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Materialism

(Lifting the Veil on Islam and the End Times)

Though it is not often thought of as a spiritual system or philosophy, and is certainly less structured than identifiable religions like Hinduism or Christianity, materialism nevertheless represents one of the most powerful controllers of human thought and behavior in the world today. That its dangers are not perceived by Westerners to the extent that they are by inhabitants of the two-thirds world (second‑ and third‑world countries) is explained by the fact that Westerners are largely ensconced in its trappings.

In actuality, materialism is accompanied by a full complement of religious symbols if one is prepared to see them. There are "holy places" such as Beverly Hills, Paris and Monte Carlo where the rites of materialists are pursued just as intentionally as those performed by Christian faithful in Rome or Muslims in Mecca. Lesser shrines in the form of shopping malls, nightclubs and resorts, can be found almost anywhere in the Western world. Furthermore, the idols worshiped by materialists easily rival the pantheons found in the animist or Hindu worlds. British journalist William Rees‑Mogg asks: “Who can deny that the New York of Donald Trump is a modern Vanity Fair where the towering temples are dedicated to the great god Mammon? As an idea,” Rees‑Mogg continues, “this materialism . . . is a form of idolatry, a breach of the first com­ mandment, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.’ It was the leading idolatry of ancient Rome as much as it is of modem New York. “

"For all their fierce reputation," writes Gary Kinnaman, "lions rely on their subtlety as much as their strength . . . [and] like a lion, Satan is looking for unsuspecting victims."

 

The prophet Amos put it this way:

 

Woe to you who are complacent in Zion. . You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves.... Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end.

 

Amos 6A, 4, 7 (NIV)

 

if, with their chameleon‑like natures, materialism and Hinduism represent more insidious threats to the mission of the Church, Islam is a no‑nonsense locomotive. Rather than relying on subtlety, the religion of Muhammad stalks its objectives through relentless force. Of all the spiritual superpowers facing the Church at the end of the twentieth century, the strongest, and certainly the most visible, of these is Islam.

 As a new spiritual superpower, materialism roared to life in the Decade of Transition on the back of a new creed: greed. In its retrospective on the ‘80s, People magazine splashed across its cover: Ready, set, go‑for‑it! From greed to glasnost, brash was beautiful & the only sin was not to win. Incarnating this philosophy on film, actor Michael Douglas (who portrays the ruthless specu­ lator Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street) declares to the Teldar stockholders: “The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed. for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms. Greed for life­ for money, for love, for knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.

 Just fantasy? To attract students, colleges in the U.S. are now taking pains to advertise the fact that every dorm is outfitted with VCRs and MTV, microwave ovens, tanning beds and phone ser­ vice food delivery. Even this, however, is not always enough‑at least it wasn’t for some students at Ohio State University who, in 1989, demonstrated because there were not enough brands in condom‑dispensing machines on campus.

 One of the primary rites of materialism‑consumerism‑is vig­orously promoted through the system’s chief valuesmith, television. Advertisers. the gurus of consumerism, speak about how they are only fulfilling needs by providing information about where and how people can achieve satisfaction for their needs. But as former ad­ vertising executive Jerry Mander observes, “if we take the word ‘need’ to mean something basic to human survival - food, shelter, clothing‑ or basic human contentment‑peace, love, safety, com panionship, intimacy, a sense of fulfillment‑these will be sought and found by people whether or not there is advertising. In fact, advertising intervenes between people and their needs, separates them from direct fulfillment and urges them to believe that satis­faction can be obtained only through commodities."

"Nothing," the advertisers say, "makes you feel as good as gold." Diamond jewelry must be purchased to satisfy "a womans craving for elegance." Loreals Preference hair coloring might cost a bit more, but, the actress coos, "Im worth it." Alcohol, auto­mobile and especially clothing advertisers consistently sell the attractiveness of a lifestyle rather than the functions of a product. Thus, flamboyant tennis pro Andre Agassi is employed to persuade his essentially younger audiences that "image is everything." How far has it gone? Seattles local news station KOMO reported in October 1990 that it is now possible to purchase outfits, cologne and even Dom Perignon ‑ for your dog.

