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From cathedrals to shopping malls

David Wells has likened the shopping mall to the cathedrals of medieval times. He says,
“If Gothic cathedrals symbolized feudal society with its sense of being, of hierarchy, and most importantly of all, of God’s transcendence, malls symbolize for us the consumer culture in a secularized world. Malls are our cathedrals…They are not just places to which we come to buy articles; through careful control of lighting, temperature, and visual displays, they create an alternative reality, a kind of earthly heaven in which the pleasures are endless and the gratification promises to be enduring. Here we find ourselves and construct our identities…The many products we purchase in these malls, places that are quite unlike life, build up our self-image and leave a trail of pleasurable emotional experience. They are the products that are passed out in these, our secular cathedrals, sacraments that both point to and also mediate the salvation for which the empty have come” (Losing Our Virtue, 88-90)

Author: Casey Shutt

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  • Sarah

    I know we’ve talked about this a lot but it’s always good to be reminded of ways the world communicates happiness to us. These are the everyday things we need to compare to the Gospel and see how it is so counter-cultural. Although I will continue to go to shopping malls, is see them in a different light!

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