The Antidote to Consumption

Josh Hamm: He will touch a coal to our lips and set our souls aflame with curiosity and creation.

The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato and Shakespeare tomorrow at breakfast. He is always expecting to see some truth that he has never seen before.”

-G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

The modern life is all about consumption. Whereas those of old would die of a physical consumption, watching their bodies waste away and wither while their souls flourished, we are entrenched in a culture of consumption. Inhaling books and movies and television without a second thought; we are content to let the world wash over us, content with a life buried under of empty words.

Ideas, philosophies, and histories travel along invisible waves in the ether until, crackling and sparkling with life, they are consumed without a second thought. Consuming art and ideas is to seek knowledge merely to know, and without drinking deeply enough of the Pierian Spring. To bend knees to lap up the draught, not caring what the knowledge truly is or its effects. Eyes are glazed from the flickering of screens leading to the Slough of Despair. To create is to act out our calling as Christians – taking part of being made in the Image of God, so then we too set forth to create as we were created.

The Word of God is living and active, a sword which can give and take life with the utterance of a few words. Likewise, Christians believe that inspiration and revelation are by no means outdated or extinct. They experience new Truths at every moment of their being; the only question is whether or not their eyes and ears are open.

Here is where the true difference between a life of consumption and the Christian life. Consumption wishes to cram in every last possible experience, gain fame and power, prestige and wealth. There is no time for Truth, only for truths to manipulate. Christians should also seek new experiences, new knowledge – but not for gain or for the sake of it. We need to realize that we are surrounded by mystery, a mystery to be approached with fear and trembling. Reaching out with trepidation to the world, we find it beautiful and sublime, even in the midst of our Fallen nature. New words spring forth as if from the Bard himself; they emerge from the cave to see the difference between shadow and reality, not once, but daily. For God is not a being to be approached and then forgotten. He will touch a coal to our lips and set our souls aflame with curiosity and creation.

Creation and consumption are two opposing forces which much collide as surely as a castle meets a siege. We cannot create because we are too focused on everything around us, but the Christian must create, because they are so focused on everything around them. The living, breathing body of Christ – the Church – is not a lumbering behemoth in its death rattle, but a beacon of hope and truth; the only solid ground in a sea of illusions. And it is this Church, this revelatory truth which in turn acts on its members to create. Christians do not only expect to meet Plato and Shakespeare at breakfast and nod hello without another thought. No! They expect to meet them and create with them, penning plays by lunch and having Socratic dialogues in the evening. Christians are not only taught, they are engaged with their surroundings in order to discover and uncover the brilliance of God’s creation through our own creation.

In short, the new Truths illuminated by the Church are not static ideas that have ceased to be important. They are malleable clay we breathe life into much as life was breathed into us. That is our mandate; our calling. Instead of standing on the threshold of Eden, face turned to the wasteland before us; the Christian should stand on the threshold of Heaven, eyes raised upward to gaze upon the kingdom of God.


“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

-G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong With The World


Josh Hamm is a writer from Vancouver who spends far too much time on the large things that matter little, rather than the little things that matter largely. When he’s not blogging at Profound Distractions, you can find him listening to music, with a book in hand, watching a movie, or putting pen to paper.


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