Capitalism is not perfect. In his look at the religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers, Christian Smith considers mass-consumer capitalism as one of the formidable cultural factors shaping teenage (and adult, for that matter) spirituality. Smith says,
“Capitalism as a system must ever grow or it will die. The intrinsic problem in capitalism’s logic, however, is that actual human needs are somewhat limited and modest: it takes only so many goods and services to sustain a healthy, potentially satisfying human life. For mass-consumer capitalism to forever grow, therefore, it must constitute masses of people as consumer selves who misrecognize new wants as essential needs, whose basic sense of necessity always expands. Consumer demand must always escalate if capitalism is to succeed.” (178, Soul Searching)
Enter the Snuggie. This product is a symbol of just how far this capitalistic enterprise has taken us. That the Snuggie (and the Snuggie Puppy for those pet lovers out there) exists as a viable and even lucrative product is a testimony of our frailty as humans. And there are other products. Jerry Seinfeld recalled being up late one night thinking that he could use the Ginsu Knive because he didn’t have any kitchen knives that could cut through boots.
The Christian’s task in the midst of all this is to remember that Christ alone will satisfy. Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee, as Augustine famously said. Consider how the gospel might satisfy the needs stirred up by advertising (for more on this I recommend Sam Van Eman’s On Earth As It Is in Advertising? Moving from Commercial Hype to Gospel Hope)