The Real American Religion

It has been said that football, rather than Christianity is the real American religion. But, I’m not so sure I agree with that. In my opinion, the major religion in this country is the worship of Mammon (and you know what the J-man had to say about that). Football is just one of our methods of worship and Superbowl Sunday is one of its biggest feast days.

That is fitting considering the staggering nature of the consumption surrounding the Superbowl. Much like Christmas and Easter, people host parties and get-togethers in their homes, which leads to a significant amount of coin being passed at the grocery store. It is estimated that we spend over a $1 billion on snacks alone for Superbowl parties; God only knows how much is spent on alcohol.  Not being a football fan doesn’t lock you lock out of this holiday, either; there are plenty of people who watch just for the commercials. That makes them almost as important as the game itself (maybe more so this year, as the game sucked), leading to an average ad cost of $4.3 million for a 30 second spot. And, that’s not counting the game itself. If you wanted to go and see in it person, the cheapest tickets cost $1896 while the most expensive went for $449,645.  I’m not sure that last is for one seat or a box, but either way, it’s what I’d call pricey expensive insane.

The insanity isn’t limited to the Superbowl, however; it’s all over the place. You see it at Christmas with retailers starting the shopping season earlier and earlier each year and pimping the latest must-have gifts. It’s evident the usurpation of children’s holidays such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day to sell more crap no one really needs. It’s shoved in our faces every day with inescapable advertising campaigns; last night, I clicked a link to see the Muppet’s Toyota ad and had to watch a commercial first. That’s right, I watched a commercial to watch a commercial.

Materialism is the real American religion and it’s practiced by the majority of people in this country. In one way or another, we all line up at the altar of Mammon. And, we do it whether we want to (or even know it) or not. Think about it for a minute: do you really need all the stuff you’ve accumulated? I know I don’t. And, even with that knowledge, I still want more.

Why? Why do I want more stuff than I could possibly need? Is it because I am bombarded by ads telling me I need the latest trinket or gadget some company is trying to foist on consumers? Is it because I believe Corporate America’s lie that if I don’t consume, the terrorists (or whoever the current boogey-man might be) win? Or is it because I am human and my default setting is one of selfishness disguised as self-preservation?


I think it’s the last one; the others just are carefully crafted attempts to cash in on that broken aspect of my nature. And, in doing so, they show that same aspect of the all-to-human individauls who created them. And, yes, I said broken. What else would you call it when people spend billions on trivialities while a significant portion of the world’s population lives in grinding poverty? I don’t believe that we are broken, awful, wretched sinners, incapable of being decent without God. But, I do believe there is a broken facet to our make up that allows us to be extremely shitty to our fellow humans. And, sometimes, the way we choose to spend the money with which God has gifted us bears that belief out all too well.