Is "Shopping" The New American Religion?

Much has been made of the decline of organized religion in the West…I believe this is correct.
As a Catholic, I have seen the attendence at Mass decrease…and I expect that other Christian denominations are experiencing similar declines.
Bt, balancing this is the rise of “shopping”. It seems (to me) that shopping malls are the new churches-the parking lots are full on Sunday afternoons. “Shopping” seems to be a family activity as well-one sees parents with kids in tow. It even seems like bying stff has become a religios experience-you renem your consumerist vows when you file to the cahier and pay for the stuff you bought.
Do you see the religious aspect of shopping?

No, unless you spread the definition of religion to include everything from video games to spectator sports.

No more than I see the religious aspect of NASCAR, talk radio or any other activity that people spend more time with than they did 50 years ago.

Not shopping itself, but hedonistic pursuit of self-pleasure is something of a life philosophy for most Americans (and other Westerners) nowadays. Hence petty consumerism, sexual immorality, entertainment shows with little educational value, etc., etc. In the past the middle class was a bastion of morality but this is no longer the case.

You seem to be implying that family and social events that people engage in on sunday are religion. I don’t know if I agree with that (lots of people go shopping on weekdays too. Most probably just pick the weekend since everyone is off work or school). I don’t think people engage in shopping for the same reasons as they have religion.

Some aspects of organized religion (like being part of a constructive, supportive community) haven’t been replaced. They just went away. But I have heard americans have generally dropped out of secular organizations too in the last few decades.

A writer for sports illustrated once coined the term Sportianity to describe the fervor with which professional sports are treated in the U.S. It’s certainly quasi-religious, but it’s not conflicting - Lord knows you can be a football fan and a Christian too, but Sunday morning Masses on the west coast are probably poorly attended during the NFL season.

:dubious: Are you 14 or 140? Toss in an order to get off your lawn and you’ve got the spiel down.

The middle class was only a “bastion of morality” on Leave it to Beaver. The 1950’s era America that you hear longed for never existed. If you think TV use to be full of nothing but educational shows or that porn is a recent invention you’re mistaken. Consumerism isn’t new nor is any other moral failing you’d like to attribute to America.

As for the OP, I agree that you seem to equate family activity on Sunday with worship. I don’t know why you’d think that one was the other. Would that mean that Seventh Day Adventists never worship?

The middle class was never a “bastion of morality,” although we used to lecture others more and lie about our own activities. Many of the traditional middle-class values and behaviours (such as wife beating, drinking during the work day, institutionalized racial and sexual discrimination, and so on) are no longer acceptable in America, and good riddance.

Popular entertainment has ALWAYS been sexually overcharged crap, from the time that Og first carved a Venus figurine. People have ALWAYS been enticed to purchase more than they need since it was first discoverd that gold can make pretty jewelry.

Don’t be so fast to accept what people want you to think about how they were. People have been lying about their personal behaviour forever, and were more careful about what they wrote down than our Twitter-headed contemporaries are today.

Well except for the fact that crime is down substantially in the last few decade and that those portions of the country with the least religious affiliation have some of the lowest crime rates. Aren’t you too youg to look back to the good ole days?

YES – and the mall is my church! :wink:

Tn the past the middle class had to keep up the appearance of morality, that’s all. The pursuit of pleasure was considered undignified, fit only for the lower classes OR the very rich.

I see some transference of the working class/lower-middle class morality into talk radio, NASCAR and similar entertainment. Two examples: veneration of the military beyond gratitude for their service, and promoting a traditionally white, masculine ethic of work and competitiveness. NASCAR takes the positive, love-ye-one-another approach, talk radio the negative, get-straight-with-God approach. Neither actually mentions God, of course.

It remains to be seen how much of this is substituting for religion, and how much is a possibly cynical outreach for more eyeballs and earballs.

Shops give you something in exchange for your money, so they’re not really comparable.

I think the OP’s onto something, but maybe overstating a bit.

I think organized religion provided two meaningful things for much of history:

  1. Actual spiritual / ethical guidance

  2. A hobby and entertainment.

Shopping definitely satisfies #2. It’s a thing to do when you want a thing to do.

It may offer a few nods at #1, but I don’t think it’s a real substitute. Things that MIGHT count as modern subsitute seem like science, self-help, psychology, and Oprah.

Shopping is Original Sin.

Really, it’s in the bible.

God called Adam and Eve right after they ate the fruit.

Eve said, “I have nothing to wear!”


I suggest you might want to read a book entitled Inventing the Victorians, by Matthew Sweet.

This is incorrect. However, in some areas church memberships has seena huge exodus. In fact, this is pretty similar to the population loss of many blue states, as they are moving towards “red” ones, and often for similar reasons: economic opportunity.