Practical Atheism and The Gap

The Gap store has become a symbol to some of exploitation( http://articles.cnn.com/2007-10-29/world/gap.labor_1_clothing-retailer-gap-child-labor-gap-kids-stores?_s=PM:WORLD ). I have a pair of pyjamas that I am particularly fond of that are from Gap.  I play with soccer balls made in Pakistan, from living there I know that working conditions are not great.  Because many of us buy from the clearance rack in Gap, Banana Republic, or Old Navy we think of ourselves as poor.  However, our patterns of consumption are at one end of a complex chain that has oppressed and poor people at the other end.  The younger generations are aware of this oppression more than the older ones in the USA and UK.  They alleviate their conscience by taking part in campaigns like the Red campaign, which is part of a bigger movement called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).  Two things are worrying about CSR.  CSR is a PR gimmick which counters the grass roots reporting of oppression.  CSR often gives the workers just enough to maintain their oppression and keeps them there more effectively than letting them starve.  Starving people have nothing to lose and tend to revolt and change their conditions ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpAMbpQ8J7g ).

As Gerald Wilson points out in his commentary on Psalm 14, the striking element of Psalm 14 is how ‘evildoers’ is a reference to all of us:  “there is no-one who does good …”  Our tendency not to think of ourselves as doing evil is the tendency to live as though there was no God, what The Chapel addresses as ‘practical atheism’.  We are often fools who are shopping in godless ways.  We shop as though there is no God.

Psalm 14

For the director of music. Of David.

 1 The fool[a] says in his heart,
   “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
   there is no one who does good.

 2 The LORD looks down from heaven
   on all mankind
to see if there are any who understand,
   any who seek God.
3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt;
   there is no one who does good,
   not even one.

 4 Do all these evildoers know nothing?

   They devour my people as though eating bread;
   they never call on the LORD.
5 But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,
   for God is present in the company of the righteous.
6 You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,
   but the LORD is their refuge.

 7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
   When the LORD restores his people,
   let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!

Questions

  1. How are atheists described in this passage?
  2. Who has turned away from God?
  3. Is the restoration of God’s people past, present, or future in this psalm?
  4. How are today’s atheists foolish?
  5. How do Christians live day to day lives as though there were no God?

Going Deeper

Check out some of the intelligent 11 minutes videos from The Royal Society for the Arts.  See how compatible they are with biblical truth. http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/videos/

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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