Swimming Upstream


For those troubled over the consumeristic and consumptive mentality of contemporary western culture Swimming Upstream: Reflections on Consumerism and Culture by Christine Roush is a breath of fresh air.  This is not another book containing theories in an attempt to address our bent to keep up with the Jones’, but an honest assessment of the author’s personal struggle to counter this all consuming cultural malady so prevalent among us all. If this issue concerns you, you will find this book a valuable resource as you engage in your own struggle.

This book is an invitation to join in the struggle of swimming against cultural flow of consumerism we westerners live in.  As Christine Roush states in the introduction, any old fish can tumble down the stream.  Go against the flow. Contained within the pages of this book is found a holistic perspective on stewardship involving personal spirituality, time management, financial and fiscal responsibility,  corporate marketing, and care for God’s creation.  And in process an identification with the fish who valiantly swims upstream against the strong currents of culture’s norms.

Most valuable is the practical nature of this book.  Each chapter can stand alone on its own, but is also a piece of a larger whole.  The practicality of the book is found at the end of each chapter as the author provides four sections that offer the reader some added resources helpful and useful for his/her own swim upstream. They are: 1] Questions for further reflection, 2] A few suggestions in the form o an Action Plan, 3] Added resources for your personal upstream journey, and 4] a short story tying the chapter together.

Here are two excerpts that are invaluable and thought provoking:

I became wedded to my job in order to pay for my stuff, and I cannot see my way out.  My husband and I created a way of life that we thought we wanted.  Most days we are happy with it. But the truth is this; I no longer run my life.  My life runs me.  That bumper sticker I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go is not funny anymore. I set my sights on a certain standard of living, and now that standard takes a toll on my time. It owns me.  I have decided I want to be home more, I just cannot figure out how.  Still, I have remembered a wise saying: To get out of a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. I am almost ready to stop digging.  Maybe others are also ready to drop their shovels.

I am writing this the day after Columbus Day.  I am as excited about North America as the next person, and am glad Christopher Columbus established a connection between the hemispheres, but does a celebration of this event really require an extra twelve flyers in the newspaper, all telling me about their blow-out Columbus Day sale?  Is every holiday meant to be about buying stuff?

This is a valuable book for everyone finding themselves in the cultural stream of consumerism and searching for ways and strength to swim upstream against this torrential current.  A great resource particularly for those of us who would like to align ourselves with the Roman 12:2 text of Scripture.

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3 Responses

  1. Can you repost this review in mid-May, Rob? I have far too many books in my bag right now, but this is definitely a book I want to read.

  2. I will take note and put out a reminder next month.

  3. Howdy, wow, this is good stuff, i enjoy it allot.Cheers

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