Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

We Are What We Buy

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

We Are What We Buy

Article excerpt

We're consumers and we're Christians, and these identities have everything to do with each other--or should, according to theology professor Tom Beaudoin in his new book Consuming Faith.

Like other semi-informed consumers, I had heard about the sweatshop woes of major tennis shoe companies and celebrity-owned brands, Some of my first-year college students even told me they learned in high school to avoid buying Brand X or Y because of labor concerns. But I never had the guts or occasion to connect all this to my personal economy; I was finally doing it by trying to figure out how several of my favorite branded products were actually made.

Six months of leaving unreturned messages, getting transferred back and forth between the same people, being put on hold for interminable amounts of time often followed by "accidental" disconnection, arguing with people who had little influence and even less real knowledge, pursuing false numbers, being referred to evaluations of factory conditions by "inspectors" who were employed by the companies themselves, wading through public relations fogspeak, and then consulting watchdog groups who had some data on these companies--after all this, finally some clear patterns were emerging. …

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