A few posts ago I mentioned how ominously close our new unit is to Indooroopilly Shopping Centre. In some ways it's really convenient; we can buy almost anything we'd ever need at a one-stop shop just a couple of blocks away. On the other hand,living in the shadow of the local bastion of fashion and rampant consumerism sometimes does feel a little ... icky.

 

The other night I was wandering through on my way to pick up some mushrooms to have with dinner. I noticed some unusual advertisements up. I mean, fashion ads are always a little unusual. Why do the models always look so angry? Maybe they think their clothes look stupid too. But these posters caught my eye more for the slogans than for the pictures:

 

Photo by Garry Condoseres. You can tell, because it's wonky

The staunch Christian fundamentalist in me gets a bit riled up at this sort of idolatry, but I was determined not to jump to conclusions. Maybe ISC was just preparing to host an interdenominational church service in the shopping mall. I mean, it seems a preposterous idea, but maybe that's what's needed to get young people along these days.

Okay, so it wasn't a church service; it was a fashion parade. But as a veteran of church services of different styles all over the country and indeed the world, a few classical elements of church were immediately apparent to me.

After searching for a while, I found the venue. I was immediately greeted by a designated greeter, who welcomed me to ISC and offered me a brochure. I sheepishly muttered that it really wasn't my thing, that I'd had nothing to do with fashion ever since my private school teachers forced me to wear a uniform when I was young and innocent. Nonetheless, out of curiosity, I stopped into to look at the stage, but nothing more.

There were seats lined up adjacent to a central isle, down which the central figures were probably going to process at some point. Up the front was the main stage, where the musicians would play thematically appropriate music and the event leaders would guide us through proceedings. We'd all feel inspired to know that, for just a few hundred dollars, we too could be as beautiful as these people. Just look at the fancy light show they've got.

 

They've replaced the pews with more modern seats. Lots of shopping centres are doing that these days

On this particular occasion a guest presenter was coming. Jesinta Campbell would be on the stage, as an ambassador for David Jones. I had never heard of Jesinta before, but the promotions material all assured me I wouldn't want to miss out on what she had to say (actually I don't know if she was going to say anything, or just walk about looking glamorous).

That's not even Jesinta Campbell. Apparently.

Behind the stage and before the event began, a group of registered members were having a shared meal together, before the main event began. There were no walls, but it was clear that I didn't belong in that group. I wasn't dressed right, and didn't really know anything about fashion. I decided to head out to a location I'm more comfortable with: the fruit and vegetable aisle at the supermarket.

Yes, okay, I'm not really comfortable there either, and regularly freak out between the delicatessen and the processed bread items. But anything would have been better than that brightly lit, hyped up centre of glorified capitalism.

Churches don't always get it right. When a veteran like me can't tell the difference between a fashion show and a worship service (Yes, okay. I probably can), it tells me the modern church is almost as wonky as my hastily snapped photos. But more disturbing that this is the idea that at some point, our culture of consumerism has drifted from obsession, to religion, to the point where shopping centres can put up posters tell us to worship winter, to adore fashion and to seek escape by spending more, and somehow this isn't the stupidest, most outrageous thing we've ever seen.

That night I was sick to my stomach. It might have been because I was upset about capitalism. Or it might have been that I picked the wrong packet of mushrooms. Make of that what you will.

 

Garry with 2 Rs

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