Consumerism and capitalism

* I greatly enjoyed Rodney Clapp's article "Why the Devil Takes Visa" [Oct. 7]. We, as a church in North America (indeed, the West), need to seriously examine our economic beliefs in the light of biblical revelation, and we need to examine our approach to biblical revelation in the light of (among other things) our history as a church. This Clapp has done, and I applaud him.

I wish Clapp had spent more time discussing a good definition of capitalism before talking at length about it. The article seems to assume that "capitalism" is a fairly unambiguous concept and then often uses the term interchangeably with "American consumerism." I think I know what he means, but I can imagine some will duck the article's force while quibbling over what exactly counts as "capitalism" and "consumerism."

Myron Penner
Liberty University
Lynchburg, Va.

* Rodney Clapp's article on consumerism was fine as far as it went. But the fact that spiritual pursuits and financial gain have been awkwardly commingled in North America is a simple consequence of our history as a European colony. Half of the passengers of the Mayflower were Anglican entrepreneurs who teamed up with their fellow travelers, the Pilgrims, to establish a colony whose goals were both economic and spiritual. The trip itself was financed by London merchants who, in an era before credit cards, issued debt to the colonists that they expected would be repaid. The Pilgrims had to borrow as much as modern Christians do today, so there's really nothing new about the need to go into debt to finance religious ideals. It seems to work just fine, actually.

Carl Briggs
Philippi, Wyo.

* I have been reading CT since my early days of college. The majority of the magazine's ...

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