Book Notes: The High Price Of Materialism

In The High Price Of Materilism, researcher Tim Kasser compiles decades of research – his and others’ – to define “materialism”, make a case for what might cause it, and prove its negative impact on us, our families and whole societies.

People whose values center around materialism – the accumulation of wealth, fame or a better image – are at a greater risk for a whole host of problems, from loneliness to mental illness and life-threatening physical conditions.

Here are some of the notes I took while reading…






The high price of materialism

Tim writes as a scientist interpreting scads of research. He’s not writing as a theologian. Tim doesn’t call certain behaviors and desires “sins”, for instance. He relabels them “values” that “undermine well-being.” But as a Christian I couldn’t help nodding along as, page after page, Tim’s research proved scripture correct. All kinds of evil has its roots planted in the love of money. Where there is envy and selfish ambition there is every value that undermines well-being.

He defines materialism much more broadly than I ever have, catching a lot more of us in his wider net. He correctly diagnoses modern America with fame addiction and image obsession. He proves a link between insecurity and the pursuit of wealth, image and fame. And he pins much of the blame for materialism on parents, documenting how parenting shapes a child’s values into adulthood.

This is what Tim gets right: What materialism is, what causes it, and why it’s dangerous.

But then Tim abruptly stops writing as a scientist. He ditches research and provable facts altogether. Instead, he writes a prescription based primarily on quotes from other smart people and his own passionately held opinions.

The High Price Of Materialism is fascinating, 90% wonderful for anyone wanting to better understand the research that’s been done so far into materialism. But if you’re looking for a cure? Tim gives us nothing more than a band-aid for our cancer.

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