The Hard Sell

Before TV and the ascendancy of mass advertising, kids formed their understanding of life and the world, their personal cosmology of the world’s meaning, in their homes, from their parents and older relatives. Today, before a child enters the first grade or has any serious exposure to religious ceremonies, he or she has already absorbed about 30,000 advertisements. They will spend less time in high school. Whatever spiritual and moral truths a parent tries to transmit to their child cannot possibly compete with the onslaught of sophisticated advertisements. The impact of the non-stop advertisement blitzkrieg aimed at the young all day, all week long cannot be undone in an hour at church on Sunday. Corporations pay big bucks to attract the brightest, cleverest people to create their dazzlingly deceptive ad campaigns, employing every artistic and psychological trick in the bag. No kid can withstand the onslaught. And sadly, grownups increasingly seem to be unable to resist the hard sell. As a result, consumerism has become the dominate faith in America…and Christmas is its major feast day. On the day we celebrate God entering our poverty, we equate desire and delight with shiny things we find in a mall. Jesus asked us to give everything away to the poor and follow him. But we give each other iPods and rush back to the mall for after Christmas sales.

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2 Responses to “The Hard Sell”


  1. 1 krebsjoan December 20, 2015 at 10:29 am

    It ain’t gonna stop. We’ve been already “branded” as consumers. As Francis says in Laudato SI we “urgently need to engage in a new conversation” and that conversation pivots around solidarity with all creation, especially it’s human portion. Thanks for the reminder,

  2. 2 aliceny December 20, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Consumerism is so insidious, pervasive and destructive to our souls because it eventually blinds our eyes (and our souls) to what is really important.

    I have been trying to show my grandchildren by example what is important,
    what is the one thing to seek above all else. I do not do this by ‘preaching’ or by sending them ‘religious’ books, or even by quoting Scripture. It can only be done by example (‘walk the talk’).

    It took me many years and much suffering to learn this Truth. It is the only thing — the most important legacy – that I can pass on to them: to ask Jesus, who experienced the realities of human life, to show us the way to love all people and all Creation by seeing through His eyes.
    Sometimes it is difficult to ‘love’ all people because some are not even likeable, let alone loveable. It cannot be done without the gift of God’s Grace
    that makes all things possible.

    One small example of what I am trying to impart here is the Christmas dinner that I will prepare for my grandchildren, son, and brother. Last year
    I wanted to ‘treat’ everyone by serving a filet of beef tenderloin instead of a less expensive cut. I felt a sense of guilt at the time, but kept it to myself.
    This year, however, I am cooking a large pot roast that will cost approximately $35-$40 instead of the nearly $100 for the tenderloin.

    The difference in what I will be spending will go directly to a local homeless shelter in Albany.
    I will tell everyone at the dinner table why I have made the menu change,
    and will continue that tradition for as many Christmases as the Lord gives me. I will put a silver bowl on the table before I serve dinner, asking everyone to contribute what they can,
    adding the money I saved by the menu shift, explaining my reason for doing so, and explaining to whom the money in the sacrificial bowl will go.

    I have a feeling that this is one Christmas family tradition that is one my grandchildren will remember – and hopefully continue when they establish their own families.

    On a personal note, Gerry, I can tell by your daily journal describing your new life and ministry in Haiti that you are a changed person and that your soul is brimming over with love and new-found purpose despite the hardships that you and Ecarlatte encounter in your daily living in your mutual desire to
    make a difference in what appears to be a discouraging and often hostile atmosphere.

    Peace and God’s Grace and Blessings to you and Ecarlatte.


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