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TODAY’S CONSUMERISM: ENTRAPMENT IN TOO MANY ‘CHOICES’ IS ACTUALLY A FORM OF SLAVERY

“We are more than just consumers

In an inspired remark at the Mass for All Souls Day, our parish priest Fr Paul Redmond at Christ the King, Bramley, invited us to reflect on the fact that when we die and meet God ‘face to face, the full purpose and meaning of our own mysterious lives will be revealed to us’.

When we die and meet God face-to-face, the full purpose and meaning of our lives will be revealed to us

Meanwhile, we struggle on, trying to relate to others and manage our human desires for basic material goods, for other human beings and for God.

The difficulty seems to be that we are now living in times of such ferocious reductionism that our abilities to manage our desires are constantly being diminished. No need to worry about God in our secular world, only our abuse of others is a serious problem (especially in war and sexual abuse), though we can scarcely agree on what are the basic human needs of shelter, food and clothing for each and every person.

And yet, as St Augustine spelled out, our insatiable desires have the power to burn us up if not managed properly.

Our insatiable desires have the power to burn us up if not managed properly

An editorial in the recent Concilium theology magazine asked: ‘How can we humans order our desires rightly when we are bombarded with advertising that constantly tells us that we need more of everything all the time?’

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded

We are all increasingly reduced to being regarded as consumers today. All values are reduced to monetary measures as the ‘economy now rules all’. Parents are even being urged by government to ask first and foremost ‘can they afford to have another child’? Students, patients and passengers are all called ‘consumers’. Personal contribitions, even of charitable volunteers, are now measured in quantitative cash values. As Pope Francis spells out in Evangelii Gaudium : ‘human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a throwaway culture which is now spreading’.

Everything human is being given a price tag

Not only are humans being regarded as literally ‘disposable’, increased consumerism is being driven by economic globalism, which is leading to a widening divide between those getting richer and those becoming poorer. Trade and commerce are driven by a continuing commodification of human life where nearly everything that human beings can be or do is increasingly a marketable product. Everything human is being given a price tag. This is far from the mysterious meaning and purpose of the human vocation, that personal ‘calling by God’ of each and every person whose human dignity is sacred from the outset.

Resisting the tyranny of market domination

Resisting this ‘tyranny’ of market domination, as Pope Francis labels it, is a huge challenge. Notably, the new supermarkets of Aldi and Lidl are overtaking the ‘big four’. In Leeds, Morrisons in Kirkstall offers 28,000 choices of goods on the shelves; the new Aldi store in Bramley only 8,000. St Augustine warned that entrapment in too many ‘choices’ is actually a form of slavery which diminishes our capacity to make really important choices.

I find myself hard to grasp (St Augustine)

When he wrote ‘I find myself hard to grasp’ he was challenging that  reduction of our lives to the economy of ever-expanding choices and inviting us to open up to God’s mysterious purposes.

– This article by John Battle was published in the Catholic Universe newspaper, issue 7th November, 2014. (Bold and headings added afterwards.) For subscriptions to the Catholic Universe newspaper please contact http://www.thecatholicuniverse.com (external link)

 

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RESEARCH SUGGESTS THAT FAITH BENEFITS HEALTH – BUT IN BRITAIN TODAY, DOCTORS ARE NO LONGER PERMITTED TO BRING UP THE DIVINE PHYSICIAN IN DOCTOR-PATIENT CONSULTATIONS

“…As a GP in Margate, I have long been aware of the World Health Organisation’s view that spiritual health is an essential part of well-being.

Presenting the Gospel, or simply offering prayer to patients when relevant, has been an integral part of my work in these past 15 years, with many patients benefiting and some coming to faith.

Over the course of thousands of consultations with a spiritual element, I have had about eight written complaints. One was made directly to my professional body, the General Medical Council (GMC), and resulted in a prolonged public battle in which I sought to defend the right of Britain’s Christians to express their faith at work.

Predictably, last summer I lost my case and duly received an official warning from the GMC. One more similar complaint within a five-year period and a yellow card would quite likely turn red, losing me my job…

JUST ONE COMPLAINT AWAY FROM LOSING HIS JOB FOR SHARING HIS FAITH

…In 1993 guidelines allowed for gentle, sensitive discussions of faith. But subsequent [GMC] guidelines stated that doctors should not normally initiate faith discussions unless it is directly relevant to patient care. Again, I could sign up to that as it still gives us a wide freedom to introduce Jesus into situations where the Bible tells us (and experience shows) he can help – for example, anger, depression, anxiety, hate, inability to love, addiction and abuse.

But this March the GMC went further, stating that doctors should now not initiate faith discussions unless the patient has previously indicated a desire to do so.

