Many people believe Americans to be lost in crass materialism, but I believe this is a misguided accusation.
Our fantasies of being a materialistic culture may be a defense against a true love of the material. In a culture that worships at the altar of Science; rationalism, empiricism, logical positivism, head over heart, thinking superior to feeling, we are more likely idealistic abstractionists, not materialists.
We are a consumer society in love with the idea of material and not material itself. How else can one explain fast food promoted via wonderfully sensuous and gustatory imagery yet leaving much to be desired in the actual eating? We eat the menu images in our head before we consume the food for our bellies.
How else do we account for plastics and synthetics disguised as real wood furniture and hardwood floors?
What about polyesters that mimic linen and silk, manufacturing clothing with so much more ease of care and disposability?
And what about faux stone masquerading as real rock on so many of our buildings?
This is all smoke and mirrors, fire and air, style without substance, appearance sans the material.
A true materialist loves the material world, cherishing the things of the world, repairing not despairing, recognizing that the world is not a simple commodity for our consumption but rather an animated, ensouled being of which we are an intimate expression.
When our dreams and fantasies no longer promise paradise in the ever after but rather plant us firmly in the present, and immerse us fully in the moment, then our lives, in tune now with the rhythms of soil and sea, sun and sky will truly blossom.
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