Before we go any deeper into the subject of poverty, before your thoughts on the subject have a chance to form and coalesce, before an unfamiliar picture has a chance to position itself in the forefront of your mind, we’re going to take a short break. We’ll be right back.
The word from our (corporate) sponsor, which is, to quote Hamlet, “Why, anything, but to th’ purpose” is the word that interrupts. It is not the content of the interruption, but the interruption itself which counts. By interrupting, “the word from our (corporate) sponsor” negates, disintegrates, and thus subordinates any
purpose that could potentially undermine the signs and sirens of consumerism. Relish the diversion. Inhale the distraction. Taste the impotence of cultural criticism. Recover your distance from social responsibility and return to the only game in town. Return again to the fridge. Welcome back.
If the fact that Psalm 139 was composed over two thousand years ago was overlooked, then it would be completely understandable for someone to conclude that this psalm is describing the marketing industry, the evangelical arm of Mammon, in the secular age:
O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
You are familiar with all my ways…
The signs and the sirens of consumerism hem us in, behind and before. They know when and where we sit, when and where we rise, when and where we walk, and when and where we drive. The marketing industry is familiar with all our ways.
The evangelists of Mammon announce what’s new, what’s coming soon, and what to prepare for. Where would we be without them to show us the way? Step by seasonal step, they lead us. And this is how Mammon builds and maintains a cultural consensus, one, it must be added, that marginalizes the poor.
The Poverty and Its Associates - P&A series is being written by Len Van Harten and the posts don't necessarily reflect the position of the London Poverty Research Centre. Len lives in Thorndale, Ontario. He has worked in group homes, in classrooms, and in nonprofit housing. He believes that if you aren’t confused, you aren’t paying close enough attention to the world around you.