Posted by monicamynk
It’s a challenge to live in a “gimme” society and shield our children from the wiles of materialism. Let’s be honest–it’s a challenge to shield ourselves. We’re continually surrounded by advertisements, samples, new technology, and a lot of times we worry more about how we’re going to obtain these treasures than we do about sharing our faith and living to please Him.
We read passages like Matthew 6:33 and Luke 12:27, acknowledge their truth, and then become distracted by earning an income and arranging to get more things.
Matt 6:33 Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you
Luke 12:27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say to you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
It’s a temptation to let this carry over into our writing. After all, we often fantasize about things that fall under the pride of life–fame, fortune, luxury. Sometimes we give characters objects and experiences that we could never have and live vicariously through them. How many books, for example, base their premise on the celebrity falling for a Cinderella, or the underdog rising to the top?
Just as it’s important to consider modesty when describing how our characters dress, or prudence when deciding their actions, we should consider the avoidance of materialism and covetousness when placing objects into our settings.
Of course, we sometimes need our main characters to have such traits to show their growth. I’m not talking about that, but rather those background things that cement our characters in the settinig.
Do we, for example, set them at tables with an abundance of food, eating gluttonous meals and disposing of the leftovers? Do we dress them in the latest fashions and accessorize them with designer handbags and expensive shoes? Do they drive brand new cars and live in outlandish homes, or strive to fit into a luxury-seeking crowd?
Are their kitchens stocked with the finest china, or their walls covered in exquisite art?
What do our characters spend money on? When they go on dates, do they dine at the finest restaurants? Do they buy expensive coffee on the way into work every morning? Do they spend an hour covering their face in expensive makeup and styling their hair?
This is especially important when writing for teens. I watch them in my classroom every day, emulating everything they take in. They braid their hair like Katniss and get tattoos like Tris. One student can walk in holding the latest model cell phone, and four or five of them will have one in the next week.
IMHO, it’s important to show them that it’s okay to live in a modest home and watch a television instead of a theater/projection system. It’s fine to drive an older-model used car. Our characters can order from the 99-cent menu at McDonald’s as opposed to ordering the six-dollar bagel.
We should make an effort to have them occasionally giving as well as receiving. Maybe they take the leftovers from their family dinner to the elderly lady next door or sift through their closets to find clothes to donate to the needy.
Do you have any suggestions? What are some other ways we can clip materialism from our writing?