November 17, 2005


Inner peace comes at a price (Misty Harris, National Post, November 17th, 2005)

Believing they can find Zen in an overcrowded mall, some Canadians are turning their holiday shopping into unlikely spiritual missions.

Inspired by stores that reconcile social responsibility with superfluous luxury, these deep-pocketed consumers believe the more they spend, the greater their contribution to the Earth -- and to their sense of inner peace.

The ideology -- which takes the notion of shopping as religion all too seriously -- even comes with its own catchy name: metrospirituality.

"A metrospiritual is a kinder, gentler yuppie," explains journalist Ariana Speyer, who identified the trend for

In a recent article for the popular multi-faith Web site, she describes the consumer practice as a mainstreaming of Eastern religious values into "an easily digestible, buyable form," rather like shopping your way to salvation.

Ms. Speyer says metrospirituality could include buying a hybrid vehicle, either because it decreases fuel emissions or simply because it's a "status thing that happens to coincide with environmental ideals."

It might mean honouring the planet through ecotourism -- although "whether metrospirituals are helping or harming the far-flung places they're visiting is another matter altogether."

Ponying up at socially responsible stores such as The Body Shop (motto: "Profits with principles") and Aveda ("Connecting beauty, environment and well-being") is very metrospiritual. So is buying organic like Gwyneth Paltrow or adopting babies from impoverished countries like Angelina Jolie.

And you don't get much more metrospiritual than model Christy Turlington, who has elected to deepen people's metaphysical understanding by selling them yoga togs, books and luxury skin care products.

"Charitable giving can be selfish; you are making yourself feel good by doing good," Ms. Speyer said. "But the instinct for it to be metrospiritual comes from a pretty authentic place."

Apparently there is already a schism looming between the moderates who believe in value for dollar and the fundamentalists who hold that buying on sale is a sin.

Posted by Peter Burnet at November 17, 2005 5:39 PM

I hope my wife never converts to that religion.

Posted by: Brandon at November 17, 2005 5:59 PM

Don't scientologists also believe they can buy their way in?

Posted by: Sandy P at November 17, 2005 6:07 PM

This is a parody, right?

Posted by: JAB at November 17, 2005 6:14 PM

Hey, welcome to Vermont! I love the people who make a point of buying stuff made by natives in mud huts because it's so eco-friendly or whatever. But how do they think that stuff gets over here? On the Kon-Tiki? No, on big honking fossil fuel burning container ships! But hey, whatever helps them feel smug and superior.

I've worked for ideologicaly pure organic companies before - I worked for the Organic Cow dairy, which is big on the hippie must-buy list. Just because the bosses are organic and properly progressive doesn't mean that they aren't perfectly capable of crushing the proletariat with an iron fist when they choose to do so.

Posted by: Bryan at November 17, 2005 7:12 PM

I for one am not "going" insane...

Equating buying organic like Gwyneth Paltrow with adopting babies from impoverished countries like Angelina Jolie is jaw-droppingly shallow, and possibly evil.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 17, 2005 8:44 PM

You will be seeing this on some network TV news show or in the New York Times Magazine sometime in the near future as the Next Big Thing among those in the usual U.S. enclaves who have both too much money, too much guilt and a need for moral superiority. But like this story, the U.S. reports will see nothing odd about the situation, and merely portray it as the next step up for America's metrosexuals.

Posted by: John at November 17, 2005 10:28 PM

They're joking, right?
Okay, that's the definition of emotionally needy right there.

I've got two words for these guilt-trippers: Salvation Army.

Posted by: Mikey at November 18, 2005 8:31 AM

Come to think of it, it's perfect for the Episcopal "Church", where doing the socially proper thing has always been one of the sacraments.

Posted by: Mikey at November 18, 2005 8:33 AM