do me well to follow that blueprint, to make Christ the king of my life, not the soon-to-be-rejected latest fad.

One Comment

  1. D Lammy said:

    This reminds me so much of The Story of Stuff ( I’ve often wondered why current consumer items are so disposable when just a couple of generations ago, “stuff” lasted much longer. I wonder if some of the tendency to gather things comes when our current consumer culture smashes into values of keeping and using what we have passed down from those who came before us.

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