In many of the world's religions there is a strong vein of anti-materialism. Jesus counseled his followers that did have money to give it to the poor and hungry: Jesus said, "If you will be perfect, go and sell that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."
Buddha tried to find enlightenment through near total deprivation of worldly goods, the Prophet Muhammad lived an austere life, and more recently, individuals such as Gandhi have advised that people "live simply so that others may simply live."
Of course, everyone's idea of wealth and excess are different and one man's Hummer can be contrived as another's Geo Metro. How do we determine what is sufficient and what is excess?
Not unlike the message we read in Affluenza a while back, Father Timothy V. Vaverek has written the following:
The consumerist lust for a better life is inherently destabilizing of our personal and economic lives. Since we are not satisfied with the good we possess and since our self-worth is connected to never settling for less, we must always be earning and acquiring more.
Hence we work longer hours, fill our days with more self-actualizing activities, and increase spending so that we can have the better life now. In this way we become slaves to dissatisfaction, time, and money--harsh task masters who allow no rest.
So, how can someone who follows a belief system that promotes some level of asceticism also accept materialism? Is this contradiction justifiable? For example, is it possible to follow the teachings of Jesus and accept personal, monetary wealth at the same time?
I'm interested to get your input on how your religious beliefs affect your opinions on consumerism. Do your religious views (or lack of them) directly drive your desire to limit consumeristic desires in your life?