Book Review: Blessed are the Consumers by Sallie McFague

From The Catalyst, Summer 2015

Blessed are the Consumers: Climate Change and the Practice of Restraint
By Sallie McFague
Fortress Press, 2013

Reviewed by Sheila McKinley OSU

Sallie McFague, Distinguished Theologian in Residence at Vancouver School of Theology, takes an uncompromising stand in Blessed are the Consumers as she challenges us to live simply. She attributes this time of ecological devastation and financial chaos to our “insatiable appetites that are literally consuming the world.” What she proposes is restraint so that abundant life might be possible for all. She approaches this idea from three perspectives.

First, she examines the practices of three saints: eighteenth century Quaker John Woolman, World War II era French philosopher Simone Weil, and Catholic worker movement founder Dorothy Day. These three have chosen particular ways of living alternatively so that they may contribute to the life of others and to earth itself. Second, she delves into the Scriptures that many of us skirt around – the ones about losing one’s life to find it and about putting on the mind of Christ who emptied himself. She offers profound insights into the parable of the Good Samaritan. Finally, she looks at the interdependence of all creation, the give-andtake that is woven into our very existence.

In the end, she dares us to say, “I have enough” and reminds us that limit is not a bad word. She challenges the religions of the world, and Christianity in particular, to be the “conscience of the planet” and to state that some self-emptying on the part of the well-to-do is absolutely necessary.

This is not a comfortable book to read, but it is an important one. Now, more than ever, is the time to respond to a new vision of the good life.

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