Materialism: the writer’s enemy

Recently I took my wife and kids to the mall. It is only about twenty-five minutes from our house but I had never been. In fact, it had been a long while since I had been in any mall. Firstly, I am not a big shopper and second, I find malls are filled with clothing above all else (which generally I find clothes shopping boring). We only moved to South Carolina in the past year so there is much of the area yet to explore. But in my trip to the mall I was reminded of the dangers of materialism and specifically how they impede creativity and writing.

materialism writers enemy

After eating dinner we had walked through a portion of the mall. As I said before there were many clothing stores but there were also other shops. The myriad of jewelry stores, a few department stores, various kiosks in the aisle offering anything from bracelets to perfume. Then, on the lower level, there was an apple store. You must understand that I am not an Apple-only customer. My laptops have always been Windows machines due to the flexibility of the programing. However, I bought an iPad2 a few years back and have been thrilled with the quality of the product. Battery still holds almost 10-hours of life. I’ve dropped the thing on a tile floor and still it works seamlessly. But I have never been inside of an Apple store, though many people have told me it is fascinating because they carry the latest gadgets.

I love gadgets. Technology fascinates me and I do not mind spending good money on tech that lasts longer and gives me greater flexibility in my life. My wife stopped at one shop and I walked off with my youngest boys in the stroller to check out the Apple store. When I arrived I stood outside of the doorway and looked in. It looked like fun. But the desire to go in and fiddle with the new tech left me. I found myself thinking about all of the good in life that I have… and I have it without creating new cravings for more stuff.

Do not get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with shopping for good tech. But in that moment I realized that I have all I need. A beautiful wife and four great kids, a house and a bit of land, and a good job. Above all of that is God’s love surrounding and feeding that contentment.

No greater illustration can be given of this struggle than that of Pilgrim’s Progress, in which Christian carries a burden of sin along his journey to the Celestial City. The writer is Christian and the burden is Materialism. Especially in America where we are given so much and given the opportunity for so much more. Materialism consumes many of us. It drowns creativity and exterminates healthy ambitions.

I do not want to be always desirous of the things in this life, I want to be creative in expressing the love, the satisfaction, and benefits I enjoy. Writing is my way of expressing myself and when I write I convey the things that matter most to me and why they matter most to me.

Materialism is the writer’s enemy. Seeking after things only leads to more lust. Seeking instead to find that inner peace and communion with God leads to an abundance of creativity.

Q: How do you view materialism?


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Most obvious thing about me is how much I love reading and writing. This is truly my passion and has been for almost as long as I can remember. I know that sounds cliche, but it is true. Growing up in a conservative Christian home I learned to value God, intelligence, and life. I am always learning. I am a husband and a father of three young children. I love my family and my life. God is good and I attribute my success to His provision.

Great fantasy stories are a lot of fun. I write the stories that I want to read and am fortunate enough to have several published novels under my belt as well as more in the pipeline.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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12 thoughts on “Materialism: the writer’s enemy

  1. Materialism leads to a kind of excessive pragmatism in which things that have no demonstrable practical application get demoted to the realm of trifles. Art, fiction, etc., become quaint luxuries that really aren’t considered useful. This is a great danger, because humans — indeed, the universe — is both material and spiritual, and only beauty and truth can feed the spiritual soul.

    While I’m not sure I’d say materialism as a “philosophy” or “world view” stifles *creativity*, it certainly does stifle beauty and truth. Materialism as a vice, however, definitely stifles creativity. Who can make anything new when too busy adoring the things that already are?

    As I heard another author (Timothy Shoemaker, I think) once say: “Non-fiction goes into the head. Stories go into the heart.” Change and conversion happen in the heart. The head can come up with things like new vaccines that cure people, but only the heart can make someone want to. Only in the heart can the world be made a better place.

    • I don’t want to start an argument but vaccines are actually really bad for you they have brought back nearly irradiated diseases and are made by aborted baby cells . They don’t even tell the doctors what are in them

      • There is some truth to that Mike. But vaccines can also be useful. They have stopped the spread of dangerous diseases in the past. However, I would agree in part with you because nowadays they are a huge moneymaker and I, personally, had a flu vaccine ruin my health for two years (which is quite ridiculous for someone as healthy as I was in my early twenties.

        But this is not a vaccine discussion thread, so let’s not continue this on my website. This article was about how materialism harms creativity.

    • Hi Scott, You wrote that well, but I will point out that materialism is always a vice. It is never a positive attribute. By definition it is “a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.”

      Creativity is an expression of our inner being, our hearts and souls, thus any negative attribute (such as materialism) will hinder creativity.

      I liked your statement: “Who can make anything new when too busy adoring the things that already are?” There is a big difference between materialistic thinking and having an appreciation for the things God has created. Materialism is an idolatry and a constant temptation.

      • I can see your point, however I think that people who are immersed in a materialistic worldview still demonstrate creativity, and some quite a bit. That’s why I say I’m not willing to go out on a limb and say creativity, in general, is stifled. It may not necessarily be *artistic* creativity, but creativity is just as necessary to engineering as it is to painting.

        So, I would not be bold enough to claim that materialism stifles the creative expression of the inner person — that may be impossible, actually — but I would be willing to say that it prevents certain manifestations of the expression, or perhaps that it limits the range of mediums through which creativity can be expressed.

        I’ll have to consider carefully the assertion that materialism is “always” a vice. In the context of the definition you state, I’d say I probably agree, but I meant materialism more to mean a worldview that arises from reaching a conclusion that the material universe is all there is. Such a worldview doesn’t have to consider the spiritual at all, but a worldview of strictly material cause and effect can, it would seem, only ultimately lead to an evaluation of the value of a thing on the basis of its pragmatic application. Thus, goods with greater immediate practical benefit become praised above those with less. However, the creative effort and originality required to bring forth such a good might be just as great as to bring forth one that hasn’t an immediate, discernible practical benefit.

        On the other hand, I’ve discovered over the years that my philosophical expertise can be picked up at just about any dime store in town. :-)

  2. First thing is I’m glad you decided not to go in . Second I find it a little humorous that Mr Apple-ton likes more than Apple products . Third thank you for the warning . And just as a little request can you make a writing tip on how you put romance in a book without making it a girly romantic book . Oh and we homeschoolers rule 😉 not to sound stuck up

    • One more thing being a 14 year old writer people have told me not to write about adults saying since I’m not one I don’t know how they would act . Being a homeschooled kid once what would you say .

      • Mike, I’m unsure what your question is. Are you saying that people are telling you not to write about adult characters because you wouldn’t know how an adult acts?

          • I would disagree with that then and here is why: Writing is a journey. A journey of conscience and of faith. It is the writer’s expression of how they perceive the world around them. Writing about adults can give you practice understanding adults and can help you recognize things that you do and do not want to emulate in yourself as you grow up. While it is true that you probably cannot write about adults as well as an adult can, it doesn’t mean that you should not use writing as your expression of trying to understand and grow. Keep the Lord at the forefront in determining which values to prize in adults that you observe, then write about those things in light of God’s perspective.

    • Yes, homeschooling is an amazing thing. The community of homeschoolers is one of the closest-knit that I have ever known.

      • Ok I will than you since I’ve been at a almost mental war wig myself trying to figure out what to do . So as a fellow Christian writer (and a guy I think is fully awesome) it’s ok to trust you