Losing our souls for self

This observation by Eugene H. Peterson is noteworthy:

We live in a culture that has replaced soul with self. This reduction turns people into either problems or consumers. Insofar as we acquiesce in that replacement, we gradually but surely regress in our identity, for we end up thinking of ourselves and dealing with others in marketplace terms: everyone we meet is either a potential recruit to join our enterprise or a potential consumer for what we are selling; or we ourselves are the potential recruits and consumers. Neither we nor our friends have any dignity just as we are, only in terms of how we or they can be used.

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology, p. 38


We in the West excel at marketing commodities, and how natural it is for us to treat people as commodities as well. As the self has replaced the soul, we have become a culture populated, dominated, and interested in selves. Because the self is, after all, so very much more selfish than soul.

2 thoughts on “Losing our souls for self”

  1. I have seen this development during my time in New Zealand. My impression of the country as a child in the 1970s was that New Zealanders had dignity. Not a heck of a lot to buy, but that meant everyone had savings, there were plenty of jobs, and there was a sense of self-respect. Today, consumerism has taken hold: you can get anything you want, but fewer and fewer people can afford it. Folks are defined by what they have, not who they are, and the average spend of a household outweighs the average take-home pay packet. This is dangerous, but it stems from an unquestioned pursuit of a class-dividing technocracy at the expense of looking after our own. Our present government, so full of politically correct promises to correct things in 1999, has proved to be no friend in narrowing the income gap and restoring the lost sense of dignity.

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