This means that not only does the highly secular GMC not trust doctors to do their best for patients, but it also pays lip-service to the World Health Organisation’s view, while also ignoring the wealth of scientific papers that prove without doubt that faith benefits health.

NO ISOLATED CASE

Mine is no isolated case. When it hit the press, I looked to Christian Concern for help.

These lawyers based in London defend those who have run into trouble for holding on to Christian principles in the face of aggressive secularism and political correctness.

Working with this organisation has opened my eyes to the growing extent of this problem, as I met those who had been blacklisted by their professional organisations, or suspended or sacked for expressing their faith at work or in the public space.

They were just the tip of the iceberg. Over their five-year existence, Christian Concern has fielded hundreds of calls from those in trouble seeking help. Shocked by what I had seen, God prompted me to write a book, ‘Christians in the Firing Lane’ [Wilberforce Publications – all profits go to Christian Concern]…to inform the general public…and also, I hope, encourage others to make a stand…”

[One of the better known cases Christian Concern is defending is that of Celestine Mba, who is made to work on Sundays, another involves the right to put counter-advertisements offering help in response to London bus advertisements in favour of gay lifestyle, and also a case regarding the right for scouts and brownies to promise to do their duty to God.]
– The above is an excerpt of the article “Britain has become a hard place for Christian doctors” published in “The Catholic Herald” issue December 6 2013. For subscriptions please visit http://www.catholicherald.co.uk (external link). The book by Dr Richard Scott is available via wilberforcepublications.co.uk (external link)

 
 

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PRAYER TO HAVE CHRIST WITH US THROUGHOUT THE DAY

Lord Jesus, present in the Sacrament of the Altar, help me to cast out from my mind all thoughts of which You do not approve and from my heart all emotions which You do not encourage. Enable me to spend my entire day as a co-worker with You, carrying out the tasks that You have entrusted to me.

Be with me at every moment of this day: during the long hours of work, that I may never tire or slacken from Your service; during my conversations, that they may not become for me occasions for meanness towards others; during the moments of worry and stress, that I may remain patient and spiritually calm; during periods of fatigue and illness, that I may avoid self-pity and think of others; during times of temptation, that I may take refuge in Your grace.

Help me to remain generous and loyal to You this day and so be able to offer it all up to You with its successes which I have achieved by Your help and its failings which have occurred through my own fault. Let me come to the wonderful realisation that life is most real when it is lived with You as the Guest of my soul. Amen.

 
 

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WHERE THERE IS TEMPTATION, PRAYERS ARE NEEDED…DOCTORS NEED OUR PRAYERS!

“A SECOND OPINION”

BY FR IAN DOULTON (PUBLICATION DETAILS BELOW)

The new walkway was underway on the campus where I live and I was eager to get my feet unto it – but after the first “round”, I was feeling a slight but unmistakable stab each time my weight came down on the right knee but, being optimistic by nature, I kept going. Some days later I grounded to a halt in agony.

The moral was that flat-footed people like me should not walk long distances on flat surfaces. That’s why we are not allowed into the army. Soft tissue damage, as the doctor called it, makes life very complicated indeed.

The doctor’s advice was crisp: stop walking until there was no pain. Then people began asking a rather tedious question – “Why not get a second opinion?” – I agreed, in a bad-tempered sort of way, but I did go and saw another specialist.

A SENSE OF RELIEF

This specialist doctor asked me to walk around the room.
After telling me to sit down afterwards, he said, “There’s nothing I can do for you.”
He paused, waiting for my jaw to drop, and continued: “My advice is to cut off all contact with the medical profession. Doctors often do more harm than good. Start living normally again. You may feel real pain, but ignore it. I’ve seen this happen to the sanest of people. It’s a bit like a child alone in the dark house being advised to keep an eye out for ghosts. The ghosts WILL always appear.”
Did I feel like a real fool? Quite possibly, but that paled into insignificance before an overwhelming sense of relief and gratitude…

THROUGH THE EYES OF THE PATIENT

The best kind of doctor is able to see the world through the eyes of the patient. He will know that the patient is never a passive observer of the healing process and that, wherever the will to recover is lost, medicine is worthless. He will know how to challenge those who lapse into self-pity and how to encourage without being patronising.

It is not easy to keep abreast of all the latest medical research and at the same time to be aware of one’s own human fallibility. Specialised knowledge and skill have a tendency to make people think they have all the answers. That is a temptation, and where there is temptation – prayer is needed. Because they are human and because we all depend on them for so much: doctors need our prayers.

– This article by Fr Ian Doulton SDB was published in “Don Bosco’s Madonna”, issue July 2012. For subscriptions or to support seminarians, contact: Shrine of Don Bosco’s Madonna, Matunga – Mumbai – 400 019 – India, email: dbmshrine@gmail.com

 
 

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