Devin Wax is not so happy with the significance attached in the current cultural climate to ordinary choices like where to eat. He wishes a chicken filet sandwich were merely a chicken filet sandwich:
We’re witnessing a convergence of two developments.
Development #1: Consumerism as a Religion
The first development is the lifting up of our consumer choices to the level of religion.
In American society, we are more and more inclined to define ourselves by what and how we consume. We no longer buy things to meet our needs, but to become something, or to express who we are.
“Brands are the new religion,” says Douglas Atkin, writing about customer loyalty. People express their own identities through what they buy.
With an endless sea of choices, Skye Jethani says, “individuality is the new conformity.” Choice is a powerful factor in a consumer society, because more choices provide more ways for consumers to demonstrate their uniqueness.
Development #2: Politics as Religion
The second development is the lifting up of our political views to the level of religion.
In American society, we are more likely to see political views as non-negotiable aspects of our true selves. This is why recent research shows families having a harder time with a son or daughter who wants to marry someone from an opposing political party than from a different religion!
Tell me how Neo-Calvinism did not add momentum to this. When all of our choices have religious significance, how different is that from the “personal is political” that feminists and other politics of identity advocates taught us? Now Mr. Trax wants a cigar (okay, a bubble gum cigar) to be only a cigar?
If more New Calvinists had read 2kers more than Tim Keller, had understood that religion is different from common life, had been content with Reformed worship instead of transformed cities, had valued church officers more than every membered ministry, they might be able to eat tacos without the least concern for larger significance — political or religious.