number five


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13 Responses to “number five”

  1. John Baldauff Says:

    I really dig the Project (RED) idea but why in the world does it have to cost so much. 28 dollars for a shirt from the GAP? Too much. Armani? Way too much. I wish it was a little more accessible.

    And Dr. Haas’ list, nice.

  2. Adam Says:

    In all honesty, I think that this Project (RED) thing is a dangerous endeavour. It seems dangerous to me because it is telling us that we can do something which we are required to do by Christ (care for the poor, in this case), by doing something that we are called away from (practicing materialism and self-interest). We’re called to care for the poor in action, not by slightly redirecting our appetite for consumption of material goods. We are supposed to care for the poor, not to pay people to care for the poor in our stead. It’s not as if our spiritual duties are some sort of teleogical action; remember, that’s why we protested against paying priests to say masses for us.

    Let’s examine the end of the article – “You have to wear a shirt.” While we do, generally, have to clothe ourselves, let’s unpack the statement a little more in context. It’s not just that we have to wear clothes; we have to wear new clothes. It’s not just that we have to wear new clothes; we have to wear expensive new clothes from trendy stores. We might as well say, “You have to keep up with trends in clothing, no matter the cost, so you might as well support the poor while you’re at it.” Are we so caught up in the consumeristic lies spread by our culture of disposal that we are unable to think outside of the parameters which it sets for us?

    Shop thrift stores. Mend clothes. Spend $2 on a t-shirt and give the other $26 to someone who needs it. Get involved. Love the poor – don’t just modify your habits of consumption to assuage rich white guilt. Let’s avoid this case of Reaganomics made explicit and work for something that is subversively and explicitly Christian, rather than merely a hyped-up, trendy version of slavery to capitalism.

    (Sorry for double-posting; I had to fix a couple of typos.)

    (P.P.S.: I second John on Dr. Haas’ playlist. Is there anything I can do to get the iTunes version up for mine, too?)

  3. the call Says:

    Adam,

    In a lot of ways, I agree with your sediment and in others I do not. And let me thank you for your willingness to engage and leave feedback. You have no idea how happy your post made me.

    Here are some questions that I have.
    Is there anyplace for new consumption?
    Where do you draw the line?
    What do you do?

    It’s hard to have a conversation on a blog; so, feel free to stop up at the Call office on Monday, Wednesday or Thursday afternoon because I’d love to chat with you.

    Your willingness to engage is appreciated,
    Chris

    (bring a cd copy of your playlist with you so we can make the iMix)

  4. Brandon Says:

    good stuff Chris, love the Magazine

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I think the (red) project is interesting. It isn’t all that different than the traditional tithe in the church. The wealth can contribute to justice issues rather than the injustice from products that are made in unjust conditions.
    While it would be easy to condemn expensive products and consumerism, but why not use it to encourage justice? A better world comes in increments, and proximately. Not usually all at once.

  6. John Baldauff Says:

    I am going to have to disagree with Adam on this one. No one is saying that you “have” to buy a red shirt. And shopping at the GAP isn’t only about consumerism and self-interest. Perhaps it is about aesthetics. Sure some people shop at thrift stores (me) but some also like to buy a nice, new sweater every once in awhile (me also). We are not called to give all our money to the poor or the needy. So then what should we do with it? Well I don’t think buying designer clothes falls outside this open arena. Can consumerism manifest itself as evil? Sure it can. But can someone be both a consumer faithful giver to the poor? I think so too. Perhaps this (project)RED is a way to do that.

    On to another topic, I saw The Departed tonight. What an amazing piece of filmmaking. Scorcese hits it on the nail with this one. In many ways a completely brutal film, it is woven into itself in a way that makes it more that just bearable. For those that have seen it what do you think of how DiCaprio and Damon’s characters often look and dress the same throughout the film? Is Scorcese implying some type of indentity issue here? I would think so, as the film is too smart in its other facets for this to be coincidental.

  7. Adam Says:

    Hey, thanks for the engagement, guys. I’ve got a few things to say in response – and, to echo Chris, I’d love to get together to talk about these issues face to face, as well.