In its monthly publication Investment in Tomorrow, Stanford Research Institute catalogs new areas where human feeling can be converted into needs. Jerry Mander reports that "one SRI category of market opportunity was particularly poignant: self‑discovery and inner exploration. Now," he says, "we are so outwardly fo­cused that inner experience has itself entered the realm of scar­city, making it packageable and capable of being sold back to us as a commodity. Our inner lives are now promotable as products. We get to buy back what we already had.”

Given the staggering abundance of Western materialistic cul­ture, the incidence of unfulfillment is telling. Tocqueville spoke of "the strange melancholy often haunting inhabitants of democracies in the midst of abundance." Why? In this modern day, the answer has much to do with the fact that we are inundated with so many media images of appetites gratified that we mistakenly as­sume. in the words of Ronald Berman, that "we are now not alone entitled to the pursuit of happiness, but to its actual capture."

The essence of materialism ‑and its great lie- is that man must live for his own sake. Rather than embracing happiness as the byproduct of obedience to God, the achievement of his own hap­piness becomes the highest moral purpose. In this process of striving to find, or make, ones own happiness, things take on great importance. Their role, in the religion of materialism, is to provide those who possess them with a sense of control over their physical surroundings. "They are the things that can be seen," writes Charles Kraft, "and [thus be] used to gauge our superiority over others in the race to get even more goodies. "

Whereas, for the Puritans, "a godly man worked diligently at his calling not so much in order to accumulate personal wealth as to add to the comfort and convenience of the community ‑because God bath made man a Sociable Creature." Relationships today are maintained only for as long as they can be mined successfully for personal benefit. Altruism and agape love are throwbacks to an earlier age. lust as life is an end in itself," declared the late materialist savant Ayn Rand, "so every living human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or the welfare of others."

 Thus, the amorality displayed in a CBS "60 Minutes" episode about a deadly, taxpayer‑supported drug "shooting gallery" located in a park adjacent to wealthy Swiss banks in Zurich should come as no surprise . Nor should the message contained in a political cartoon published recently in the Orlando Sentinel, which showed a Communist Chinese official standing in a square strewn with crushed bicycles and bodies. Addressing a Western businessman, he says: "We have lifted martial law." To which the businessman replies: "And a humane action that was, sir. Now, can I interest you in some new bicycles?" In the religion of materialism, the conscience must frequently be sacrificed on the altar of expediency.

 At the end of the twentieth century, materialism has become a clear and present danger‑and not just in the U.S., Japan and Western Europe. The Decade of Transition has seen the sermon of comfort‑through‑consumption spread around the world. Deliveries to the two‑thirds world have succeeded because, while citizens of Indonesia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union can see materialisms faults, many cannot resist its lures. Echoing this thought, social columnist Liz Smith conjectured in a recent interview with CBS newswoman Connie Chung that "maybe wretched excess, through the miracle of television, is what made some of these Communist countries decide they want to be capitalist, too." Perhaps the biggest concern of all, however, is that materialism has worked its way past the moral and theological sentries of the Christian Church. In many circles, style has now replaced substance, financial or numerical success is confused with spiritual anointing, and "servant" ministers are willing to sell their services for "ten shekels and a shirt." Churches are increasingly evaluated for the efficiency of their parking procedures, and psalmists and worship leaders are being replaced on the platform by Jesus Christs superstars.

- For all their fierce reputation, - writes Gary Kinnaman, - lions rely on their subtlety as much as their strength . . . [and] like a lion, Satan is looking for unsuspecting victims. -

The prophet Amos put it this way:

 Woe to you who are complacent in Zion. . You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves.... Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end.

 Amos 6A, 4, 7 (NIV)

if, with their chameleon‑like natures, materialism and Hinduism represent more insidious threats to the mission of the Church, Islam is a no‑nonsense locomotive. Rather than relying on subtlety, the religion of Muhammad stalks its objectives through relentless force. Of all the spiritual superpowers facing the Church at the end of the twentieth century, the strongest, and certainly the most visible, of these is Islam.

 

islam materialism

By: A portion out of “Last of the Giants” written by George Otis, JR

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