Just Fasting

On the heals of the Affluenza posts, I read this scripture this morning:

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,

only a day for people to humble themselves?

Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed

and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?

Is that what you call a fast,

a day acceptable to the LORD?

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice

and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free

and break every yoke?

Is it no to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter —

when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Isaiah 58:5-7

Isaiah is criticizing the society of Ancient Israel, but he could just as easily be talking to us in America.  In the scripture surrounding this passage, he says there is blood on their hands, and everything they do is covered with evil.  He paints a picture of a society founded on corruption and exploitation.  Those sitting at the top of the pyramid are reaping the benefits from those on the bottom.

This is standard operating procedure for human societies, but it’s not supposed to be the way God’s people live.  And if they do, they shouldn’t be so presumptuous as to think that God will accept their worship and momentarily self-limiting acts of fasting as noble.  God cares passionately about justice.  He cares about the plight of the poor as much as the rich pursue a path of self-satisfaction in their religious activities.

This is a passage for us.  We are disconnected from the majority, if not entirety of the goods we consume.  Food, toys, cloths, and other merchandise are manufactured and grown in a far away land only to magically arrive at our doorstep via the local mega-store.  Capitalism has beautifully reduced the cost of delivering these things to us through economies of scale (Americans enjoy the cheapest food in the world), but it comes to us at a cost, a cost of the conscience.

I’m always on the look out for companies or products that are delivered to the American public cheaply only because of the exploitation of others.  This has led me to abstain from shopping at certain clothing stores as well as guided the foods I purchase in the grocery store.  I hope to continue this series called ‘Just Fasting’ by highlighting products and services from which Christians might want to consider fasting for the sake of justice.


3 responses to “Just Fasting”

  1. Which clothing stores do you have abstain from? I prefer not shopping at Walmart (labor issues) and American Apparel (pornography).

  2. I don’t know what American Apparel is. Is that the same as Abercrombie? I refuse to go into the Abercrombie stores because of their half-nude models. A while back there were a number of stores that were using unjust labor practices in other countries. Brooks Brothers was included. There was a lawsuit against against a bunch of these companies and they changed their practices, so I feel better about shopping there now.

    Every time I go shopping, I try and research the store and make sure I’m not buying something that is complicit in oppression. But I’ve also been inspired by Eugene Cho who buys all his cloths from thrift stores. I’ve gotten some of my cloths from thrift stores in the past, and there is usually some really nice stuff there. I think maybe rapidly expanding Americans sometimes outgrow their cloths before they really wear them. 😉

  3. American Apparel is an independent company that is increasingly comfortable in pushing pornography.
    This is from their own site.

    Google search for “american apparel pornography” and you’ll see a lot.

    I actually wrote a letter to them awhile complaining about their practices.

    Yeah I also boycotted Abercrombie for the same reason and their racially insensitive t-shirts.

    I did a search for Eugene Cho’s posts about thrift stores. Can you tell me the URL? I tried thrift stores a couple of time but everything was so worn out. Maybe because it was Somerville. I should try again in Sunnyvale.