sermon illustrations on shopping

Bill Bryson’s Love of Tacky Religious Keepsakes

For reasons that I have never understood, the French have a particular genius when it comes to tacky religious keepsakes, and in a gloomy shop on a corner of the Place d’Armes, I found one I liked: a plastic model of the Virgin Mary standing with beckoning arms in a kind of grotto fashioned from seashells, miniature starfish, lacy sprigs of dried seaweed, and a polished lobster claw. 

Glued to the back of the Madonna’s head was a halo made from a plastic curtain ring, and on the lobster claw the model’s gifted creator had painted an oddly festive-looking “Calais!” in neat script. I hesitated because it cost a lot of money, but when the lady of the shop showed me that it also plugged in and lit up like a fun-fair ride at Blackpool, the only question in my mind was whether one would be enough. “C’est très jolie”, (it is very pretty) she said in a kind of astonished hush when she realized that I was prepared to pay real money for it, and bustled off to get it wrapped and paid for before I came to my senses and cried, “Say, where am I? And what, pray, is this tacky piece of Franco-merde [being that this is a mild curse word, I’d junk] I see before me?” 

C’est très jolie,” she kept repeating soothingly, as if afraid of disturbing my wakeful slumber. I think it may have been some time since she had sold a Virgin Mary with Seashells Occasional Light. In any case, as the shop door shut behind me, I distinctly heard a whoop of joy.

Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island, DoubleDay, 2009.


Controlling the Cart

One of my small joys in life is grocery shopping. Ever since our kids were old enough to sit up, they fawned over the grocery carts that looked like little cars. Those carts are to grocery shopping what the iPad has become for the family road trip. How did we ever live without them? Game. Changer. Our kids still love sitting in the driver’s seat on the cart-car. They love the feel of the steering wheel in their hands. They love the power of having control of the cart.

         But then there is that inevitable moment. That moment when the kids in the cart-car, happily driving along, suddenly realize the steering wheel doesn’t actually work. I’m cruising in the grocery store with my kids and they’re turning the steering wheel as the cart turns. Everything is working just fine. Suddenly, the kid notice the greatest aisle in the store-the candy aisle. Like Fourth of July fireworks, the bright colors and attractive packaging are putting on a show. So as quick as their little appendages can move, they aggressively begin turning the wheel. Left, left, left, left. But much to their chagrin, the card doesn’t turn. It keeps moving straight ahead.

         That’s when they turn and look up at you with that “How could this happen?” Expression. It’s that dejected look of disappointment that screams, “You tricked me. This wheel doesn’t work. It does nothing. It’s useless. Completely useless.

 Clay Scroggins, How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge


Retail Therapy

Retail therapy gives us the thrill of the hunt and a hit of dopamine (the love hormone) as we anticipate a purchase, but it cannot feed our hungers. We know this. But we return each time, hoping it will. We buy and we window shop because we aren’t captivated by a better way, a better story. The process of finding holy in the suburbs is not necessarily eschewing Target runs, but it starts by waking up to our hungers in the first place. Our hunger is human: we want to be filled. We desire abundance and satiety. We want to belong to a people and a place. In the suburbs we settle for consumerism to answer our hunger to be whole. “There is an intimate and indissoluble link between suburbia and buying,” writes Roger Silverstone. Buying has become our favorite form of worship.

Taken from Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much

by Ashley Hales Copyright (c) 2009 by Ashley Hales. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com


So Many Things

The story is told of Socrates walking through the market in Athens, with its groaning abundance of options, and saying to himself, “Who would have thought that there could be so many things that I can do without?”

Taken from A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future by Os Guinness Copyright (c) 2013 by Os Guinness. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

See also illustrations on Consumerism, Materialism, Possessions, Wealth

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