    Greg: I think that you’re confusing teleological good with moral good. While the (RED) project might accomplish good ends, it does not do so by using the best means available. The danger I’m getting at is not that we might sin by being consumeristic; rather, it’s that our already existent tendency toward the sin of consumerism might tempt us to settle for a lesser good than we might otherwise easily accomplish. While I’m aware that this sort of argumentation can be taken too far, I think it’s necessary to recognize that, at best something like Project (RED) is a capitulation. Again, I’m not arguing that participation in it is evil; I’m arguing that participation in it is a lesser good – and that leads me into John’s (and, to some extent, Chris’s) posts.

    John: I wouldn’t argue that we oughtn’t ever to consume, or buy new things – there are situations where it is the most prudent option, or the only option. I don’t buy used toothbrushes. What I am arguing is that this shouldn’t be our default mode of action – that we ought to seek to be, in a sense, conservationists and creative agents first, and consumers second.

    As a side note: there are two other major problems I see with this project that I won’t go too far into, but that I would love to discuss sometime. The first is, to what extent is it permissible to, say, wear a t-shirt that declares that I’ve given to the poor? The second, and I think more serious issue, is that this sort of thing strikes me as fundamentally anti-Christian (and anti-human) in that it continues a certain Western tendency. (John and Chris, you’ll probably see a lot of Walsh and Keesmaat in this next statement, by the way). This tendency is to treat all of human action as economic – to filter everything we do through the language and mechanism of the hegemony of globalist capitalism. I worry whether this is, in some sense, a capitulation to Empire.

  8. John Baldauff Says:

    Adam, let me respond to your two side notes. First, I think it is perfectly fine to display a project(RED) shirt as it is promoting a movement and by wearing one you are asking others to get involved. I don’t think it’s about saying “look I give to the poor.” If it turns into that for some people that certainly isn’t project(RED)’s fault.

    Second, the reason project(red)is asking for an economic response is because the Aids epidemic, especially in Africa is primarily an economic problem. Sure the west has abused economics when it has come to Africa but isn’t a movement like this trying to rectify some of that abuse? And personally I am not willing to go ahead and say that global capitalism is all bad. I think it is dangerous to take Walsh and Keezmat at face value as they seem to have some major marxist tendencies and I’m not sure that is any more “christian” than capitalism.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I’m going to put a small amount of cash on Steve Garber talking about this at Chapel on Wednesday. Any takers? Be there. Listen closely. Wisdom like that doesn’t come to Geneva every week.

  10. Jason Says:

    Wait, Steve Garber is going to be at chapel? I think I might have to get to campus this week then.

  11. theBildungsroman Says:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/54365

  12. chris Says:

    i decided to get my own id rather than just posting as the call.

    anyway. greg i can gurantee you garber will talk about it. it involves bono… how could he not?

    adam, john, greg: chris and i (also chris) are thinking we should get together and discuss this sometime soon and post it at as a podcast. shoot me an e-mail (cmcarson@geneva.edu) and let me know what you think about that.

  13. Jeff Robinson Says:

    Guys I’m really enjoying this conversation. I tend to get really suspicious of things like this, like Adam. I think it’s really good that through Project (RED) people will become more “aware” of issues like AIDS that are plaguing the African continent and that a foundation working to make things better will receive some important funding. However, I have some problems with companies like Gap being a part of it. They, as well as their subsidiaries Banana Republic and Old Navy, are well known for sweatshop abuses. I think they have worked to eliminate some of that over the past 3-4 years, but it seems to me that it is still an issue for the company. I think it is nice of the company to participate in Project RED, but what about working harder to prevent their products from being produced in sweatshops?

    Project RED is probably one of the best marketing ideas Gap has put together in recent years (even better than those Audrey Hepburn commercials). For the public, the image of the company is now one of compassion and mercy, though the company still operates on unethical means of production. http://www.newdream.org/consumer/shop.html
    Personally, I also think it is more effective to give money to those who need it than to support a questionable company in its overpriced, charitable marketing campaign. I had similar thoughts about Nike and those “Livestrong” bracelets.

    While colors like Red, Pink, and Yellow are hip, why not give our money to someone who won’t boost our social status or rely on unsavory production methods in the process. Seems like these types of campaigns may be warping our sense of compassion if we’re expecting to receive something for our good deeds.

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